Warning: when doing this 564-kilometre drive, make sure you fill up at every single petrol station – even if it’s for only $10! We were caught out and ran out of diesel. Mind you, it wasn’t entirely my fault as the last petrol station we had stopped at had no diesel, but if I had topped up at the previous one, I would have been OK. Thank God for road trains! One kind chap stopped and syphoned me out a few good litres of diesel. It was 46 degrees outside and I couldn’t work out how to get the air-con going using the gas bottles … another lesson: one should learn everything about their rig before they set out.
All that aside, it was a fantastic drive. While in Darwin, make sure you visit the Cyclone Tracy Museum (its free) and also the War Museum, the actual site of the Army barracks and check out the remains of bombs. It’s hands down the best war relics site I have ever seen. And if you want a fill of adrenalin, try your luck at Crocosaurus Cove and go swimming with the Crocs in the Cage of Death!
After leaving Darwin, we headed back down to Katherine before taking an abrupt right-hand turn to head out towards the coast. While going through Katherine just be mindful of people sitting on the medium strip down the main street. An elderly Aboriginal man was killed while we were there after being hit by a truck. If you get the chance, definitely stop and experience the awe-inspiring Katherine Gorge. It’s 45 minutes’ drive north of Katherine. Boat trips are about $55 and definitely a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity. It’s a nice drive, long, but easy on the eyes. The roads are fine, but just be careful of the road trains.
Once you arrive at Timber Creek, be prepared for the real Outback. All the food is frozen as deliveries only come through every couple of weeks. There is a pub, a small grocery store, petrol station and the caravan park – all in one! The caravan park is nestled on the banks of a croc invested river… but don’t worry, they are freshies and they don’t bite (or so they kept telling me!). But it is very safe and the owners confirmed they have never had a croc come out of the river – a couple of idiot tourists go in, but never any crocs climbing out. They have a bridge where you can stand and feed the crocs, which is really exciting. Timber Creek is a neighbour to one of Australia’s biggest airforce bases, even though you wouldn’t know it, as it’s very well hidden. But at 2am each morning, you can hear the cowboys playing in their fighter jets … some people get all the great jobs! There is an excellent little Lookout you can drive up to and at night you will see the most magnificent sunsets. There isn’t any phone reception at Timber Creek, pay phone yes, but funnily enough we could access great wireless Internet reception – must have something to do with the airforce base. The local Aboriginal children are very talented too, with some great souvenirs to be snapped up. Just watch out for the local mark-up on DVDs. Jean Claude Van Damme movies were going for $46 each! And Mad Max was $65!
PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
Great Australian Doorstep appears on the How To Channel, Foxtel. Check guides for screening times.