Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

< Previous: To Tennant Creek | Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue | Next: Polarisless >

Driven Devil's Marbles, NT, Australia, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 6:31pm

Today was supposed to be my longest day of driving on this trip. The Google Maps estimate was 673km in 8hrs 19min from Katherine to Tennant Creek. I didn't set an alarm, since I've been habitually waking up around 5, and I wouldn't want to leave before sunrise. I awoke to darkness, thinking it must be around 3. No such luck, it was 6:18.

Making the most of the fact that I was plugged in, I used the electric kettle (method 3 of 3!) to make some tea, and the microwave to make some oatmeal with milk. While I ate, I took advantage of some wireless to watch the orientation video for this van.

I wanted to check the oil before leaving Katherine, but I could not figure out how to do that from the van's manual. It has a handy section on how to judge whether the oil is between two marks on the dipstick, but no tips that I could find on where to find the dipstick (hint: not under the hood). The video revealed that you have to fold down the passenger seat, release a clasp, and pull a catch while lifting the passenger seat back the other way. This revals the engine compartment, where you can find the dipstick.

†I also filled up the water tank, since I'm headed into arid country. This required unparking the van and putting it back pointing the other way so my hose would reach.

All of this meant that I barely made it out of the camping area by 8am. No danger of leaving before sunrise. Good thing too. There were two or three fresh roadkill wallabies before I even got back into Katherine. Clearly driving at night here is not advisable.

In Katherine, I got what I suspect will be the last cheap gas (AUD $1.45 per liter) of the trip and explained to the attendant what the "Throwing missiles is a misdemeanor" signs on the Golden Gate Bridge mean.

The rest of the day was driving. I stopped for gas three more times at $1.89, $1.87, $1.65. Keep in mind that those are AUD/l. That's about USD $7.81/gal, depending on how much I'm losing to foreign exchange fees on my credit card. It might have been worth the cost of buying some gas cans to buy more gas in Katherine. I'm getting nowhere near the advertised 13 km/l for this van. It makes me wonder what conditions they measured that under.

I had lunch at the kitschy Daly Waters Pub. Decent hamburger†and a very sweet raspberry soda. I got out of the car at one rest stop and a few random places for photos. Besides that? Driving, driving, driving.

The landscape slowly changed from savannah (fairly tall trees with dry grass) to scrubland (occasional short trees, bushes, more grass) and the dirt got progressively redder. The termite mounds up north were golden. Down here they're brick red.

I hit Tennant Creek at 4:30 and asked at the gas station how much further it was to Devil's Marbles. 100km, and it'll be cold, I was told. I pressed on, rushing to make it to the Marbles before sunset.

It was worth it. I arrived at 5:30, just in time to see the Marbles lit fiery orange by the 6:02 sunset.†


g-na (Anonymously) Friday, 17 June 2011 9:34am

I've never seen the "Throwing missiles is a misdemeanor" sign. What does it mean (other than the obvious, although personally I would launch my missile)?

aneel Saturday, 18 June 2011 3:07am

Nothing other than the obvious, as far as I'm aware. They seem to not have the felony/misdemeanor distinction here, or at least the clerk didn't know about it. And I guess the broader sense of "missile" as something that flies is uncommon.