First day out of Katherine Matilda is still coughing and spluttering, the lingering symptoms of the dirty petrol. But as the kilometres slip by she slowly perks up.
After 200 kilometres we reach Daly Waters Pub. With fond memories of the delicious barramundi BBQ and bistro salad bar and the great entertainent from Chillie, we decide to stay a night in the campground. Once again the barramundi was delicious piled high with salad. Unfortunately Chillie had moved on. Never mind, we made friends with Jim and Ann and spent a pleasant evening over a beer and wine swapping stories. Jim was a retired mechanic, what a bonus. Next morning he had a quick look at Matildas innards and from what he could see it looked ok and the dirty fuel diagnosis was possibly all that was wrong.
But my plan to go south was slowly wavering…
So for the past 3 days I have been really struggling with a decision. Every kilometre we go south from Katherine toward Threeways I have a pro and con debate going round in my mind…
- Go South….
- Pro….New territory, new experiences, Ulurru, Iconic scenery
- Con… Long distances, very cold nights, very expensive petrol and food,
- Go East
- pro… Stay in the warm climate, shorter distances between towns, cheaper petrol, back to the ocean and coast road
- Con… ???? can’t really think of any….
Also can Matilda handle 400 to 500 kilometre days. Was she telling us something??? Can we handle that distance each day???
So in this frame of mind we reach Threeways, the major junction between, Stuart Highway going north/south and the Barkly Highway heading back east.
Tennant Creek is the service town in this area, just 20 kilometres south of Threeways. We stop here for the night. This is a predominately Aboriginal area. It struggles to put up a facade and markets itsself as “The golden heart of Northern Territory” Wide streets with an avenue of trees down the centre creates shade. Murals of Aboriginal artwork decorate some walls.
When we walk along the main street we notice many vacant buildings. Most shops have heavy grade metal mesh barricading the windows. The lady working in the Post Office tells us it is safe to park in the main street as the police patrol it but not to park down side streets at night as it will be in danger of having windscreens smashed.
Walking down the street we are greeted with smiles and G’day from Aboriginals as they walk past us ( Jack has on his “happy pants”)Jack stops to talk to a family group and they invite him to take their photo.
So we hear one side but see another. Nothing is ever black and white, excuse the pun, but all shades of grey depending on who you talk to.
So this morning it was decision time. Almost came to tossing a coin, but in the end I decided to head east. The Red Centre can wait for another trip….