Kununurra and Katherine are both large enough to arrive and look for a place to stay, but Tennant Creek is a bit different. It has a large indigenous population and a reputation for unrest. With that in mind, we tried to book online at a place we’d stayed at before, but the online booking services couldn’t finalise the transaction. So we rang the motel. It’s not the only place in town, but we liked the security aspect. When we arrived, the price for the room had gone from $150 a night online to $160. Usually when you book direct the room is cheaper because the motel doesn’t have to pay a booking fee (around $8). This happened several times in our travels. Pete pointed this out to the manager, an Englishman who hadn’t been there very long. But even when he discovered the motel was offering a room at $146 per night on one of the booking services (he didn’t believe us, so he checked), he was adamant. $160. He told us we didn’t HAVE to stay there. I don’t think he quite ‘got’ it. He’s managing a motel in the middle of Australia. The place certainly wasn’t full, and he wasn’t likely to get any more passing traffic. I also heard him turn away a last minute young couple wanting a ‘budget’ room. The thing is, an empty room doesn’t earn money. Also, the place has a bar and a restaurant, so it’s easier to eat in than brave the town. He could expect to get his ten bucks back.
We might have argued, but ten bucks wasn’t much in the scheme of things, so we shrugged and paid. Certainly the rooms had been extensively renovated since the last time we stayed there, but we won’t be in a hurry to go there again. We’d stopped for a very late lunch maybe a hundred clicks from Tennant Creek at Renner Springs – basically a tiny settlement with a pub, a bowser and a caravan park. That’ll be the go next time. It avoids the 25km detour, too.
As it happened, we had a dreadful night at Tennant Creek – not because of the motel, but because the cough I’d had since we left Perth flared up. Neither of us got much sleep. In the morning I suggested we should head for home, and visit the Atherton Tablelands another time. After all, it’s only about 1,500km from home.
So we changed our route plan, going home via Mt Isa, Longreach, Biloela.
But that’s not the end of the story. I almost managed to tick off a bucket list item – a photo of a wedge-tailed eagle.
Wedgies are the biggest eagles in Australia, and they’re quite common all over the mainland. I saw this one eating road kill and managed a few parting shots (as it were)
That was nice – but on another piece of road, I noticed that unmistakable wedge-shaped tail in the sky – and the bird flew down towards us, then LANDED IN A TREE BESIDE THE ROAD which, of course, we zipped past. My driver immediately slowed to a halt and turned around. I had my camera ready but (of course) the eagle had taken off, being harassed by a magpie. This shot was taken from the car, when he flew back a little closer, hotly pursued by his tormentor. Oh well. Maybe next year.
And I’ll finish off with a few more pictures of outback Oz.
Well – that’s it. I hope you enjoyed the ride. When we finally rolled into our driveway, we’d done just shy of 14,000km in a calendar month. We left on 28th September and reached home on 28th October. We used 1,190 litres of diesel. Pete added up all our costs – fuel, accommodation, meals, and sundries. It cost us $232 per day for the two of us. Not bad, really.