Travelling Australia - Journal 2013
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4 June 2013

Newcastle Waters to Daly Waters
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The Newcastle Waters rest area is separated from the Stuart Highway by about 25 metres so we heard each road train passing during the night; the ones going uphill were particularly noisy. Until this night we hadn't realised quite how much noise a road train makes while moving along; now we know.

The morning was bright and sunny but cool. The solar panels started charging the battery at 8.00 o'clock, but it was then 17°C outside although it soon warmed up as the sun climbed higher in the sky. The rest area emptied fairly quickly as people went about their day's travels; we were not last to leave but so many others had gone that it was easy to leave the rest area.

Shortly after leaving the rest area we turned into Newcastle Waters Station to visit the historic township of Newcastle Waters. The township of Newcastle Waters was on the junction of three major stock routes once used by cattle walking to market and had thrived as a centre for stockmen and drovers to restock and recuperate. But the advent of the road train to carry cattle had ended that segment of the cattle industry and the town is now virtually deserted. We returned to the Stuart Highway and continued north.

Drover statue Drover statue at Newcastle Waters Historic Township.

Newcastle Waters is the boundary between two different types of vegetation. Stretching away to the south, well past Tennant Creek is scrub, usually no more than two metres high, and often lower; it is easy to see for many kilometres across scrub on flat plains or gently rolling low hill; this is the vegetation typical of the Red Centre desert landscape. But north of Newcastle Waters is typical Top End vegetation of trees to four or five metres high with varying amounts of understory. This is savannah woodland with sections of impenetrable lancewood and bullwaddy forests which proved such trials to the first explorers and subsequently to drovers.

Lancewood Lancewood trees dominating the vegetation beside the highway 45 kilometres north of Newcastle Waters. The change from the two to three metre high scrub south of Newcastle Waters is striking; these trees are at least five metres high and there is no undergrowth to speak of.

Newcastle Waters to Daly Waters Pub - page 2
The difference to us driving along the Stuart Highway was that now we were driving along an avenue lined with trees showing remarkably deep green foliage. No longer could we see to several kilometres on either side of the road. Unless something was close to the road we could not see it. The only cattle we saw today were clustered around a waterhole immediately beside the road; there may have been hundreds of cattle among the trees but we couldn't see them. Nor did we see any wildlife; except for the kites wheeling overhead and sometimes feeding on the few roadkill carcasses we passed.

We refuelled without incident at the Daly Waters Hi-Way Inn (the term "Inn" has become very popular applied to what used to be called Roadhouses and Hotels) then turned off the Stuart Highway to Daly Waters Pub which is famous in the caravan community for beef and barramundi evening meal. After paying for an unpowered site at the bar, and booking our meals, we drove into the caravan park and set up. We had been here twice before and being well aware of the limitations of the "caravan park" had decided on an unpowered site. A powered site cost $34 (for two people) and many had no grass, no shade and none had a water tap; many unpowered sites also had no grass, no shade and no water tap but they cost $14 for two people. The powered sites were not really value for money unless mains power is considered to be essential.

The evening meal was superb with the selected steak or barramundi cooked as ordered with a well-stocked salad table nearby. The hotel bar was adjacent and a country singer provided entertainment. An excellent evening.

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