Today we’re going to head off down the Stuart Highway, the road that bisects the Northern Territory, north to south. You’ll hear about it a bit more later in the series, but suffice to say the distances are vast. Although there’s a tendency to have one’s motoring head down and notch up the kilometres, there are a couple of breaks worth taking along the way.
Around the 600km mark you can take a short right hand detour to Daly Waters. The historic Daly Waters pub is the sort you see in old movies of Australia….timber with a metal roof to flex in the heat and bougainvillea growing up to the roof. Inside, like every bush bar in the Territory, you’ll find quirky displays: in some it’s number plates, in one it’s cop’s badges, others have hats, caps or buffalo horns not to mention undies or foreign currency notes, and some like the Daly Waters pub include all of them! There’s a great website hosted by the pub so I suggest you go for a short journey over there. I was very interested to learn of the role of the Daly Waters airstrip in early international flying from Australia to the UK.
Fans of Bill Bryson’s books may have already encountered today’s D places in his book Down Under. Chapters 15 and 16 nicely account for Darwin, Daly Waters and the Devil’s Marbles. I love Bryson’s irreverent sense of humour and his search for a hotel in Darwin was truly (and aptly) hilarious, as is his story of an evening spent boozing in the Daly Waters pub.
If walls could indeed talk then the pub’s bar would have amazing stories to tell of travellers and tourists, soldiers and drovers. Standing at the entry to the treacherous Murranji Track, one of the fierce cross-country droving tracks, there’d have been many hard-bitten drinkers knock “a few” back at the bar before setting forth (always assuming the boss drover let them near the pub I suppose). Ted Egan, former Administrator of the Territory and a bush balladeer sings a song called “Old Paraway” which talks of these hardy cattle men.
Why visit: To get a taste of outback life, see a quirky pub and have a cold drink.
FYI: There’s are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.
If you don’t have your mind set on getting to Queensland, you might choose to have a stop-over in the Three Ways or Tennant Creek and from there visit the Devil’s Marbles, now known as Karlu Karlu National Park. I think it’s the contrast between the ochre of the rocks against a clear blue Territory sky that impresses visitors but for Indigenous people it has a broader meaning over centuries of journeying.
From the Devil’s Marbles you’re a mere “stone’s throw” to Alice Springs with under 400kms to drive.
Why Visit: To see a natural wonder.
FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.
First horse out of the gate today just has to be drover given their importance to this country.
Drover: a person (previously mostly men) who moves big mobs of cattle across vast areas of land either to take up new settlement or to take the mob to the saleyards. Other places may call them cowboys but we don’t!! You can read about them more here. These days the drover is a dying profession as road trains transport live cattle to export.
Dunny: toilet, particularly an outdoor long-drop toilet complete with spiders. These used to be in back yards prior to the installation of sewerage systems. Old Aussie “curse”….”May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down!”
Dump: a multi-purpose word. A house might be a “dump” (not worth living in), a teenager’s bedroom might be a dump (stuff flung everywhere) or you might “dump on” someone (mock or mildly insult them or give them too much to do). For example, the teenager cleared up his dump of a bedroom then dumped all his clothes on mum to have them washed.
Desert pee: our family’s name for a facilities-free toilet break. When you do all these bush drives, there’s not always a toilet around when you need one, especially if you’ve been drinking lots of coffee to stay alert. Named after the flower Desert Pea.
Done like a dog’s dinner: Completely destroyed/ demolished or wiped out. Or perhaps just taken out of action by someone else’s behaviour.
Drongo*: a stupid or silly person. While judgemental it’s not meant as a particularly nasty insult, rather in a “you’re hopeless” tone.
Dinkum: True Blue/Ridgey Didge or Fair Dinkum all mean much the same thing: a person who is the genuine article and reliable. Sometimes used as a patriotic term.
Dead as a dodo: the issue is finished, there’s no hope for it to be resuscitated in the future eg a person’s plans.
Tomorrow we’re back in Darwin, looking at some of its historic military history and a relaxing spot for a barbie.