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Roadtrip Australia: Van-Tastic Northern Territory - WILLIE & ANDREW Americans Willie and Andrew embark on the ultimate Aussie roadtrip as they motor around Northern Territory with Van-Tastic Adventures for six action-packed, free-wheeling weeks of adventure.


AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 14 April 2010 | Views [830] | Comments [3]

There’s already a lot to be scared of in the Northern Territory. Poisonous snakes. Very poisonous snakes. Water holes are marked with signs that delineate where and when saltwater crocodiles enter. They don’t say we can’t swim, but they do say we should be aware. People even dangle pig legs from branches that hang out over the water. And to see a bloody, severed leg is actually a good sign. Because if it’s gone, that means the crocs are in town. Even the nicest seeming of all wildlife, the wallaby, bit us on the hand yesterday. But at least that didn’t hurt. It was really more of a nibble. Oh, yeah. And there are park rangers who warn us of malarial mosquitos even though those don’t exist in Australia. Thanks for the heads up, Troy. So with all of that dangerous wildlife terrifying us at every step, we really haven’t made things any easier on ourselves. In fact, we’ve gone out of our way to scare ourselves even more. 

What I’m saying is: we picked up a hitchhiker the other day. While pulling out of the Aileron Roadhouse, we noticed a lanky, dirty, bushy-haired, and very tanned backpacker on the side of the road. We say that with love; we’re the exact same way (In our three weeks on the road, we can steadily feel ourselves devolving into primitive man). When we first passed him, he got up to wave us down. We just kept driving. Who in their right mind would pick up a hitchhiker in this day and age?

Within two minutes, we realized the answer was us. We debated it: what if he’s a homicidal maniac who is out to kill people nice enough to pick him up? Or what if he’s incredibly friendly, but thinks that we’re homicidal maniacs, and so he kills us anyway? Out of paranoia? What if he steals all of our things while we’re watching the road? What if and what if and what if?! But we wanted to be able to tell a good story, and we really liked Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild, so we unsheathed our Swiss army knife, tucked it into the road atlas just in case, and drove back to pick him up.

His name was Danny, and he was traveling up to Mount Ida. That’s in Queensland. We weren’t going even a quarter of the distance he needed to travel. But we offered to take him to a rest stop 200 km north of Aileron, and he accepted. He was a Russian backpacker who had flown into the wrong airport (Perth) while trying to visit a friend in Brisbane. Intentionally, to see the country, but still way off-course. He’d been hitchhiking across the continent ever since, and we were the twentieth people to pick him up. He thinks. He’d lost count. He told us that he had been cast in an epic Malaysian war film and that he’d be heading to Asia in the spring. Everything he said checked out.

But still, we kept that knife. In hand. Still, we kept an eye on all of our possessions. No trust, whatsoever. And for all we know, he had a knife in his hand the whole time. So we were careful.

Now, history was never our strongest subject. But isn’t that pretty much the Cold War in a nutshell? Or a van cabin? One wrong move, and Danny would have been subjected to the Cuban Missile Crisis Part Deux, courtesy of our own resident Cuban-American.

But then we got to Barrow Creek and Danny hopped out of Geoff with a smile. He shook our hands and ventured off into the night with only his tent and a half-full bottle of water. And some day in the near future, we might spot his face as he salutes a European officer hell-bent on Malaysian destruction.

And then, we probably won’t be so scared.

So Danny, if you did indeed keep the business card we gave you: we’re sorry that we had a knife in the car the whole time. From now on, we’ll do our best not to let the fear get to us. And good luck in Mollywood, or whatever the Malaysian film industry is called.

By Willie Concepcion and Andrew Adams

Tags: danny the russian, fear, hitchhiker, hitchhiking, northern territory, poorly thought-out cold war references, roadtrip



I'm glad you guys chose to live a bit dangerously and extra glad that it turned out to not be so dangerous
Mollywood you say? Maybe I'll head there myself!

  Morgan Apr 15, 2010 6:14 PM


Living on the edge! At least your hitchhiker didn't disappear like a mirage or he could have been a UFO?

  Stephanie Apr 16, 2010 7:15 AM


When Danny is the next Sam Worthington!

  Shaun Apr 16, 2010 9:14 AM



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