After making good time packing up, we were on the road by 8:30am. Some time ago, around about the Gibb River Road, we decided rather wisely that another 1000 km of corrugations along the Savannah Way under the Gulf or Carpentaria probably wasn’t necessary, and decided instead to head south and then east on the smooth relief of bitumen towards Mt Isa. To make it to Cloncurry in just two days time the plan was to push south to get down past Three Ways, turn left, skip through Mount Isa and make it to Cloncurry by Saturday for the Curry Merry Muster rodeo. Yeehaw!
K – One thing I’ve been meaning to mention is the Northern Territory sky. Heading south from Mataranka we finally have clear blue skies again. However since entering the Territory in early July, the horizon has been continually fringed with haze. Whether from dust or the continual ‘fire management practices’ that everyone here seems to employ our vistas of Kakadu, Litchfield and Darwin have all been marred by the layer of brown close to the horizon. I was really surprised and a tad put out by this – I was expecting vast clear blue skies of the outback to abound in the NT. It made me wish for the wet seasons rains to wash it all out of the air!
This section of the Territory is dead bland, straight roads punctuated by caravans and 140 tonne three-wagon road trains. These are carrying mainly livestock, and from a chat with one driver, the beef is destined for Indonesia and Vietnam. This driver told me he does 800 to 1400 km a day and that it ‘never bloody ends’.
We called in to Daly Waters to visit the iconic pub. Here’s a tip for budding remote area publicans trying to differentiate from all the ‘normal’ pubs out there – take your standard pub and cover every inch inside and out with everything from bras, business cards, thongs, hats, number plates (the ruder the better), foreign currency, car and bike parts, musical instruments and various bric-à-brac, and you’ve got yourself an iconic pub. Oh, and have Barra and steak on the specials board every night and the ‘Territories coldest beer’, served by an English back packer to complete the picture. I would have been even happier if fuel wasn’t 10c a litre more than a servo just 4 km down the road. Not to worry.
With half a dozen more chapters of Harry Potter helping pass the miles, we cruised past Three Ways and managed a very decent 619 km before arriving at 41 Mile Bore around 5pm, a dusty free camp some 70 km east of Three Ways. The only exciting thing about this place was the palindrome odometer reading, 210012 km.