Katherine, NT Australia
One and a half weeks of walking is now completed in Australia and I have reached Katherine. I’m going to relax here for a day or two while I wait for Mattia to catch up to me. He’s two days behind me and should be here before long.
It was great to be reunited with the Mule. It’s almost surprising how well it works and how much it can carry. The coming two months are going to be the hardest trial so far and I expect to have to be forced to carry 30 liters of water on some of the more desolate stretches of road. I have no doubt at all that the Mule will prove to be as reliable as ever!
In fact, having the Mule with me again is just one of the things that make me feel that everything is right on track!
There is some very heavy traffic on the roads leading out of Darwin and it is often a very good idea to move off the road and leave plenty of room, especially for the roadtrains.
The drive-through bottle shop is a very Australian feature and there were several on the road heading out of Darwin. I did not really have any room on the Mule for a carton of beer but did stop in at Noonamah to buy a cold soft drink.
I was very lucky to find a straw, sun-hat on the side of the road. It might not be the most fashionable hat I have ever owned, but the very wide brim does an excellent job of providing shade. The only problem is that it is slightly too large for me and the passing roadtrains all try to blow it off my head. I had to chase it down the road several times already..
Close to the end of the second day, at the intersection of Old Bynoe Rd and Stuart Hwy, I was surprised to find two people sitting in sun chairs, with parasols and a large esky (Australian for ice box) in front of them. They called me over and I sat down and had a drink and a chat with them. They were Anthony and Gabby who were there to honour the memory of a policeman who was shot and died on that spot sixteen years ago. Anthony was there when it happened and felt that he owed his life to the courage of Sgt Huitson and has been there on every anniversary since then. His girlfriend Gabby has been with him for the last six years.
Anthony got pretty choked up when he told me the story and I have no doubt that he will continue to honour the day as long as he can.
I wish the mangoes were in season… Love mangoes!
I have been using my hammock to sleep in, with the mosquito net I bought for it in Bali. The surprising thing is that it has proven to be almost too cold at night! I move around a lot when I sleep and have been a bit suspicious about trying to sleep a full night in the hammock, but that seems to work alright. It is odd to try to change sleeping positions but it is possible and easier than I thought.
On the stretch before Adelaide River, a car stopped on the shoulder 200 or 300 meters ahead of me. The driver then got out, waved at me and placed something on the road, jumped back in the car and took off again. As he passed me he waved gladly and sped by. When I reached the spot where he had stopped, I found a small pile of coins! A road gift.
I stopped for the night at Adelaide River and enjoyed a few very cool and welcome beers in the .303 Bar.
I have met and talked to a lot of people during the week but while I was walking from Adelaide River, the first swede pulled over to say hello. Johannes had seen me on the side of the road and stopped to see if I was Swedish.
As I said, I have met a lot of nice people. At one night campsite I talked to a Dutch couple that were on their way back to Darwin to return their 4wd and head back home after one month of touring NT and WA. They were very kind and shared both wine and morning coffe with me.
There must be something special about Australia when it comes to walking. In the last week or so, I have heard about 5 or six different people either walking through or around the country. Very strange when you consider that I have heard of and met more long distance walkers this week than during all the rest off my walk combined.
The firsts ones I met were a couple, Ian and Chris Robbins, walking in aid of both prostate and breast cancer. They stopped to make sure I had enough water and was ok. They were headed back down to Katherin after having completed their Darwin walk and from Katherin they were going to continue into Western Australia.
Just after Hayes Creek I found another fellow on the side of the road. He didn’t say much, but I felt a certain kind of affinity with him (must have been the Viking helmet) and took a selfie with him.
I arrived late in Emerald Springs after having pushed on into the evening but when I arrived there the place was full. After explaining that I was walking and there was no way I was going to make it to Pine Creek that day, I was shown into the building site where they were building some more rooms and told I was welcome to make myself comfortable there. Even had my own swiming pool…
I spent my night at Pine Springs at the Lazy Lizzard Resort and had an easy afternoon waiting for Niall and Dale to show up. I knew they were right behind me and I had sent a message to them that I was at the LL.
I first met them in Singapore on my last night there and it was interesting to sit down and compare notes about their journey. They had more or less gone the same way as Mattia and I but had found a boat that was sailing to Darwin from Indonesia rather than fly.
I had been told about a woman that was walking towards Darwin and Sunday afternoon, just as I was looking for a place to camp for the night, I met her. Terra is walking around Australia to raise awareness of mental illness and raise money for Lifeline. Check out her website here.
It was very interesting to talk to her during the evening about being a long distance walker and compare experiences.
It’s been an intense week and a half and I have some conflicting emotions. I love being back in Australia and it very much feels like coming home. It’s hard to believe that it was fifteen years since I was here last. Much too long…
But the walking has been surprisingly hard. Well not that hard but I have had difficulty increasing the daily distance covered due to some irritating problems with my new thongs (flip-flops). Blisters and sore feet was something that I was hoping that I would have overcome after 15,000 km of walking. But new shoes always seem to bring back the same problems and I never seem to find good thongs when I need them.
Yesterday I stepped on something long and sharp that went up through my thongs and into my foot. Did not think much of it at the time, sure it hurt, but not that much. But this morning, when I woke up the sole of my left foot was very tender. After having a closer look, I found that there seemed to be a part of something embedded deep under the skin and it was causing an inflammation. I had to get out the knife and dig into the sole of my foot to finally find the tiny tip of a small stick that was lodged there. It took a while to get it out even after I found it because it had been pushed rather deep.
It’s lucky that I am having a rest day while I am waiting for Mattia, the swelling should go down quickly now that the wound is clean. It’s only a tiny little wound so it is nothing to worry about as long as the inflammation goes away.
So a day, or possibly two if Mattia takes his time, and then it will be time to head out south again.
Despite what I just wrote, I am really looking forward to it.