Australia Tour 2010/11

Nullarbor Vanophobia

Morning Campers


Our 3,000 km trip across the Nullarbor didnt start smoothly. On arrival at the camper van hire shop , the six-berth vehicle we had ordered had mysteriously been hired out to others , leaving us with a four berth van , which proved rather cosy. Rather too cosy for me.


LOFTY named our van "Deep Throat" after we soon discovered its unhealthy appetite for diesel fuel. We had to fill up after driving only 20 km out of Adelaide. Each fill up was roughly $100, or seventy pounds.


On setting out I also received a message from TRACTOR 1 along the lines of " when me and PC Tintin did the Nullarbor trip by car last time , you said we were mad - you have changed your tune havent you Midnight !'.


Well , read on and see my dear.


The first day travelling from Adelaide to Streaky Bay went well enough - 800km on the clock and no mishaps. Upon settling down to sleep in the cramped confines of the rear of a Britz Camper Van however , I discovered at last the real reason Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear. At the time , he had been on a camper van holiday with LOFTY and despairing of his constant snoring , as a last resort had reached for the cut-throat razor. "Snoring" does not do it justice. This man has echo chambers , not nasal passages.


For me , this marked the beginnning of a nightmare journey.


Day 2 took us onto the Nullarbor Links , which is supposed to be a golf course. Dont turn off at this stage please SAINT. I know you hate " The Scottish Game " but you will be laughing very soon.


Imagine a very long road called the John Eyre Highway with a series of financially struggling roadhouses / motels every 100k apart used mainly by truckers. Then someone has a bright idea. Let's install some plastic greens and tee-off mats at strategic points behind these roadhouses , call it the Nullarbor Links , get it onto the internet and it will raise a bit of business for the struggling roadhouses by luring gullible tourists along the track where they will have to use their accomodation and services.


This may sound cynical but in reality I dont think Im too far away from the truth. The roadhouses we stayed at were all operated and owned by the Dick Turpin Trading Group and charged accordingly for their petrol , souvenirs and food / drink. We could have had a weekend at St Andrews playing golf both days and staying in a five-star hotel for what this was going to cost.


As for the "golf course" - well that was a joke. On one of the early holes , called "Wombats Hole" appropriately enough , we had to play over 500 yards of outback rough with foot high grass and it was impossible to find your ball even if you hit good shots , which on some occasions we managed. On another hole at the Nullarbor stop , each time a shot was played up the "fairway" a large bird would swoop, pick up your ball , and carry it off into the outback. Between us , we lost about seven balls on this hole despite never once hitting anything remotely wide.


On day three at the hole at Border Village we were attacked unexpectedly by a swarm of Marchflies - these are the Aussie equivalent of Horseflies and are vicious little sh*ts that attack like piranha fish with wings. After my legs had been peppered after only five minutes , I began to lose enthusiasm for the Nullarbor Links. Just as well this hole wasnt a par five otherwise I would probably have been in hospital with acute poisoning before I got to the green. I nearly ended up there anyway the next day after helping LOFTY to wash up ( although I had to bodily force him away from the sink, he was enjoying himself so much ) and cutting my finger in half with a large carving knife that was hiding at the bottom of the washing up bowl.


On going through Border Village to Western Australia we had our food confiscated by the Customs ( including that nights planned dinner ) .


We then passed through three separate time zones in short order leading to a total confusion abut the correct time and total fatigue. Not jet-lag , more van-lag.


As the miles, the golf holes, and TREMERS road-kill count of budgies continued to accumulate I became increasingly weary with the whole journey although I must admit it was a continued source of amusement for myself and TREMERS watching LOFTY continually lighting up and stubbing out cigarettes on each outback golf hole despite the dire and constant warnings of " high risk of bush fires".


On every hole swarms of flies descended upon us, finding their way into every orifice and prompting more expletives between the three of us than I can ever remember.


It hasnt all been doom and gloom though.


At the Nullarbor Roadhouse where we stayed overnight , a private function was on in the bar area. The local Aboriginal settlement " Christmas night out".


From what we could gather , the Aborigines were not allowed alcohol on their reservation and so had left for the night and come to the Roadhouse to whoop it up. And how they whooped it up. Unlike the old American Indians in westerns whose favourite tipple was whisky , these guys had a preference for cans of JD & Coke , which they ordered and drank six at a time as if downing filtered water. An astonished TREMERS could only stand at the bar and try to emulate their feats but he only managed a modest twelve JD & Cokes before retiring to the camper van! I also entered into the spirit of the evening I hope by drinking twelve bottles of Coopers pale ale and then playing and beating most of the Aboriginal tribe at pool , until when I finally lost , LOFTY and another English guy came on and played the Aborigines at doubles for money , taking from them what little remained of their monthly stipend. So the exploitation of the Aboriginal peoples by the white man continues unabated, despite all the apologies by the Australian Government. Im surprised you can still sleep at night LOFTY.


Although I know you do!!!


We are now in Kalgoorlie , which seems a little more civilised and at least we are back in mobile phone signal range , there is a swimming pool , and I have managed to hire a cabin to myself to get away from the cramped confines of the camper van & LOFTY's snoring for a night ( although we are sharing a room in Perth , which will no doubt lead to a murder unless I can find my earplugs again.)


To go back to TRACTOR 1's original message about driving the Nullarbor then - I dont think I have changed my tune at all.


I thought you and PC Tintin were mad when you did it , and I now think I'm equally as daft for doing it too!!


Never again.


If I never see another camper van as long as I live , I will die a happier man.


Give me a plane over this wilderness every time. Five hours of boredom instead of five days of suffering.


Next report will be from Perth , after , I hope , our next win.


Regards Campers ,


Midnight xx




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