Writing from Broome – I have a few stories to tell but will restrict myself a little… The new caravan is old news now and its attendant woes – it is now the car/Tardis. Leaving Katherine where we relaxed very well and Alan changed the oil in the van, it went into ‘limp’ mode. An expression applicable especially to Benzes when their computers go funny. One wonders what offends the inbuilt robot? We had done something. We limped into Darwin into a very expensive caravan park, $55 pd – all sites had en suite showers and loos. It was run down, under maintained and under-serviced but comfortable. We found a man with a machine that could read and diagnose the Tardis computer, booked it in to see him. Waited a week for the appointed time, nothing happens tomorrow here! and dropped it off. We caught a cab into town thinking that that way we would get to Centrelink without getting too hot! We did, for a price. Then we did a bit of an explore of the town centre. Saw the Chinese Museum, very interesting and uplifting, bought a book, had my sunglasses nicked in the bookshop and bought some sushi. (cf some pics of the city centre in the picasa link at the end of this blog.) Then we headed for the bus stop to go to collect the van. Of course we had marked where to get off the bus! It looked different so we got off too soon!! and walked for at least 4 kms in the noonday sun… I am neither a mad dog nor an Englishman! and was hot and pissed off by the time we reached the workshop. Alan was hot too but was not allowing himself to be annoyed, he had rung the bell on the bus! Worse was to come, the man with the machine charged us a total of $900 (+) to make the car go properly and said it had gone wrong because there was a little dirty oil left in the sump which confused the car’s computer!
All the stories I have ever read about robots running the world came back into my memory, especially those where they are malign and humans lose control. He also told us to get the wheels aligned, the computer didn’t like that either and to buy a new tyre also because the computer said we had to. We were prepared to act on the latter instructions but felt sore about the $712 labour charge to read the computer!!! Not all bad in Darwin though. We had two gourmet meals with Henk and Trish, they prepared them of course, what a welcome change from our caravan cuisine and take out meals… Henk also gave generously of his time to talk about my PhD work. It was fun to hear about the FYHE conference where he presented the paper.
We had excellent markets at Nightcliff, desperately needed for the car etc… and then relaxed at the Ski Boat club on the water after the first one. Straight home after the second because we were then staying at this wonderful spot – Comalie RV Park about 80 kms out of Darwin just past the Batchelor turnoff, (where Henk works). Large park, powered site and decent amenities for $20 pd. doesn’t come better than that. Very interesting, people running the place with all sorts of great information about the area. Only downer, the poor Telstra service wrt internet and phones, so we were pretty much out of touch. Did some work and resting and headed West when we got the tyre on Monday. Had to wait a week for it to come from Adelaide. No real sweat.
While at Coomalie, we went to Litchfield National Park, nearby, a lovely little park with a truly spectacular display of meridian termite mounds. Such clever little critters – the frail termites – they build their ‘homes’ on a NS orientation so that one side never gets direct sun. (Pics in picasa link)
Markets are a bit different here though. Katherine had to have a committee meeting before they could say if we could stand there. Was pretty small anyway so no worries on that score, Mindil, the mid evening week-night market was too full for us, Kunnunurra next small town only allows handmade/grown produce, Derby also very small and Broome will only assign our site to us after 7.30 am once the regulars are all in! We usually start setting up about 4am… ah well we will just go with the flow! We drove for 3 days from Darwin to get here today, 4 tanks of fuel at $1.90 per litre… and put in the hours, we slept for 11 hours last night! Still had good overnight stops, one at a creek which you will see in the picasa link when I have done it.
The changes in the country have been spectacular, still flat and dry and dusty but at about the NT/WA border the Boabs start. (Some of you will know them as Baobabs) There are thousands of them, in all shapes and sizes. I have 100s of pictures to sort through to find the definitive ones. Also of the rock formations and the termite mounds. The other thing that struck us is the amount of burning that has been done in both NT and WA. Amazing, I wonder if it is so necessary?
Driving across “The Savannah Way” is a trek to avoid if you are not playing tourist. Long straight stretches that go forever and the sun gives the driver’s right arm a good tan. We hope if we ever come this way again we have a 4×4 so we can enjoy what is on offer…. which is plenty apparently. Got to get off the road that winds endlessly like a blue-grey ribbon with red stripes down the sides. There are caves, more rocky mounds, the Bungle Bungles, famous, they are. At a road works hold up the guys came over to chat to us and reassure us that all was well and we would soon be driving again and all that, ours also told us that the Bungle Bungles were just that more dome shaped rocky mounds… Ah well, I so wanted to go into the Keeps Park to see the Aboriginal paintings and the fabulous rock formations, but once again was thwarted by the presence of our darling Bella. No dogs allowed. It is just at the border between NT and WA.
Postscript: Good markets in Broome but very rule-bound! Got to suspend belief a bit and go with the flow. Very good wind downs at Matsos Broome – a boutique brewery and restaurant with a deserved top reputation. For me the main thing was the view over the ocean, such ambience. We have missed our Bella who has been in kennels, she is too noisy in the caravan park and it is too hot for her to stay in the car. Not sure where next but tomorrow I will do the washing in the caravan park laundry, Alan will fetch Bella and we will pore over the maps and find out about the markets in the next place, Port Hedland might be IT. Our post has gone there anyway. More later. Picasa link https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/DarwinToBroome?authuser=0&feat=directlink