I thought that some sections of the trip from Perth to Darwin were remote. They were to a certain extent, but nothing like what I was about to discover. The Savannah Way across the Top End of Australia is unlike anything you could ever imagine. If there are any untouched wildernesses left on this planet, this would be one of them. A stretch of land lost to the confines of human occupation, a place that sits undisturbed and silent, and a natural beauty that is only scarred from the very road that allows the intrepid access. There was actually a stretch of almost 500km along the Savannah Way with basically nothing in every direction but the endless expanse of nature, hundreds of kilometers of an ecosystem left to continue evolving as it has been for millions of years. Beautiful.
In Darwin, almost a month ago now, I said goodbye to my best friend in Australia and partner in crime for the majority of the Great Australian Road Trip. It was a tough goodbye and definitely a turning point for my entire experience in Australia. Now forever trying to look at the positives, that goodbye was also a chance for me to turn my focus towards other things and to reach out for new travel experiences and to share the trip with new people. With Little Miss Sunshine on a plane to Germany, Lizzie Lemieux on a plane to Bali, and Rich Barker contemplating a life in Asia, it was time for me to reinvent Team Awesome and recruit some new players. Enter Chris Ridge (Turbo McBuff), Kaycie Merrihew (Fundeep), and Jenn Birtles (G Puffy).
I honestly could not have found a better crew for Part VI of the Great Aussie Road Trip. They were endlessly entertaining and we had an incredible trip traversing the Top End. It is an amazing thing when you put four relatively complete strangers together for days on end in remote and demanding locations, and not only do they get along, but through the sharing of a truly unique experience, become lifelong friends. Before I get into details, I want to send a huge shout out to you three beautiful people. Thank you for taking my mind off the obvious and for always being bright, passionate, and happy people. Life is about making the most of every moment, and we did exactly that. Boo yeah!
So yeah, the trip! I will try to avoid writing in a style of we went there and we did that kinda boringness. In a nut shell we traversed about 5,000km of Outback, crossing croc filled rivers and camping under crystal clear skies. We travelled in an area of Australia often overlooked by even the most seasoned backpackers. A journey of exploration for everyone in the truck, we passed the 119th camp of Burke and Wills (some of the first explorers to navigate Australia south to north), dug for gem stones at the base of Mt. Surprise, fished for Barramundi in foreboding waters, hiked unmarked gorges and dove into pools of the clearest rivers. An adventure to last a lifetime, the trip from Darwin to Cairns was indeed something special.
The route took us through five national parks and countless wilderness reserves. We drove to remote communities and stations, exploring the regions and speaking with the unique characters who call this part of Australia home. The Top End is made up of mostly arid forests dotted with cattle stations and Aboriginal land trusts. It is crisscrossed with countless rivers flowing ever so slowly into the maze of mangroves that make up the Gulf of Carpentaria coast. It is Crocodile heaven and we even watched Dundee one night just to put everything into realities perspective J.
The Top End is a gem a location left to discover. The Savannah Way cuts through the forests and over the hills snaking its way to the far reaches of Tropical North Queensland. It is a fantastic way to explore the highlights of a wild region. We were lucky to have a vehicle fit for the journey and a crew prepared for anything and everything. We took 16 days to traverse the 5k and made the most of every location along the route. There are ample campgrounds and the basic facilities needed for those looking to make the crossing. Paired with a couple of good maps and the necessary supplies we had an incredible experience and can happily say the trip was an ultimate success.
Australia is a giant country and is as diverse as anywhere I have ever travelled. It has been an absolute pleasure to explore and this series (The Great Aussie Road Trip) has produced a string of experiences to last a lifetime. I am lucky to have an additional five months on my Working Holiday Visa and will be looking to continue to make the most of my time here in Aus. The opportunities to remain travelling are boundless and there are still a couple sections of the journey yet to be completed. From Cairns to Brisbane and Brisbane to Sydney will complete the loop. When, with who and how, has yet to be determined, but eventual is the obvious case and they will happen at some stage.
Thank you for following along on this crazy journey across Australia. I hope you have enjoyed the photos and the videos and the tales of adventure and exploration. I am currently in Cairns for an undisclosed amount of time with a few side trips planned, one back to my favourite state South Australia, and one to a mysterious and intriguing country to reunite with a girl whom I miss terribly. Once back in Aussielandia I will be working on a joint marketing project with Tropical North Queensland for a portion of October, then back to being a free agent for November and December before ultimately returning to Canadia for the holidays.
Saludos y buen viaje a todos!!