Meet a Local Travel Series – Outback Australia, Cairns to Darwin

Across the Top – Outback Australia Travel Program

Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory is a great base Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory is a great base from which to explore the Top End’s many attractions. While in Darwin make sure you visit museum and it’s fascinating Cyclone Tracey exhibition (Darwin was demolished by a cyclone in 1974) , catch a movie at the open air deck chair cinema, feed the fish at aquascene, have a feed at the wharf precinct and check out one of the many fantastic markets.

Darwin has a unique population mix with 75% of people aged under 25 years. It is also very multicultural, having over fifty different nationalities living harmoniously together. To capture the face of darwin, I interviewed Bow Chooiam a 17 year old first generation Thai girl who I met working at her parents stall at the Parap markets. Click on the pic to the left to hear her story.

Between Darwin and Kakadon’t is the Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge Catch a barramundi, take a cruise and see a croc in the Mary River, watch a great Aborigine culture show, or just take it easy. Well worth checking out

100 kms east of Katherine, Manyallaluk is an Aboriginal owned and operated tourism business. Visitors can do tours where they learn various aspects of Aboriginal Culture. The emphasis is on having fun and getting involved in the activities.

The first thing that I noticed about Manyallaluk is how happy everyone is who is lives out there.The guides love their work and really enjoy passing on their bush knowledge to the ‘white fellas’.

A true cultural experience and one I advise every visitor to Australia, and every Aussie, should experience. A beautiful gem of a place

I interviewed Peter Bolgi about his job as a guide.

Mataranka has some great natural springs where you can swim safely without becoming a crocodiles dinner. We stayed at the Territory Manor where they feed tame leaping barramundi twice a day.

Out here in the outback, pubs and petrol stops are the hub of the universe. It is not unusual to travel 300 km between fuel stations. Renner Springs is one such stop, slap bang in the middle of nowhere. It is sustained by a natural spring. All fruit, vegetables and meat come from Adelaide 2,206 km south and petrol supplies are freighted 836 km from Darwin. I interviewed Jasmine, a bar maid at Renner for the last two years. What sort of woman lives in such an isolated location?

Thirty minutes drive from Mt. Isa, West Leichardt station is a 310,000 acre cattle station. Up here there are two seasons, the dry and the wet. Currently it is the end of the dry season, a time of maintenance and repair. It’s also a time of waiting…waiting for the first rains to hit. The land is harsh and dry, having gone up to 40 weeks without rain. I interviewed station owner Ron Croft about life in the outback.

Ron has his dams stocked with a variety of fish including Barramundi and Sooty Grunter. We had a go with the rods and caught two Sooty Grunters with the first two casts.

Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria, is renown for it’s great sport fishing. It is currently the build up to the wet season with temperatures soar above 40 degrees, with humidity around 75%. You really have to be here to understand how draining this sort of climate can be. People tend to get a bit stir crazy this time of year, waiting for the first rains of the wet to fall. And when the wet does hit, Karumba can be cut off from the rest of the world for up to 12 weeks due to flood waters cutting road access. During these times food drops are made by helicopter for stranded Karumba residents

Local police officer Jason Jesse is a keen fisherman who took us out on his boat to catch some barramundi, Australia’s premier native sports fish.

The Undara lava tubes were formed one hundred and ninety thousand years ago when a volcanic eruption spewed lava along creeks and riverbeds to form the lava tubes left today.

I interviewed Savannah Guide Val Speedie. Savannah guides is a network of professional tour guides with an in-depth collective knowledge of the natural and cultural assets of the tropical savannahs of northern Australia. Val has been a guide at Undara for the last ten years and has a vast knowledge of the area. Click on pic to the left to see her video.

We tried doing some night driving to beat the intense day time heat. Not a good idea in the outback, the roads were thick with kamakazi kangaroos and roaming cattle. During a 150 km journey the carnage toll was three kangaroos and one unidentified flying bird. Without a roo bar we would have been in for some serious damage to the car. In the end we only lost a headlight.

Only one hours drive from Cairns, the tablelands feature some magnificant waterfalls, crater lakes and rainforest. We also dropped into the Crystal Caves at Atherton which feature a great collection of crystals and fossils from around the world.

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