Wednesday, April 21, 2010

8 Days in Outback Straya

It was a full-on 8 days, and the post would be long and boring if I ran through everything, so this post will be a series of snippets and observations about Outback Australa. Sorry, there's no sex in this story.

First of all though, here's the lineup:

(l-r) Mad Irishman, Miss Flatmate, Perseus Q Kneejerk.

Songstress did not come because of Miss Flatmate's threats. I don't think they have spoken since, which is awkward, being flatmates and cousins and all. Songstress is coming to my place tomorrow to stay. I'll find out more.

Anyhoo. We drove 600kms on the first day. Melbourne to Ivanhoe NSW. The last four hours was through an apocalyptic wasteland known as 'the big paddock' but was actually 'a big bore'.

Locusts raped my car.

Fucken radiator grill got clogged. We had to buy mesh and string to protect it.

Welcome to Ivanhoe, NSW... the shittest town in Australia. Last meals served at 5pm. If you get into town past that time, there's no food. Not at the pub or the RSL.

Our room was filled with locusts, bugs and the woman said, "Watch for redbacks, they're everywhere." The bed linen was greasy and it smelt like dung and death. Here's the punchline. It was $150. No no, here's the punchline. Here's the bathroom:

At the pub that night we met Bazza. Bazza speaks:

"I'm from North Coast. I was in jail at Railtown, just down the road. Did a couple of years. It was great. Got paid $100 a week, then when I got out I bought a 4 bedroom portable for $5,000 after they kicked the coons out. I spent $10,000 on doing it up and it's a fucken palace, for $15,000, except that cunt Ray Murphy from Hay offered me $30,000 and I said, "Keep trying, cunt". You shoulda stayed at my house, it's a palace since I leaned it up after the coons trashed it. No, don;t go to the RSL for a beer you'll get raped. There's only 200 people in this town and they're all cunts. See that fat cunt ove there? he's the mayor. Yeah, they're all cunts. Why dont you kids buy the caravan park? It's going for $20,000, and comes with a petrol station. No? Fair enough, everyone here's a cunt anyway..."

He was the best bloke we met there.

Next morning we headed to Menindee along a 200km dirt road. We asked the locals if the road was okay. They said it had been closed for a week because of rain, but it was re-opening that day and should be just fine. Workers had fixed it. It was a nice dirt road alright.

But then dark clouds came in. A sense of doom. It started pouring. Bucketing down. I started to lose control of the car. I slowed down to about 30km per hour but I kept fish-tailing. I did a couple of 360 degree spins, but I was going so slow it was funny. But funny scary funny. We didn’t know it yet, but they had closed the road. We were stuck about 50km in to the drive and so there was no choice but to keep going. After another 360 degree turn we got out to check the car. The wheels looked like this:

It was all mushy, thick clay. I kept driving but at the halfway point I lost total control and ran into a shallow ditch and couldn’t get out. We got out the car (in the rain) and saw that the clay had built up so much it was up against the wheels, and the drive shaft and axles were caked to the ground in mud. I didn’t get a picture of it because we were too busy laying in the mud and rain, scraping it away with sticks while locusts flew into our faces. Once we got the clay off we drove away. I had to drive with one side of the car in the ditch and wait for the ditch to ebb away before being able to get back on the road. All in all, it took 7 hours to travel the 200kms. When we had about 10km to go, a 4WD with three blokes passed us. At the end of the road they were waiting for us, laughing. They were told by some locals we had taken the road in a ‘city car’ and were on the lookout for us. They had followed our tracks the whole way and saw where we fish-tailed and ran into the ditch. They said we were the first ‘car’ to ever make it through that road in the wet. The driver said, “Even if you were bogged we couldn’t stop...”

We stayed at a nice hotel in Menindee and had tea at the local pub. People kept coming up to us and asking, “Are you the people that took the Ivanhoe road in a car?” I think they meant to say, "Are you the three dickhead townies that did that road? You stupid, stupid cunts."


Through Broken Hill, fucken weird joint.
Darling Basin... yeah, it's water. Wow.
Ripped off at Bordertown. $3 for a Nescafe Blend 43 we had to make ourselves.
Fruit inspector went through our car and confiscated half our groceries.
Peterborough SA a beautiful town. I bought 1974 Explosive Hits on vinyl for 20c.

Mad Irishman made us go on a fucking steam-train museum tour. I thought it would be 20 minutes. Nope. Three hours. Jesus H Christ it was dull, but Mad Irishman is into trains and he loved every second. They had a talking mannequin for fuck's sake. The first thirty minutes was a 'talk' on the 'history of rail gauges'. I wanted to kill things.

Headed off to Flinders Ranges. We set up tents, ate well, got fully drunk and had a ball in the middle of the desert ranges, but we were too drunk to notice that the thunder and lightning in the distance was not 'amazing' but rather, 'ominous'.

At midnight it started raining, but not just an ordinary rainstorm, this was fierce (we found out later it was 91mm in three hours). We all piled into Miss Flatmate's tent because it was waterproof. The sound was incredible, and the thunder sounded like it was right outside our tent. We didn’t sleep until about 4am. When we woke at 7am, we were confused. We couldn’t hear rain on the tent, but we could still hear what we thought was a storm. Turns out it wasn’t a storm... it was this, 20 metres from our tents:

That wasn't there the night before. Turns out, it hadn't been there for 70 years. It was ferocious. Whole trees were being swept away. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Our excitement at this natural wonder was short-lived though, because as we went for a walk we found this:

That was the only road out of there. We had planned to spend another night there anyway, but we also planned to get more food from Wilpena (about 50km away). We had no food, one beer stubby and no way out of there. More rain was forecast for that night so we decided that if we could get out, we would. And stay out.

We spent several hours plotting an escape route, off-road, over the hill behind the campsite. We found the ranger. He said, “Are you right for food? Cos nobody's getting out and nobody's getting in,” and I said “Well we have a jar of olive tapenade," and he was thinking, "You pathetic townie cunts." I felt like Niles from Frasier. We eventually found a route. The car got smashed around a bit but at least we got out. This is the terrain we drove over (illegally) for a mile or so, but it was worth the risk because the Outback had beaten us.

Got to Port Pirie which I thought would be a quaint seaside town, but it was actually like Geelong, but worse.

Clare Valley was picturesque.

On the last day I rushed to get to the last day of the Norman Lindsay festival in Creswick but we found out when we got thre that they had cancelled it a day early due to lack of interest.

Came home.

Here's my summary:

NSW is shit, South Australia is pretty.

We looked for desert heat and all we got was locusts and floods.

All the coffee is shit, and everyone plays pokies.

Aborigines and whiteys get along better than I thought they did.

We were having too much fun to worry about connecting with the land.

Next time I do a roadtrip I'll check the weather more often.

The Outback is always a mix of Henry Lawson, Wolf Creek and Dreamtime, but every now and then something would take my eye and I'd think, "By jeez that's beautiful..."


Alex said...

Sorry, there's no sex in this story.

I'm sure that some people are going to be disappointed that this post doesn't read like a trashy novel.

Holy mackerel, Ivanhoe - where the Alex family tree has a good portion of its roots. If you talked to more than six people, I was probably related to some of them. Yeah, a lot of them are cunts. My uncle was the town drunk. You wouldn't have met him. He's dead. Damn, it must be twenty years since I've seen the place. Got any more photos?

As for it being the sittiest town in Australia; you should spend a weekend in Bourke. The aborigines and whities don't get along quite so well up there.

Next time I do a roadtrip I'll check the weather more often.

You pathetic townie cunts. You at least carried a decent amount of water and bog roll, didn't you?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

This is why I refuse to travel beyond the tramlines.

WitchOne said...

Port Pirie has Harry's Homemade illiterate people who can cook ok but aren't so good at sealing the goods.

And they advertised PayPal way before they were actually using it.

Soounds like an awesome trip Pers. I am not jealous as there wasn't a spa or king size bed in sight from the sounds of it however poeple who like that stuff would be.

oldeboots said...

I thought that your posts were epics about not having sex.

But still, nothing like being totally pissed in the face of danger.

squib said...

And to think you actually had people signing up for this trip in droves

Pepsi said...

This country is amazing - harsh & beautiful. City folk forget that sometimes.

NSW is shit
No its not, you just cant handle it.

Glad you enjoyed the adventure.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

That is a bit of a head-scratcher, Squib.

GiggleWorthy said...

Jesus Christ - I thought you were taking a 4WD! Why on earth would you head out in a car?

That is, however, a great post - I felt everything I think I was supposed to.

Perseus said...

Alex - I do have a few photos of Ivanhoe. I'll email them. No wonder you used to drink and fight. We spent one day there and had that urge.

Oldeboots - You make a valid point. I should have prefaced it by saying that this story contains no no sex.

Pepsi - You refuse to share you water with us, but send down your locusts. Your state is shit.

Giggle - My idea of the outback is one where you drive along beautifully made roads and sit at cafes sipping long macchiatos while looking at the desert. To that outback (the one of my fantasy) one may take a car.

GiggleWorthy said...

" drive along beautifully made roads and sit at cafes sipping long macchiatos while looking at the desert."

So... Not really the desert at all then...

Fair enough.

Mr E Discharge said...

If only Bourke & Wills had taken a jar of Olive Tapenade with them. Things may have turned out very differently.

Pepsi said...

You refuse to share you water with us, but send down your locusts.

LOL, man up wimp.

I did laugh when I saw the car. I'm not rural, I dont do country, but even I know that a 4x4 is needed for that sort of travelling. I'm surprised you made it home alive.

Love the boots though.

Mr E Discharge said...

My idea of the outback is one where you drive along beautifully made roads and sit at cafes sipping long macchiatos while looking at the desert.

"Persilla, Queen of the Desert".

Alex said...

Alex - I do have a few photos of Ivanhoe. I'll email them.

Cheers, Pers. You can send 'em to send.alex.some.mail at gmail.

No wonder you used to drink and fight. We spent one day there and had that urge.

Sounds about right. I guess there's nothing like walking a mile in somebody's shoes. One day I'll have to visit a quaint coastal village near Melbourne and see if I can have my own epic no-sex adventure.

My idea of the outback is one where you drive along beautifully made roads and sit at cafes sipping long macchiatos while looking at the desert. To that outback (the one of my fantasy) one may take a car.

As far as I know, most of those roads are sealed these days. Going to Broken Hill via Wilcannia would've taken a lot less than seven hours, and it's not like you would've missed out on seeing any great countryside or anything. It seems like you just decided that you wanted to drive over the dirt for the sake of it. You do know that you can get bogged in clay soil, even when it's dry, right?

As for the coffee; yeah, shoulda brought your own.

Oh, and did you have any hairy encounters with road trains?

patchouligirl said...

Great story but the trip would be my idea of hell. It's probably just as well songstress didn't go along, I doubt you would have got laid.

RandomGit said...

That was an awesome story. 2 near death by isolation events, sneering country intellectuals and cunts as far as the eye can see.

Damn dude, by rights you should have died.

squib said...

If you'd kept driving, you could have had an excellent long macchiato at the Balladonia Roadhouse

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Quite so, RG.

In fact, judging by that photo, the only one in that party I can see escaping a shallow bush grave would be the Mad Irishman.

Puss In Boots said...

Wow. That sounds like my worst nightmare. I had outside. There's a reason humans evolved to live in caves/build houses.

Cath said...

Sounds fucking revolting, and strangely, about the sort of holiday I would expect you to report on my dear Pers. Famine, drought, flood, plague.... I remember the days when you were reviewing the books of the Bible - have you slipped into some sort of parallel universe here?

Boogeyman said...

You planned an outback road trip and didn't think to google where you were going?

Clearly you were never a boy scout, Perseus. Be prepared.

I'd have thought enough horror stories of people who break down miles from anywhere in the Australian outback and die of starvation or dehydration would inspire people to undertake more preparation before going bush, but clearly not.

Melba said...

I would have signed up. I would have loved every minute of it. The rapey locusts, the raging torrents, the sight of Perseus Q sans suit.

I too loved the mention of olive tapenade, and I love the idea of Bazza and his investment property, and also The Big Paddock. Love it all.

Why aren't any of you nostalgic for this type of stuff? It's wonderful.

Thanks Perseus.

Did Miss Flatmate enjoy?

homesick said...

This would make a great premise for a Pers/Lewd Bob Production ... "Frasier meets Wolf Creek".

Sure I laughed out load at the olive tapenade but I still can't get past the primal fear I had reading this post.


*caps to illustrate the depth of my maternal concern.

Alex said...

Why aren't any of you nostalgic for this type of stuff?

Isn't nostalgia a longing for something out of your past? Weren't most of the people here, born and raised in urban areas? Puss is a notable exception and she says that she hates going outside - a position that you can probably nearly understand from the contents of the post. It doesn't go out of its way to romanticise too much.

Lewd Bob said...

NSW is shit, South Australia is pretty.

That's like saying I've been to Gyor and I've "done" Hungary.

I love the outback/bush/desert/country. Love it. As long as I don't have to live there.

And I think 'townies' are people who live in country towns...oh wait, you do.

Puss In Boots said...

Yeah, I was forced to grow up in the sticks. I hated it. I couldn't wait to move to the city. It was so boring out there. I had no friends who lived near me, and I basically spent my entire life reading. I've done some very country things in my time - worked on a dairy farm, worked in a piggery, artificially inseminated a cow, helped collect bull semen for said insemination, docked lambs' tails, etc etc. I think about myself now, and there is no way I would ever do any of that again.

Outside is overrated. I do like the beach though. But I don't go in the water because I'm afraid of waves. Yes, yes, I know, it's ridiculous. Shut up.

Alex said...

So Puss, the rips, poisonous beasties and big hungry fish don't bother you; just the waves?

Alex said...

Also, you weren't wearing high heels when you were doing all of that, were you?

Perseus said...

That's like saying I've been to Gyor and I've "done" Hungary.

Just as the outback is considered 'the real Australia', Gyor could be said to be 'the real Hungary'.

I preferred Hegyeshalom, Hungary. Population: 20 drunk train workers, but with an 11 storey luxury hotel for some reason. The piano in the marble foyer played itself.

Also, I stand by my NSW is shit comment. I have explored most of it in my lifetime. The roads are crap, rugby league sucks and Sydney is filled with people wearing Ken Done clothing. 've never been to Byron Bay but I bet I'd hate it.

Bob Carr was alright though.

Pepsi: Though the pointy boots were totally inappropriate, my reasoning was that just because I was in the outback there was no need to look shabby.

Boogeyman: But that was the whole idea of the roadtrip: Make it up as we go along. No plans. We woke up each morning, pulled out a map, and only then decided which way to go. When we got tired, we stopped at stayed at whatever town we happened to be in.

patchouligirl said...

Sydney is filled with people wearing Ken Done clothing

When were you there last? 1985?

NSW has lots of great places. I love the Blue Mountains, Yamba, Crescent Head, South West Rocks, Nambucca - hell the whole North Coast. Of course, living at Lake Macquarie (no surf here, Puss) we have Newcastle and Central Coast's pristine beaches a stone's throw away, the Watagan Mountains, the Hunter Valley, Nelson Bay and Hawks Nest are a day trip or there's Barrington Tops, Lake Glenbawn or Forster for an easy overnight getaway. It's a while since I've been to the south coast but I remember happy weekends around Mittagong, Berry, Pebbly Beach (between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla) and Eden. I reckon we'll be going to Dubbo zoo sometime in the next few years - they say it's great for the kids.

I don't reckon a road trip like that would work with kids, I tend to do lots of research before we go anywhere because otherwise the holiday would be a living hell.

Puss In Boots said...

Alex, those things bother me, but not as much as the waves. There's a place on the Gold Coast, near the border with NSW, that has a protected cove, and there aren't any waves there. I go in the water there. But only up to my waist, usually.

And no, I didn't wear high heels. I was definitely not fashion conscious back then. My mum bought all of my clothes. I didn't have anything brand name until I moved out of home, and the first pair of high heels I wore was to my formal. I still have them. I would consider them to be very short now, but at the time I thought they were towering.

Melba said...

I think nostalgia can still be experienced by people who've never lived, in this example, in the country. It's an imagined longing.

It makes sense to me.

It's a feeling that can connect you to other experiences of "country" or whatever. Books, movies, hearing stories from people. It doesn't mean I want to go an live in the country, just that there's something deeply interesting about it.

Yes, even The Big Paddock. Nature when it's full on - I love it. It's not boring in and of itself.

Alex said...

I guess that nearly everyone's in agreement then, Melba; the outback is wonderful, so long as we can visit it for short periods of time, at our convenience, and not have to stay there too long.

Puss, how do you feel about boats? And flying? I tend to find the ocean and the sky equally intimidating. Not scary, just intimidating.

Perseus said...

I agree melba, but 'the big paddock' was an exception. I found the outback to be mostly inspiring and beautiful, even when it was just endless miles of nothing, and I felt that nostalgia of which you speak... but the big paddock was different. It wasn't distinctly Australian. It was a flat and weedy expanse that gave rise to a kingdom of monster-locusts. It stunk, and you could see why Burke & Wills died at its fringe. I can't explain it properly, other than to say it sux dogs ballz.

Puss In Boots said...

I'm only a fan of boats if I don't get sprayed in the face (not a euphemism). I quite like planes, though. I wanted to be a pilot. I still do. When I'm rich with money to burn, I think I'll take private flight lessons.

Pepsi said...

just because I was in the outback there was no need to look shabby works for me.

NSW is crap - take another look, I've been a back here 2 years and I can only say the only Ken Done outifits I've seen are those worn by the tourists down at the Quay & Darling Harbour.

Yes the roads are crap but theres a hell of alot more of them then there are in Vic. And Rugby League does sux (we're all laughing at the Storm right now), but no more or less than AFL.

The land around Byron is beautiful, the township is over developed and full of tossers, cunts, hipsters and try-hard hippies but if you hate it even though you havent seen it...then its your loss.

Puss - you dont like waves? Is this a height thing, cause you're so little and the waves are so much bigger than you? Or is it the lack of control you have when you cant touch the ground and the waves just take you and throw you about?

I was at the bus stop this morning waiting for a city bus when a kid going to school on a scooter was knocked down by a car crossing the road right in front of me.

Puss In Boots said...

It's partly the control/height thing, but it's mostly about being splashed in the face. I just don't care for it. I don't even shower with the boy, because he's taller than me, and the water hits his shoulder and then splashes me in the face. It's irritating.

Cue jokes about me not being a very good pr0n star.

Fad MD said...

Looks like a fantastic trip Pers! Any trip where you come close to being swept away in floodwaters has got to be good.

I spent a lot of time in the area between Menindee, Mildura and Canberra for work about 5 years ago and loved it. Except the Hay plain... the Hay plain reallllly sucks, especially when driving at night.

What was the atmosphere ike with Miss Flatmate afte all the issues leading up to the trip?

For some reason I picture Puss as strutting around in a hermetically sealed bubble with 10 inch heels.

Boogeyman said...

Perseus said: But that was the whole idea of the roadtrip: Make it up as we go along. No plans. We woke up each morning, pulled out a map, and only then decided which way to go. When we got tired, we stopped at stayed at whatever town we happened to be in.

Oh Bullwinkle, that trick never works. Well, maybe in romanticised drug-fuck adventure novels and movies, but not in real life.

eat my shorts said...

Weren't most of the people here, born and raised in urban areas?

Not I.

I was raised in an area that was about as rural as it gets.

My brother, sister & I used to put our gumboots on, go looking for squishy cow-pats & jump in them.

The best ones were the ones that were crunchy on the outside, but squishy and squelchy on the inside. A bit like a good chocolate cake should be, but with a different smell.

Alex said...

So, did you get a sense of nostalgia from reading Perseus' post, EMS?

Also, that must be the first time that I've heard someone say that a good chocolate cake should be crunchy on the outside.

eat my shorts said...

Oh yes, there should be crunch and then the inside should be all gooey.

It should look like this.

Perseus' post did give me a feeling of nostalgia. But, I am on the other side of the planet and even find myself feeling nostalgic watching Neighbours over here, so perhaps my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt in this instance.