In light of the whole experience leading up to Darwin, I managed to get some very important horizontal time. Being on a trip filled with an activity you love tends to make you forget to eat and sleep because of how much you're enjoying yourself, and how badly you want to do it again the next day. I'm sure everyone has their thing, and it just so happens that my thing puts me in a weird position for long periods of time.
I packed my bags in what felt like an aquarium tank because of the humidity. My palms were sweaty, knees weak, and my arms were heavy. Coffee was on my mind so I found a cute little cafe by the coast and ordered a capp, forgetting that WA and NT people like things hot. I couldn't drink it for 30 minutes, pushing forward my departure even more. As I was waiting for the scalding liquid to get to the tastebud threshold, I looked at the outside temperature. It was 30°C at 8am. It felt cool, though everything is relative. It's like I've acclimatized somehow even though I enjoy weather as cold as my heart.
Once I endured having my esophagus singed off, I started my ride southbound for the first time this trip (aside from to Esperance which doesn't really count). From Darwin to Katherine was a 300km backtrack of Day 17, though it was new scenery because I wasn't paying attention the first time. Quick stop in dodgy Katherine for lunch, then 300 further kilometres to Daly Waters. It's too bad I want in the right mindset to explore Kakadu amd Katherine Gorge, but it just gives me a reason to come back and be better prepared to hike.
There are very few places to stop between Katherine and Daly Waters, aside from roadhouses. Thus, the time you spend on the bike ranges from 90min to 2 hours straight, and only to refuel, because the wind helps a bit with the heat. There were some signs pointing to hot springs, but I chose to ignore them. Hot springs in the heat? Nope. But the scenery is not what you would expect as you start to descend toward the centre of the country. The road leading all the way to Daly Waters still remained very green with tall trees and thick bush. The road finally started becoming a lot smoother with fewer potholes and kinks. As my tyres wore down the middle, I found it easier to ride with no hands. I ended up just leaning back against my cargo and steering with my ankles. Thanks, physics!
Daly Waters township is a 3km ride from the highway so it's a bit hidden. By the time I arrived, the sun was just past its peak and the first thing someone said to me was "must be hot in that suit!" Well thank you for that observation sir.
The pub there is garnished to the ceiling with personal items that people have left behind (on purpose) like ID cards, underpants, official badges, and the like. The accommodation was too expensive so I had a quick fizzy drink with some dirtbike riders and got back on Sheba.
As I was going through the 3km road to get to the highway, there was a small tan coloured head that poked out of the grass to my left. I thought it was a wallaby, but it didn't hop. Instead, it made a mad dash to the other side while staring in my direction. Oh my goodness, my first dingo!
7km down the road, I stopped at another roadhouse and they offered budget backpacker rooms for $40. Given the amount of frogs in the area, I'll take it! Turns out I'm the only one in the room so I had three beds to myself again, but this one was a lot less creepy compared to the one in Katherine. I dropped my bags into the room and walked around in the dark endlessly, holding my shower items and clothes. Everything looked the same! There was a guy sitting on his computer on the patio, and after being unable to point me in the direction of the showers, he simply offered his private one.
My very chill dinner date for the evening. He tapped out after halfway through that huge plate. Props.
After my luxurious shower to wash away the nasty thick air from my skin, we grabbed dinner and watched Willy Wonka at the roadhouse. When I went to brush my teeth at the washrooms (once I finally found them), I was so glad I showered in his room. The roadhouse showers were covered in spiders, frogs, huge crickets, and dead insect wings were stuck to the walls. I found it very hard to use the toilet with so many eyes on me.
I brushed my teeth frantically, abandoning all care for my dental hygiene just that one night. Cane toads littered the entire path back to my room. I used duct tape to cover every hole in the wall and door so the insects couldn't get in. Once that was done, I just imagined myself at the farm I used to live on, where I slept in a bed next to Huntsman spiders. Suddenly things didn't seem so bad, and I had one of the most restful nights since Perth.
Day 20: going deeper into the desert to Devils Marbles!