|What an interesting day. I’m finally in the Yukon Territory (just). I’ve read that the road crosses the border 6 times before it decides to stay in the Yukon.
Because they talk so much about the Yukon being one of the world’s great wilderness areas, I was curious how it compared to the Pilbara & Kimberley, Western Australia’s most remote areas.
This is what I found out:
Pilbara 510,000 sq km
Yukon 482,000 sq km
Kimberley 423,000 sq km
It’s hard to get definitive population figures, especially as the Kimberley & Pilbara fluctuate so much from the wet to the dry seasons. I know Wes & I were included in the population of the Pilbara one year because we happened to be staying at Eighty Mile Beach on census night.
It seems that the populations of the 3 areas are very similar though, somewhere around 50,000. The difference is that nearly 2/3 of the population of the Yukon live in Whitehorse whereas the people in WA are spread out with no big towns.
Of course, that’s where the comparison ends – this is a whole different world. I hadn’t seen any bison but I made up for it today. I saw several large herds feeding along the roadside, totally ignoring the traffic.
These are Wood Bison, which are on the endangered list in Canada & apparently they like to sleep on the road which is a big problem at night, both for bison & motorists. They’re very hard to see & walk with their head down so you don’t even get a gleam from their eyes. I’ve got no intention of driving at night unless something goes drastically wrong.
I had a lovely swim in the Liard Hot Springs this morning & met some friendly people from Alaska & Seattle. I then went through very thick smoke for about an hour but fortunately it cleared before I got to Watson Lake.
This is a very small town but one of their attractions is what they call the Sign Post Forest. The story is that in 1942, a young homesick soldier working on the Alaska Highway, put up a sign with the distance to his home town of Danville Illinois. Other soldiers copied him & now there are over 77,000 signs.
The town of Watson Lake maintain the site & put up new posts as they’re needed – you can even buy a blank sign at the Visitors Centre & inscribe it yourself but many travellers have obviously come prepared with very elaborate signs. I didn’t go through all 77,000 signs but only saw one from Australia.
Just across the road from the Sign Post Forest is the Northern Lights Centre. I happened to wander in just a few minutes before their 3:00pm presentation which was in a domed theatre with reclining seats so you were watching the whole sky.
The film went for an hour, some of it very technical about how the lights are generated by magnetic impulses from solar flares but there were also wonderful scenes of the lights themselves, filmed at Yellowknife.
The bloke on the desk told me it doesn’t get dark enough here yet although he said it’s just starting. You need a clear night but the most important ingredient is the darkness.