Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the Road...Finally

The big red truck stood proudly on the driveway, glowing in the Sawtell sunshine in all its red, muddy glory. This was IT, the day it had been waiting for, dreaming about, practising for, the day that it would unleash its mighty Toyota Landcruiser heart on the long and winding roads of the great Australian continent.

What had passed before were weeks of frenzied planning and preparation. There had been devastating lows (water in the fuel tanks) and exhilarating highs (the installation of homemade Spotlight curtains); the BRT had received a makeover even Backyard Blitz would have been proud of.

Now here it stood, ready for the ultimate test. What would the next 6 months bring? What adventures lay ahead? To what far flung corners of the country would it visit? And would the occupants make it past Kempsey without a breakdown or a fight?

Sleep deprived and 5 days behind schedule, the BRT set off that day to the sounds of ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia’ ringing out over the 4L turbo diesel engine, straining to carry the load of a car that was, as our friend Tim puts it, heavier than a neutron star.

There was much jubilation and excitement as the BRT chugged its way down the highway; Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Ferlando (Siam’s version), the hits just kept on rolling. Kempsey appeared on the horizon and we congratulated ourselves on making it this far without fight nor incident.

Note to self: pre-emptive congratulations can only result in one thing…

Suddenly, an orange light flashed on the dashboard. Warning! Warning! Under his breath I could hear Kris mumble, “Mamma mia, here we f#@!en go again”. The ‘Watergate’ fiasco was back to haunt us like a big John Daly hangover.

(For those not familiar with the ‘Watergate’ fiasco, in December 2008 Kris routinely filled up the tanks with 150 litres of diesel at Neumann petrol station in Casino, only to discover 15 minutes and a breakdown later that 26 litres of that was sludgy water. As Seinfeld would say…”Newman!”).

With precision and skill the likes of which any Formula One pit crew would be proud, Kris masterfully opened the what-its-name, broke the thing-a-me-jig and bled the sludgy water from the what-do-you-call-it (obviously I’m not the mechanic in this duo).

And so the tally begins…breakdowns = 1, fights = 0.

With quick stops on the Central Coast and Canberra to visit friends, and a reluctant goodbye to the lovely Siam in Wollongong, our adventure officially commenced on Monday 12th Jan. Desperate to escape the chaos and monotony of the highways, the BRT left the road and climbed its way through twisted and charred state forest, lingering evidence of the devastation caused by the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Slowly we wound our way into Kosciousko National Park, eventually setting up the first of our incredible bush campsites.

Camp 1 - Coolamine Homestead, an 1800’s settlers cottage tucked into a corner of the high country. The thick log huts of the homestead still stand defiantly despite a hundred years of harsh alpine winters and scorching summer sun. This is old grazing country where brumbies roam wildly and huge grey kangaroos bound through fields of wildflowers carpeting the valley floors. Poetic licence you might say but this was our actual experience on that magic first day.

Camp 2 – The banks of the massive Tantangara Dam, a beautiful, isolated trout-filled dam where Kris reverted to his primal hunter-gatherer ancestry and set about catching dinner. (Disclaimer: actual fish may not match photo).

We have continued on over the last few days, entering civilisation just once before returning to the seclusion and magnificence of bush camping under a million stars. Each day as the setting sun transforms the countryside into magnificent purples, pinks and mauves, we are finally starting to comprehend that this is now our reality for the next 6 months and how truly blessed we are to be able to witness this incredible Australian landscape first hand.

In the next edition of ‘Where’s the big red truck’ – Reaching for the heavens…our assault on Mt Kosciousko.


Tom said...

Sarah right/Kris wrong: 8
Kris right/Sarah wrong: 1

I am happy to wage any amount of money on this ratio continuing.

Good luck Sarah.

See you in Tassie (I am there in the last week of Feb) or maybe in the desert.


TP-S said...

Great Stuff Sara. We wil follow it with interest. We will be in Tasmania from 22 Feb until ? March. I thought about telling you about the Naas/YTaouk Vally Road from our place but you obviously found it. Jan and I stayed at Blue Waterholes (3km from Coolamine) about three weeks ago. And we saw a very small and rather lost Brumby. As well as lots of Brumby piles! Take care. TP-S

friely said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
friely said...

Have a wonderful safe trip guys, and please continue to remind most of us how boring our lives really are!

ro said...

yeah yeah,central coast,canberra,the gong,kosciousko,camp 1 and camp 2,big fires under the stars,6 months to go, we get it!
you 2 are just bastards..
all i can see and hear in my head is kris saying,"how goods this!"

Anonymous said...

Tough life for some! And in the middle of the economic crisis too. We'll never get out of this thing if everyone packs up and goes bush!
Keep the writing coming, best read I've has since 'Postcards from the Edge'.