So, I kind of managed the drive across the Nullarbor! Made it to Ceduna without any hassles. I am actually surprised, but it’s weird, that now I have hit the other side… and am free to enjoy a couple of days… that the emotions kick in and I realise that I have left WA. I actually did it. Wow.
I drove across the Nullarbor, alone. I didn’t break down, I didn’t get serial killed… and in some small part, I managed to distract myself with the “big drive” and everything till the SA border, so as not to have to think about what I am actually committing to doing here.
Fuck, I LEFT Western Australia. After 15 years of talking about it, I have actually done it. For a maybe.
While I ponder that for longer than I should, I suddenly realise that it’s a hell of a drive back if I chicken out now.
So, like the lovely psychologically healthy person I am, I’ll just distract myself again and tell you about the trip.
I left Madura at about 7am, after a pretty average sleep, what with keeping one eye & ear open for mice eating my eyeballs. I made Ceduna my goal, planned to pace myself, take in the sights, take photos… and I did. To an extent.
The outback is… amazing. I don’t know why people say there is nothing to see – it really does have some incredible beauty if you look for it. Going from brown, to green, to red… to glimpses of cliffs on the Bight to the most beautiful red & ash-coloured trees I have ever seen (and need to be seen with eyes, not a lens, to be fully appreciated!). And that’s the thing. It really is something that you need to see. Experience. Take in all the colour and the beauty and the vastness that a lens just can’t capture. It really is… epic.
So yes, I got some pretty great shots. But honestly? I actually really, really like (and prefer) the driving part. There is something incredibly Zen about hitting the open road, alone with your (in my case swirling and complex) thoughts and emotions… that each time I hit somewhere, I really only stopped for half an hour, to stretch my legs, go “aw pretty”, take a picture… and then… kept moving.
I guess I learned something about myself, which is that I relax more when I am moving forward. Not too good at the sitting still, me. So a note to anyone planning holidays with me: you better be planning to take me exploring or walking up a mountain…
Anyway, yesterday, I finished the leg between Madura, Ceduna and landed in Smoky Bay with the intention of spending some quality time there.
Until I was told there was no accommodation.
See, apparently all the oldies like to fill up all the caravan parks and accommodation in March & April, creating a grey peak tourist season outside of the school holidays. I did not know or plan for this… I assumed that because school holidays was over, that it wasn’t a problem.
But apparently it’s peak season, so without paying over $150 a night for a room (which I can’t afford), I am fucked.
The guy at Smoky Bay was really nice and apologetic… and laughed at my joke that I should camp outside in case we get a “casual caravan park vacancy”… so … I wasn’t annoyed. And, unperturbed (given that this is an adventure after all and I know I am a control freak who really needs to learn to just roll with things…) I continue to Streaky Bay, where I was again informed there was “no room at the Inn”.
It was at this point I decided that I was not paying $30 for an unpowered campsite (my only option other than $150+ a night hotel rooms). I stopped at the Streaky Bay bar, where everyone was just a little weird and looked at me funny and made me feel generally uncomfortable. Or maybe I was just about to meltdown… because I love the feeling of having no control. Yeah, I am totally in my element there.
It was at this point it really started to hit me what I was doing. I was half way between either home, with nowhere to stay because everything was full… people were looking at me weird, my daughter won’t talk to me on the phone… and… then I find out that an old friend had passed away… it was all too much.
So, after a little panic attack and a cry to Martin, at 8pm, all emotional, tired, out of control and sad to hear about Jaye, I decide “FUCK IT” and hit the road and drove till I was tired.
It was absolutely WONDERFUL.
I have no problem with night driving. I take it easy, I am alert and know how to handle myself on country roads. And… it was awesome. No roos, the occasional road train, and passing dead quiet country town after dead quiet country town.
And then I saw the big concrete cockatoo. Never before have I been so relieved to see the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Kimba. Halfway across Australia and slightly more than halfway through my trip. It is hard to describe that feeling, especially given the weird state of mind I was in that got me there in the first place. But…
For the first time in about 2 weeks, I breathed out. And I smiled. And then I cried. Hard. SHUT UP YOU DON’T KNOW.
So, I kept going for a bit longer, and eventually started to feel tired around midnight, and because nothing was open along the way, about 70K West of Iron Knob (heh… knob), I pulled over into a rest area with all the truckies and slept in the car. Which, ironically, was the most comfortable sleep I have had the entire trip!
I woke up, found a shower on the way, and am now sitting in Port Augusta. Where I am actually feeling good and relaxed.
There’s more to write about that, so I will save that for the next post. It’s funny the things you learn about yourself when you travel on your own…