After studying the maps I couldn’t really find any side detours worth it in this region, so we just spent most of this day pounding more bitumen, albeit at more like 90km/h. As opposed to the 110 we were doing on the way over. Why? Because it means the fuel consumption of the 1FZ in the 105 goes from catastrophic to merely terrible. A side benefit (or maybe the main benefit) is you tend to relax more, take in more of the details, talk more, listen with more interest to the interview on the AM radio station (that’s all you’ll get for a lot of country Oz), etc, etc.
On arrival at the town of Bourke, our journey would begin to deviate from the journey out here. Thinking that we probably wouldn’t be in this area again any time soon, we would now head directly west, rather than south west, further into the Outback. Incidentally, this is roughly the area we were heading to after Christmas before N got sick and we went home. Then, as now was the height of summer. A couple of Poms (English people) in the Australian Outback in the middle of summer, what could go wrong...?
So we took the Wanaaring road out of Bourke, marked on my map as all dirt, the start of it had recently been sealed. Then it went back to dirt, but good condition and not much slower than the black stuff. Familiar scenes soon greeted us.
Now the Outback is hot, dry, lonely, dusty, filled with many friends if you like flies and not without proper danger too. However, it has a unique feeling that gets kind of addictive, and I could feel my junkie starting to get his fix.
Anyway, it’s was N’s birthday. So we were headed for the only pub in the region, hoping for a cold adult beverage and something and chips!
The fierce heat of the day was keeping the local wildlife from being particularly active, which is always a concern driving at this time of day almost anywhere in Australia. So we made good time to the Wanaaring pub.
We quickly set up camp and headed over to the pub for a couple of drinks “is there a menu? “Nope” “two steak and chips?” “Should be ok” a bit of banter with the locals. Another couple rolled in, in a beast of a stretched 200 Series.
We had hit a bird on the way in, they caught some carnage too.
Gotta take your girl somewhere special for her birthday..
At least I could confidently say, this was a place that none of our friends had been to before, very exclusive...
That night was one of the hottest we’ve had camping, probably around 35 degrees C/95F. The air was totally still, almost no movement. Anyway so we sweated and panted the night out. The coolest part of the night was just as the sun came up, so we actually slept in relatively late, till about 0730. As we didn’t sleep much the rest of the night, this was good!
Despite this I was enjoying being back in the remote outback with its dry and dusty towns, wide open spaces and rich red dirt. The plan was to push through to the town of Tibooburra this morning. Then take stock of the situation, weather, fuel, road conditions, etc. All being well we would push on to Cameron’s Corner, where the corner of the states of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia all converge at the same point. From there push down the Strzelecki Track to the north of the Flinders Ranges. Picking up our route from our Red Centre trip last year, then down to Eyre Peninsula from there.
The road was good this morning. Pretty smooth and not much wildlife. How many other vehicles did we see? Not one.
With no warning the Cruiser suddenly slides sideways, I give it a dab of oppo and straighten her up. Then she has another slide, bit bigger this time, another armful of oppo and an “oh, darling!”from the passenger seat. Slowing we see a puddle ahead. The surface of the road looks completely dry, but as we pull over to the side it is apparent it is wet and muddy under the sun baked surface crust. We can see several puddles and parts of the road are hard to stand on, that slippery it is. As we gingerly drive on, only a few hundred metres later the road is back to dry, dusty, hard corrugations. Obviously the rain just fell very heavily, on that half a kilometre of road and none other...? Welcome to the Outback.
This actually ties in with what the farmers have been saying (on the AM radio, you get a lot of farming news!) that there is rain around, but it is very patchy one farm gets it, his neighbor doesn’t.