The last beer was drunk at the Junction in 1960, when Schober took his business, and the liquor license, to Elliott. We wandered through the bar and around the simple accommodation buildings, built between 1935 and 1955. I started in one corner and began thumbing through the hats, but after about ten, there it was, in my hand, unmistakably theirs!
There was no sign of Alix when we got up (she’s not a morning person either) which was probably for the best since we were caped in sweat and looked like shit. The Tanami Desert on our right, the Barkly Tableland to the left, the Tropical North disappeared behind us and the quintessential red-earth Outback stretched out ahead. We camped 87 kilometres south at Bonney Well rest area, with bore water for cooking pasta and a cup of tea under the great arc of white-gold-dust that is our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Australians, on a global scale, are an early-rising lot, so we had the place to ourselves when, at 7.20 am, I climbed out, pulling on my jeans, desperate for a piss. We cooked and ate oats with jam and full-fat milk under the shade of a tree, then, when the sun came over, caught a bit of a tan then laid in bed for a while, door open, breeze blowing through, looking out across the barren, rocky, red dusty landscaping with nowhere in particular to go. Some Italian guys pulled up with a radiator leak, but other than showing them where the water was, there wasn’t much we could do. Expanding in the heat and contracting at night every 24 hours proves too much for some boulders. We fuelled up again at the Ti Tree roadhouse (and bar) then not much further on spotted a sign that advertised free mango wine (and ice-cream) tastings at some place called the Red Centre Farm. A dreadlocked German kid called Tim locked up the store and led us round to a little tasting area out the back. Afterwards we all had a good old chat, then the girls set off in the beat-up but fully-stocked, old car for a 4WD track that would take them all the way into Western Australia and on to Perth, where they offered us a place to stay.


Roy has travelled to 77 countries and drunk more than his fair share of just about everything. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser. After the abandoned aerodrome at Daly Waters we passed Dunmarra, named after a man called Dan O’Mara who went missing here and was never found (the Aborigine trackers pronounced his name Dunmarra), then detoured three kilometres west through Newcastle Waters Station to the ghost town of Newcastle Waters. As people got too drunk to notice the difference, they were moved on to the warm beer, thus preserving the precious stock. Two mutual friends, Aliza and Jon, had once left a hat in here and Alix had been looking for it ever since she arrived. We showered, ate, chatted to a yardie, then used the WiFi password Alix had given us to send her a goodbye message.
We live in a state that makes world-class wine and we literally have a wine region right on our doorstep. What was once Jones’ Store, built in 1934, has been turned into a kind of ghost museum. Here the occasional roadhouse and even the road itself are but specks in the desert, hemmed in by the encroaching wilderness. Inside, the walls were plastered with bank notes and so on – a nod to the not-so-distant days when travelling shearers would leave money behind the bar to ensure a drink or few on their return. Really this land is a raw and wild one, and there are nowhere near enough people passing through to tame it. It really does have something for everyone, yet it’s the wineries, which keep me going back for more.Want to explore the Swan Valley in Full?
Check out the Swan Valley Regional Profile - Winery rankings, filterable directory and map, Vinescape scores and top rated winesHaving lived in the Swan Valley area for nearly 2 years now, I can’t help but explore to my hearts content.


The cellar door and The Cheese Barrel Café sit side-by-side and they are a sight for sore eyes. The architecture is simply stunning and really lures you in.The cellar door is open and bright. On one side you can view the outstretched vineyard and on the other side you can view down into the split-level working winery.
You can taste a wide range of cheeses from all over the world as well as enjoying various other bites to eat from the menu. Despite growing only one type of grape variety this talented team manages to create sparkling, white and red wines, all from the Grenache grape!
Plus you’ll get to meet the now very well-known goose whose in love with the golden retriever dog, a very quirky match! The cellar door looks out over the vineyard and has some of the best customer service in the Swan Valley. Most of the pies on the menu are made using the Ugly Duckling Wines, so they really are a unique take on the good old Aussie meat pie. The pies are great value too, at approximately $14 for a pie and salad on the side.Of course there are so many fabulous spots in the Swan Valley.



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