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July 20th 2014
Published: August 13th 2014
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Norseman to Wandering 550 km

Desert Ship Territory Log Day 18

Contrary to what I said on Day 17, I have decided to add the final day of our road trip to South Australia, but it is written in retrospect upon the insistence of a friend whom I relayed a funny story to about what we saw on the last day. Here goes. Being a short travel day of about 6 hours (if we took the short cut through Hyden) we afford ourselves a bit of a sleep in and are on the road at 0830 hours. Too bad if the short cut doesn’t work out, we’ll just get home a lot later. We are concerned about the state of the road as Norseman had received about 5mm of rain over night. We make our way to the Police Station but no one is there. We then go to the tourist bureau but that isn’t open yet either, so we get a loaf of bread for lunch from the local IGA instead. Rows of empty shelving and unused fridges is obviously a statement of the town’s former glory. $5 for a loaf of bread is all I can afford here so I walk out with nothing else. We decide to fill the car up at the local BP service station and ask for road conditions in there. The woman points us in the direction of a print out of a condition report of local roads pinned up on the wall. It says all roads are open but the problem with that is it’s dated last Friday. It’s now Sunday. We decide to run the gauntlet with the 300 km dirt road to Hyden anyway. That’s not before my attention is caught by two unkempt hitch hikers. With long straggly hair, baggy pants with the crotch reaching their knees and threadbare layers of faded shirts they are homeless by desire. Oh no! Eye contact had been made and there was no avoiding him. While Brendan was inside paying for the fuel he bounced up from his rather leisurely sitting position and asked, “are you crossing the Nullarbor?”

“No, we’ve just come from there. Do you need a lift?”

“Yeah. There’s a truckie inside that says if we’re still here tomorrow he pick us up on his way back,” he states with a smile as wide as the Great Australian Bight along with a healthy dose of youthful naïve enthusiasm. Looking at his long hair I couldn’t help but be a little facetious, and I have to admit, even a little flirtatious as I am looking at my younger male self of 20 years ago when I was a young traveller. “Looks like you need to buy yourself a skirt then.” He pats down the length of his hair and looks a little embarrassed….oh who am I kidding! He didn’t need to invest anymore time in me as he continues to make small talk that travellers stopped on crossroads inevitably make. Where’ve you come from, where’re you going? Brendan comes out of the shop and it’s time to move on.

As we depart the servo there is something else I notice. A tiny Daewoo Matiz pulls up to get petrol. I was totally perplexed to see a 15 litre elongated tin can tied directly to the roof with four pieces of rope kept secure by the four closed doors. It is impossible to see inside the car from the back as it is packed full of crap. Astonishingly three young burley men exit the car, with the bloke sitting in the back having to extract his knees from behind his ears no doubt. This is definitely the smallest car I have seen yet on the Eyre Highway. I think no more of it as we start driving out of town a little to get to the Hyden turn off. The road was in remarkably good condition as it became obvious that a lot of mining companies use this road. What would be the last day of our trip with another “When Dave and I… (refer Day 4 - July 7 Blog Entry ) went on this road over 20 years ago it was just a skinny 4WD track and the trees were hitting the sides of the Hilux.” It was a little slushy in places from the rain. The route has been dubbed “The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail ” and I have a brochure pointing out that the trail explores one of the world’s greatest untouched temperate woodlands, with 16 designated stopping places. We stop at a few places to stretch our legs and at one place there was even a long drop toilet which was a surprise. Our car has never been so filthy from all the mud splashing up from the tyres and it was impossible to see out the back window.

Just five km from Hyden is Wave Rock where we stop to show the kids. After roaming around the site for a while we start to get hungry and make our way back to the car so we can drive into town and eat our lunch. Back at the car park there is a bunch of people talking in front of our car. As we approached three blokes departed the car bay from next to our car incredulously in the same egg beater car we saw at Norseman BP. Living proof that the Norseman Hyden Road is also totally appropriate for 2WDs and idiots. An older couple parked on the other side of our Territory started chatting to us and said those blokes left Wollongong on Saturday morning and were heading to Perth. My jaw dropped in disbelief. Sensible people would do this trip in a minimum of four days and this is their second day and they are nearly in Perth! We had a chuckle as they told us the car only takes 30 litres of fuel and the car does 100 km/ litre. Suddenly all makes sense when it is revealed the tin can is for extra fuel over the Nullarbor between service stations. I’m surprised they even had time to take in the sights at Wave Rock. The woman also said one of the blokes had a boot and a thong on because he couldn’t find matching shoes amongst all the rubbish in the back. What another great laugh as I see youthful naïve enthusiasm once again in full force on the same day. As I silently smiled to myself I just knew that one day my own boys will be just like that, just as I was, and why? Because I am now teaching them this is a world with no bounds or limits where it’s mostly about the journey and not the destination (as I’m sure in years to come the Daewoo boys will talk about getting to Perth/ Wollongong rather than the actual place itself. My kids will say “I wonder if I can do that”, but rather “I wonder how I can do that.”

At 1600 we made it home and my last born, who hates Tuesday Newsdays and without any motherly nagging, couldn’t start writing quick enough about his little adventures all ready for the first day back at school.


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