It smells different, the light is different, the sounds of the animals are different. We are in Darwin, Australia.
We’ve barely arrived, we stay with our bicycles in the boxes outside the airport, it’s 1 o’clock at night and already everything is different.
It is so quiet. Hardly any people. No food stalls, no taxi drivers wanting to take us somewhere, no stalls with bottled water, bananas and charging cables. We can drink water from the tap again. Fortunately. We get money from the machine without any problems. Something which has not been normal for the last 10 months. Later, we will find out, that you barely need any cash anywhere. We were just not used to this anymore.
Migration to Australia
We are entering with an eVisa which was easy to get online. Our bicycles were actually inspected thoroughly. They are not allowed at all to bring any dirt from Indonesia to Australia. But somehow everything was so easy, there had to be something else which would make us problems. But there was nothing. Everyone speaks English. A kind of a little strange English, but we understand it.
We start to reassemble our bikes. We have time. We can’t get to our Warmshowers contact until 7am. Then we cycle towards the sea on absolutely empty roads. Stop, first to a 24-hour open McDonald’s. A coffee would be great now.
However, 24h open only means that the drive thru is open. But we don’t care. Unfortunately, the man in the McDonald’s shop at the counter does. He actually doesn’t sell us coffee because we only have bicycles and no car. We don’t understand what’s behind this and I haven’t found out either. We didn’t bother them at all. There was nobody around but us.
So we decided to continue towards the sea. A little overtired, we sit down on a bench and wait for it to get light. The first joggers pass by, the first doggy walkers, the first cyclists. Everyone says good morning and then it’s finally 7 o’clock, we’re at our new host’s house and 20 minutes later we’re dead on the bed and asleep.
Things to do at the first days
The next 3 days we take care of our Australian SIM cards, explore the area a little, Darwin really is a small town, and slowly get used to everything. We organize the gas for our new cooking equipment and try to get used to the high prices.
Well, what can I say? We’re kind of happy. Yes, everything is easier, quieter, cleaner, more organised. The paintwork will peel. At the moment, we’re enjoying the lack of effort.
Leaving Darwin already after 3 days
Our first stage takes us to a wonderfully crazy other cyclist. Kingsley. We only stay one night, but we have taken him straight to our hearts.
We find the entrance to his property straight away. Who else would hang an old bicycle wheel rim on the fence? We marvel at his invention, admire his intelligence in so many things, his curiosity, his energy. He is over 70 years old and full of zest for action. The next day, he accompanies us for 30 kilometres on our next stage and we say goodbye for good. Now we are on our own and the heat is once again merciless. Once again we cycle through the countryside at over 40 degrees. It almost seems as if this temperature has been with us for months. But now there’s also no shade. The landscape becomes more barren, the trees have thinner leaf crowns.
These plants are real survivors
Fires regularly burn down the withered 1.5 to 2 metre high grass in the dry season until it grows back in the rainy season.
We see acacia bushes and paper bark forests, where we can see traces of flooding on the tree trunks. But most of all, and this brings with it a wonderful scent, we see eucalyptus forests. A savannah of mostly eucalyptus trees over grassland.
Fire is an integral part of nature in Australia and it looks accordingly. We are here at the end of the dry season, the beginning of the rainy season. So we can already see the first tender green shoots emerging from all the black and grey soil. And so we drive through these barren landscapes every day. And we begin to see.
No way to go through the whole outback
5 days later we realised, we need a plan. 1 month through this heat, even more barren landscapes and even fewer opportunities to get to water are not particularly good prospects.
And the problem of water is indeed one. Each of us has to carry at least 8 litres of water for 2 days. But that’s only enough if we can “refuel” in the morning and fill up again the next day in the evening.
There are currently about 100 kilometres between the possible water stops. So the plan is to cycle for maybe 800 more kilometres and then take a Greyhound bus to Townsville on the east coast. From there we will continue south, further away from the equator.
But I’m sure we’ll experience a lot more before then. Something like the temporary drive-thru for coffee on the highway or the book library in the middle of nowhere.
But unfortunately we will also be accompanied by the many dead animals, especially kangaroos, at the side of the road.
Australia, we do have a fantastic start
In short: the first 10 days in Australia were already full of impressions. And if the question arises about the friendliness of Australians… mega. Honestly. I already like them. When someone stops to give us an ice-cold drink, you have to love them, don’t you?
About the roads, they are in an amazing good condition. Within the city’s, even the small ones, you have great cycling paths and on the highways, well, there is just not much traffic. The drivers, even the ones in the huge truck, the Road Trains, help us to feel not too scared on the streets. So for now, we only have to worry bout the heat, the water and we have to make friends with these annoying flies.
And there’s something else I don’t want to withhold from you. What a song in the morning. When something like that wakes you up, you can’t help but smile.