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.
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..."