The tour between Alice Springs and Darwin was the most random section ever. It seemed like there was nothing out there (was this the real Outback?) but road houses. In America, we’d call them truck stops because they offer a driver some relief by way of a restaurant, convenience store and fuel. I can’t comment on our truck stops because I’ve never done a cross-country road trip, but the road houses in Australia can only be described as unique.
We stopped at a place with huge iron statuess of Aboriginal people. The artist who made them lived a few feet away. We also visited a place where a hawk-like bird just perched on a branch and didn’t fly away. The road house’s owner rescued him after finding him severely injured. Now he just didn’t want to go away.
There was also a bar that collected souvenirs from around the world. Visitors would come by and leave their home country’s currency, their driver’s licenses and all kinds of wacky memorabilia. Written on the wall besides the memorabilia were hundreds of messages from tourists who had visited in the past. When you walked up to the bar, the bartender didn’t ask for your drink order. He asked where you were from. Then, he’d pull out his stash of collectibles and show you a little piece of home. Maybe when I get home I’ll send him a postcard so he can show my postcard to any other locals who manage to find his doorstep?
I was his first visitor from Hawaii, and he didn’t have much representing us. The only thing he had was the Hawaii quarter that some other American had sent him. I guess I was unique enough that he let me in on some graffiti action. He handed me a marker and said that I could write on the wall if I could find an open space. That was definitely a challenge since his entire wall full. But, I managed to find a small piece of real estate toward the bottom of a doorway and marked my spot.
Another place claimed it was the UFO capital of Australia. This place made you wonder just how sane the owners were. Outside the road house, there were aliens statues with their aircraft, and there was a UFO mural on the walls. But it didn’t stop there and only got better once you went inside. Inside the road house, there was a special room where you could view an alien autopsy. Yes, you read correctly – they created a model of an alien autopsy.
One of the more normal, but still random, stops was at one of the first telegraph stations in the Outback. It was just a bunch of old stone buildings and didn’t have any signs to explain what they were.
I’m not sure if this was the best leg of the tour, but it was definitely one of a kind. It managed to cobble together a variety of interesting and weird things to keep our attention on the long, straight road as we headed north.
|Slide Album: Roadhouses|