Tuesday, 3 April 2012

An Unforgettable Road Trip...Perth to Melbourne (Part 1)

The following blog is a reflection of our unforgettable journey across the remoteness of Australia's outback, an incredible 11 day's on the road, an adventure that is as epic as the vastness of this ancient country and as diverse as it's ever changing landscape and wildlife. Our aim was to travel over 5000km from Perth all the way to Melbourne in a Subaru 4x4...the equvilant of walking about 52 days none stop 24 hours a day without rest or sleep. It was all about the journey, without any time restraints or set plans; it was just us on the raod taking each day as it came...total freedom. It was an epic journey, so I am going to split the blog into 3 parts.  We traveled with a guy named Nader who we met on 'Gumtree'; originaly from Melbourne and heading home, he turned out to be the best guide of Australia you could possibly imagine and by the end of our trip a true friend. We set off on the morning of Saturday 18th February. Myself, Laura, Nader and good old Susie Subaru were fully prepared with our tents and camping equipment for an adventure of a life time...one of the best 11 day's of my life.

"Ultimate freedom... An extremist... An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road"
                                                    -Chris Mcandless
Saturday 18th February: The First Night in the Outback

It was sad to leave John & Susie, we had some good times, but leaving  is something we have got used to in the last 6 months; I see travelling as a series of mini chapters, chance encounters, fleeting glimpses and new experiences... it's something Chris Mcandless  say's is the core of a man's living spirit. We headed east for great Gold Mining town of Kalgoorlie. This is a more unusual direction to take, as most people prefer to travel south to Albany and take the more scenic coastal route east to the Nullarbor plain and then on into south Australia. However, Nader was very keen to explore Kalgoorlie, the great gold mining town for possible job opportunity in the future. Nader is one of the most interesting people I have ever met, he is just full of knowledge on so many different subjects especially science and geology. He had a PhD in Physics for a start and had spent the last few months in Western Australia exploring possible job opportunities, looking for innovative way’s he could use his skills in fibre optics to benefit Geological science in Australia’s thriving mining industry. I have never looked at so many rocks in all my life. Well spoken and hugely informative without an once of arrogance, we were travelling with the best tour guide in the world and it was free.

We finally got on the road but made little head way before it started to get dark and so we decided to camp at a place called ‘Boondi Park’. We didn't want to travel during the night to avoid hitting any of Australia's nocturnal wildlife most notably the famous Kangaroo. The landscape of the western outback is as red as Mars and as dry and arid as a desert.  As we set our tents up I watched the armies of ants roam the red surface of this desolent land, seen a snake trail disappear into the shrubs and later that night gazed at a red back spider in the toilet...it was just a reminder that out here the wildlife is very dangerous. One moment during the first night will stay with me forever. I got up in the middle of the night to go the toilet, and I remember looking up and being mesmerised by the spectacular sight of the stars. I have never seen anything like it before. There was no light pollution, no sound, just me looking up at The ‘Milky Way’ in the middle of the outback hypnotised by them dazzling lights of history. That striking strip of cosmos in the southern hemisphere felt so close I  just looked up in wonder for ages at the sight of billions of stars. Then a shooting star raced across the sky burning up in the atmosphere...for the first time I think I understood why the Ancient Egyptians had such a Godly affinity with the night sky and the constellations...simply beautiful.

Sunday 19th February: The Super Pit of Kalgoorlie:

600km east of Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway lies the eastern gold fields of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. In 1893 an Irish man named Paddy Hannan stumbled on gold here generating a massive gold boom town. To this day the pit now called the 'The Super Pit' producing up to 850,000 ounces of gold every year and its operation far outweighs any other mining centre in Australia. The Super Pit is the biggest gold open pit mine in the country. Luckily we managed to get tickets for a free tour of the massive pit and had an informative day. It is huge, but, by 2021 all mining may have to stop due to the massive mine ever encroaching on the town of Kalgoorlie. There is still so much gold in the mine, however it is becoming harder to extract as the mine gets deeper. This is were Nader comes in. He has seen a possible opportunity to use his skills inventively to support exploration geologists to determine were gold may be found in the future. The whole town is built on money so it will be interesting to see how the town would cope with the loss of such an integral part of their economy. One interesting fact I found out about the pit was the amount of women employed as truck drivers. Over 70% of truck drivers who work in the pit are women, in charge of carrying millions of dollars of gold in trucks worth over 4 million dollars each. Men can't be trusted it seems, and here at least the female species is seen as the more effective driver. I say equal rights.

We camped in the shadow of the Super Pit that night, the glow of the lights in the distance made for an eerie atmosphere. The landscape here is dark red and super dry with many shrubs and gum trees and the flies are fierce attacking your face unremittingly after any moisture they can find. Its only when it gets dark do you get any respite. During the night our entertainment was to star gaze talking about what could be possibly out there, the talk is one of wonder and amazement at the infinite possibilities the universe possesses. Nader had an 'App' on his Ipod which when you pointed it at the night sky it would map out all the planets, constellations and even satelights. It's true there really is an 'App' for everything. This is what we done every night, gaze into the night abyss and wonder as we followed the the planets orbit. This night we spotted the 'Southern Cross' constellation which is very significant to all Australians since the stars make up the National flag...we found it in the night sky every night.

Monday 20th February:

In the morning we took part in a little 'gold prospecting' ourselves outside our tents and what better inspiration than in the shadow of the super pit; the richest square mile in Australia and possibly the world. However, like many would would be millionaires during the gold rush the luck certainly wasn't with us... the only things I found were a couple of dirty pebbles and brown cortez rocks. Me and Laura visited the town and the museum in Kalgoorlie as Nader went on another visit of the super pit. The museum tells the story of much more than the physical procedure of mining for gold, it tells us about the history and scale of mans sheer obsessions for the sacred mental and the lasting result of that ambition...the super pit and the town. On show was a nugget of gold worth around $6,000, and me being a cheeky scouser asked if I could hold it...I was surprised how dense it was, shinny in appearance but strangely attractive. I can see why man is obsessed with this precious mental, it had captivating grasp. After spending the day roaming around the town in the sweltering heat we drove off in search of a campsite and we found a secluded little jem right next to a railway line in the remote outback. During the night as we were having some tea we saw some lights in the far distance on the horizon, but the lights and that familiar rhythmic sound was getting closer and closer. It took us some time to comprehend what it was until it was right on top of us; a massive cargo train chugging past. What a sight and it was literally 20 metres from us in the middle of the outback. He must have seen us as he blow his horn...I felt like I was in a scene from 'Stand by Me'. The next morning we go up bright and early, it was a bright beautiful cloudless day. We had some breakfast, got attacked by some flies and then we set off on the Eyre Highway into the remoteness of the Nullabor plain.

Overlooking the biggest open pit in Australia

The Super Pit: notice the rich colours, light and textures of the ancient rock

Me and Nader

Women are in charge of this 4 million dollar truck

The arid red desert of the outback 

Camping in the shadow of the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie

Camping on the richest square mile in Australia

The rich colours of sun set

Me and Nader getting dinner ready

In Kalgoorlie Museum

Holding a solid gold nugget worth $6,000

The lookout: notice the 'Super Pit' in the distance

 The beautiful colours of the sky as the sun goes down over the Nullabor Plain

Ramble on

Morning on our jem of a campsite by the railway line

Getting ready for breakfast

Wakey Wakey Laura

'Stand by Me' Notice the railway line on the right

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