Straight Outta Uxbridge

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Pilgrimage of Sorts

I'm afraid this is another of those blogs I really should have written a few weeks ago. The passing of time dulls the memory and unfortunately the amusing little anecdotes seem always to be the first to go. Consequently I can assure you that our journey from Broome to Perth was a lot more interesting than I am about to make it sound!

That said, much of the 3000km drive is more sodding bush. Trust me, the view loses it's magic after a couple of days. The one beacon of hope was a trip to the World Heritage listed Shark Bay. Those of you from Uxbridge will most likely be unable to contain yourselves about now as you will probably have driven past the "Denham, twinned with Shark Bay Australia" sign on more than one occasion. Well I can confirm that Denham Shark Bay does in fact acknowledge us in return as you can see from the photo.

My ambassadorial role extended to me telling a bloke in the pub that I was in fact from " the other" Denham, to which he replied "Well we won't hold that against you, you pommie bastard.". Not quite the reception I had expected, but undeterred I told several other people, with the owner of the local gift shop being the only one to show any particular excitement by our visit.

Western Australia is one of the most sparsely populated areas on Earth, and when you're there it really shows. A traffic jam consists of any three cars within a radius of 200 meters of each other and a "big town" has a general store as well as a petrol station and a pub. However, almost at a flick of a switch, once you pass Geraldton about 300km north of Perth, the landscape suddenly changes from the arid scrubland that bored the hell out of us of 2500km, to a glorious land of rolling hills and perfect rainbows.

We only spent a couple of days in Perth - just enough time to wander round the shops and have one night out with an amusing German couple. We had another camper to pick up and another mammoth drive ahead...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Kimberley

Darwin is a much smaller city than you might expect. With a population of just 71,000 people there are essentially only 2 streets and a shopping centre that puts even the Pavillions to shame (that's the crap one in Uxbridge incase you don't know). However, it is full of nice enough folk (despite an obsession with country music) and after a pleasant couple of days lounging around a pool we headed off to Broome in our spanky new luxury camper.

The route to Broome goes accross the north west tip of Australia, through an area known as the Kinberley. The drive is... well to be honest it's bloody boring. The main activity is seeing whether on bit of long straight road is longer and straighter than the last bit of long straight road. 62km was the longest bit of road without so much as a slight curve - how very interesting. See the photo for an example.

The only minor bit of amusement came when we visited a town called Kunnunra. Behind the town is a big rocky hillock of sorts know as "Kelly's Knob". In fact, the summit of Kelly's Knob offers good views of the surrounding area, so the sign actually says "Lookout - Kelly's Knob".

Granted, this is only amusing if you know a Mr. Richard Kelly, even then you have to be aware of his historical fondness for exposing himself - but nonetheless we can all marvel at the coinsidental fact that his soon-to-be wife's name is Kimberley.

Oh yeah, Kerri has just reminded me that I have conveniently forgotten to mention that we ran out of petrol in the middle of freaking nowhere. I guess I had better take responsibility as I had refused to pay the frankly extortionate $1.90 a litre the the rip-off merhants at the Doon Doon Roadhouse were charging. What I failed to realize was that the next fuel stop was 200km away and I had only a quater of a tank left.

With no sign of life for 50 miles in any direction, our first reaction was to poo our pants and we fully expected to have to wait a couple of days for a spotter plane to rescue us. However, in a stroke of good fortune tha can only be described as divine, no more that 5 minutes behind us was a campervan eing driven by a couple of Germans. God bless them and their efficient nature! Not only did they have a jerry can full of diesel, but they also understood the workings of our Mercedes suficiently to get her started again!

I swear, I will never hear a bad word about them again.


Cairns to Darwin is a 2900km drive, much of which is only really possible in a 4x4 jeep. "Activities" as such are few and far between, the main attraction is the front row seats as the landscape changes from rolling hills and meadows to grassy savannahs to croc infested creeks and swamps to 350 million year old red rock outcrops and baron desert.

For 5 days we had 8 hours a day of the most satisfying driving conditions a man can ask for. There were bumps and jumps and power-slides round dusty corners before engaging 4WD to negotiate overflowing streams or rocky creek beds - lots of fun, especially as there usually isn't another vehicle for 2 hours in either direction!

Although I must say it wasn't always the real life version of a really good video game - Kerri drove sometimes. During these times we would marvel at the wild kangaroos and the enormous meter high eagles standing in the middle of the road eating the dead, wild kangaroos.

These roads are littered with roadkill, so we console ourselves in the knowledge that it was only a matter of time before we contributed. I was cruising along at a sedate 60km/h (it was getting dark) when suddenly a foolish roo leapt from the bushes directly into the bull bar. One sickening thus and a couple of bumps later it was a gonner. At least we assume it was, a 5 minute conversation followed in which we decided to assume it was dead as neither of us really wanted to check. "Never drive at dusk or dawn" is the advice we received 2 hours too late. We just thank the good Lord that Kerri wasn't driving.