I rocked up at Caltex this morning with a box of assorted food and a rucksack, and proceeded to wait on the side of the busy road and eat a boiled egg. I certainly got some strange looks. I then heard a woman yell ‘O’ (my nickname) and staggered up and yelled ‘Hi’ enthusiastically…before realising that she was definitely not one of the girls I was meeting, as she was a forty year old woman dressed in high heels. I shiftily sat back down again, pretending the whole incident hadn’t happened. I waited for about half an hour before the others turned up…in a vehicle which in no way resembled a campervan. It was, in no other words, a car with a large boot. I knew from then that the trip was going to be interesting.
The past few hours had already been a shambles, during which I scurried around, not really knowing where I was meant to be going or what time I was meant to be there. We had a few tense moments while we tried to navigate the freeway, and suddenly we were out of Perth and headed towards freedom.
We had a distance of 366 miles to travel and just over five hours before it got dark. The scale of the outback continued to amaze me, as it stretched out endlessly on either side, transforming from barren scrubland to undulating white sand dunes and then to infinite, dazzling blue ocean. The signs were sparse, and we followed a dodgy GPS, which intermittently spoke to us through the blaring music. Luckily, it’s pretty much one straight road, fringed by course red earth merging into washed out looking bushes.
We arrived at Jurien Bay two naps and half a jar of Nutella later. My reasoning was that if I ate all my unhealthy food today, it would mean that I could be healthy for the rest of the week. So far, I just feel rather sick and I’ve made a significant dent into my large store of food. Good one!
Another aim of the trip was to have a break from drinking… But I bought half a bottle of voddie ‘just in case’. In this vein, we spotted a liquor store (or a bottle-o), and just couldn’t resist buying a whole crate of cider, of course. We had a cheeky one and then I promptly fell asleep.
I woke up as the sun was setting and my friend was taking about fifty photos from the car window, claiming that ‘one of them would be okay’. He did get a few pretty stunning ones, to be fair. The blazing sun had given way to a fabulous sunset, with small cumulus dotting the sky and creating a patchwork of pink and purple. Once day had turned to night, we drove cautiously (I say we but I’m not referring to myself- I hadn’t quite summed up the courage to drive yet) as there’s a high chance of kangaroos jumping out in front of the car as they’re attracted to headlights. There are ‘danger- kangaroos’ signs marking the highway more frequently Than speed limit signs…classic Australia.
We finally arrived at the campsite in Kalbarri 8 hours later, and began pitching the tiny three man tents. I volunteered to cook dinner, which was probably a bad idea given my limited cooking skills. We only had two tiny saucepans and needed to cook for ten people, so resorted to cooking the sausages and the pasta sauce on top of the boiling pasta water, also using the frying pans as lids for the water. Clever, eh? It took ages to cook and our stomachs were rumbling in anticipation… Finally, it was cooked and I discovered that I’d horribly burnt the pasta. Typical. Ah well, I warned you, didn’t I? Nevertheless, it tasted delicious as we were starving, and we wolfed it down hungrily. I then slowly froze at the table while we lit the candles and laughed raucously at everything.
We heard people making a racket somewhere near and went to investigate. It was karaoke in a bar that resembled something out of a western movie, and a mixture of old men and seven year old kids were inside. The people were singing to their hearts content, and we decided to give it a shot. We decided on Britney’s ‘Toxic’, before changing to Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’. Upon realisjng that (a), we couldn’t sing Fly Me To The Moon in tune and (b), it was too quiet a song, we changed song mid-performance. Toxic wasn’t much better to be honest- I didn’t know the tune but the boys were happily singing, although rather too quietly and we were told to sing up. I soon ceased to care and belted out god knows what tune to my hearts content. We got a pretty good round of applause – although it was probably cause we were so shit! It was a pretty memorable first karaoke experience- in a bar in the middle of the outback. We then started to walk back, but encountered some casual kangaroos and my friend thought they’d punch us so we turned on our heels and fled. So much for being hardy road trippers.