Skippy, live to die another day

Day 2 [18th Sept]

We departed Camp as agreed by 7am, the troop was on its way. This was a great improvement compared to our starting time the previous day.  The plan was to spend the night at Eucla. Greg, the other Greg, must have fallen in love with the sound of his voice over the radio and kept us all entertained. There was no boring time with him .With him driving behind me, I was very comfortable and feared no foe.

As we cruise along the Eyre Highway, we came across people with different weird ideas of crossing Australia. Today, we saw, heading westwards a lady on a tricycle being pedalled towards Perth. There was another Asian lady pushing a cart ahead of her westwards.

Once we got out of the major cities, we were in digital darkness. The telecommunication signals were almost non-existent and very faint in the few areas where we could catch them. However, at camp tonight, Telstra signals were as strong as it could be. It allowed me to catch up with my emails and I had a video conference call with my wife and kids as well.

The journey from Frayed Camp had been long and with the little kids getting tired and becoming a little noisy, we abandoned the plan to reach Eucla and started looking for a camp site. We were not far away from Mundrabilla. Using one of the free camp apps, we were soon directed to a camp close to us. There was a decent number of travellers, mostly grey nomads that were spending the night at this camp.

The stretch between Madura & Mundrabilla, on the Eyre Highway is a Kangaroo slaughter house. I had never seen so many dead Kangaroos in my life, yet we also saw a few living ones in the bushes not far from the road side. Counted more than 30 dead Kangas by the roadside. A very near miss from killing one would have soured an otherwise pitch perfect day of driving. My closest encounter with a Kagaroo so far, and would have unfortunately ended in a death. The death of the Kangaroo. With a little manoeuvring and a truck that is very responsive, I was able to avoid a kill and having blood spilled on the Explorer. Now, my encounter with a Kangaroo is well documented in the anals of the Perth Social Camping and Four Wheel Drive Club courtesy of Greg. In his blog for that day he wrote

“This stretch was… count the kangaroos… sleeping on the side of the road, or jumping out in front of the cars with a few emu’s thrown in for good measure… Well done by Bimbo (Mr B) for avoiding the suicide kangaroo that decided to bounce out in front of his car, do a U turn, thus scaring the Bejesus out of Mr B… all was not lost as Mr B got his own back as Mr Skippy got his tail run over in all the commotion… serves yourself right Skippy… scaring a guy halt to death lol”

Well, nothing gets wasted in the outback where the cycle of life is constantly at work with the road trains being willing hands. The cycle goes thus, the road trains, coming at speeds of 100kms/hr are zooming to their destinations at dusk. The lights fully on. The Kangaroos, never hopping alone, gets attracted to the road side. The main attraction, the little grasses that grow by the road side. While busy feeding n he grass, the Kangaroo hears the noise of the approaching road train and then the lights confuses them scurries. Scurrying when they should have kept calm, they run amok, leaping unto the road and they get finished up by the weight of the road trains. By morning, the birds of prey (the raven and the eagles, especially) descend to have a feast. The tough job always being to penetrate the thick skins of the Kangaroos and to get to the meat. It takes time but the job gets done, over a few days. What is left? The skin and the bones. The scorching sun, contributing in no small measure to the decomposition of the carcass. As some of the weird travellers, crisscrossing the Australian continents attests, you can smell the Kangaroo carcass miles before they actually get to see them. With us driving in fully air conditioned cars, we don’t get to take in the smell. The Eyre Highway passes through some of the most inhospitable lands on the planet, humid, dry and most times very hot and scorching. Yet, the Kangaroos make a living here.  To keep ourselves alert, we had a trivia game ongoing amongst the troop on radio. I came to learn from this trivia that Kangaroos can survive for days without water. By feeding on the leaves and shrubs that are abundant in this region, which themselves are almost devoid of any water, the Kangaroos can keep themselves hydrated.

We crossed the Nullabor plain. To me, this will be the third time this year, having done so twice in January. It is the treeless vast land space between Yulata, on the western end, and the Nullabor road House, on the eastern end. Everywhere we looked, right, left, front and back, the land was devoid of trees. There are no trees because the soil is a shallow calcium-rich loam derived mainly from sea shells. The Nullarbor Plain is home to earth’s largest single exposure bedrock of limestone.

At the camp site, I came across the very first “Poo Museum”. This, to me, probably is the only museum of its sort in the world, a museum dedicated to poo – all types of shits. Give it to the Aussies, they have a weird sense of humor – the pit latrine, as would be called by people of other nationalities, was designed all around and labelled the Poo Museum. Well, when it comes to the call of nature, either living or dying, there are no excuses. Having travelled long and far, it was time to clean our bowels. Both the highs and lows, were heading towards or planned to visit the Poo Museum. When I got there, we actually formed a queue to use the facility. As we lined up, about three of us, to answer natures call at the poo museum, I got into a chat with a lady who had travelled all the way here from Tasmania. Camped closer to the museum, in their luxurious bus, with their vehicle in tow is a couple who had been on the roads for the past 4 months around Australia. Home, to them, was just a few kilometers more as they were on the final lap of their journey towards South Australia. They sure were travelling in comfort. I teased that with their luxurious bus, they had no need of a home. The wife candidly answered that after a couple of months on the roads, it gets tiring and there is nothing compared to a very warm comfy bed at home. She mentioned that despite their adventures, they still keep their home and were actually looking forwards to getting back home. I left them with a message, when I grow up, I will like to be like them.

I entered the poo museum, a well aeriated room with a toilet seat on one side of the wall. No water was available anywhere here and the poo drops into the hole below only to biodegrade. I was pleasantly surprised that here were no odour of any kind. It requires low maintenance, if any at all.

Things to do

  1. Norseman – Norseman statute and beginning of Eyre Expressway;
  2. Balladonia Museum – Home to pieces of NASA’s Skylab and start of 90 miles straight;
  3. Caiguna Blowholes;
  4. Nullarbor Links – Play golf on the World’s Longest Golf Course

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