6 years ago

March 2016

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  • Rover
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  • Evoque
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  • Ratan
Meet Ratan Tata | Travel through the Outback in a Discovery Sport | Head to California in search of the Lost Coast | Sir Paul Smith and his bespoke Defender | Grass roots Rugby

sandstone cliffs, with

sandstone cliffs, with sandy beaches edging the cool water. That water looks tempting in the 30-plusdegree heat and, more significantly, the high humidity that’s normal before the wet season. Temptation to swim is tempered by the locals, though, who tell us there are freshwater crocs in there. My Discovery Sport is unchanged from those you’d walk into a showroom and buy. There are a few sensible accessories given our location – a Land Rover roof rack with some additional driving lights and a spare wheel. Frugal as the new Ingenium engine is, fuel stops are rare, so there’s the sensible precaution of a pair of fuel cans, too. A radio, a tyrepressure monitor system and a powered cool box are on the back seat inside. The Discovery Sport is properly prepared then, perhaps more so than its driver. With Terrain Response adapting the engine, gearbox, differentials and chassis to optimise the drive, it’s simplicity itself in challenging conditions. Out here, it’s more than transport. It’s a lifeline. Today and over the entire journey, there’s dust. Lots of it. Every turn of the wheels throws up rooster tails of the stuff. The colours vary, the landscape’s hues like a huge spice rack, from near whites of ground ginger, through cumin, turmeric, saffron and rich reds of paprika. The Indigenous people talk about reading the landscape, taking cues from it to navigate and find food, shelter, medicine and water. We carry all of ours and use satellites for navigation, but bush skills come in useful when we learn that the darker the dust, the quicker it settles. The lighter colours are finer in consistency, hanging in the air far longer like a talcum powder and creating treacherous whiteouts that leave me guessing where the road is heading. If speaking to the locals teaches me one thing, it’s to adapt and learn. Simple things can be useful. The termite mounds, which are everywhere, can give a helpful signal as to the kind of dust to expect ahead as they’re constructed from the colourful soil around them. They’re strangely beautiful and sensationally clever in their construction. Nature finds ways to survive, and thrive, however hard the environment. Fire also dominates here. There are signs of it everywhere. Scorched trees and charred groundcover are regular sights, testament to the fires that are set deliberately to clear the land. These managed ‘cool burns’ prevent dangerous wild bushfires and are essential for many plants to germinate and succeed in the Northern Territory. Alone in my swag, the night sky is the only thing bigger than the land we’re driving through. The view is sensational, restorative and incredibly peaceful. It’s a greater luxury and privilege than even the most comfortable hotel room. Only the swag’s fly screen divides me from the majesty above. It’s not difficult to understand why some people are attracted to life in the Northern Territory. The cattle ranchers – young men and women dubbed Jackeroos and Jilleroos – exemplify the mindset. They work the livestock on horseback or motorcycle with support from helicopters. They spend weeks wild-herding the stock. It’s an incredibly hard life, rewarding, though, financially and personally. Speaking to them at an overnight stop on the Aroona Cattle Station, none of them would have it any other way. Effectively isolated in a small community of like-minded individuals, they’re all clearly happy with their lives. The incredulity on their faces when one of us describes apartment living in a city, among thousands, if not millions of people when their nearest neighbour could be hundreds of kilometres away is enough to have us questioning if we might be doing something wrong. Like the dust, the Northern Territory can get under your skin. This vast, often harsh, but beautiful landscape is an adventure, even when experienced from the comfort of a Land Rover Discovery Sport. And adventure doesn’t get any bigger than this. JOIN THE ADVENTURE Ready to head out? Here are the next journeys offered by Land Rover Adventure Travel: Clockwise from top left: securing the spare all-terrain tyre; the sandstone monolith Uluru; off-roading with my swag [all-in-one sleeping bag, bedroll and cover] strapped to the roof rack; traditional landowner, Larry Johns from the Gregory National Park/Judbarra 48

REASONS TO GO TO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 01 NO PHONE SIGNAL We’re all slaves to them, but for four days my smartphone didn’t have a single bar of reception and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world. Tourism NT is talking about creating wi-fi highways along the main thoroughfares in the Northern Territory. It shouldn’t. 02 RIVER CROSSINGS There’s no greater joy than driving offroad and encountering a river crossing. Unquestionably dangerous at times, but like jumping in puddles, there’s a childlike joy about getting the tyres wet. 03 SPEAK TO THE LOCALS You’ll never go anywhere friendlier. Everyone has a story to tell – usually interesting, often amusing. Take some time to learn about the Indigenous beliefs, stories of survival and the cultural significance of the Northern Territory. 04 SLEEP UNDER THE STARS There’s nothing, absolutely nothing more luxurious than spending a night sleeping under the stars. There’s no light pollution here so the sky is usually beautifully clear. It’s the best night’s sleep you’ll ever get. 05 EMBRACE THE DUST Camping here is of the rudimentary sort. Lavatories are a walk for some privacy and forget about a shower. The dust sticks to your skin like a suntan. It’s better than any fake tan and takes just as long to remove when you get home. 49

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