ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Reading time: 11 minutes
27th December 2016
On the 4th day of my new adventure, I can finally relax and write down something.
Not much has happened so far I have to say.
I dealt with heath, dust, and a billion flies, but let’s start from the beginning.
Everyone who knows me is aware of how much I love this Country, and Australia is my home now.
I would love to explore every centimetre of these beautiful big Island, that is why I decided to spend my two weeks of Christmas’ leave on a road trip to visit the heart of this land: Uluru.
Nobody knows how that freakishly big red rock ended up there, right in the middle of nowhere. It is actually like the tip of an iceberg because a large rock formation lies underneath for hundreds of km.
And what a better way to experience this land by driving through the outback.
I packed some stuff, my camping gear and a lot of water, and in the early morning of Christmas’ Eve, I left my nice and cosy apartment to hit the road.
I started to prepare this trip a few weeks before, checking roads and sightseeing, and learning various survival tips to get through the desert.
But like every trip I have been on, I didn’t expect it to go as planned, and I know that most of the times inconveniences can mess up things. But not for me. If you keep your mind open, you have more chances to find a solution for every nasty situation.
I should mention that I drive an old piece of junk, a Daewoo Lanos 2001 that doesn’t even have air-con.
The car was checked a couple of months ago, and everything seemed fine. We’ll see…
Around 10 am I finished putting all my stuff in the car and headed to the petrol station. I filled the tank and finally set the navigator to my first stop: Coober Pedy, 2106 kilometres.
I knew I had to drive a lot, and I knew exactly how many kilometres I would have to drive, but seeing it on the GPS had quite an impact on me.
Full of excitement I started my trip, trying to avoid any possible contact with any human being. I don’t want to see anyone, don’t want to talk to anyone, this time is going to be only me, myself and I.
The first few hundreds of km went a bit slow because I drove through the Blue Mountains, and now and then I stopped to take some pictures.
After 300 kilometres, your butt becomes one thing with the seat, you don’t even think anymore, you drive, and drive, and you see nothing but trees around you.
The first day passed by without me even realising it.
At 8 pm, after 600 kilometres, I started to feel tired and stopped in one of the biggest towns around the highway A32. Nyngan. Two thousand five hundred people live here. The previous bunch of houses was 126 km before.
The weather was pretty nice, with a gentle breeze that made me shiver and forced me to wear a jumper at night.
The morning after at 6 am, I hit the road again, and the navigator tells me I needed to drive another 600 kilometres before the next intersection to reach Broken Hill. To be precise, 585 kilometres. Straight. Nothing else. No red lights. No turns. Nothing. 585… Insane.
After 100 kilometres I stopped to get fuel in a small town called Cobar. The woman at the counter looks at me and says: “Hawaia! Merry Christmas!”.
Crap, it’s bloody Christmas. Again. Every year the same shit. I hate Christmas.
I love myself for the excellent choice of turning this pathetic holiday into a fantastic road trip in the middle of nowhere, where the level of interaction that I have with people is: “Pump number 3, and a pack of Rothmans blue, thanks”. That’s it.
A triple shot mocha fuelled me for the next 8 hours, and my Christmas lunch consisted of a couple of hash browns I scarf down while driving.
My goal for today is to pass Broken Hill and cross South Australia’s border: 750 km.
From here I started to feel I m going in the middle of nowhere. I see fabulous red soil along the highway, that is that little road you see in the pictures. And I can’t find a soul around, except for some snakes I occasionally run over and dozens of dead kangaroos on the side of the road.
All I see in this a 585 kilometres is a surreal landscape.
I drive and smoke a lot. After a few years without a cigarette, 2016 brought me nothing but pain that I try exhaling together with that poison from my lungs. It works.
I think about the good and bad things that happened this year. I believe that after all, I am lucky.
Thinking and driving, driving and thinking, I finally arrived in Broken Hill in the late afternoon. The sky is beautiful, and I would have loved to see the Living Desert and the sculptures, which offer a great chance of beautiful pictures, but unfortunately, I don’t trust my car to drive through unsealed roads. I’ve done that before, several times, but not in the middle of the desert.
This time I can’t force my little companion and unfortunately is too late for the 18 km return hike to get there. Nevermind. The Living Desert won’t go anywhere. I might have the chance to come back in the future.
Everything is closed because it’s bloody Christmas Day.
Fortunately, I have a 20-litre petrol tank, so I’ll be ok for a while. I kept driving, crossing the border and stopped in Yunta to get some rest, fighting against the heat. And I lost the battle…
Only now I realise that I drove 750 kilometres with 40 degrees outside and my right arms burns like hell from the sun. I also discover that I am hungry and buy a sandwich from the petrol station nearby as I am too lazy to take out to the portable gas stove and cook.
The heat is killing me, and I am pouring water over my head.
A light breeze starts to blow but some unknown creatures popped out from the bushes, and I feel no longer safe sleeping on a camping chair, so I locked myself in the car. Jeez, it’s hot. But I am such a smart cookie that a few weeks ago I bought a portable mini fan that works with USB, so I took my portable charger and hung the fan on the steering wheel. I enjoyed a few hours of sleep.
The morning after, I woke up and had a disgusting coffee at a petrol station. They didn’t have soy milk, so I got full cream. A decision I would regret a few hours later, but it’s ok, you know what? You may be a little disgusted by this, but there’s no greater satisfaction than taking your pants down wherever you are whenever you want and do what you need to do without worries of being seen because there is absolutely nobody around.
I drove past a couple of small ghost towns, and after a whole day, I finally reach my first stop: Coober Pedy.
This small place is the world’s opal capital, and it’s famous for its underground life. When I say “underground”, I am not trying to use fancy terms. I mean it.
The weather here it’s so harsh that people started to dig holes in the ground and living inside them. Everything started with some Opal discoveries back in 1915. Since then, some people settled down and built a new unique town.
I wanted to take a look around, and also I needed to give a break to my car. And most of all I needed to stop because of the storm. Some heavy rain hit Uluru and whole centre Australia, so all the roads (well, there’s only one) were closed. Something like this happens only twice in a century.
I go to the desert, and a freaking storm comes. Can you believe it?
But the biggest thing is that I finally after three days I have a shower!!! I was so exhausted I had to drag myself to the car to grab my stuff, and after I rinsed off all the sweat and the dust, I passed out and slept for almost 13 hours, until the sound of broken glass woke me up, followed by some swearing. The storm reached South Australia, and the town of Coober Pedy became a big pond of mud.
Heavy rain and an unbelievably strong wind lasted till early afternoon when the sun came out, and everything went back to normal.
It will take another day for the sun to dry out the flooded highway, so I take it easy and have a pizza while writing my journal. Tomorrow is another day.
Here is the official website of Coober Pedy, where you can get more information about its history and things to do around there.
Here is the website of the hostel were I slept. They have a vast range of accommodation. I slept in one of the underground dorms. Fabulous!!
new year, same story
2nd January 2017
New year, same shit. At 10 pm on 31st December, I was already sleeping, after watching Mortal Kombat.
I never believed in those “new year, new life” bullshit. It’s gonna be another 365 days full of crap. It’s just a matter of how you deal with it. I’ll face another shitty year with the biggest smile, not giving a fuck about anything except what really matters to me, which is getting my permanent visa. All the rest are collateral effects.
I left Coober Pedy, and after 750 km I finally reached Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
There’s no such thing as a town. Only a big resort that offers any kind of accommodation, from unpowered tent sites to bungalows to luxurious rooms, together with a supermarket, petrol station, swimming pool and shopping centre.
I arrived at dawn and quickly set up my tent before it was too dark. I immediately learnt that my worst enemy here will be ants. Those little bastards were absolutely everywhere and were insanely aggressive.
I thought that I was in their territory and tried to appeal to my animal-friendly attitude, but at some point screw that, I sprayed a whole bottle of insect repellent on the ground.
After winning that epic battle, I slept like a baby. I was exhausted.
The morning after here I am, ready at 6 am in front of the big rock, only to realise I left the battery of my camera in the tent. A series of unspeakable swearings broke the eerie silence of the holy aboriginal site.
The resort is a 15km drive so going back now is not worthy.
I am already here. So I take the chance to get close and have a good look around to find some good shooting spots for the morning after. Being in front of that big thing popping out of nowhere is quite impressive.
No wonder why aboriginal people consider this place sacred.
Back to the resort I chill a few hours by the pool and go to the park again to see the sunset.
I couldn’t miss that. A little crowd gathered around, we all look at each other and smile. For a few minutes, peace and silence are kings.
This is the place to come to switch off your brain and let everything go. Because there’s always something bigger than you. Nobody’s special. The world is extraordinary, but we are not. Not me, not you. Go with the flow, don’t fight against yourself.
This is the place to go to re-calibrate your values and search for the right metric to defines your achievements.
I work as a waitress in a cafe. That must not mean much for most. But I left everything and went to another Country with one luggage and a thousand dollar in my pocket, alone. In four years I travelled to 11 Countries in four different continents. I started to work out a lot, and my body looks fantastic. I’ve never felt better than this inside and outside. And within a few months, I will have the visa that will allow me to stay here forever.
I crossed path with inspiring people, but also with looser I’ve learnt to stay away from.
Take whatever good you find around. Leave the crap. There’s no space for that.
And with these deep thoughts in my mind, I peacefully slept for a few hours.
I woke up at 3 am to see the sky in his whole beauty. Oh God, what a show. One of the most beautiful skies I’ve seen in my life, something beyond your imagination.
After that, I slept a bit more, and after making sure I have the battery with me, I drove to the National Park again to catch the sunrise. I wasn’t lucky enough to have the bright sky you often see in travel magazines and brochures, but it was spectacular anyway. Quite remarkable I would say.
The atmosphere makes every moment special, regardless of weather conditions, company, or whatever is in your way. Anything can happen, but I assure you that everyone enjoys these moments in this magic place.
With the sun up I head to the feet of the big rock. Touching it was weird. Gives you a sense of freedom, don’t know exactly how to explain it.
The storm that hit NT a few days before left quite a damage and unfortunately the track that brings you all around Uluru was closed. I stick around a bit more until it became so hot I can barely breathe. The hours passed by quickly and the morning after I packed my stuff and got ready for my next destination: Adelaide. I have no idea what to do there. I don’t even think there’s much to do.
Check out here Uluru and Kata Tjuta Nation Park website for info about accommodation and itineraries.
I say goodbye to this place.
The navigator tells me Adelaide is around 1500km. I need a couple of days to get there. At some point, the indication is: “drive straight for 1015 kilometres”. Again. Last time was around 600km. This time is almost double the distance, not bothering to take the wrong turn because there’s no turn at all…
Halfway I stop again in Coober Pedy. I really like this freaking place! It comes directly from space, seriously.
It’s 31st December. New Year’s Eve. Like Christmas, fuck NYE. I hate it. It’s the day when people think they’re entitled to get wasted and be assholes, but they don’t realise they’ve been assholes all year long.
What better way to spend the most useless day of the year if not trespassing a restricted area and wander around an opal cave. I better watch my steps cause it’s full of deep holes around, and I don’t feel like testing my climbing skill today. Too hot for that.
Once in town, it’s dark already. I watch a movie and go to bed. Best NYE ever.
The new year starts with an 800km drive to Adelaide, with some creepy encounters along the way.
Once in Adelaide, I drove around like an idiot trying to locate the Botanical Garden but with roadworks everywhere and no direction signs to help you at all the gardens were nowhere to be found. After 40 minutes of driving around, I think “F*#k the garden”, so I went to Springfield to see Carrick Hill, which is a property owned by a wealthy Australian couple back in the ’30.
They got some old furniture from their honeymoon in Europe and decorated their house with exquisite taste. The mansion became quickly the main meeting point artists and rich Australians who enjoyed the endless parties in the most exclusive house of South Australia. The property was left to the state at the death of its owner, in the early 80′, and now is one of the must-do stops in SA.
The beautiful garden is a real treat for your soul. There’s just one disturbing thing: people. Families. With kids. Horrible ugly and noisy kids. Society.
This is the sign my outback adventure is really over.