Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Long Road to Melbourne

It all started when we got to Townsville and thought maybe we should head back to Melbourne for a bit. We saw an advertisement all over town asking if anyone wanted to join a guy who was making the journey to Melbourne on Friday and would very much like it if someone other people would like to join him to save on money as well as share the driving. When we first saw the ad, I didn't think much of it but the next day we had pretty much decided there was nothing in Townsville, a flight would have been too expensive and even if it was just for the sake of doing it the opportunity to pretty much drive from one end of Australia to the other was pretty tempting. I got my phone and gave Till a ring to see if he was still about and if there was space for us on the trip. Unsurprisingly no one else had answered his advert and if we were ready were could set off in a few hours time. We had a brief think about it and thought this could be the best decision we ever make so arranged to meet till at the bus station at 3pm to begin the most epic road trip I am ever likely to do.

Tommy couldn't drive so it was down to me and Till to do shifts driving. It pretty much boiled down to 2, 6 hour shifts each day between us. Till would drive in the morning, then I would drive the rest of the way until darkness feel or we got to a descent place to stay. As Tommy couldn't drive he was assigned the task of keeping a record of the goings on of the journey such as where we went, what times we stopped and most importantly how many dead Kangaroos we saw by the side of the road. The fnially tally was nearly 400 dead and 350 odd alive.

As you can see from the route we took we drove straight through some of the outback of Australia. There were several hours at a time where we wouldn't see another human being let along a town, shop or petrol station. All we would see were dead Kangaroos, trees and the horizon. During my first stint driving I had to turn off the main highway onto a dirt track nearly 300km long. One minute in I could not believe how long we were going to be on this dirt track for, it was a horrible feeling. The road was so bumpy anyting over 40km shock the 4WD around so much and made so much noice you couldn't hear yourself think. It got a bit better once we let some air out of the tires but it was without a doubt the worst few hours of the journey.

We ended up sleeping the back of the car both nights and it was so cold. It was warm during the days but the lack of a sun and no real cloud cover meant it plumited to about 2-3 degrees each night. Till's 4WD had been adapted so that it could comforabtle sleep 2 in the back, however there was 3 of us and me and Tommy had no camping gear at all. This meant I was pretty much sleeping in all my clothes each night trying not to die.

Unfortunately there was one fatality during my road trip and that was "Philip" the Kangaroo. I was mid way through my second driving shift when a group of 3 Kangaroos decided to jump out in front of the car. I wasn't going that fast, only around 60kmph as I was expecting roo's to be jumping out at various stages of the jounrey. However 3 at once made the odds of hitting one of the poor guys pretty high. I tried to avoid them but swerving would have meant I would till have ploughed through one of them as there was just a wall of Kangaroo infront of me. So I tried to slow down as much as possibly but I was still going fast enough to cause some damage. I smacked into the side of "Philip" and his fate is still unknown. I can pretty much guarantee he is now dead though as a Kangaroo isn't really much competition for a 4WD weighing several tons. I still think one dead Kangaroo after 2600km of open road isn't bad at all.

Driving the 2600km from Townsvillie to Melbourne is the sort of thing that at the time is pretty awful and a lot of hard work. But in retrospect is brillient just to say you have done it. It was a great experience and saw some real Australian towns and beautiful sunsets and landscapes and scenery along the way, but I would really not want to do it again in a hurry. By the time I arrived in Melbourne on the Sunday night I was knackered, unfortunatly I carried on driving in my dreams that night.