Desert Ship Territory Log Day 1.
We travel Terra Australis in the trusty Territory and 3 hours and 62 Bobby farts later we arrived 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 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 sheilded the kids from her weather beaten appearance, lack of any fashion sense 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 was quite featureless, I was rewarded with majestic gums with their branches splayed gracefully and casting long shadows in the low winter sun on the drive to Norseman. We had heard on the news how
there was a bad roll over which closed the road from Coolgardie to Norseman. We encountered it but most of it had been cleared. The wreckage and suitcases tossed on the side of the road is a timely reminder for the driver to keep his hands on the wheel and not wondering around behind his seat and grappling around in the lolly bag. Norseman itself was pleasantly surprising. Set in woodlands, the township was pleasing to the eye and well set up for interstate travellers. We found a park to eat an early lunch at 11am. Someone really to tell that male foreign backpacker that it is not kosher in this country to be washing your dishes in a female toilet where there is big internationally recognised symbol for female on the door. I just had to pretend I was back in a unisex Norwegian campground ablution block and get over my Australian prudishness and get on with my business which was not forthcoming due to hours spent sitting. I quickly pop into the tourist bureau near the park and am cross to find out we could have taken a short cut To Norseman through Hyden on a 'good' gravel road.
By 12pm we were back on the road. I offered to drive since I hadn't had a turn yet but Brendan was still happy to. After 9 hours of driving I offered again but Brendan 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 of by driving on the rumble strip and I have visions of us heading off the road for a major crash. 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 also now have self diagnosed the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. After being held hostage in the Territory for 10 hours of listening to nothing but Brendan'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 we the legend of Mandy's pussy lived on. Mandy is a friend of ours who 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. I now remind the family that under the tonne of lollies and chips there were some forgotten about oranges and kiwi fruit. Now everyone knows how I hate food wastage, so I mandated the whole family partaking in a fruit eating frenzy before it gets confiscated at the border.
There was a method to Brendan'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. It was a gruelling effort as the entire kangaroo population of outback Australia were out for 4th of July celebrations, minus the fireworks, on Interstate number 1, 150km before Border Village where my bed beckoned me. I cursed Brendan for wanting to make Border Village in one day, which was totally OK because he was fast asleep completely oblivious to the roo rave on the road. At least I had my music, my anthem song "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, which I sung at the top of my lungs. No one else was on the road. Not even the truckies. I thought the warnings on the internet about not driving at night were for city slickers and overseas tourists who had no idea. OMG it is me who is totally clueless. At 7.50 pm I saw lights in the distance and because I was now crosseyed, I could not tell if it was headlights, a roadhouse, a blindingly reflective road sign or a UFO. 143 Robert Timms coffee bags later at 8.00pm I safely delivered my family to a haven in the dark. We now resembled the dishevelled zombie decal family on the back of out Territory.
Since there were no cooking facilities in the room we indulged in a truckie sized meal at the roadhouse where I couldn't help but noticed the quantities of Penthouses and No Dozes on offer at the shop. Everything a self accomplished trucker needs for the cab and the road respectively. I then collapsed into bed.
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