Do You Want to Drive into the Northern Territory?
Touring across The Northern Territory by bus and caravan is an excellent way to see this interesting part of Australia. Find out about the distances, the climate, and the flood dangers during the wet season. Discover the Aboriginal galleries which feature ever changing exhibitions and present marvellous insights of aboriginal life, history, cultural activities and art. Find out where the 'UFO Capital of Australia' is located.
Leaving Barkly Homestead Roadhouse behind, we are heading towards The Three Ways Roadhouse, where the Barkly and Stuart Highways meet in the Northern Territory. It is a drive of 180kms.
It is extremely hot with temperatures soaring to 43 degrees and as our Mazda T3500 bus does not have air-conditioning, we are suffering. The best time to travel in this area is through the winter months from April to September. October to April is hot and wet and creeks and rivers can rise suddenly, causing flash floods.
It would be wise to never attempt to cross through this water unless you are familiar with the depth and flow, and are confident of the road surface being in good condition. Assume nothing to travel safely.
We are travelling in late November as we have a house-sit to get to in Alice Springs. As my hubby and I love travelling and house-sitting, combining the two is great.
Yet another road train is passing us. A prime mover can be 53.5 mtres, carry about 115.5 tonnes of freight, with up to four trailers long. Driving the bus and towing our 18ft caravan means we sit at a steady pace of 80-100kms, but the speed limit is set at 130km/hr on the Barkly and Stuart Highways. Rural roads are designated 110km/hr unless otherwise signposted. As the bitumen roads are fairly wide, it is best to stay on them when passing a truck.
However, travellers should drive at a speed that suits the vehicle, road, weather conditions and their own driving experience. When driving on unsealed roads, sudden rainfall can quickly change the conditions and both sealed and dirt roads can be cut. Be prepared with extra food, water and essential spare parts when travelling in remote areas. We have a mobile phone with a tall antenna mounted on the caravan and a UHF radio in the bus for communications.
We arrive at the intersection and turn right for about 50mtres where The Three Ways Roadhouse sits. You can either head north to Darwin (962kms) or south to Alice Springs (533kms).
Our next stop is Tennant Creek, which is 25kms south. We find the Battery Hill Mining Centre 1.5kms east of town along Peko Road. This underground mine has working machinery, lighting and displays, and authentic sounds which instilled in us the spirit of the early gold miners. Ray, our very informative host, gives us a fantastic tour while being entertaining with all his life long experiences as a hard working miner in an underground gold mine.
Battery Hill is also the Tennant Creek Visitor Information Centre so find out more information on the area by talking to the staff. Be sure to ask directions to the award winning Nyinkka Nyurnyu Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Some of the staff are Aboriginal, so should be able to pronounce it for you.
Here you can meet local Warumungu people and listen to their stories. The gallery features ever changing exhibitions and presents marvellous insights of contempory Aboriginal life, history, cultural activities and art. We see outstanding interpretive displays demonstrating the Warumungu relationship with the land, family, bush resources and bush tucker.
We travel another 130kms south, and call into the icon of the Barkly, Karlu Karlu known as the Devil's Marbles, which are 10 minutes north of Wycliffe Well Holiday Park. The Devil's Marbles are amazing and I am happy to take lots of photos. After driving around a short loop, we come back to the Stuart Highway.
Wycliffe Well Holiday Park is very different and unusual with murals everywhere throughout their caravan park. What delights us most is the peaceful bush setting, and the very friendly couple who manage the park.
It is also known as the 'UFO Capital of Australia', due to so many sightings of strange lights and crafts. After a Chinese meal in the cafe, cooked by a Chinese couple, we eagerly read the UFO newspaper clippings that cover the walls. Scattered throughout the park are statues of The Hulk, Elvis Presley and The Phantom. Very unusual.
There are about a dozen Aboriginal people congregated outside the store, as their community store was broken into last night and it is shut for repairs. They have driven to Wycliffe Well Holiday Park to buy their supplies. Unfortunately, one of them is very drunk and is politely refused any more alcohol. He retreats outside and revs his car loudly after getting it bogged in heavy sand in the nearby river bed. Not surprisingly, the motor blows up.
A beautiful morning to wake up to and we wander along the train tracks to the recreation lake that is home to several ducks and geese. Train tracks? Yes,the park owner has installed a small train to entertain the visitors with during the tourist season.
We say goodbye to the friendly staff as we must keep on our way to Alice Springs for our next interesting adventure.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patricia Lilly holds a Diploma of Hospitality and has worked in the tourism industry for many years. She is travelling around Australia, and as Patricia has travelled across The Northern Territory, can pass her knowledge of these areas on to you. Make a safe and secure holiday booking with Online Accommodation and Tours-Australia. All bookings and information are Free!