After a couple of days riding, Bruno and I reached Katherine. To our surprise the backpackers there, Coco’s Backpackers, is a cycle touring hotspot. There were seven other cyclists. Awesome! Everybody started somewhere else, did something else and we all met here. They came from Perth, Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne. Ted for example, an Australian who used to live near Melbourne, took a similar route to mine. The difference, he only used dirt roads and cycling through a lot of communities, although he had a pretty crappy bike. Sorry mate, it’s true 🙂
The atmosphere in Katherine was relaxed and we had a cheap supermarket nearby. That’s why we made excessive use of the BBQ. Everybody had some stories to tell, and we talked about gear. Because whenever a bunch of cyclists meet, you ALWAYS, ALWAYS talk about gear.
Bruno and I ended up staying three nights. One day we descided to visit Katherine Gorge. We started as a group of four. After about 10 km cycling two turned back, because of a flat tire. So only Bruno and I keep going. But after a little sightseeing, he as well wanted to go back and cycled the 30km to the hostel. I stayed and did a bunch of lovely hikes. When I finally reached the backpackers after the long and great day, it was nearly dark.
The next day, we were keen to get on the bikes again. Ted wanted to go to Darwin as well, so he came with us. I still had a bit of shopping to do, so the two of them wanted to start already and we would catch up at some point during the day. I did my shopping, said goodbye to the others and started cycling on my own again.Ted and Bruno were only an hour and a half ahead of me, so it should be easy to reach them by lunchtime (we started pretty late, it was already 11 o’clock), or so I thouthoughtfoubd them about 20km outside town, sitting at the side of the road. Ted has caught a flat tire. We had a break in the shade (it was getting hot again) and as we literally where pushing the bikes back on the road, Bruno had a puncture. So we sat down again, Bruno fixed the tire and I had the third breakfast that day. Then after all we were back in the road (puncture free) and continued. Shy of Pine Creek we found a good camping spot.
The next morning, we started early. We didn’t wanted to cycle in the heat like yesterday. After a couple of kilometres on the highway we turned into a side road and cycled to Robins Falls. A great spot. The waterfall had formed a pool where you could swim. The water was cold and it was great after a long day of cycling. We camped near a small creek and we all felt good having flowing water and a forest like environment again. To top the whole thing, a couple from Darwin gave us a beer each!
The next day, we started even earlier and cycled Litchfield National Park. I was so fast, while cycling through the outback, that I had some days to spare. We rode a bit of good dirt road, which then turned into a 4WD track. It was fun! Around noon we arrived at the Florence Falls. Such a big waterfall, and again you were able to swim and camp there. I really began to like the detour. But the next day turned out even better….
Again we started very early at the falls and cycled 30 km to the next falls. We arrived shy after sunrise and nobody, really no one, was at the biggest and most popular waterhole of the park. We had breakfast and a swim. Then at 9 o’clock all the tourists came at once. We relaxed and a while later we made our way to the café. Ted used to work there. All his former colleagues were still work ing here and we got ice coffees and food for free! And they even invited us to their place, where we could pitch the tents and got a dinner as well. Thank you!!!
Only 140km to Darwin. Bruno and I descided, we could rock this in one day. (Ted wanted to stay a bit longer in Litchfield) The road was very good at first, but then it turned into very corrugated dirt. It wasn’t that much fun, but it was ok. After 10 km the bad part was over and road workers started to seal the road. Only downside, they made the old dirt road wet, so they can work easier. So, 80 km before Darwin my bike got really dirty, at least you could now see, that it was used properly 🙂
The last 50 km we cycled on the Stuart again and a really nice bike path. Then, it passed by so quickly, we were at the airport, the CBD, beach… We saw the sea and I knew, my journey, cycling 10 months in Australia and New Zealand, was over. Just like that. Just by reaching some beach. So fast. I felt happy, but not as happy as I thought I would be. It didn’t felt like the end of the road, it just felt like another beach, another city. Not like the end.
This realisation would still take a couple of days. It’s so hard to think about 10 months of intensive travel in just a moment. The arrival was just a part as well and later fitted perfectly in the whole “picture”. And then I felt the happiest when I was thinking about the whole journey, the whole picture, what I had achieved and not only about the moment at some beach in Darwin. Because in the the end it isn’t that important, where you finish your journey, it’s the journey itself.
The journey is the reward
It’s as easy as that 🙂