Time for another drive -this time the West Coast; Adelaide to Darwin via Perth
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And away we go, as Jackie Gleeson used to say. Since we decided to make this trip some two weeks ago, we have all been practicing bladder control, I hope, because now its really going to pay off. We have a wonderful drive ahead, all the way around the coast via Pert to Darwin.
We don't want to be forever stopping since by the time we get back we will have covered 8,700 miles. Our trusty Ford Futura, Australian designed and built for Australian conditions is all checked out and raring to go.
All aboard and we are off out of Adelaide heading due north. As the miles roll by the surrounding countryside starts to change, at first slowly and then rather quickly - by the time we are about a hundred miles north of Adelaide we are in virtual desert.
What, whats that, someone wants to go to the bathroom - don't worry, you'll get over that feeling as we pick up speed to seventy five miles per hour, foot off the accelerator rarely to slow down to fifty for the odd small town. There's a bathroom, cries someone in the back - sorry, didn't see it say I as we roll down the highway. Pretty soon the large town of Port Augusta appears in the distance. We've been here before so we won’t go over its many attributes, and oh yes a bloody bathroom.
As the car pulls up doors burst open and suddenly I am alone. Now for the sake of the passengers I have to be tough..we have only come 250 miles and their big mistake was to have one celebratory coffee too many before we left. That mistake is now unlikely to be repeated. Aren't I kind?
No, we are most definitely not going shopping - all aboard for some serious touring. We drive through the remainder of Port Augusta and before you know it back up to 75 and veer around to the west. Late in the day the sun will be a curse as it sets over the desert but for now its behind us. We are going to go as fast as the law allows, plus a little, around 80 miles per hour. The temperature gauge is fine and its about 85 degrees outside. The girls ask for the airconditioner so I oblige, another mistake they have to learn.
After one and a half hours we come to Kyancutta, often on a daily basis the hottest place in the state, and we can feel the temperature rising. Its a small place with no bathrooms, at least I didn't see one (?) and we barrel off towards Ceduna. The temperature starts to drop in the car marginally but that is enough to do some mighty strange things to the human bladder.
There is some rather desperate yacking in the back, and I explain what was done wrong. The airconditioner is now off, hell its only 90 degrees, and after fifteen minutes or so the desperation turns to a general discussion on how far it might be to the next town. I announce the good news, only 2 and a half hours which is met with some groaning. The saltbush, a small desert growing bush edible for sheep, rushes past and we have a magnificent view horizon to horizon in every direction.
As usual, being pretty soft, I offer to stop for the girls so they can relieve themselves only to here yes please, at the next tree. Well sorry folks, the next tree is in Ceduna so lets forget it and we’ll be there in no time. Only just over two hours now.
We finally arrive at Ceduna and I don't know whats wrong with this car but every time I get down to five miles per hour the damn doors fly open and every one has to jump out and run away from it in the direction of the Toilet sign! My doors fine - bit of a mystery.
Ceduna is a busy, bustling metropolis of 3,000 people, and its far and away the biggest town we are going to see for quite some time. We have covered over 800 miles today so its time for a rest.
Tourists, particularly overseas tourists are usually amazed to learn that like many outback towns Ceduna has been declared "Dry". This has nothing to do with the four inch annual rainfall. It relates to alcohol. No-one is permitted to consume alcohol in a public place, their front yards or if viewable from the street their backyards. The penalty is instant jail until a Magistrate (Junior Judge) decides what to do with the person concerned. That is usually 24 to 48 hours.
Overseas tourists, who can prove they are with their passport, will not be jailed but warned once only. The effect of this law is that there is never drunken people habitating parks etc. making them much safer for families. Drinking is effectively restricted to within Hotels, Motels and inside of houses only. Draconian maybe, but it has solved a great many problems amongst both white and black.
Next morning noticeably less coffee is consumed and we head for the South Australian - Western Australia border- thats right, we are still in the same state we started in 550 miles earlier and the border is 360 miles away yet!
About a hundred miles out of Ceduna I apply the brakes, causing some consternation among the troops, and slow right down to 5 miles per hour, absolutely nothing in sight in any direction I simply say trust me as we pull off the bitumen and slowly head due south over sand and saltbush for about five minutes followed by a very abrupt stop. The passengers don't know what to say, probably lucky for me. Less than one minute before all they could see was flat desert in every direction. Now they see the ocean dead ahead - they can't believe how close we were to it - on exiting the car two more huge surprises. First squeals of fear from the girls as they realize twenty feet in front of the car is a 300 foot sheer drop to the ocean below - and close to shore way down below are four of the biggest whales in the world - the "right whale".
These whales come here to breed, in the relatively warm waters of the Australian coast. I ask the girls to wave to them, which they do sort of reluctantly, and immediately these huge whales put on the greatest show imaginable. "Right Whales" love to perform, but of course must have an audience. Waving is not necessary south of Adelaide, but here, so high up, its a bit hard to see a little 5 to 6 foot human on top of 300 foot cliffs.
We marvel at this site, each whale bigger than a rail carriage, for some time and the all aboard again and carefully turn the car back towards the bitumen. Three hours later we are at the border - and a Roadhouse, which means a bathroom and the damn car hasn't improved it's door bursting problem!
A nice casual lunch in the middle of nowhere - behind us the Southern Ocean uninterrupted all the way to the South Pole, to the North 3,000 miles of desert - the Outback. And not a bad day with a slight sea breeze, no humidity and just on 100 degrees. Its going to be a nice little run in the afternoon.
We are not going to mess around this afternoon - a straight four hundred and fifty miles to Norseman - no stops and about six hours, unless you would rather sleep in the car on the side of the road! We are now in Western Australia, the biggest State in Australia. To put it in perspective its about three and a half times the size of Texas.
At a distance to our right out in the desert we have passed the longest stretch of straight railway in the world, 300 miles gun-barrell straight. The road is constructed extra wide gentle curves at regular intervals in an attempt to give the driver something to do, lest they fall asleep.
Its a bit of an irony that having such a good road can actually lead to disaster. Since seventy miles an hour feels like fifty and ninety feels like sixty, speeds all too often creep up too high. This is particularly the case with caravans - (trailer homes?). Every now and then two caravans will pass from opposite directions. The problem is that a strong suction is generated between the two and it does happen that they get sucked together.
The other reason for the extra wide road is the road trains. A semi-tractor trailer pulling several full size trailers. On bitumen roads the number of trailers is strictly limited, to three I think because any more than that and the vehicle takes on a snake like motion which does too much damage to the road.
Well tonight we are going to have a good rest at Norseman, stay in a motel and put our feet up, and tomorrow only go a hundred and twenty miles into the Kalgoorlie/Coolgardie area.
Due to an acute lack of ink at Epinions I have been asked to break this epistle in two.
Part One Ends - Please go to part two
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