The last time I drove from Darwin to Brisbane

Outback Travel Blog

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Mural on the wall of a Roadhouse at the Three Ways, Northern Territory. That's a real bull bar on the front of the truck.

I lived in Darwin for about 10 years and left with my family in April 1989. My dad and I drove the 3415km in four days, driving from morning until the end of the day, staying in little motels along the way. The drive normally takes approximately 44 hours depending on road conditions, and how many tyres you blow out along the way. I drove my little Datsun 1000 with my pet budgie strapped into the front passenger seat and my belongings filling the rest of the car, and dad drove his car behind me.

 

Australia is roughly the size of continental USA, but the population is that of greater Los Angeles, with most of that population located on the eastern seaboard.

Look what happened to one of my tyres
Therefore, there are very long distances across open country with little population in-between. I don’t remember exactly where we stopped to rest our weary bones each night, but there was not a big choice, there is a road stop approximately every tank full of petrol, so you drive, drive, drive until you get to a stop, fill the car with petrol and the belly with food and hit the road again. We drove out of Darwin on the Stuart Highway, south through Darwin’s nearest neighbour, Katherine which is 400 Km away and on to the Three Ways where we took a left onto the Barkly Highway that leads to Queensland and the golden grasses of the Barkly Tablelands.


To Darwin locals the Stuart Highway is known as ‘the track’. Darwin sits on a peninsula surrounded by the Timor Sea, there is only one road out of Darwin and whenever anyone wants to get away for the weekend, you will hear the term, “I’m going down the Track”.

The Walkabout Creek Hotel, made famous by the movie Crocodile Dundee. McKinlay, Queensland
The Stuart Highway is one long band of bitumen that cuts right through the centre of Australia from Darwin in the far north to the border of South Australia. The roads are pretty good for the middle of nowhere, well, that is until you come to the Queensland border, where the road narrows and the potholes are big enough to swallow the little car I was driving.

 

It was a long, long drive, but I enjoyed it. It was pre the days of CD players in cars, actually, the CD had only just been invented, but I had music in the form of tapes to keep me sane and my budgie, Peppie to keep me company. I was 18 and leaving home; even though home was coming with me, it was still a monumental time in the journey of my life.

Sweetski says:
Tapes in the car huh? Must have been 8-tracks :)
Posted on: May 10, 2008
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