Just north of Alice Springs is the Tropic of Capricorn. From around that point north, the landscape gradually changed from desert scrub brush to lush greenery. And lots of water in the top third of the country. And way less flies and mosquitos. It’s 950 miles (1500km) from Alice Springs to Darwin. We traveled that distance in 3 days. Stopping about every 2 hours at what are called stations, watering holes, pubs, etc. Some of them are working cattle ranches with facilities for truck drivers and tourists. And everything you buy at these places, and rightfully so, is expensive. There is a lot of the same scenery between these stops, so most people on the tour slept. Not me, I didn’t want to miss a thing. The photos that follow are from the second leg of the trip, Alice Springs to Darwin. I will post the third leg, which is around the Darwin area, separately.
Mode of transportation for this leg of tour. 16 of us on a bus that seats 22. So there was a little bit of extra leg space.
At one of our stops, it had been raining and the ground was very wet and muddy. The tents weren’t usable so most of us slept on damp concrete under a tin roof. And everyone got bitten by mosquitos. The showers and toilets worked fairly well here. Those are the famous “swags” we slept in. Canvas bed rolls with a thin mattress inside. Much better than just sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag.
Our second night of the second leg was spent in these permanent tents. Some had lights and fans. No showers though. The water is very alkaline and had plugged up all of the shower heads and lines to them.
This is a termite mound. As we left Alice Springs they were about 1 1/2 ft tall (1/2m). This one is around 10 ft tall (3m). They build them at the rate of 4 inches a year. The further north we go, the larger they get. This is due to the fact that there is more food available to support more termites. These termites look like ants and feed on grass. The mounds are an engineering marvel. A third of the total structure is underground. When it’s hot out, cool air comes up from underground to cool the whole mound. At night, the whole structure retains heat. The worker termites that build these are purposely blinded as soon as they hatch. Not a lot is known about these mounds and theories differ as to how they are built. In the next leg of the trip, there are some that are even more amazing.