Swimming with Dolphins

Aus | Brisbane - Darwin | 15th Mar '15 - 1st Apr '15 | 6008km

Keen to experience the vastness of the Northern Territory we’d always intended to look into car relocations. We struck lucky and found a solitary 4x4 that needed to go from Brisbane to Darwin, leaving in a week. We’d both loved Australia and could easily have spent a year exploring the whole country, but this time, after 4 months in Australasia we were ready to make some progress North-Westwards. The touring purist in Luke swallowed his pride and confirmed the booking.

That left a bunch of time to catch up with the two old friends that had whisked us away from the bus station the previous evening. Stu and Amy’s previously tidy flat became HBD HQ as we duly redistributed the contents of our panniers everywhere. Making our best guess at what kit we’d need for riding in South East Asia we went about procuring Malaria tablets, a water purifier, a second hand army tarpaulin and mozzie nets. The bikes got new chains and cassettes, both having measured well off the chart for wear levels.  Despite our best efforts to repack as lightly as possible, it still looks like a lot of stuff when it's laid out on the floor!

Between visits to the rooftop pool, the Koala farm, a Broncos game (go Broncos!) and Brisbane city's best bits, we headed down to Gold Coast to try our hand at fishing. We didn’t reel in anything big enough to keep but a pod of dolphins appeared as close as 15m away. Given we where all at least ankle deep at the time we’ll class that as swimming with dolphins!

We picked up the car, a massive VW Amarok complete with snorkel, fridge and 4 person tent. After refusing to pay to reduce the huge excess we tiptoed it back to HQ and crammed the bikes in. We spent 6 days dodging kangaroos and emus, sleeping under the newly acquired mozzie net and listening to the humungous road train roll by. Due to the kamikaze kangaroos, our insurance was invalid after dark, which meant driving pretty solidly each day to make up the best part of 4000k in 6 days. Towards Darwin, we encountered more and more WWII sites. We didn’t appreciate quite how worried Australia was about invasion from Japan. Darwin was indeed badly bombed at one stage and Japanese subs were found a far down the coast as Sydney harbour!

The humidity in Darwin was oppressive and we were seriously questioning how we’d manage to ride in it. We had aspirations of finding a boat to Tiimor and just as it looked ni-on impossible (it was still the tail end of cyclone season) we actually found one that would take us. The problem was that he wasn’t leaving for two weeks. As much as we loved the idea, we’d been off the bikes for a while, and Darwin wasn’t the cheapest place to hang around, so we bit the bullet and booked the last two seats on a flight to Dili.