Hello from Tennant Creek. It seems they do have Internet in these backwater towns. I shouldn't be surprised really as Tennant Creek is the 4th largest settlement in the Northern Territory - however its population is just 3,500. Most of these citizens are men working in nearby mines, and we have been told they will be very happy tonight to see the Contiki bus in town as it means the arrival of fresh women for them! Our guide insists that we visit one of the two local pubs tonight for the "cultural experience". It should be funny to watch the hordes of men try it on with the girls on our trip. I'm sure they'll be disappointed to find that there are only 5 girls with us. As our driver said though, for those girls the odds are good, but the goods are odd! This is a real strange place! Mullets are standard but teeth are optional is another one of his quotes. We are in one of those places!
It was a long drive up from Alice Springs this morning. Most of us were still digesting our almighty "blow out" steak dinner from last night. We were served 4 courses. Firstly a soup, followed by a local delicacy taster, Barramundi fish for the main course, and a pavlova dessert. The local delicacies we sampled were camel, emu, crocodile and kangaroo. Emu was rather like liver, camel was probably the most edible and kangaroo tasted like cheap steak. The crocodile was the weirdest. It had a texture of something in between fish and chicken, and tasted rather fishy. I wasn't a fan. After the dinner we were given Rolf Harris style wobbly boards for a singalong, and then people got the opportunity to get on a saddle positioned on the roof beams and sign their names on the ceiling. All in all it was a fun night.
The weather today has still been cloudy with some rain. The scenery along the drive has been the same as previous days, only even flatter, but we did stop at some interesting places. First stop was lunch at the Aboriginal Community of Ti Tree. It was a rather desolate, isolated community, with dust blowing in the air, flies everywhere, scruffy houses and battered cars. All in all, with the Aboriginal people sitting about everywhere, it was pretty much a scene you would expect to see in Kenya. I braved a burger from the restaurant, which was cold, and then used the facilities in Australia's dirtiest toilets. By the end of our half hour there everyone was gathered by the coach ready to leave! But our tour guide did manage to alter my opinions on Aboriginals with a speech he gave when we left. For those in communities like Ti Tree alcohol is banned. The people sit about all day because thats all they have done for the past 30,000 years. They drive battered cars because they assign no value to material possessions. They don't have jobs because they've never had jobs and they don't care for money. Their communities are like scrapheaps because they've never really lived in houses before. White man has only been around in their territory for the past 100 or so years, but they've been here for 30,000 or more. It is no surprise they haven't adapted, and no surprise many of them have turned to alcoholism and crime in response to western civilisation.
Just after Ti Tree we drove through the tiny town of Barrow Creek, which was made famous a few years ago by the Outback murder of British tourist Peter Falconio. In case you don't remember, he and his girlfriend Joanne Lees were travelling overnight in their car on the Stuart Highway when a weird man pulled them over on an isolated part of the road. He shot Peter Falconio and tied up Joanne Lees, but she was able to escape into the bush. Some of you might of seen the ITV drama about it, which followed events up to the conviction of Bradley Murdoch.
After this our next stop was at Australia's equivalent of Roswell - their very own UFO capital - Wycliffe Well. We visited the service station there owned by a man who believes he was abducted by aliens. Sadly he wasn't there in person to share his story, but there were plenty of newspaper cuttings on the wall about that and other encounters. There was also a rather freaky doll collection was us to view, and even weirder, a shrine to a gorrilla! It was a decorated four poster bed with a stuffed gorrilla sat on it, and there was no explanation given. Very strange. This is what happens when you live so far from normal civilisation.
Finally, we stopped briefly at the last rock formation of our trip - the Devil's Marbles. They were probably less impressive than most of the other rock sights we've seen, but still interesting. They were basically a collection of large, round red boulders, some places precariously on top of one another. There is a picture of two of them on this blog, but I don't think I saw those on our short walk round.
Anyway, I've done a lot of blog writing lately and I'm sure you're probably all fed up of reading them, so I shall be off! Hope I survive the pub!