31 July 2018
We've been on the road a few days now. The road being the Indian Pacific Highway. It goes from Perth, Western Australia to....well, oop north. Way oop north and much of it straight as an arrow. And no sign of the Romans anywhere. It's certainly not the place for a BMW 1200. More a Harley kind of road but I wasn't allowed either. A comfy campervan was on the agenda right up until a chance meeting on a beach in Tasmania. "Hi (complete strangers). We're Stuart and Anne off that boat over there. Wanna come for a drink later" and on such introductions are cruising buddies acquired.
Adam and Cindy had spent nearly twelve months in 2017 travelling the outback in and on a 4WD. In, because that's where they spent their days. On, because that's where they spent their nights, their rooftop tent keeping them away from killer spiders, snakes and other Aussie ground level nasties. We did the rooftop tent thing last October and while it was surprisingly airy and comfortable, climbing down the ladder for a pee in the dark, in your Y's at three in the morning was only slightly less dangerous than taking on the snakes.
And so, as we planned our Outback Adventure one thing we absolutely had to have was an onboard bog. We also (who's "we" goes the cry) wanted 4WD so we could really get away from it all. Get out into "The Red". The great Australian outback.
The difficulty is, unless you get one of these giant Izuzu trucks, the kind you might have seen on the Paris Dakar rally, an internal bog and 4WD are mutually exclusive. And so, it's 4WD and a midnight moon just praying the spiders and snakes don't get too angry if pee'd upon.
We picked up the Land Cruiser in Perth a week ago and set off for the northern horizon. Not that we've covered that much ground, only seven hundred kilometres or so but enough to get a feel for how Count Dracula felt, sleeping twelve hours a day in a coffin. Now, you know I'm not one to complain but when I say the sleeping arrangements are tight, if we don't turn over in unison we risk fractures and bloody noses. But it is cosy.
In Australia, the collective slur given to folks like us is, "grey nomads". And there's hundreds of us, all thrashing along in our four or five litre trucks leaving the outback in a cloud of diesel fumes. Land cruising has one thing in common with sailboat cruising. Boys toys. Pretty much everyone is driving around in full size four wheel drive trucks personalised with with giant "Grabber" tyres, snorkels, Jerrycans on the roof, sand tracks, winches and UHF aerials like Special Forces on manoeuvre. An image dashed when we pull our fat or skinny selves out the door, pasty stick like legs poking out from over-sized shorts. Some are towing off-road caravans. Fifteen to thirty foot plus long vans with, much like my waistline, the ability to significantly expand their girth. Bruce, we'll call him Bruce 'cause we're in the outback, stands at the back of the supervan, presses a button and said van goes from looking quite slim and roadworthy to twelve months pregnant.
We are apparently missing a few toys essential to a safe transit of the outback. These sand tracks for when you get bogged down and the ability to deflate, and, more importantly re-inflate one's tyres. Apparently on soft going one deflates the tyres such that, again, like my waist line, they bulge out at the sides thus increasing the footprint and grip of the tyres.
And so dear reader, if you don't see a follow up post on the Blog over the coming week, do please send help.