Out of Petrol in the Outback

It was the last day, the drive into Darwin. The night before we had been lost in the van, driving up and down the road looking for the overnight parking spot we had seen before entering Litchfield national park a few days earlier. The van my girlfriend and I were driving had to be returned with a quarter of a tank and I was being too careful in the refueling and hadn’t anticipated being lost for an hour before we eventually found the overnight parking place.

The next morning we packed our stuff ready to return the van and prepared for the short drive into Darwin, it would take about 2 hours and we wanted to leave with plenty of time to make sure we found the rental office before midday. Starting the van took a little longer than usual but it was almost unnoticeable, it wasn’t until a few kilometers down the road that I realized. The petrol light came on and instantly the engine cut off.

We were out of petrol.

The van had been running great through out the whole trip, around 3000 km. There hadn’t been a single problem. Until now. This wasn’t even a problem with the van, completely down to human error. In no way could I hold the vans mechanics responsible, that lay completely with me. Over the two weeks we had been driving the van had become a big part of that trip and many memories had been made. The night in Kakadu national park when we left the door open and mosquitoes had filled the inside. Driving through two feet of water on our quest to see crocodiles. And then the endless miles it drove unrelenting. We had left a message inside the van of our memories. The roof had been littered with peoples trips, a written map of the journeys this heroic van had made across Australia, so we left ours:

Adelaide to Darwin: let’s fuck shit up

As I drifted into the lay-by, there was only one thing I could do, I had to get a ride into town for fuel. I knew the town wasn’t far away from the previous nights driving back and forth. I left my girlfriend in the van and thumbed down a lift almost straight away.

I got into a car with a mother and her two young boys. “I don’t usually do this, you aren’t a serial killer are you?” It seemed like she was more nervous about this than I was.

At the nearest gas station I got the fuel quickly as time was running out and headed back to the highway to catch another lift. it wasn’t so easy this time. The cars were moving too fast to stop. After a few minutes two guys waved me over from the car park and asked where I was going. They agreed to drop me off even though it was out of their way. After helping them unload their beers into an esky we jumped in the car and were off.

“Have you ever seen Wolf Creek?”

© Our Shadows Will Remain

If you have enjoyed this then you might like to see my photo journal from Crossing the Nullarbor.

Adalaide to Darwin

Travelling to Uluru was part of a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin. A distance of around 3200km with only one ‘city’ in between, Alice springs. It was a large amount of driving but there were many highlights along the way. Some of these I have covered in other posts but here are a few other reasons the drive is a must.

Coober Pedy

In south Australia there is very little to see along the drive and its not until Coober Pedy, a small town that grew out of Opal mining but now resembles the last place on earth, that you meet any signs of civilisation. Most of the town is built underground out of the rock so when you go to the local viewing point there is very little to see. The town has also become famous for being the location for many films, including Mad Max.

Coober Pedy

View over Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

Sculpture in the Coober Pedy mines

Uluru National

Heading from Adelaide you have to turn off the highway to reach Uluru National Park but it is well worth the visit. It can be expensive in petrol but also park entrance fees and higher camping costs. Before heading back to the highway I would recommend another detour and stopping at Kings Canyon and using a few hours for the larger walking route which offers amazing views.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is almost exactly halfway between Adelaide and Darwin. The town is one of the only major towns to be named after an Australian woman. The Todd river runs through Alice Springs but is usually always dry.

Adelaide to Darwin

Alice Springs

View over Alice Springs

The Todd River, Alice Springs

The Todd River, Alice Springs

National Parks in the Northern Territories

Once you arrive in the Northern Territories the scenery really changes with an abundance of National Parks. I stopped in both Litchfield and Kakadu, they were both absolutely spectacular. The sites in Litchfield are much closer together and a good majority of them can be seen in one day, where as Kakadu requires a lot more driving but again is well worth it. If you are staying in Darwin a weekend trip can be made to visit this National Parks and can be a very busy time.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

This route does seem very long and there are other cheaper and quicker alternatives if you are looking to visit Uluru National Park but if you are looking to take in the National Parks in the north I would drive. There are many other sites along the way including the Devils Marbles, Australia’s UFO capital and of course the natural beauty of the Australian Outback.

The Australian Outback

The Australian Outback

Take a look at my other road trips including Crossing the Nullarbor and the Icefields Parkway in Canada.