We left Adelaide this morning and had thoroughly enjoyed our time there but once again we had to hit the road and make our way to our next job - in the Northern Territory. It is approximately in round figures 3000 km's to our next destination and we intend to take 10 days to get there, this allows us time for some sightseeing along the way.
Now it was only last year that we made this very same trip so we can bypass some attractions that we have already visited but at the same time enjoy some of those that we are yet to see. The roads in the Australian Outback are at times very long and very straight, to some they may be considered boring but to me I see them as a challenge. I am always on the lookout for a special photo opportunity (while at the same time concentrating 100% on my driving of course - men are capable of doing more than one thing at once) or even a little something that gives you a "buzz/wow" if you catch my drift. By having a van in tow it is often very difficult if not impossible at times to pull over and grab a particularly nice shot so most of our snaps whilst motoring along the Highway are captured by Liz poking the camera out the window as we pass things at 90 kmh.
As is often the case particularly for our first day on the road we had made some sandwiches and topped up the lolly container, it is cheaper to make your lunch than buy it and it is usually healthier also. The lollies are primarily for two things firstly they are yummy and secondly the sugar is a good aid to help keep your mind on the job. A lot of people use coffee or those caffeine and sugar filled drinks to keep them on the ball, I don't drink either and have not had a coffee since I was 15. We stopped a little North of Port Pirie at a roadside rest place gee the fly's were incredibly friendly and eager to partake in our beautiful chicken sanga's. The great Aussie salute was working overtime. A quick stopover at Port Augusta further on up the road for some supplies and it was off again.
We chose Pimba or did it choose us as our first stop for the night. For the previous couple of hours the dark clouds and rain had been slowly catching up with us and we knew it was only a matter of time before they reached us. As we had been on the road for 7 hours we decided it was time to stop and I am not joking but within 4 minutes of us parking the van there was a huge flash of lightning followed by a loud crash of thunder and then down came the rain.
While waiting for the rain to stop I was reading the information boards about things to do in the region though it did not suit us as we would be off again first thing in the morning. As I was doing this a bloke from Noosa came over for a chat, him and his wife were about 3 months in to a 12 month holiday break and were headed for Darwin. A small van of backpackers pulled up shortly thereafter and as the rain was starting to ease we all decided to cook dinner at the same time under the small shelters that were provided. There was a couple from Canada and two young women, one from Denmark and the other from Germany, they had been thoroughly enjoying their trip but were disappointed that their first day in the Outback was to be a wet one. They opted for pasta while we enjoyed some tender porterhouse - mmm, yummo.
The sites there were unpowered so Liz was disappointed we could not have the aircon on (I however was the opposite) as it was very warm and steamy. Apparently you get used to the hum of the air conditioner as it punches out its cool air though quite frankly I am yet to find that is the case. The rain eventually stopped and it was silence, aaah, for a while. Then it would be rattle rattle shhhh of the road trains air brakes as they pulled in and dropped u turns metres from the van for a few hours rest. The last thing you want when stopping in these roadside spots is a refrigeration truck, but sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. This bloody thing made a racket for hours and by 5am I was unable to go back to sleep so it was just a matter of waiting for the sun to come up so we could be on our way. It is fraught with danger if you are on the road around dusk and dawn as this is the most common time to experience close encounters with some of our wildlife particularly kangaroos. These are not particularly bright animals and often jump in front of moving vehicles.
*This website does not recognise Pimba in South Australia so I have combined the Pimba and Marla blogs.*
At 5am I went for a walk outside to, um, stretch the legs and the sky was bursting with stars, the Milky Way was magnificent as always. I eagerly awaited sunrise and was not disappointed as it was reasonably good and I snapped a few shots.
While in Adelaide I had purchased two little gadgets in a disposal shop for $4.95 that are meant to frighten wildlife away not a big risk if they did not work I thought, they function by emitting a high pitched noise that can't be heard by humans. Well I decided to fit them this morning before we left, they certainly were not going to work if they'd stayed in the glove box. They are easy to install using trusty double sided tape and simply pushing them onto the bull bar, operation completed in under 2 minutes. Now I can't say for certain if in fact they perform as claimed but during the course of the day on two occasions we approached emus on the side of the road, now these critters are even less intelligent than 'roos. While kangaroos jump in front of vehicles the poor old emu will often crash into the side of vehicles - what the hell are they thinking? Anyway both times they darted off away from the road as though something had given them a fright. Crows also behaved a little differently as normally they would casually hop to the edge of the road but today they actually took flight and were keen to put some space between themselves and our vehicle.
However I found the opposite occurred with some wedge tailed eagles that were feasting on some road kill, my experience with them in the past is they are eager to fly off before you get too close to them. This has been quite frustrating as I would love to snap some really good eagle shots but alas today was different in fact almost too different. As we approached these eagles sitting atop a dead 'roo in the middle of the road, Liz camera in hand pointing out the windscreen, me reducing our speed from 80 kmh to about 60 and rapidly bearing down on these birds who seemed reluctant to get out of our way. I knew no one was behind us so I started to apply the brakes, it was like they were oblivious to the fact that 3500 kg of metal was about to send them into another world, with just a couple of metres between us and them they started to take off. Eagles are big birds and like the lift off of the space shuttle the initial launch seems to happen in slow motion. Well one poor bloke was a tad slow and I grimaced as I waited for the splat of bird on windscreen we missed him by centimetres but I thought for sure he would not clear the van, fortunately for all of us he did!
Bottom line is I think the animal shewerofferers work except maybe on eagles, they are yet to be put to the test by a kangaroo.
Last year we had a very quick drive around/through Coober Pedy so I wanted to have a better look this time. We visited a nice underground Church which was very interesting and cool compared with the heat outside and we called in to an underground café/souvenir place, I will just say that Liz bought her most expensive and worst coffee ever at the same time though it was the hottest ever - 2 out of 3 ain't good. $7.50 for a take away coffee yep that is not a typo, 7 bloody dollars and 50 cents. He claimed to have the cheapest opals in town but we were too afraid to ask. Scared but still with our adventurous spirit intact we decided on a pub lunch and got some $10 lunch specials, yoohoo we were both very impressed.
Again we were followed by threatening clouds with scattered rain falling in the distance but as luck would have it we missed the lot. After eight and a half hours on the road we called Marla home for the night it was nice knowing that the trucks would not interfere with our sleep. On the down side for me at least was we did have power for the night so yep you guessed it the aircon stayed on the entire time, I think it was Confucius who once said "a happy marriage is about compromise". Mmmmm onya Conny.
We cooked dinner and nicked in to the Bar to check things out, you know those old Western movies when a stranger walks into the saloon and everyone stops to look at them? That does exist in real life.
It was not a bad sunset so I took a couple of snaps and that was pretty much it for the night, tomorrow well who knows.
Travel safe take care and Remember it's nice to be important but it's important to be nice.