Okay, so MASSIVELY missing out a couple of months, I thought I would add how Kirsty (my long lost sister who has been terrorising Australia for the last year and a half) me and our Mitsubishi Star-Wagon called Kitty Killa is getting along.
We set off about 4 days ago from Darwin after buying the beaut from a likeable English guy called Chris for a bargain price of AUD 2600, about 1300 squid. (Considering she was optimistically on the backpacker market for 4995 Ozzy dollar we did okay here.) First thing was to get a new set of tyres on her (safety first and all that) and we slightly took Chris's word for it that she ran perfectly and that the mechanic he took her to only found a tiny oil leak which wasn't even worth fixing. Hmmmm Kitty glugging down a litre of oil a day is not soooo tiny, but there we go.
So first day with a couple of german girls occupying two of our six back seats (yes Kitty is basically a minibus) with the promise to chip in on petrol for a lift down to Litchfield national park, all was going well.... Until it came to filling her tummy up with a cheeky bit of unleaded and we discovered or rather didn't discover how to put petrol in her! A quickphone call to Chris and we had the knowledge to gas her up.... or sowe thought. Quickly we discovered that the fuel cap unlocking toggle thingy majiggy was not working, and that Chris must have frantically switched off his phone after our last call with the knowledge of our beloved van not being as lovely and shiny as he made out. Anyway a few teething problems is what you expect.
We have been camping wherever it is free, and I got the trusty mosquit dome-tent out for amazing night under the stars in the middle of the outback. Mainly though it is a case of back of the van, with the ingeniuous idea of lifting up the passenger seat as soon as we parktogive the engine a chance to cool down before our rather early bed and to prevent us sweltering away like we did ournaive first night.
(useless internet cut out)
Continued.... Kirsty and I have just made a dramatic return to Derby from a few miles out where we had decided to camp at the "Boab prison tree". It is where young indigenous men captured by early ozzie "blackbirders" were held in transit to the Derby prison or to forced labour in the pearling industry. Anyway, we thought it seemed an alright place to spend the night, and although there was a "no camping" sign sleeping on a blow up matress on the flattened seats of a minibus surely does not belong under the no camping category? We were a little twitchy, and were not expecting to see anyone until morning, so when a saloon car and then a big 4WD swung around our parking lot and seemed to stop a few hundred metres further on, we were on our guard. Kirsty having now spent several months working in remote WA towns is very aware of simmering conflicts between aboriginal people and the white fellows, and having already been warned in previous nights to "watch out your van doesn't get done in by the abos" on top of the realisation that the Boab prison tree has religious significance to the local indigenous population we decided to pack up and speed out before getting caught in some centuries old racial vendetta.
Which brings us to here, where we have formulated some cunning excuse on why we are camping in King Sound Resort, this rather nice hotel's car park. Basically we shall say we are above the 0.05 alcohol limit and the patron's are therefore duly obliged to permit us to sleep on their grounds. Foolproof! Although Kirsty has decided to stay in the van.... and I can only have soft drinks as I am on Amoxycillin for a rather nasty case of Strep throat, still I am sure we shouldn't have any more problems.
On reflection now the cars were probably fellow campers ingeniously following our lead and ignoring the "no camping" sign. Oh well.
I am quite surprised at how enjoyable driving through nothing can be. I have never really enjoyed driving that much, presumably as it is usually in a disorientating city, with thousands of angry drivers all around you, being hopelessly lost, and more often than not driving the wrong way up a one way street. However, on the forever stretching, single lane sealed roads that tear through the Australian outback, with the sun on your arms and a warm breeze keeping you cool, driving is enjoyable. If the conversations of the stragglers we pick up becomes tedious then our tape player can blast out a rather grainy-recorded-inside-a-tin-can Beatles "selection of the oldies" which came with the van. Along with the Hello Kitty seat covers (hence her Christian name). When Kirsty and I resolutley decide for the final time that the Beatles are somewhat overrated- Yellow Submarine is a poor excuse for a nursery rhyme and Paperback Writer is as ingratiating on the ears as it the most simplistic lyrics ever penned- we then whack on some ipod selections. So driving through this practically uninhabited part of Australia has made me realise how great huge expanses of open space are, even if it is just filled with brush, Baob trees and termite mounds, it is spectacular. I guess I am Agrophillic if you get what I mean.
So having done over 2000 klicks with the total Darwin to Perth distance being a bit under 5000 we are doing pretty well. Thank you Kitty. She may be guzzeling petrol like her life depends on it, and oil for that matter, which I guess her life does depend on, but hopefully with a clever bit of salesmanship come Perth we should be able to sell her back for a similar sort of price. Hopefully anyway, as otherwise my time in South America come August will not be looking too rosy an experience!
Tomorrow should bring me forcing Kirsty to the passenger seat where she can slowly awaken as I give Kitty her unleaded breakfast before cruising on down to Broome where we shall stay a few days and I can sort out my onward flights. Then we will hug the coast right down to Perth about the 12th June.... if all goes to plan....
Hope to get in on the updates more! Jack xx
Again blog failed to post and you will be pleased to hear we made it to Broome which is beautiful, full beautiful beaches, lovely warm seas and a chilled atmosphere. More importantly we have discovered some free showers- life cannot get any better.
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