Around Smoky Bay, 40km in the bush where we’ve been droped in the middle of no where by the previous driver who apparently didn’t understand where we wanted to go.
It’s 12:30. It’s been nearly an hour now that we’ve been walking on this damned road under the hot-as-hell sun, followed by a cloud of unnerving flies. Well… This day definitely had a bad start. We didn’t encounter a single living soul! Suddenly, we hear an engine noise coming from behind. We franticly agitate our arms, full of hope. Hurray!! The car stops! We meet with pleasant Joy who proposes to give us a lift back to Ceduna, where we started this morning… Umh… We lost half a day, but it could have been a lot worse!
Back to Ceduna, it takes only 10 minutes for a car to pull over to pick us up. It’s heading straight to Port Augusta, 500 km from here, across a gigantic agricultural area of wheat fields followed by landscapes of arid red australian desert. Perfect! The driver doesn’t look trustworthier than the previous one, if not less. Indeed, Graham doesn’t look like the perfect gentleman. Tattooed, toothless, huge, biker, he will nevertheless prove us one more time that clothes do not make the man. While conversing, we discover a cultivated, talkative and endearing personality!
We reach Port Augusta at nightfall. We ask our new friend to drop us at the first rest area after the city, where we thought we would be able to camp for free and be in the perfect spot for hitchhiking on the morning. It’s pitch dark when he drops us, but two other cars are actually stopped there so it reassures us to know that we won’t spend the night alone: Port Augusta area doesn’t have a great reputation for nocturnal safety! But unfortunately everybody leave the car park 10 minutes later…
We realise that they where just stopping for dinner!! And we were thinking (wrongly…) that the rest area would be like the wide and peaceful places we found alongside the Nullarbor. But a quick inventory of the place under the light of our headlamps just makes us despair. This rest area is proving totally unfit for us to even think about camping on it!! The place is a paved, grid enclosure, largely used as a public toilet and a dump. A poor exhausted streetlight projects with difficulties a greenish halo on the pavement. Horrific!! We don’t see any other alternatives than wrapped ourselves in our sleeping bags to keep warm and walk in circles to keep from falling asleep. We are exhausted, chilled and desperate…
And then, suddenly, a miracle: an enormous road train stops in our den of iniquity!! The truck is magnificent and gleaming proudly. It’s pulling along two huge trailers full of haggard sheep. A little man comes out. Careful to stay in the truck’s headlights to avoid the poor man a heart attack, we introduce ourselves. Mick explains us that he’s got a flat tyre. And he certainly won’t let us here!!! He decides to bring us to Port Wakefield, a 100 km north of Adelaide! An other road train pulls over on the rest area, driven by Mick’s colleague, stopping to help him fix his tyre. When it’s done, we jump aboard. Smiling like crazy, we take place in the binnacle. Not only we leave that nefarious dump, but we also have a ride in a road train!!! Elation!!!!
While Mick, chain-smoking fags, tells us everything about his life as a King of the road, we have a better look of the inside: it’s a real little flat! A big bed, tv, microwave oven… Luxury! Mick’s truck is one of the biggest that exists. It’s a Western Star, custom made, full length cabin ! The truck have 2 trailers carrying 700 sheeps with a 650hp engine. It’s 35m long, and weights 85t. We’ll drive like that with Mick for 200km, at a speed of 80km/h for a fuel consumption of nearly a 100L per 100km! To keep the distance, it carries 2000L of diesel in the tanks. Impressive! He drops us at a roadhouse open 24/24, around Port Wakefield. The cashier, flabbergasted to see two dishevelled backpackers pop in at 1 o’clock in the morning, gives us access to a warm shower. Hallelujah! We set our tent in the wasteland at the rear of the station for a few hours of sleep.
At 6 in the morning, we are ready to battle with the (bloody) road again. Soon, Marie takes us aboard, and drives us the last 100 km that separate us from Adelaide. She drops us two blocks away from our friends Joe and Rosa’s home (the Italian couple owning the cherry orchard where we worked last time we travelled in Australia.).
That’s it! We’ve done it!!! It’s nearly 9 o’clock, sixth day of hitchhiking, across 2858 km of Australian deserted land and remote areas!!
Tintin & Riette