Litchfield to Cape Crawford

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Oceania » Australia » Northern Territory
January 16th 2014
Published: February 23rd 2014
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Today was the start of our holiday, well to tell you the truth it was yesterday but today we hit the road heading in a South Easterly direction – Sunshine Coast Queensland here we come. We are so looking forward to catching up with our kids, family and friends. The mundane side of our break means visits to the Doctor, dentist, accountant, etc etc basically getting all our personal and business things sorted.

We have spent the last 10 months working in the Top End and with the Wet Season really kicking into gear things now start slowing down so it is time for us to have our break. The Wet started in fairly grand fashion back in November rainfall was quite consistent throughout the month but then dropped away in December, the locals were a little concerned that maybe another dry wet was possibly on the cards just as had occurred last year. January started but the rains didn’t well not until the 11th, it has been rather damp since with over 90mm yesterday which was our wettest day for the season. Had it kept up it may have delayed our departure momentarily but alas the rain God smiled upon us though he did annoy us on a few occasions as we were packing the car.

Liz was keen to head off early so when I awoke at 0455 it was up and at ‘em. It is till dark in these parts at that time of the day but the rain had stopped and the sky seemed reasonably light, you bloody ripper I thought a day of driving in fine weather awaited us. Bom bommmm! Wrong! Not 2 minutes into my shower the heavens opened and it started belting down, I won’t tell you exactly what I thought but I was a tad disappointed but the fact is you have to take it as it comes. We loaded the remaining items in to the car, got the van ready in the event of an emergency while we were away on this trip, we were leaving the van behind so we would be vanless and made tracks at 0640. I was not wanting to leave before it was light as you have to be very careful of the wildlife that inhabit the roads early in the morning.

Off down the Stuart Highway we went after all it is the only way, the roads were quite wet and we had regular showers until about 60 km’s North of Katherine when the sun meekly started to peak through the clouds. We stopped in Katherine briefly to pick up some supplies, fill up with fuel and scoff down a chicken and pasta salad roll for brekky. It was not until maybe 1400 that the sun actually burst through it was very welcome after the five days of rain we had experienced however that was rather short lived.

As sure as death and taxes you know when driving anywhere in these parts you will have regular encounters with road trains, predominantly these occur without incident but please make sure you stay aware and alert. These are very large vehicles so it is best to give them plenty of room and be courteous particularly when you are towing a vehicle, it takes a while for them to stop and even longer again for them to gain momentum – a win win is what every driver should be striving for.

Despite lush green grass growing everywhere kangaroos have a hugely strong desire to eat what grows right on the side of the road and on 2 occasions I had to brake heavily to avoid contact. I have mentioned in some earlier blogs about the fact I have those go away shoo–roo thingy’s on my bull bar which is supposed to scare these critters away, well up until today I thought they had worked rather well. Now I am more sceptical.

At the Hi Way Inn we refuelled and headed down the Carpentaria Highway fortunately we were only 7km down the road when Liz realised she had left her sunnies on the counter so it was a quick u-ee (I’ve never tried to spell that word before, it is short for u-turn if anyone has a suggestion please feel free) to retrieve them. Now I had never been on this road before so I was looking forward to seeing new things and hoped that some photographic opportunities might arise. The road is one lane wide but the scenery is far nicer than had we continued down the Stuart.

Wildlife was plentiful which was great but it meant having to be very watchful, there were loads of cattle, roos and bustard birds on the road, hawks and eagles feasting on road kill as well as a dingo munching on a dead roo. Unfortunately by the time we stopped he had run off into the metre high grass. We stopped on numerous occasions to grab a photo op (see my photo album blog) but had to be careful as due to all the rain once you hopped off the bitumen it was wet and slippery.

A couple of hours down the road it absolutely belted down with rain I swear visibility was no better than 50 metres so I had to slow down a little more and hope that all the critters had moved off the road. It was so wet we did not even think to take a photo as we both were too busy peering into the downpour making sure nothing was on the road.

Our destination and stopover for the night was the Heartbreak Hotel at Cape Crawford now Cape Crawford may seem an unusual name for a place located 110 km from the coast but apparently just a mere 10,000 years ago it was on the coast. Things looked like going pear shape though as a Telstra malfunction meant all credit/debit card transactions were not available so therefore the hotel would only accept cash unfortunately for us cash was something we had very little of. It was a bit after 4 in the arvo and rain was imminent we knew plenty of wildlife would be roaming all over the road and the next stop was Barkly Homestead 378 km down the road. Hmmmmm! Those God’s namely the “she’ll be right” one’s smiled down on us as we consulted our map and planned our next move. The manager of the aforementioned hotel came out and said he was prepared to let us stopover all we need do was provide him with our card details and personal info, fair enough I would not expect any less.

We stayed in one of their dongers and had ourselves a good feed in the place and chatted with the locals and a truckie from Mt Isa who was stopping for the night before he had a delivery to Borroloola in the morning. Everyone was very friendly and I imagine the place would really get rocking in the Dry Season. It had been a very long day and after a couple of brewskies and some time spent writing this blog I hit the sack at 2115 Liz was fast asleep by then.

This place is definitely worth a visit if you ever get to these parts, it would be busier in the dry if that is what you prefer but I think the fauna is more abundant and the flora lush and plentiful in the wet. Fuel however is not cheap in fact it is pretty expensive $2.20 per litre but to be fair this is a very remote part of the country, the fact it costs a few extra dollars I believe is worth it. Check the place out at

Take care travel safe and remember – it’s nice to be important but it’s important to be nice.

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