Posts Tagged ‘Bill Bryson’

I received a request for more travel writing (thanks for the positive feedback, folks!) and I’m happy to oblige. Fifteen years ago today I was still on my around-the-world-on-a-shoestring adventure and lucky enough to be in beautiful and fascinating Australia. (For more, and often hilarious, writing on this fine land, I recommend Bill Bryson‘s excellent In a Sunburned Country.)

July 19

Today was my first real day in Australia. I woke early and showered, then walked to a car rental place down the street and picked up a car. It’s a Camry with the steering wheel on the right (meaning wrong!) side. Weird, but fine once I got used to it.

I rescued my incredibly resilient brother from the jaws of the commercial aviation system, checked out of the hotel and started driving east. I took a left toward Humpty Doo and cruised down the Arnhem Highway. There aren’t that many roads up here so getting lost wasn’t as much of a problem as finding places to refuel. In these isolated parts the petrol stations are like souped-up 7-11s back home. They’ve got everything from gas to snacks to a lunch counter complete with short order cook. My brother bought an amazingly large and leaky hamburger with everything on it (we’re talking usual condiments like cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, but also Thousand Island dressing, ham, pickled beets and a whole fried egg!). I had toast with peanut butter and everyone was happy.

It’s about three hours from Darwin to the Kakadu Park hotel where we were staying and I drove, pleased that being on the wrong side of the road was really no big deal. Keep left, look right, that’s my motto. I didn’t sweat it at all, except for that one time when I may have clipped a highway reflector post with the passenger-side mirror. Fortunately, both objects involved were spring-mounted. No harm done!

We pulled into the hotel mid-afternoon and found Dad and Step-Mo out by the pool. After halloos and stories, Dad joined us on a two-hour billabong boat tour where I saw two crocodiles, a ton of birds, and a sunset. I took many pictures. I was not eaten.Billabong

The road back to the hotel ran through scrubby trees and dense undergrowth, all of which exuded more elegance than during the day. The magnificent headdress of stars certainly helped.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant (kangaroo isn’t so bad, really), drinks at the bar, then called it a night. I couldn’t stand to be behind in my writing anymore though, so I’m up and pleased to be back on track.

Spotted today: white parrots, a long lizard, three big monitor-type lizards with purple tongues (by the pool), a kangaroo (dead), big snake (dead), a wallaby (alive), biting insects galore, and the Southern Cross – beautiful!

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