A big wetland is the first surprise, and the desert keeps on rolling out its endless cinema of backdrops. A field of hunched red termite mounds, a kilometre or so of tall white-boned trees, spiky red flowering bushes, golden grasses – the scenery changes endlessly. Small squadrons of budgerigars swoop and dip overhead, flashing fluoro green as they make their precision turns.
The worst of the corrugations on the road appear close to the border and beyond, but it is possible to travel in reasonable comfort by driving in the sandy verge on the wrong side of the road. You can see the oncoming plumes of dust from any traffic, so there’s plenty of time to manoeuvre out of the way.
Our second and final night on the Tanami was spent camped next to Stretch Lagoon, about 16km from the main road and on the way to the Canning Stock route. A permit to stay on the Aboriginal land can be purchased from the community store at Billiluna, for $30.
Pleasant spot. Lots of bird life thriving on the fish in the lagoon.
Here we decant our jerry cans of diesel into the tank. As we head towards Halls Creek, we have finally found the “bad” part of the road. A group zooming past in a battered, skittish Commodore sedan doesn’t seem too concerned. The empty VB cans bouncing in their wake might have something to do with it.