1: Goodbye civilisation: Popping outback

Map out, mission ready: Townsville to Adelaide

Adventure East Coast was at an end. We were convinced we had touched enough Easternly ground to last us a lifetime and we were itching like fleas on a ‘roo to see more of Australia’s unrefined, rural beauty. Our East Coast trip had instilled in us an insatiable thirst for travel and we found ourselves instantly compelled to embark on our next extraordinary escapade; one that would enrich our knowledge of this fascinating country and spark new depths of passion and appreciation. With just enough dollar left in our pockets, we turned to each other with wanderlust burning bright in our eyes and broad smiles of mutual understanding; we knew our adventure was not over. We hastily snatched at the map poking out from behind the sun visor, rustled it like an old broadsheet newspaper and ironed it out on top of the land rover bonnet. So began our plot for our next impulsive move; the sequel to our memory-making mission. Our plan? To plunge head-first into the vast, dusty outback.

My mother’s close friend Johanna had moved to Adelaide, South Australia about twenty years ago, but the two remained close through traditional letter-writing (as mum is notoriously old-fashioned when it comes to technology and social media.) Johanna kindly invited Matty and I to stay with her and her son Alex, an old school friend whom I hadn’t seen since the days of Postman Pat and afternoon playdates in the garden; it was sure to be a trip down memory lane. Johanna explained that she and Alex were visiting the UK during August and offered their house to Matt and I while they were away. We intended this to be our final destination. Our trip would begin on the glorious Flinders Highway stretching from Townsville on the East Coast and heading west towards Mount Isa. We would then merge onto the Barkly Highway continuing our journey west towards Tennent Creek, and then eventually turn left and head south on the Stuart Highway towards the Red Centre known as Alice Springs. We would then take a detour from the southern route to see the infamous Uluru by driving so many kilometres west on the Lasseter Highway and then finally we would plunge back towards the dazzling southern horizon until we were safe in the warm embrace of Adelaide’s hills and spectacular landscapes.

The next stage of our journey was thrown into motion on the 22nd July following a two day Land Rover prep. We parted with a good few hundred bucks to fix 80 litres of fuel onto the roof and a whole host of shiny new body parts from a specialist shop in Mackay. It was paramount that Jenny was road-worthy before taking her outback. After a very challenging East coast trip, we had no choice but to splurge out on a fresh new fan, a left wing mirror after the last one had snapped off, a healthy new diaphragm and a brand new rotary arm for the ignition (I can vaguely comprehend what these terms now mean after Matty’s frequent mechanical lectures; he attempts to explain every intricate detail beneath that bonnet and somehow stretches it into an elaborate speech about the function of each bolt and cable – this often results in me gazing mindlessly back at him thinking of nothing else but what to rustle up for dinner.) The Landy had heaps (Aussie lingo) of work done to her in preparation for the trip so we were hopeful (or just simply deluded) that she would make it through the outback without leaving us stranded in a cloud of red dust watching in disbelief as she’s towed away by a breakdown truck and thrown into a nearby skip.

Quenching the thirst of a wild beast

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