Day Two, 17Dec16
This morning I awoke to a cacophony of what sounded like elder people who’ve spent a great deal of their life smoking, laughing. At least the image of said people laughing on a wrap around porch was the image my waking mind tried to present in order to make sense of the sound. When I opened my eyes I realized with a grin that those noisy neighbors were actually kookaburras enjoying a good dawns laugh. Interlaced with the Aussie native were various sweeter and less hearty bird tweets all in all a glorious way to wake up on our second day of the Aussie roadtrip.
Today we pumped out 1100km in just about 12 hours, stopping thrice for gas and once for a roadside lunch. All out of salt and vinegar chips, Josh and I crushed sour ceam and chives sunchips amongst our salami rolls and swatted away flies in the brilliantly hot desert sun.
Our road trip started quietly, Moree Township gave way to soft flowing grasslands, then as the earth became redder and more compact we were surrounded by more and more sagebrush and less and less greenery and trees.
What never ceased to entertain us however was the onslaught of wild and domesticated animals literally littering the roadside sometimes, but better yet lounging along the roadside
Our first encounter was a dew-ladden wallabie waving at us on the first stretch of road. Shortly thereafter I saw my first truly wild emus, and see them I did! We mustve passed over a hundred of them! Sometimes they stood proudly solo beneath the only tree and thus only shade for miles, other times a baby chipped at the earth beneath it’s protective parent, and further still, sometimes we caught glimpses of packs of them in the fields. We also happened upon our first unintentional roadkill… a giant lizard sat sunbathing and still in the road, as we approached the ancient beast he ran right under our wheels, the triple thump and bounces making evident we’d killed him. On a lighter note we passed groups of kangaroos, plenty of live lizards, eagles and one massive pale blue walking bird with a pink crown.
Apparently NSW also has wild boar, we passed a couple of those taken out by cars or trucks as well.
Driving this expanse of land is daunting, you go 100kms without a town and only the ever present horizon ahead of you. They don’t have mile markers, flush toilet rest stops, service stations or billboards for that matter along the highways in Australia – it literally is just you, your companions and the road.
I’d like to add a bit about a harrowing adventure Josh and I sought. As I just mentioned Australia lacks mile markers along their highways, and often times you drive without seeing another vehicle for miles, thus is safe to imagine that the roads here also lack automated road warning systems telling you of delays, roadwork or even road closures. And with such a huge expanse of unpopulated land, there are few a far roads connecting the coastal cities of the continent. Josh and I chugged along our route as dictated by Google maps only to abruptly come up short at a waist high yellow sign denoting a road closure due to 7km of wet unsealed road. We hurriedly punched in alternate route options in Google maps thankful for clear skies and ample GPS access. Our hopes fell short, the only other route was to backtrack 1.5 hours and loop further north, adding another 3 hours to our already 11 hour drive. We sat in the blue truck surrounded by red dirt and silence. Then looking at each other we shrugged our shoulders and pushed past the sign, hoping the roads were no longer wet. Much to our joy the closed roads were in fact passable and hard packed, thankful for the heat and sun we synced up with our original intended route and sighed at our success albeit an illegal one.
Just before 1900 we pulled into our second campsite for the trip, tired and stiff we whipped up sausage and peppers seasoned with a ranch dip packet thanks to my mother’s amazing Thanksgiving care package. Shortly thereafter we fell asleep to the sound of gushing wind bringing with it a blanket of frigid desert night air, softly cooling us off from our definitely hot day in the Australian Outback.