After our detour to Alice we headed back down the Stuart highway to a campsite just outside the National park. Breaking rule 1, with a few hours of night driving. The spot lights – spotties- doing an excellent job of illuminating the trees and sky (another thing for the to-do list).
At 05:30 we joined the procession of motorhomes and coaches all going to view the sunrise over Uluru. After years of discussion and promises that we would drive there, we had finally made it. It felt like a real milestone ( a big one at that ).
We managed to get some time at the Yulara mechanics who fitted the parts we picked up in Alice and we headed up to Kings Canyon and the Mereenie loop. It feels strange to be around so many other tourists, the solitude of the outback seems like a long time ago.
The Stuart highway took all of our time for the next two days. We saw lots of kites circling over the bush, thousands of termite mounds and not a great deal else. The Devils Marbles were a highlight and broke up the journey.
After being told that we might have had some water seep into the clutch causing a rattle, we had largely been ignoring the noise and picking a speed where it was quiet. Frustratingly the mechanic was quiet wrong. Just outside Katherine the noise got much worse. So in the 38 degree heat we pulled over to wait for the car to cool down so we could check coolant levels. Doug got his roll mat out and started looking under the car. The culprit was a Universal joint on the front prop shaft. The grease he’d put in only 3 days before was obviously not enough.
The bolts eventually came loose, we put the prop shaft in the boot and finished the Stuart Hwy in 2wd.
Darwin gave us a tropical thunder storm welcome to remind us that the wet ( season) has only just finished.
With only a date and city as planning we headed into Darwin to try and find Ludo and Rosie. Our friends who had flown out from the UK to join us for a few weeks. Numerous emails between us had not made it though, so we had dinner and sat in a bar in the hope we’d see them. 20 minutes later they arrived at the same bar, pure fluke!
After a day relaxing in Darwin, Ludo and Rosie collected their hired troopy, we restocked the fridge and headed to Litchfield National Park. Only an hour and a half from Darwin we were dwarfed by huge termite mounds, saw numerous stunning waterfalls and swimming holes, many of which are closed due to high risk croc presence. Needless to say we stayed out!
Here is the route we covered in this post. Map fans, check out the interactive map where we have uploaded the actual track logs for each day. Keep zooming in for excessive detail – its always logging!