- 5 May 2001
- Murchison Club Hotel
- 846 KM
- 160043 KM
Australian Outback: here we come via Interstate 95 headed to Darwin, which we should reach in about a week. We’re traveling on a good two-lane road with extra-wide pullovers on either side of red dirt or tarmac. Little traffic passes, but when we meet something, it’s likely a road train – an 18-wheeler carrying two other attachments making the length 53.5 meters. When they speed by us, our car shakes!
This land has few villages, homes or livestock. Bush is the obvious word to describe this enormous countryside, since the red soil on the flat land is covered in green and brown shrub, bushes and small trees save for the white drying-out flood plains. Many roads close in this part of Western Australia during the worst part of the rains from November to April. Signs along the highway warn: ‘Floodway’. The Rains are serious business out here. Other signs list the next town and when service will be available again, since there ain’t nothing in between towns except for maybe a station (enormous ranch with hundreds of thousands of acres of cattle, sheep, goats et al.). And sometimes the stops are only roadhouses, not towns, with fuel, food, caravan parks and budget motels. Quite a few of the towns along the highway have less than 1000 people.
Like most, I’m keen to see kangaroos and throughout the day, I kept a constant lookout for the bouncing creatures. Almost five or six hours into our drive, Jim saw a dead one on the road. Fortunately I was distracted, so I avoided my first sighting being a dead ‘roo. And as luck would have it, just before dusk, two kangaroos, a mother and baby, hopped at record speed across the highway. We also spotted sheep, goats, dogs, hawks, buzzards, birds, but not a single emu, during our drive today.