The smell of the Australian outback
The smell of the Australian outback

The smell of the Australian outback

Welcome to the Northern TerritoryPopcorn!

The Northern Territory smells of popcorn.

Driving across the border from Queensland of course we had to get out of the car and take the obligatory photo under the “Welcome to the NT” sign. That the setting sun was behind the sign made it even better. If only there was a brolga flying across! Though it was spoiled a little bit by the “Slayer” graffiti. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

And when we got out of the car we both said “Smell that! Popcorn!”

We had no idea what it was, but it wasn’t just the smell of the Territory, we had been smelling it for days.

every changing sceneryWe first noticed it in Longreach wandering up to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. The walkway smelt of popcorn. Caramel popcorn.

We figured it must be one of the trees along the path, but couldn’t work out which one. Or maybe it was what they put on the garden?

Then when we got to Boulia we smelled it again.

We camped at Tobermorey Station, just over the border into the Northern Territory on the Plenty Highway where the smell was strong.

Whenever I asked anybody about it they looked at me like I had a screw loose – or like I was a mad woman from the city. It’s obviously something they smell all the time so don’t even notice.

It wasn’t until we were halfway across the Plenty Highway that we discovered what it was.

With the ever changing scenery along the highway obviously I had to keep stopping to get out and take photos.  We went through everything from absolute flat nothingness (on the Queensland side, through scrubby ti-tree, granite outcrops, lush green grass, and the ubiquitous red dirt. And it’s red out here!

Then I saw it.

Is that wattle?“Is that wattle?” I asked Helen It certainly looked like wattle, but surely May’s the wrong time of year for wattle. I guess not in the territory.  So I got out to have a look.

I walked up to the tree and the smell hit me. Popcorn. The smell of burnt caramel popcorn is all the wattle  everywhere., and it comes from the leaves not the flowers.

So mystery solved. Outback wattle smells of burnt caramel popcorn, and it’s beautiful. We wake up to it every morning and smell it while driving with the windows open.

That and cow dung. There are also a lot of cows up here!

Wattle - outback wattle smells like popcorn