KATHERINE to TENNANT CREEK

There is not much, except for cattle stations and the occasional roadhouse on the 660km stretch of highway between Katherine and Tennant Creek.  It truly feels, just like one “long” paddock !

To get a closer look at station life, we caught up with Danie Luttig who showed us around Mataranka Cattle Station.  Mataranka is no hobby farm – it 770 sq km and holds up to 5,000 head of cattle.  That’s bigger than some of the countries we cycled in Europe!!

The station is managed by Charles Darwin University, and is where young stock men and women come to hone their skills before moving onto other stations.  Being a “jack (or jill) -aroo” is a hard but rewarding job.  In the dry season, when the mustering is done, you can be out for weeks rounding up the cattle! But it’s a lot of fun too – everyone lives together on the station, and “Chook” (the station cook) make sure no one goes hungry!

The Stuart Highway (the road we followed from Katherine), roughly traces the route John McDouall Stuart took in the late 1850s, when he trekked up from Adelaide, surveying a path for the Overland Telegraph Line.

We think travelling by bike, is about as close as you can get to being an overland explorer today.  You can easily relate to the hardships they must have faced –heat, flies, monotony of the scenery, and the constant search for water etc.  Riding along, we could almost hear one of Stuart’s men saying “John, we haven’t seen anyone for days, we are hungry and our feet hurt –are we there yet !?”

But like Stuart and his men, we got there eventually…

From Tennant Creek, we now turn east, across the Barkly Tablelands to Mount Isa.  It is 600 km away, we’ll have a strong headwind, and there will be only two opportunities for a cold drink along the way.  We’d love to say it will be fun – but that would be a lie.  Wish us luck.

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Jules & Jess

With Danie Luttig and "the boys". Mataranka Station.

 

Cattle in the yards

 

Station camp at sunset

 

"Chook" the station cook

 

Look no hook! Ella hand feeding barramundi, Mataranka.

 

My favourite pastime - fixing punctures roadside.

 

40 degress and rising - even the roadmarkers are starting to melt!

 

Jess cooling off in the Daly Waters Roadhouse Pub

 

This is what it's like - for 660 kms !

 

Our camp at sunset, just off the Stuart Highway

 

Early morning road train thundering down the Barkly Stock Route.

 

Cyclists - all the way out here? These German guys must be crazy!

 

Views across the Barkly Tableland - this is our next challenge!

 

Are we there yet ? Tennant Creek, 50kms to go.

 

The Threeways - turn left if your a Queenslander !!