So we broke down yesterday and had to get towed back to a place whose name we can’t pronounce. Is it CARnarvon? CarNARVon? CarnarVON? God knows, but we were stuck there last night and promptly got kicked out of the campsite this morning. This place is out to get us!
The weirdest thing is that the book I started (and finished) today recounts the story of a woman in the sixties who trekked nearly 2,000 miles from Alice Springs, with only four camels and a dog…and finished her journey in Carnarvon! Coincidence or…fate? A sign that I should embark on a similar adventure and write a book about it? Who knows, maybe I just will.
Anyway, moving on. The day started uneventfully with an idyllic breakfast on the beach, eating half dry Weetabix and gazing out at the azure water which rapidly changed into deep cobalt blue about one hundred yards out. We had the beach to ourselves yet again, and I waded in the shallows until my knees went numb. The Indian Ocean is surprisingly cold. I then drove again, which was probably a mistake as I hadn’t slept well the night before and I could feel myself drifting… We made it in one piece to Monkey Mia though, but managed to miss the feeding of the dolphins- the main attraction! The dazzlingly clear blue water and shockingly bright white sand made up for it though, and we spent a while on a sandbar in the ocean doing a photoshoot, as you do.
I’d just finished my rather challenging meal of tinned tuna, sweetcorn (I had to drink the juice as we were in the car and I had nowhere to drain it) and bread dunked in very melted margarine, when the drama began. We were driving jovially along, speeding (of course) and trying to constantly overtake the other car. We finally passed them at a hair raising 180km/h and zoomed off into the distance, feeling smug. A few dead kangaroos later we realised that we hadn’t seen them in a while, so slowed down to 100km/h and crawled along for a bit. Twenty minutes passed, and still no sign. We then began to get worried. We did a Uey (U-Turn) and headed back, and forty minutes passed without any sighting. We did see an Aboriginal man in his truck who’d just come out of the bush and was chilling, drinking a can of coke. He was charming.
We were frantic and anxious by this point, although none of us wanted to voice our shared sentiment. We were picturing an over turned car and bodies littering the road. Luckily, we saw neither of these things, and breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the car pulled up by the side of the road. Relief turned into disappointment when we realised they’d broken down and we wouldn’t make it to Coral Bay, as it was a good two hours away.
We headed back in low spirits and had a meagre dinner of tomato sauce and rice. The others had quite an experience though- cooking pasta on the side of the highway while they waited in the dark for two hours. They rocked up three hours later, riding on the back of a pick up van in the car, utterly exhausted. We then met some French guys, who invited us for some bevs. We accepted, and were having a great time when the angry owner of the caravan site (typical Aussie with long, sandy hair) told us to keep the noise down as it was 10pm. Really?! We ignored him and he returned, even angrier, and we fled to the front of the caravan park. One of the guys (I believe his name was Graham) was so utterly pissed that he provided us with much comic value. He kept on going on about sea turtles in Ningaloo Reef and we were constantly making quips at his expense and shrieking with laughter. He didn’t realise that we were laughing at him not with him, and carried on, growing more and more confident as our laughter increased. It got to the point where my cheeks were aching from our bursts of hysterics.
We soon got bored of dear old Graham, and one by one left the circle and formed our own. An hour later, only one of us was left with him, and he was STILL ranting on about these bloody sea turtles! We’d only stayed for that long because he was a mechanic and promised to fix our car. He’d mention something we should do in Coral Bay, and we’d divert the conversation to “we’d love to, but we need a car for that…” Poor Graham. He never did fix our car, though.
The long sandy haired guy was not happy about our “late night” antics (we were up until midnight), and we’d got several fat old men complaining to us. They were aggressive and scary, but I still don’t think we shut up, as sandy haired dude kicked us out the following morning, telling us with a shake of his shaggy head that he was “disappointed” in us. How patronising. The ironic thing was that we weren’t even sure that we were able to leave, as the car was in no fit state to move. When the mechanic came and told us that he couldn’t fix it until the next day because it was bank holiday (just our luck- sod’s law), we were allowed to drive 100m down the road. My poor, terrified friend drove at 5km/h while the car emitted an ear piercing squeak that could be heard for miles. It was quite a sight.
With nothing to do, and no proper way to explore, we hit the beach. Or tried to at least, as we got horribly lost. At one point we were seriously contemplating driving down an unsealed, dodgy dirt track to (hopefully) reach the sea, but common sense kicked in and we realised that two broken down cars would be the final straw. When we did find the beach, it was not up to our now incredibly high standards. The water was not crystal clear and shimmering (how dare it), and the sand was not a pure shade of white. We spent 5 glorious hours there though, and I finished my book and topped up my tan.
That book (“Tracks” by Robyn Davidson) has truly inspired me to do something equally as mad. Although I’ve experienced nothing compared to her hardships (nine months of walking through barren landscapes in 40deg plus, having to shoot wild camels that attack you, surviving off minimal water and food and undergoing horrendous pain from walking twenty miles a day!), being in Australia has unleashed a yearning for adventure in me that I didn’t realise existed. I’ve always been a tomboy, building camps and rafts at the age of eight, but it was always adventure within reason. I now feel like I truly want to remove all comforts and familiarities of western culture, and experience the world properly; be a true intrepid traveller rather than a nosy tourist. I want to survive off the bare minimum, endure hardships that make my blood curdle, ditch my connection to the outside world and live properly. Not properly in the expected use of the word, but properly in the raw, untampered sense. I want to fashion things from my own hands, I don’t want processed food and artificial, man made materials. Most importantly, I don’t want the ubiquitous, soul destroying technology surrounding me: technology that I hate, yet am addicted to. I want space to hear my own thoughts, I want to cease to care what others are doing and I want to destroy my awful habit of refreshing my news feed every few minutes. I want to come up against some difficulties, because that just makes you appreciate what you achieve more, and gives you an irreplaceable sense of perspective.
My deep, pretentious rant is over now, but I think that sentiment will stay with me for a long time now. I’ve got this insatiable thirst for adventure, and I won’t stop until I’m fully satisfied. In the meantime, we’ve gotta get outta Carnarvon! Wish us luck…