Petrol was a little cheaper in Pine Creek than in Jabiru, but still much more expensive than Darwin – the “remote premium” must impact significantly on residents. We could have stuck to the Stuart Highway all the way to Darwin, but instead cut off left along Dorat Road, once part of the Stuart Highway but now replaced by a new, straighter section. Winding, and just wide enough for two vehicles, driving required more concentration but the was virtualoy no other traffic.
The Dorat Road passes close to Robin Falls, which Lonely Planet claims are a 10 minute walk from the car park. But after more than 20 minutes along an increasingly rocky path the previously gurgling stream had dried up completely, so we turned back – it was unlikely that the falls were flowing anyway. Although the path required too much concentration for the walk to be the nicest, there were lots of butterflies and it was pleasantly shady.
Back on the Stuart Highway, a rest area a little north of Adelaide River was our lunch stop but, as usual, there were too many flies to sit outside. After a brief stop at Coolalinga Woolworths to pick up breakfast we dumped the contents of the car in our Darwin hotel room and drove out to East Point Reserve. Walking along the beach on the south side of the headland gave views of Darwin’s coast, from Fannie Bay round to Cullen Bay. On the north side, the eponymous trees of Casuarina Bay fringed a flat, rocky shore on which a few aborigines were collecting mussels.
I’d almost given up on seeing the wallabies that inhabit the reserve, but on the drive out a few were grazing near some buildings alongside the road. When we looked at the photos later we saw a joey’s head peeping out of the pouch of one, something we hadn’t actually spotted at the time.
Then it was time to return the car, and it was no surprise that we were 300km over our included mileage – 100km a day is nothing in Australia. The room at the Palms Motel unexpectedly had a full kitchen so we ate in before repacking and dumping excess groceries like cooking oil. I really hadn’t expected that we’d be able to self-cater for the whole Darwin section – it saved us a fortune.
The airport bus arrived at the hotel at 05:35, 10 minutes early. Luckily I was just taking my bag downstairs, otherwise it might have gone without us. Bizarrely, airport security was allowing people to take water bottles through, but then I got randomly selected for an explosives swab test (my luggage, not me). With time to kill I wandered around the gift shop – among the offerings were leather pouches labelled as “genuine kangaroo scrotum”. Perhaps that explains why we saw so few in the wild!