1st night camping after a few hours on the road. We set up the tent in a sort of undergrowth with this famous australian desert’s ocher ground. During the night, the weather goes bad, and very quickly we’re stuck in an apocalyptic storm.
The wind picks up, blows, whistles, screams. The fine outback red dust starts to fly everywhere around, and enters the tent which inflates, bends and twists in all directions, perhaps outraged by the mistreatments of the wind pressure. This cursed dust gets everywhere and whipped us. We cannot breathe anymore, Quentin starts to bleed from the nose. We have no choice but to take refuge in our sleeping bags and cover our heads with our t-shirts despite the temperature still around 30°C. Finally the rain comes, sticking all those nasty particles on the ground. But the wind rebukes harder. The elements are unbridled. Lightnings split the sky and thunder roars mightily. The wind breath so hard during some bursts that we are no longer able to differenciate the noise from squalls than the one from that huge road trains passing at high speed on the road, all lights on, printing the forest with shadows like a stroboscope on the canvas of our tent.
Crossing the Nullarbor
We spend the next days driving in the middle of a desert landscape as far as our eyes can see. The Nullarbor is a huge empty flat place. The trees are becoming scarce, giving way gradually to a yellowish and stunted vegetation dried or burned in a previous fire, and dotted with orange sand. The road unfolds amid like a long tongue of bitumen. Since the storm last night, the sky is made of thick gray and black clouds with a threatening look, which does not help the scenery.
As we approach the Western Australia/South Australia border, we tell Andrea about the quarantine rules. He’ll have to throw the fruits and vegetables, honey, butter and milk. This law is to prevent a disease affecting these products to spread from one state to another. The border is equiped with checkpoints to inspect vehicles. Andrea is not comfortable and stressy. He says he expects to renew his working holiday visa for a second year and he doesn’t want to have problems with the police because he carries a passenger in the back of his van without seatbelt. So we stopped at the nearest petrol station before the border and ask two women with a place available in their car if they can help us. Quentin will cross the border in their vehicle, and we will meet up again on the other side.
This 3rd day is more interesting, the road goes along the sea on top of huge cliffs that fall into the ocean. We stop at every lookout to take some pictures (we promised Noel some pictures of the cliffs. When he was travelling by motorbike he crossed the Nullarbor, but didn’t stop, so he wanted to see our pictures ! 🙂 ). The scenery looks like the end of the world. On one side, a plain as far as the eyes can see that breaks with 90° cliffs, and on the other side a deep blue ocean to the horizon. At the end of the afternoon, we stop again to take in another breathtaking sunset, printing a nearly holy light over fields of golden grass in the middle of which some big farm windmills are turning. Some clouds add a touch of heroic fantasy movie, then the sun turns on a deep orange. Well, we’ll never get bored of sunsets, they are so beautiful.
As we’re approaching the next village, a sign indicate a new quarantine control. To avoid troubles, we decided that we gonna quit Andrea and Stefania here. We find a little caravan park that looks brand new, offering us the luxury of a roof over our heads (we set up the tent under a big shed), and of a hot shower.
We soon discover that the place is full of fruits and veggies that customers let here for free before crossing the checkpoint. We meet by chance the sympathic couple we’ve met a few days before on Mount Charlotte lookout. With them, travel a friend who travelled all around the world. He proposes us to use his stuff to cook some of the free veggies, what a luxury ! Tonight we’ll eat hot food ! This meal gives us back a lot of strength and happiness, it’s not 35°C anymore since a few days, the temperature is now very low. We exchange stories of travels, and then the australian couple offers us some veggies stew they’ve cook in a too big quantity. That’s too beautiful, we eat a second time ! And they even offers us a chocolate biscuit as a dessert ! We go to bed full of gratitude !
In the morning, Harry picks us up. He’s going to the next city : Ceduna. Harry is a true hippie. Surfer, around 60 years old, he talks during the 70km about the bad effects of the genitic modified agriculture, and about saving the environement.
After an hour of waiting at Ceduna, a big fat man with greasy hair stops, in a dirty car with a box of World of Warcraft on the backseats and a naked woman picture on the dashboard. We say that we want to go in Port Augusta. No worries ! He’ll drop us 40km on the way in a city. We start doubting when he turns off the highway… Finaly he drops us at Smoky Bay, at 40km from Ceduna on the road to Port Lincoln, a very little fishing village on the coast. The problem is that the road is in a dead end, so there is no traffic. We’re stuck ! We thanks him politely, trying to do not angry that crazy guy !
So we’re in the middle of the bush, stuck on a road with no traffic. No other choices : we’ll have to walk back, and hope that one of the very rare cars that drives that cursed road will stop…
Tintin & Riette