Welcome to the adventures of my family’s great Australian road trip. Taking the family across the Nullarbor is a rite of passage for any self respecting Australian. Crossing this great nation of ours across the desert to experience its total vastness and awesomeness should be on every Aussie’s bucket list. The adventure is here…
Desert Ship Territory Log Day 1
We travel Terra Australis in the trusty Territory and 3 hours later we arrive in Merredin in time for sun rise where the drive improved immensely once we could actually see the landscape. I miss my cat already. In Coolgardie we fuelled up for the first time and encountered our very first ‘old timer’. The toothless wonder with a complete lack of any fashion sense was fuelling up her beat up old Mazda and struck up conversation with me by stating the bleeding obvious “it’s a bit chilly aye?” in an accent broader than a Queensland stockman. I smiled politely and quickly shielded the kids from her weather beaten, witchy appearance, and shepherded them back into the car. Her car didn’t look like it would make it much past Kalgoorlie and it was obvious that she didn’t get out much. The sooner we leave the goldfields the better.
Whilst the drive to Coolgardie along the Great Eastern Highway is quite featureless, I am rewarded with majestic gums with their branches splayed gracefully and casting long shadows in the low winter sun on the drive to Norseman. We heard on the news how there was a bad roll over causing the road to close from Coolgardie to Norseman. Lucky for us, by the time we get there the road was open again. The wreckage and suitcases flung on the side of the road is a timely reminder for our driver to keep his hands on the wheel and not wondering about behind his seat, grappling around for the lolly bag. Norseman itself is pleasantly surprising. Set in subtle woodlands, the township is pleasing to the eye and set up well for interstate travellers. We found a park to eat lunch early at 11am.
By noon we are back on the road. I offered to drive since I hadn’t had a turn yet but Husband was still happy to. After 9 hours of driving I offered again but Husband was hell bent on breaking his ‘driving 1000km without a break’ record. He thinks it’s funny to scare me half to death when I’ve just nodded off by driving on the rumble strip making me think he was careering off the road. It’s an obvious sign he is getting bored and, quite frankly so am I. I head for another packet of Mentos and complain viciously that the person who invented green Mentos needs to be shot. I have now also self diagnosed the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. After being held captive in the Territory for 10 hours of listening to nothing but Husbands’s hideous country music (another reason he didn’t want me to drive, because then he’d have to listen to my music) I found myself singing along to “Barefoot and Crazy”. I looked furtively to my right to see if my captor noticed. The minute I started to drive, I plugged in my ipod and on went some nostalgic 80s tunes with Stray Cats self titled song “Stray Cat” when the legend of my friend Mandy’s pussy lived on. Mandy moved interstate and drove across the Nullarbor with her husband and beloved pet cat. Upon a rest stop, the cat had gone insane with all the travel and took off into the never never and never ever came back. As we approach the WA / SA border I now remind the family that under the mountain of lollies and chips, there is actually oranges and kiwi fruit. Everyone knows how I hate food wastage, so I mandated the whole family partake in a fruit eating frenzy before it is confiscated at the border.
There was a method to Husband’s madness as I draw the short straw by scoring the last two hours of driving which turned out to be three hours in the dark. This is never usually an issue, but on this occasion, it seemed the entire kangaroo population of the outback were out on the lonely Interstate number 1. This is also never usually an issue as I’ve lived most of my life in rural Western Australia. I mean I do vaguely remember something in my research about never driving across the Nullarbor at night because of this very reason, but my brain had disregarded that piece of valuable information as the domain for ignorant city slickers and overseas tourists. No one else was on the road. Not even the truckies, for this very dangerous reason. 150km before Border Village where my bed beckoned me. I am cursing Husband for wanting to make Border Village in one day, good job he didn’t hear me, because in his slumber, he is completely oblivious to the roo rave on the road. At least I had my music. At the top of my lungs I sing my anthem song “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. At 1950 I saw lights in the distance and because I am now cross-eyed, I can’t tell if it is headlights, a roadhouse, a blindingly reflective road sign or a UFO. 143 Robert Timms coffee bags later at 2000 I safely delivered my family to a haven in the dark. We now resembled the dishevelled zombie decal family on the back of our Territory.
Since there are no cooking facilities in the room we indulge in a truckie sized meal at the roadhouse where I couldn’t help but noticed the disproportionate quantities of Penthouses and No Dozes on offer at the shop. Everything a self respecting trucker needs for the cab and the road respectively. I collapsed into bed.