Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-
In the Wicked Van with the Consi Halo!
2007-09-02 to 2007-09-04
Hmmm, Limerick, showing scant regard for my 27 hour bus journey did promptly lose the final! It was a disappointing end to what would have been an excellent story but alas no. Still we had a good night as we met up with Angela (who we`d met in Coral Bay) and Jurgs (our travelling buddy from Exmouth to Broome).
It was determined by Alan that we should only drink pints today (`none of these fairy bottled beers`) to do our bit for the cause but with the outcome of the game as it was, it would only serve to increase the hangover of the game!
I was going to check out some buses to get me south to Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayer`s Rock) when I spied a note on the notice board saying that 2 German girls were leaving and would anyone like to join them on the long drive south!? So two hours later, I joined Lena and Steffie, two teachers from Munster in their Wicked Van (or Vicked Wan as I called it in my best Germanic accent) and we headed off.
So with the basic familiarities discussed (where are you from, where are you going to, do you have a history of mutilating backpackers) I confessed that my German was very limited. That comment was to have far reaching conzequences as the girls set about rectifying that with stereotypical efficiency! Soon I was writing out note and after note of words, grammer and pronouns, getting an hour to study it and then relay it back to them. It must have been working because when one of the sheets got sucked out the window and away, (one hours work gone!) my reaction of “Scheize” meant that I was very much in the German way of thinking!
The girls wanted to take a detour to some rockholes first and take a swim and then we put the foot down literally as driving at night in the Australian outback is really not recommended due to the stray animals that walk on the roads and despite the insistance (in no uncertain terms) of the stickers on the dashboard to run the amimals over, the natural tendency is to swerve which would result in the van tipping over and a free entrance to the lottery of life and death.
I took the evening shift as we did in fact drive in the dark for over an hour to get to a town called Katherine to book in for the night. Next morning we were up early and got provisions for the drive. It`s kind of creepy in Katherine as they pipe uplifting music through the streets to either try and convinvce you how nice it is or to keep some of the locals calmer (a lot of drink related violence here apparantly). I thought that kind of music might send some drunken people over the edge as we left the town with the strange `Truman Show` feel behind us.
The manager of the hostel told me I was wise to travel with Germans because it meant I could swim anywhere I liked as long as they were with me as Crocs had a penchant for Germans (some of the girl`s countrymen have fallen victim over the last few years). Despite his advice, I suspected strongly that we wouldn`t be finding too many water sources let alone crocs where we were going, into the heart of this massive desert.
Daly Waters was our next stop and like a lot of plcaes out here in the outback it is more of a stop gap than a town. A petrol station (one pump), a shop and a pub and that`s pretty much it, but what a pub! The story went that truckers, flush at that time with money, would tack their money on the walls with their name on it so that if they were passing through again and were broke, they could still afford to get a drink. This idea has been taken on to a whole new level by backpackers from around thew world as the walls, seats, windows, etc of this plcae have been covered in memorabilia. They have entertainment every night here and I was raging that we had to move on, it rapidly joined my short list of great bars.
It is a Heritage Site and so I decided to make my own contribution to this cultural haven. So I took my French Connection UK (FCUK) T-shirt, wrote a message, and then tacked it up in the bar. I thought it was a fitting final resting place for a T-shirt that has been travelling with me for a year.
The lessons continued as we contnued driving south. Out here, where there is a shortage of traffic and just about anything else besides sand and heat, all drivers acknowledge each other with a wave which breaks the monotony of the drive. And it can get boring, miles after mile of dead straight roads. The long haul drivers, particularly at night, develop `white line fever`, almost falling into a hypnotic trance looking at the traffic line in the middle of the road. That wasn`t going to happen to me (I was too scared of the kangaroos and wild cattle so I was scanning both sides of the road like a tennis spectator at Wimbledon).
Still, I thought that I might need some more help to ensure our safety. The girls had been wearing a red headband to keep their hair out of their eyes driving and I suggested that I might need it too. I wore it and when I had successfully drvien another two hours in the dark that night to our next destination, the girls had dubbed it `The Consi Halo` and it was to be our driving essential for the next two days.
It wasn`t a bad thing I suppose as we had just arrived into Barrow Creek and a bar made famous by an infamous backpacker murder 6 years ago….
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the Outback