Left Barrow Creek and headed up the highway. The first break in the flat bush land was the Devil's Marbles - a bunch of large round boulders scattered around and piled up in unlikely ways. But even more unlikely - there was an ice cream truck parked there! A good hour from the nearest town (and that population 50) out in the middle of the desert.
Tennant Creek (where I was planning on being last night) didn't look like much - a fairly typical outback town destroyed by tourist billboards and souvenir shops. A very long drive put me at Daly Waters an hour before sunset. I was thinking of stopping here and doing the final two hours to Katherine tomorrow morning. It's the site of the territory's oldest pub / hotel. It was funky, but nothing really grabbed me, and they weren't serving dinner for another hour so I decided to keep moving. Ended up at Mataranka a couple hours after dark and found a hotel, but couldn't find a reception office! Finally gave up and went to the nearby bar to see about getting food before driving the rest of the way up to Katherine - and was offered a room. Obviously the bar a hundred yards and several building down the street would be the reception office for the motel. The motel is boring with no character, but the bar is everything I've come to expect in the outback with scraps of paper and posters and old bits of rusty metal covering every square inch of the interior. Had a fantastic dinner of pork cutlets.
Today I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn - and the weather shows it! Where last night I sat in front of a roaring fire tonight I dragged a chair right in front of the air conditioning to write this. It's feeling very tropical - hot and sticky.