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.

London Bridge

London Bridge is now known as London Arch. It was named after its resemblance with The famous bridge in London but in 1990 one arch collapsed into the sea and left the other disconnected from the coast. Two tourists were stranded on the further end of the bridge when it collapsed and had to be rescued by helicopter.

Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road, Australia

After my journey along the Great Ocean Road I continued to Adelaide and then to Perth by Crossing the Nullarbor.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km (151 miles) stretch of coastal road in the south of Victoria. The road runs between the small towns of Torquay and Allansford. It was built between 1919 and 1932 by returned soldiers and is dedicated to the memory of those killed during World War I, the road is the largest war memorial in the world.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road passes through some of the most unique and varying landscapes in Australia. Over its short 243 km you can see coastal cliffs and rock formations, rain-forest and beaches. Due to its attractiveness and its closeness to Melbourne (about an hours drive) it is a very popular stop for tourists. Because of that they have to remind drivers on which side of the two laned road they should drive.

the Great Ocean Road

Over the next few posts I will be showing you a few examples of the amazing scenery you can see along the Great Ocean Road including London Bridge, The Twelve Apostles and Cape Otway.

But for now enjoy the rain-forest scenery of Hopetoun Falls.

The Great Ocean Road

Hopetoun Falls, Australia

Read the next post in this series The Twelve Apostles.

Uluru

Uluru is also known as Ayers Rock and even ‘The Rock’. Mass tourism to central Australia and Uluru dates back to the 1960s with the number of visitors continues to grow each year. Uluru is managed by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which also encompasses Kata Tjuta or the Olgas. This national park is the most visited place in Australia.

Since 1985 Uluru has been handed back to the Anangu (local Aboriginals) in a joint management project with Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This has allowed the traditional Aboriginal owners to play a central role in the management decisions. This has resulted in some sacred sites that were once open to the public to be closed in respect to Aboriginal law.

Uluru, Australia

Uluru, Australia

Little has changed since Uluru-Kata Tjuta first attracting visitors despite the variety of products offered. Change will need to be accelerated in order to ensure the spiritual values are protected. New products will need to meet the diverse interests of visitors and over time a different group of tourists may be attracted to the area by a spiritual meaning and importance. Despite being on the World Heritage List it is difficult to change visitor’s perspectives and expectations.

Sacred places are not safe from tourists, the tourist track is everywhere. Those tourists that try to tread lightly may be doing harm in other areas such as culture, traditions and spirituality. Sacred sites need to be robust and need to cope with extra stresses, especially if the area attracts a large amount of visitors. It is easy to measure and in some cases prevent the impact that tourists have on an area but how can you do this when it concerns cultural or spiritual values.

For more about nature tourism and the protection of sacred places read another post I wrote on the subject HERE.

Road trippin’ in Australia

While in Australia I travelled as much as possible but still it wasn’t enough. I went from Melbourne to Perth, Adelaide to Darwin, crossing the whole country twice. There was still more to see so I went from Melbourne to Brisbane, then Brisbane to Cairns which unfortunately was cut short at Rockhampton due to extreme floods. Rockhampton was 26m under water for weeks, there was no way round.

I left Australia slightly unfulfilled. I had done as much as I could but still I was missing something. I never made it to Cairns or to the Great Barrier Reef. I would have loved to have travelled the west coast from Perth to Darwin but there just wasn’t enough time. Now there is a reason to return.

Map of Australia

Map of Australia

This post is an introduction to a series of posts about Australia that will follow. I will share with you my travels, experiences and photographs. They can be used as a guide but also to learn about a country we know very little about. A relatively knew country with a very old history.

If you are thinking about making a road trip in Australia there is a good article to read about which coast to drive. I have always wanted to drive the west coast as it is currently off the beaten track but it looks like that we will change as the east coast gets more popular and crowded.

East Coast Vs West Coast Australia