So picture this...a tiny little white 3 door hatchback, with the back seats taken out and an old mattress in it's place. Wooded slats underneath with numerous bits of camping gear to keep us going. Yep this was going to be our home for the next 4 days while we made our way across the Northern Territory to Cairns, Queensland. Rock and roll baby!! Haha.
Off we set on our 3000km journey that was made up of literally two extremely looooong conjoining roads driving straight through the outback. TWO ROADS FOR THAT DISTANCE!! Can you imagine how long they must have been?! Haha. Unfortunately there was only one way in and one way out of the outback - and it meant driving into the unknown! For anyone who hasn't been to Oz, or hasn't watched any of the programmes on telly... it is basically miles and miles... and miles and miles, of NOTHINGNESS. It's crazy how fast the environment changed here, because one minute you might be surrounded by red hot soil, the next could be plush green forest, and then it could be vast open spaces where trees used to be, having recently been destroyed by bush fires. The weather was exactly the same! One minute clear blue skies, the next sheets of rain in the near distance that closely resembled that of a tornado. Good job our little hatchback had air con, as the temperature outside was a sweltering 35 degrees no matter what the sky was doing, even at 9 in the morning!!
Soon into our trip we realised we were all by ourselves, and probably didn't see another vehicle (mainly roadtrain) for a good few hours until we reached the first little town.. I say town, I mean a couple of streets of houses and a petrol station but they STILL had a McDonalds?! We definitely weren't complaining... We'd made pretty good progress by the end of our first day roadtrippin' but ended up having to pull over into a little petrol station come campsite/motel as it was starting to get dark, and Wicked had specifically said we weren't allowed to drive at night due to insurance reasons. Better to do that than kill a kangaroo I suppose! God knows why we thought it'd be a good idea to park our car underneath a tree, cos no sooner had we set up for the night than the biggest blackest cloud decided to descend upon the area and the next minute we were watching an epic thunderstorm not too far in the distance! Thankfully it stayed in the distance and we were able to relax and try to get some sleep. We didn't want to chance leaving any windows open during the night as we'd heard many stories about spiders and snakes, but lying on the mattress in the back of the car meant it started to get extremely hot and in no time at all the car resembled a sauna! BIG MISTAKE. We probably had about 3 or 4 hours sleep and were in desperate need of a shower come the morning, hahaha.
Taking it in turns to drive the next day meant I could finally get behind the wheel again, and it was definitely a shock after 3 months... although driving an automatic is far easier than a manual! Much of the Outback is flat, so the open road in front of you goes on forever and you never think it's going to end. Despite it being flat, there are a lot of roads prone to flooding (hard to get your head around when you're practically in the middle of what feels abit like a desert), and the indicators on the sides of the road reach up to 2 meters which is bizarre.
Now as you can imagine, you can't just chance getting some petrol when you're on red and thinking you'll be able to get some around the next corner. There are no corners!! Haha. There was sometimes 3 or 4 hours between petrol stations and villages, so we had to make sure our tank was always at least half full - only we made a little bit of a booboo and got the distances slightly wrong! So with only 40km left on the clock, and 40km until the next little village, we happened to drive into probably the worst storm we've ever experienced. Now this relates back to what I was saying about the Outback being flat - we were on completely flat surface, yet outside it was flooding, and rising FAST. It was raining so hard Billy couldn't actually see out of the windscreen, even with the wipers on full blast. This was a pretty scary moment, as we couldn't turn back because the next station with fuel was double the distance we had, it wasn't as if we could just hop out of the car and walk down the road to fill up a can either, and no other person was around for hours! Low and behold, we decided to chance it and drive on, and luckily the rain died off. Just the 'will we or won't we?' question of making it to the petrol station in time... DUN DUN DUN. The god's honest truth - we pulled into the station with 0km on the clock. Hahaha! Luck was definitely on our side that afternoon.
Our second night was to be spent in the mining town of Mt Isa, which I'd heard mentioned many a time on Neighbours, so being a massive fan (when I was younger, cough cough) meant I was a little excited. This didn't last for long unfortunately! There wasn't much around, we couldn't even find a campsite! This meant parking on the side of a road facing someone's house, covering up our windows with towels and sleeping bags, and trying to get some shut eye. Glamorous hey! Waking up to a beautiful and extremely colorful sunrise at 5am did completely make up for it though.
Our third day of roadtrippin' called for a whole host of (dead and alive) Australian animals, bugs and reptiles... kangaroo carcass after kangaroo carcass, herds of maMOOOOOOsive cows standing in our way, drive by squished snake (I'm sure he was already a goner before we drove over him), and the dreaded cockroach. Not to mention the two roo's who were happily crossing the road together... until the slower of the two decided to stop mid-cross JUST as a roadtrain was approaching them. Cue kangaroo splatted all over the front of that monster of a roadtrain. Ew! I was very nearly sick haha, and actually wanted to cry. Silly I know but I couldn't get the image out of my head for days and days!
With only one more night before we (hopefully) reached the beachside city of Cairns we decided we just had to have one decent night's sleep, so we headed for the first motel we could find! Best decision ever. Feeling refreshed for the last leg of our journey we set off into the unknown for lots more sing songs, peeing on the side of the road, sweets, ham and cheese sandwiches and sand flies.
To round off our four day road trip we were accompanied into Cairns by a stunning sunset, which made for an incredible backdrop behind us. We found a quirky little hostel, booked in and before anything else... had a bloody good cuppa tea!!! After all we'd deserved it right?! Hehe. Driving through the Outback was definitely an awesome experience. There is a hell of a lot of nothing, but in the same respect that is what makes it so epic. It definitely made us realize just how big Australia is, and I don't think we'd have experienced half of what we did, if we'd jumped on a plane and flown to the other side of the country instead!