27/07/16 There’s something about these Western Australians that makes them want to chop the top off every hill and ship it to China. What they don’t ship, they stack and make a new hill next door. Almost every hill out this way is terraced, squared off, and on its way to somewhere in a dump truck or train.
Thankfully, the service of the Landy’s transmission seems to have fixed the shudder. I wasn’t looking forward to having the transmission worked on.
After four nights at Boogardie Station, we headed north and spent the night back at Cue. The water tanks were filled the next morning and we continued north. Having a break and a cuppa in Meekatharra, a young bloke wandered over and asked how the Kruiser was going. It turned out he was a gold prospector who also owned a Kruiser, and we had a yarn about our vans and his gold mining operation out of town. Small world. A prospector living in a Kruiser on his gold mining lease was not something we’d expected.
About 60kms north of Meeka, we pulled in to the Karalundi Aboriginal Education Community and were lucky to get a spot as we hadn’t pre-booked. We ended up on the last available campsite and I must admit, we reckoned it was the best of the lot anyway. Karalundi is a boarding school for Aboriginal boys and girls, and a green oasis surrounded by the mulga scrub. We set up and relaxed to the sounds of school children singing and playing – not your average campsite backdrop.
After a night at Karalundi, we continued north on the Great Northern Highway, or Bottle Way as it should be called for the continuous line of discarded plastic and glass drink containers along both sides of the roadway. In the middle of the WA Outback, countless beer bottles and plastic drink bottles lie only metres apart. Who does that with careless disregard for the land or their fellow persons? Stubbies consumed while driving, energy drinks downed to maintain the pace, drink containers of pee to avoid pulling over – all are thrown out the window to join those already dotting the roadside. This outback way is the litter trail of Western Australia.
We free-camped at Gascoyne River South Branch, set up a little way back into the scrub and shared our camp fire with Peter and Fleur from Perth. The outback night sky was glorious with the Milky Way and shooting stars. On the way from Gascoyne River to Newman the next morning, a mob of donkeys were just in off the edge of the road, checking us out as we went by. Another tick for Di’s Animals in the Wild List. The further north we go, Wedgetail Eagles and Whistling Kites are becoming more prevalent and we have to keep an eye out for the eagles on roadkill as they are very slow to fly off when on the ground.
A short distance south of Newman, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5 degrees south latitude, and, just as we’d noticed in western Queensland last year, the day immediately felt warmer. Off came the pullover and at camp in Newman the van windows were all opened up for the first time in ages. In winter and travelling north, that latitude seems to be the demarcation between “Jeez, it’s bloody cold” and “I think it’s getting warmer”.
“The days are getting warmer now. The nights are getting shorter now.” – America, Children, America album