I’m at the end of day 3, and won’t need day 5… arriving in Brissie tomorrow. I must admit – while there’s been a lot of driving – it hasn’t been that hard.
Plans being plans – real life didn’t follow…
Grace’s little Suzuki Swift was packed to the ceiling – with my stuff taking up the front seat. I’d taken a minimal selection of camping kit to keep the cost down, but I only need it for 5 days (I thought) and I’d have to bring it back on the plane so it was only the bare essentials.
I left home on Friday (Australia Day) at around 5:45 – so pretty much on time… heading out of Perth via Roe Hwy. As I took the exit for Great Eastern Hwy I found myself 6 cars and 2 semis back from a train taking up 2.5 lanes… yes – a train. Doing around 30kph I thought 5 days may not have been enough.
We all crawled along for about 20 mins when they finally pulled over and let the hundred or so of us by. Brisbane here I come.
I was aiming for camping around Balladonia (around 900km). It didn’t take long to realise that I’d be there way before dark so I figured I’d go as far as possible… probably Caiguna (Halls Creek’s close relative). I got there, with still more time to come.
After doing a few calculations to allow for Central Western Timezone, my weather app’s sunset times for Eucla, and also a phone call to the motel in Madura I decided it would be worth the extra drive to get ahead. Unfortunately, I didn’t allow for the roadworks along the way. Work crews seem to like closing the entire road at the end of the day so they can put away their trucks, etc. In the end, I arrived well into dusk – a big no-no for me in the countryside due to the wildlife. I was only doing around 80kph on arrival.
Not a great motel, but for $50 I wasn’t complaining. With nearly 1400km completed on the first day I immediatley started to think that a 5th day may not be necessary.
Up bright and early I aimed for Port Augusta. At one of the fuel stops along the way I checked the tyres. The rear left was nearing its end-of-life (having been left on the front too long for Fangio’s driving style). Like my recent lap of Oz on the bike, I started to worry about it – needing a new one in the middle of nowhere is one thing – blowing it out is another. It was Saturday, so I was hoping a tyre shop in Ceduna would be open (it’s a common size). Nope. Hmmm – this might be fun.
On to Port Augsta. Problem is I’d be there on Saturday night/Sunday morning and it’d be unlikely that a tyre shop would be open – I didn’t want to waste a day, but I may have no choice.
Hot, hot, hot! Soon after I left Madura the temp climbed and sat at around 40 for most of the trip, hitting 43 for quite a bit – with humidity climing too. However, Grace’s aircon worked a treat… quite possibly since 75% of the cabin space was taken up with her crap so it didn’t have much air to move around. I refuelled in Kimba: under cover I honestly felt like I was getting burnt it was that hot.
Another motel in Port Augusta – better, and more pricey ($90). Before I left Perth I was worried about the heatwave striking south-east Oz at the moment. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep in a tent and drive the distances I need to drive. So – hotels were required (and the camping gear wasn’t).
I woke on Sunday morning early, checked the internet for tyre shops that might be open in Broken Hill (maybe 1), then I checked the forecast for Port Augusta – 46 today. Time to get outta Dodge. It was only going to be 42 in Broken Hill (!).
The road from Port Augusta to Broken Hill must be Australia’s kangaroo graveyard – hundreds (literally) of fresh meat along the way. At one point I felt like I was on the Esses at Bathurst – the little Swift wasn’t going to go over many of them, so I had to go around.
In Broken Hill I checked for the tyres shop whose Google page suggested it might be open – nope. However, the tread on the rear tyre was OK so I was confident I’d make the whole trip without any problem (but will keep checking).
Hot, hot, hot still – and I was looking for longer times in the car so no touring of Broken Hill (Mr OzFox will have to come back some other time).
As I was leaving – about 1 block from the central/main intersection in town I passed a herd of goats just roaming the streets…. never seen anything like it.
The road from Broken Hill to Nyngan (where I am now) had fewer kangaroos, but loads of sheep, goats and emus. Here’s a little family:
The temp sat at around 42 for most of the day – and at around 21 inside the car. The Suzuki Swift is a brilliant little car. It’s only a 1.4L auto, but it hums along at 110 very easily. I’m 186cm and there’s plenty of room for me. The cruise control tries to kick it down a gear (where it screams) going up some hills so I had to keep on top of that. As a form of transport it does have 2 wheels more than it really needs, but airconditioning is a nice accessory.
On to Brissie tomorrow.