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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 | Friday, 23 April 2010 | Views [962] | Comments [2]

This makes twice now that we’ve been woken up in the middle of the night and forced to drive through the darkness. What happened is this: Willie and I have spent much of our trip out in the middle of the desert. Finding places to sleep is easy there – every 50 km or so are designated rest stops. They’re absolutely essential in the Outback. Because towns can be so far apart, any traveler who finds themselves nodding off while driving might still be forced to drive for two more hours before arriving at anything resembling civilization. To do so while fighting off the Sandman is incredibly dangerous. So the whole desert is riddled with free places to sleep. And even if it wasn’t, it’s not like we’ve seen a single police cruiser in the past five weeks. So who would stop us? But things are different now. Now, we’re in the biggest city in the Northern Territory: Darwin. And Darwin does have police. Before arriving in town, Willie and I got in touch with a fellow traveler who warned us that camping in Darwin could be dangerous. The police are very strict about making sure nobody steals any Z’s on private property, and if they catch you, it’s a $130 fine per person. Luckily, said our fellow traveler, there’s one spot in Darwin where the police don’t hassle campers. It’s an unofficial free camping area just north of the city, called East Point. Right by the beach, at the edge of Darwin’s main harbor. So we headed there for the night, arriving at about 11:30, and went to sleep, perfectly content to be surrounded by six other campervans, the sound of the ocean lapping up onto shore just 20 meters away from us. And then, in the middle of the night: a banging on the window. Someone shouting: “Hey! Hey, are you in there? Get up!” Lights were flashing. Yellow, blinking lights, blindingly bright, flashing in and out of the windows, over and over. Completely disoriented, we slid Geoff’s doors open. And a police officer leaned in, shining his flashlight straight into our eyes. “You know you guys aren’t allowed to camp here, yeah?” he said. Great. Let me paint a picture for you. Geoff is, although a delightful place to call a home for six weeks, not necessarily a cool place to stay. Quite literally. It has a tendency to get incredibly hot inside Geoff overnight, to the point where Willie and I sweat more than we would in a sauna. So we tend to sleep in our underwear. So there we were, in our underwear, barely awake, staring down a police officer. We immediately apologized. He said, “How long have you two been here?” And, it being early, my brain was not quite firing on all cylinders. I didn’t think, “Man oh man, he wants to know if we’ve been camping or not!” I didn’t think, “Man oh man, I should tell him we just arrived, so that we don’t get fined!” No. Instead, I thought: “Ow, wow, what a friendly and adept conversationalist. Let me contribute.” So I said: “Since about 11:30 last night.” He said: “You camped here.” Oh. I get it. Yes. He added: “You know there was a sign that said you can’t camp here, right?” I did. It was very large. But now my brain was firing on at least one cylinder. So: “Ooooh. No. I’m very sorry.” He said: “Well you can’t. And as it so happens, tonight, we’re conducting a raid. You guys been here more than one night?” I said: “No, we just came from Kakadu.” He shined his flashlight into Willie’s eyes. Testing if he was drunk. “You know,” said the officer. “Most people lie to me. Most people say that they only just got here. That they’ve been here since 4 am.” “What time is it?” “5 am.” “Oh. No, we’ve been here a while.” “Huh. It’s warm in here.” It was. It was very warm. Thanks, Geoff. So the police officer said: “Tell you what. You guys get to a hostel. And if any other officer asks, you got here at four. The van’s warm enough to prove it. You have a nice night.” And that was it! He handed us a brochure explaining Darwin’s camping restrictions and let us off on our merry way. In order to drive out, we had to pass through a maze of other campers. And all of them were upset. Furious. Some paced, others shouted. They were all getting fined. One even waved us down to figure out where we were going – but he only spoke French, so we couldn’t say a thing to him. We left. The only campers not to get fined. Because, evidently, we were the only ones to admit we’d stayed there all night. So I guess honesty does count for something. Even if you only tell the truth because it’s too early in the morning to come up with a lie. By Andrew Adams // April 23, 2010

Tags: andrew adams, australia, camping, overnight stays, police officers, run-ins with the law, stopping, vantastic, where to sleep, willie concepcion



what a wonderful message. still. FUCK THE POLICE

  shaun Apr 25, 2010 2:49 PM


haha hooray fro accidental honesty!

  Morgan Apr 27, 2010 5:59 PM

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