Monday, 29 July 2013

Broome to Perth

Saying goodbye to Cable Beach, Broome.
Once we had made the decision to ride straight home after our Broome stopover, we both started to look forward to four days on the road.

On the first day we had a wonderful outback ride to Port Hedland. The wind was behind us and Devil’s fuel consumption was down to a mere 3.6lt/100km. South of Port Hedland we took the inland route and the scenery all the way to Newman was nothing short of spectacular. We pitched the little tent at Kumarina Roadhouse and enjoyed sharing stories with the dudes that escort the wide loads on this section of the Great Northern Highway. With the falling temperatures, our cold meat and salad didn’t seem very appetising so Steve cooked up a storm on our little camp stove so we had something warm in our bellies.

Great Northern Highway, near Port Hedland.
The following day we trundled southward some more, through the desert country and the townships of Meekatharra and Mt Magnet. It’s hard to see that anything could live out here but we still had to keep an eye out for the cattle on the side of the road. The comforting tail wind had been replaced by a strong south westerly headwind and the turbulence, at the rear of the trucks, made us hang on tight when we passed each northbound road train. The heated grips were on all day and by the time we pitched the tent at Paynes Find Roadhouse the sky was completely overcast and we had to deploy all the guy ropes to prevent the tent collapsing in the 60km/hour wind. Further south, some of the wide loads had to delay their departure because of the 100km/hour wind gusts. We picked a good night to dine in the roadhouse tavern and I devoured a delicious plate full of lamb chops, mash, and veggies, swilled down with a glass of sauvignon blanc. I love staying at outback roadhouses. At around sunset, when the road trains drivers stop for dinner, I get the opportunity to gaze upon the awesome splendour of the trucks.

Of course it’s not over until the fat lady sings. When we crawled out of our tent at 5:30am on the last day, the air was filled with a fine mist. Daybreak revealed that Paynes Find was clouded in a thick winter fog. We both went quiet as we packed up the little tent for the last time and by 7am we were ready for the road. Steve took the lead. 80km/hr was the fastest we dared to go in the poor visibility. Several road trains caught us up as they had less to lose by driving at 100km/hr. When they appeared in my rear view mirror I put on my hazard lights until I was sure they had seen me. Steve was riding four seconds in front but I couldn’t see him. We rode on, but without a breath of wind the fog wasn’t lifting. Instead of being able to muse over the wonders of our six month ride around Australia, we had to endure our most difficult and dangerous 100km of the entire trip. At one point I shook my fist in the air and called out something that was unrepeatable. Every time we passed a lay-by, and Steve didn’t stop, I called out something else. After an hour it seemed like we would be riding in fog for the rest of our lives. Then about 30km outside Wubin, the fog cleared and before us lay the most beautiful green pastures I had ever seen. The sun shone and the fog was soon forgotten and we had a wonderful winter ride all the way home to Safety Bay. As we rode the last 50km towards home I didn’t feel elation for our home coming or commiseration for the life we were about to leave behind. It was just time to come home.

Only 1,000km to home.

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