From 2 wheels to 8
A 5am start after a dreadful night sleep saw me topping up the scooter before returning it, by pumping petrol into the oil filler. My excuse was that I had not yet had caffeine.
The tour "bus" arrived before I could get coffee and we met our driver/ guide Adrian.
We drove out to Cable Beach to pick up the rest of the crowd - 14 passengers in all, and then half an hour later, drove back to where we started to get petrol and other supplies. I could have had coffee after all.
We then learned that due to rain in the north, we would not be able to travel along the Gibb River Road as it is a dirt track. We may also have to miss going to the Bungle Bungles and El Questro unless the rain stopped and the roads dried out.
It's the dry season! It's not supposed to rain until October!
Adrian was a little daunted by the prospect of change as this was only his second tour as a guide with Western Exposure and he had never driven the alternate roads proposed. Although he was white, he knew a lot about traditional Aboriginal culture and customs and had lived in Kakadu for 10 years. He had written several books about Aboriginal ceremonies and could play the didgeridoo quite well.
There are 12 other people onboard our 4WD bus - 2 Aussies, 2 Irish girls, 2 Poms, 3 Scots, 1 Danish girl, 1 German girl and 1 guy from the Netherlands.
We hit the road to Derby with a brief stop at the Prison Boab tree where they used to tie up and torture aboriginal men before forcing them to dive for pearls. We did a mad dash to Geike Gorge to try to get the 3pm boat tour up the river but even though Adrian drove like a maniac, we missed the boat by 10 minutes. It seemed like we had spent the whole day in the bus. We moved on to Fitzroy Crossing and set up camp at the caravan park. It was all very nice with all mod cons - we pitched our tents and set up swags* to sleep on. We had a great fish dinner and got to know our fellow passengers while Adrian dragged out the didgeridoo and gave us a demo.
* swags are thin mattresses inside a thick canvas bag. You climb into your sleeping bag then into the swag and zip the canvas up like a cocoon. This is supposed to keep you warm and dry.