Hitchhiking across the desert
Backpacks on and our sign in hands, we watch our friend Kev driving away in his « red bomb » with a bit of a heartache, just after emotive goodbyes… Kev dropped us in a strategic place where it will be easier to try our thumbs up. Ignoring all the frightening stories about abused and murdered hitchhikers told by our friends during this last week, we finally try to realise our goal: hitchhiking across the 2858 km between Bunbury and Adelaide! While we wait with our best “trustworthy hitchhikers” pose, we have to admit that we are not exactly as zen as we have thought… What the hell are we doing??
However, our first anxiety is quick to dry up. After only ten minutes waiting, a car stops to pick us up. We jump aboard and meet Noel, a jolly and talkative sixty years old man who goes up north to Geraldton to spend a few days. He agrees to drop us in Perth. The 250 km drift along very quickly as we have an animated discussion, and Noel even makes a detour to drop us on the right road, going east. A few seconds after having being dropped, an other car pulls over in a dusty cloud! It’s nearly too easy! A woman in her early fifties with two amazing blond plats takes us in. She is called Wendy; she’s a biker, used to drive road trains and lives somewhere in the bush between Perth and Kalgoorlie. Her husband and her have developed a business of firewood, are also recycling old telephonic pylons and selling mulch. During the conversation, we tell her our wish to reach New Zealand in a few months.
-Amazing! She says. My husband is a kiwi, and his family owns one of the biggest farms of the Northern Island. I am sure they could help you in your travel! I will stop at home and pick up the address for you.
We exchange a look, hesitating between being happy of our good luck or worried. Our paranoia of “baby hitchhikers” has us imagining a trap! Moreover, in our European eyes, we are right in the middle of nowhere!! Arrived at her house, she installs us on her terrace with two fresh beers, and lets us in the company of two splendid Harleys while she goes in looking for her family in law’s address. Suspicious, we drink slowly: maybe she is trying to get us drunk before cutting us into pieces!! During this time, two guys come up. One is Tony, Wendy’s husband; the other one is Scotty, his friend. Scotty, fag on and cold beer in hand, tells us the story of his missing finger: he shot himself by mistake with his .38 when he was drunk on a summer night! Kevin’s scaring tales come back to us… And Tony, telling us that he could bury us with his excavator somewhere where nobody would ever find us, doesn’t help us to relax!!
We discover in fact that our fears are totally irrelevant, Wendy and Tony are just amazing and generous people! Wendy not only gives us her family in law’s address, she also phones them to tell them about us coming in a few months! She then calls Kev and Liz to reassure them about our situation. As the afternoon is now nearly behind, she proposes us to stay home tonight, and Tony goes to pick up some good fish and chips for dinner. We can’t believe what’s going on! We spend the night talking about travels, bikes and music before settling in their spare room where we had a very good sleep.
In the morning, Wendy prepares us a huge breakfast composed of toasts, mashed eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, spiced sausages and mutton chops. With all that, our stomachs will be settled for all day! After saying good bye to Tony and the two adorable dogs, Wendy drives us 50 km more in the direction of Kalgoorlie, and drops us in a little town, where we are sure to find help or water if needed. We left Wendy with emotion. We were very happy to meet her and Tony. They gave us an other proof, if needed, that there is very amazing people in this world! What a wonderfull meeting it was!
We wait only 20 min before an other car pulls over to take us. Brenton, the driver, is going directly to Kalgoorlie, grossly 500 km away. He isn’t as talkative as Noel but he is nice, and he answers every one of our questions. The landscape becomes more and more arid while the kilometres pass away, the green hills of the coast replaced by dusty plains of dry bushes. The road follows an impressive pipeline flowing water to all the area from Perth. The history of this pipeline construction is visibly epic. We also learn that the engineer who created this project, persuaded that he lamentably failed, had a terrible depression and took his own life… a week before they first started to use the pipeline, which was an immediate and total success!! At one moment on the road, we pass near a Japanese guy on foot pulling a big trailer along, under 35°C. We found someone more audacious than us!!
At the end of the afternoon, we finally reach Kalgoorlie, a very pretty city, which reminds us of some “far-west” decors. Around 30 000 people live there, and the majority work for the gold mine, where is the very famous “super-pit”. When we arrive, the streets are all empty… It’s a bit creepy! But then we learn that today is the last day of the Race, a major national horse event in the area, which attracts a lot of people from everywhere, all dressed up in fancy clothes! We meet Martin, a polish guy who is also travelling by hitchhiking, and climb mount Charlotte at the end of the town together to watch the beautiful outback sunset settling on the landscape. Then we find a spot to set the tent for our first camping night and fall asleep happy about the beginning of our adventure.
Tintin & Riette