Paradise Garage's Outback Adventure!
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© 2001 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

Why did the pteradactyl cross the brontosaurus path?

Queensland and the Northern Territory

July 29 to August 8, 2001

Does this look like a good place to send three guys in a vintage Jaguar? Only if you're hoping it's a one-way trip!
Here's Shane's 1965 S-Type. Look how pretty it is now. We can't wait to see how it looks after 4600 outback miles. To get an idea of what an S-type is like, check out this scanned brochure for the 1966 model, on the Jag-Lovers server.
Our route. Drive along the outer edge of the line, starting on the right-side tail. Dots represent stops. Planned stops.
Our guy Brian needs to drop a few pounds and put on some muscle for this trip. Think he'll make it?
Imagine someone pops you an e-mail. "I'm going to be dashing across the Australian outback in a 1965 Jaguar!" the message says. "Wanna come?"

Believe it or not, we got that e-mail. And we wasted no time in telling them that there was no way we were going, forget it, good luck. Then they sent the message that will forever haunt us...

"C'mon mate, you only live once and you're a long time dead."

Blast! How can we fight against such compelling reason? So we surrendered and made travel arrangements. Here's what's going on:

By way of backround, in 1951 Les Taylor and Dick Rendle took a Jaguar XK120 and raced it across the Northern Territory of Australia, down Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice Springs, a journey of about 900 miles. They accomplished this feat averaging 91.3 mph! This set an open road world record.

No, we're not recreating the record. We're not going to average 90 mph. Just think about that for a moment: how fast do you have to be going, with gas stops and pee breaks and side-of-the-road repairs, to average 91 mph? Sounds like fun doesn't it? But there will be too many cars for that this time around.

The XK Register of the Jaguar Car Club of Victoria is coordinating and hosting the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Run. We'll be leaving on August 2, 2001, 50 years to the day after the original record-setting run. We expect to see close to 100 Jaguars of all vintage pulling out of Darwin that morning, led by the very same XK120 that set the record!

In civilized areas, the Jaguars will be driving in formation. But deeper in the outback, the group will break formation, and we can travel as we please. And, ahem, there aren't any speed limits.

The official route will take us from Darwin to Alice Springs over the course of four days. We, however, are going to be a bit more adventurous than that. Our guy Brian will be in a 1965 Jaguar S-type with Shane, the car's owner, and Jason, another adventurous Aussie, for a total of approximately 4,600 miles over 10 days as we zigzag between the country's eastern coastline and its desert interior.


Yes! Proceeds from the Commemorative Run will be split between Kids With Cancer, a group dedicated to helping kids who are fighting for their lives, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a group dedicated to providing medical care to remote areas. Let's hope we don't need 'em!
We're going to start off in Townsville, along the eastern coast, and get to know each other over 500 kilometers (kilometers are like Australian dollars, in that you have to multiply by 0.6 to get the American equivalent) to Richmond, a pretty easygoing day. Then we're going to race out of Queensland before the police find us, arriving at Three Ways after a little less than 1,100 km. Three Ways is cleverly named after the fact that you can leave in three different directions (we have to wonder why no one ever tries to go in the fourth direction).

From Three Ways we'll travel a little over 960 km to Cooinda, a town of sorts located in the middle of Kakadu, a national park filled to capacity with short-tempered crocodiles. For those familiar with Florida alligators, these are only distantly related; imagine a giant gator having a really, really, really bad day, and you'll understand why Australian travel guides encourage you to be wary of the beasts. The advisory in our own guide reads something like this: "Don't camp near water. If you must camp near water, make your campsite at least 50 yards from water's edge. Do not return to the same spot along the water's edge. Move your campsite to a new location every two days."

Those of us who leave Kakadu will then enjoy a short 250-km hop to Darwin, where we'll meet the fellow Jaguar enthusiasts for the Darwin Run. We'll stay with the Jaguar group for four days before striking on our own again south of Alice Springs.

We'll start with a 450-km trip to Ayers Rock, immediately followed by a 1,000-km sprint back to Three Ways, then 650 km to Mt. Isa, and finally 900 km to Shane's Palace of Wonder and Joy in Townsville. Then our guy Brian will be chucked on a plane at 6:15 in the morning with pocket full of film, pack full of notebooks, and leg full of croc teeth.

We kept a journal while we were Down Under. Have a look at our big adventure through words and photos:

Sunday, July 29, Townsville to Hughenden
Monday, July 30, Hughenden to Tennant Creek
Tuesday, July 31, Tennant Creek to Cooinda
Wednesday, August 1, Cooinda to Darwin
Thursday, August 2, Darwin to Katherine
Friday, August 3, Katherine
Saturday, August 4, Katherine to Alice Springs
Sunday, August 5, Alice Springs to Mt. Ebenezer
Monday, August 6, Mt. Ebenezer to Erldunda
Tuesday, August 7, Erldunda to Barkly Homestead
Wednesday, August 8, Barkly Homestead to Townsville