Friday, 26 September 2008

Daly Waters Pub in Australia’s Northern Territory

Remember to stop at the traffic lights

The Northern Territory town of Daly Waters, miles from anywhere, has a big history, an iconic pub and a very irritating set of traffic lights.
We’ve all been there. Trapped at a red light for seemingly decades for no apparent reason, tapping on the steering wheel in an increasing frenzy of impatience and silently berating the idiot who is in charge of traffic flow.
Well, if the whole waiting at the lights thing winds you up, then it’s probably best to avoid the Northern Territory town of Daly Waters. Outside the local pub is what the residents proudly boast is the world’s most remote set of traffic lights. You’ve got to give them that – there probably isn’t another one for at least 500km in any direction, and the chances of there being enough traffic to cause a nasty snarl up at the crossroads is even more remote. No, congestion control and accident prevention aren’t the priorities in this little backwater; it’s all about entertainment. Much to the howling amusement of those who set it up, the lights are permanently set to red in an attempt to trick as many visitors as possible as they foolishly slow down and wait for green. It is, quite literally, a tourist trap.

World famous pub

The town is most famous for its pub, and quite rightly so. It is truly something special, and is covered in what can only be described as tat from across the world. Business cards, postcards, foreign currency, passport photographs, driving licences… By the looks of it, most that have visited have left something behind, and it has been put up on the walls, crammed between bus tickets, train passes and rather unpleasant-looking underwear. Well, you wouldn’t leave your best pair behind, would you? Even so, it’s so dusty, shapeless and discoloured that you’d struggle to believe anyone would wear in the first place.

Visitors from Chile to Berlin

That so much from around the world has come together in such a remote place is staggering. Student cards from Chile mix with Berlin underground tickets and scenic photos of Galway countryside sit alongside rather less scenic pictures of maple leaf tattoos on a Canadian bottom. You could spend hours strolling around, reading everything, and notching up the nationalities. If you ever fancy a quick round-the-world trip, or a spot of identity fraud, then this is the place to come. During the day, the tour buses stop by, and another set of visitors from around the world gets to leave their mark. The locals look on somewhat bemused but they’ve long since got used to the strange procession of litterbug foreigners. It’s almost as entertaining as watching the people at the lights

Big barbecue and fresh barramundi

The evening is when the Daly Waters pub really comes into its own, though. That’s when the big barbie comes out and new-fangled things such as vegetarianism are mercilessly shunned. Salad is what food eats in this neck of the woods, although there will be a sprinkling of it available. Frankly you don’t need lettuce leaves when the steaks are top quality and the barramundi is fresh out of the river. Once you’ve tasted it, you won’t really care too much about the traffic anyway.

Getting to The Daly Waters pub

Nearest International Airport: Darwin, but that’s a fair trek.
Using public transport: Forget it – either rent a car or join a tour between Darwin and Alice Springs. Daly Waters is 7km off the Stuart Highway, 275km south of Katherine.

More information: Daly Waters Pub

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