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Big Trip Blog Bigtripblog is a multimedia travel experience capturing the adventures of Kevin and Valerie during their one year trip around the world.

Handing over the keys in Darwin

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 27 July 2007 | Views [1013]

Kevin: After our excellent trek ended in Alice Springs, we didn't have much time to make it to the 1,5000 kilometers up the Stuart Highway to Darwin. So, nursing our hangovers we said goodbye to a real bed and a private bathroom and fired up the Ambassador Van for the first time in almost a week and hit the road. With only three days to get to Darwin, our options were fairly limited. We could have made 1,000 ks that first day to get up to Daly Waters, then made our way into Kakadu National Park. That's a lot of driving, so we elected instead to take it easy, averaging about 500 kilometers a day on the way up, relishing our last few days in the vast expanses of the outback. It's also free to sleep at rest stops along the way, which was a big bonus, especially considering the cost of petrol ($1.80 a liter in some places, which is $6.80 a gallon!). In central Australia, as long as there were clear skies the desert sun would heat up during the day, making it pretty comfortable, sometimes even downright warm. During the night, though, temperatures would get down to around freezing. As we made our way north, temperatures increased to near perfection, and nights were pleasantly cool, not uncomfortably cold. When we pulled into Darwin, we had reached paradise. Unfortunately our stay in paradise didn't last too long. We had to clean the van, pack our backpacks for the first time in two months, and hand over the keys the following day. The hand-off went really smoothly. Ian, the manager of Traveller's Auto Barn in Darwin, was really friendly and was excited to see the van for the first time. After all the paper work was taken care of and everything squared away for the next Ambassador, we put our packs on our shoulders, becoming backpackers again with no transportation. We waved farewell to the van, which took us a hell of a long way, but were a little relieved to be once again without any responsibilities. Better enjoy it while it lasts. Here's some final tidbits from our massive road trip, as well as some observations about Australia. -We drove 8,000 kilometers, or about 5,000 miles. -The car/truck combo is infinitely more popular in Oz than in the states. I am fascinated by this. -The grey nomads at caravan parks are some of the friendliest people in Australia. -Val was particularly impressed by the practical environmentalism seen all around Oz - beach front property left undeveloped, entire communities switching from plastic to reusable canvas grocery bags, and a general awareness of consumption and waste. -If you don't know the Australian slang for something, put a "y" or "ie" at the end of it, and you're away: truckie (truck driver), "poly" (politician), "cozzie" (swimming costume), "brekky" (breakfast), and so on and so forth. -Unless otherwise specified, your burger will have beetroot on it. While not a bad thing, I've yet to be convinced.

Stay tuned for our video from the Intrepid trek.

Tags: ambassador van, on the road


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