I was just going for a drive to see a friend. 3 months later I had circumnavigated the continent. I just followed the bull bar avoiding cyclones and Wolfe Creek nightmares.
I was sitting in Toowoomba when the urge to visit Barcaldine came over me. Toowoomba to Barcaldine (or Barcy as it is known to locals) is not a huge trip in my book so I threw in my swag and a bag of clothes with my toothbrush and I was out the door. The Chev lapped up the open highway cruising along like a giant sofa.
Upon arriving in Barcy, I was invited to speak at the graduation of the Longreach Agricultural College. I never pass up the opportunity to speak so I jumped in the drivers seat and pointed the Chevy bull bar west. The students were super inspiring and after speaking to them about their plans for the future I decided I was well and truly due for an adventure of my own.
A friend had just moved to Tennant Creek and I had never been to the Northern Territory so once more I slid behind the steering wheel and followed my bull bar further west. The Barkly Highway was spectacular. Each night I rolled my swag out in the tray under a blanket of stars.
I am not sure if you have ever been to Tennant Creek in the NT but there isn't a lot to see. As I sat at the Threeways Roadhouse contemplating my life choices to date I realised I had never been to Darwin. And with that realisation I turned the bull bar North and followed it to the hidden jewels of the Territory. I swam in crystal clear naturally heated springs and sat on my tray to ponder the universe while taking in magnificent escarpments and breathtaking scenery.
As I pulled the Chevy into the service station in Katherine I tuned into the local radio station and the many reports of the vicious cyclone bearing down on the Top End. There was no adventure to be found behind me but in front of that bullbar was the road to Broome and I had never been to Broome. Equally spectacular to the Barkly Highway was the road through Timber Creek and the Kimberley. The swag in the tray was a most glorious bedroom cradled amongst the tall red cliffs and and covered in stars. Looking at those clear skies above it was hard to believe a second cyclone was bearing down on my adventure.
The torrential downpour as I pulled into the Roebuck Roadhouse brought a very significant fact about the Chev to my attention. The windscreen leaked. It more than leaked. Home improvement shows would be envious of the water feature I had dribbling over my feet. I am not a duck and I don't like wet feet so I decided Roebuck was as close to Broome as I was willing to be and I turned the bull bar south.
By this time it was almost Christmas and it was warm. Very very warm. The Chev tyres were a little old and they were not enjoying the furnace like heat radiating from the bitumen. I was just north of Nanutarra Roadhouse when my third flat tyre in two days let me down. I only carried two spares and the Chev has 16 and a half inch tyres which are very hard to buy in Australia. I was stranded.
I often tell you that RACQ is a great investment. A few days before Christmas as I slowly roasted beside the road I experienced the pure joy of being an RACQ member. They had their Western Australian counterparts tow me to the roadhouse and then on into Geraldton. In Geraldton I met the loveliest people who gave me a place to stay while I waited for the new rubber to arrive. For weeks I swam in the ocean, ate fresh crayfish and abalone from the shores and explored the sand dunes. When the wheels arrived I was sad to leave the beach but excited to head out on my adventure. I was booked to speak at a Young Farmers event in Forbes New South Wales in 3 days time and so I had to hit the road.
The night before I left Geraldton, I kicked back and relaxed with some friends and a movie. The movie I watched that night was Wolfe Creek. That was not a smart movie to watch. Having just driven through Halls Creek and Wolfe Creek and all of the country featured in the movie I knew it was a ridiculous story line and I could poke holes in the plot. Despite the fact that the plot of Wolfe Creek can not hold up to analysis by anyone who owns a map it was still front of mind as I followed the Chevy bull bar south.
My entire trip across the northern half of Australia I had rolled my swag out in the tray and slept under the stars. I had slept soundly. Not a care in the world. Suddenly as I rolled my swag out in the tray I overanalysed just how vulnerable I was. You really could disappear without a trace. I could not sleep. So I drove.
Just so you know. Driving while tired is dumb. And before you ask taking 3 months out to enjoy an adventure and laze by the beach had not been fondly received by my bank account and so I had enough money for fuel to get home but no money for a nice safe secure hotel room. So I drove looking for somewhere safe. But when you are post Wolfe Creek no where is safe.
Powered by Red Bull and Monster and Mother and all of the caffeine I could find I pointed the bull bar east and drove on. The photo below was taken during a moment of fright. I had been cruising along the Nullarbor when suddenly I spied the ocean. I had not been prepared for the sight of water. The shock of the ocean to my sleep deprived brain jolted me as I questioned if I had taken the wrong road. I spent an hour taking photos and waking up enough to finish the drive.
It was with great relief that I finally pulled into Forbes and climbed into the motel bed they provided for me. When I made it home I tore out the bucket seats and put the original bench seat back in. These days when I want a nap I curl up in secure comfort in the cab with the doors locked.