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ReportsMonday, 1 July 2002
Bungle Bungles bush, Travelabout Tour day 5 --> Fitzroy Crossing, Aust After waking up and getting ready for departure, we had a breakfast at 5.30 in the dark morning. Guess what the main topic of conversation was… Most bodies were shuddering as those dancing puppies on a dashboard. Yes, it was cold. But the idea that it will all be warmer when the sun would appear did not bother me about it.
After an exhausting two-hours drive on the bumpy-bumpy dirt track (53 km) filled with potholes and with a lot of creeks to drive through we finally got out of the Bungle Bungles National Park.
We arrived at the Turkey Creek Roadhouse one hour later. The tour would continue up to El Questro, just half an hour west of Kunnunara, but I was getting off the tour right here.
I honestly could not handle it anymore. Call me a coward, but I rather get off in the middle of nowhere on the Northern Highway with some 4,000km to go to my first next official place-to-stay, than to spend another 19 days in the company of people I could not feel comfortable with.
I said goodbye to the gang and thanked Dave for everything sofar. At the roadhouse I called the free-phone number of the Travelabout Adventures company in Perth and explained my reasons for my early tour departure. They could fully understand my motivation and said they would try to put me on a tour from Exmouth (three days travelling from here) to Perth, "with much younger people", the director said.
From here on I had to find myself a ride to the west and then follow the highway down south. It will take me a couple of days and it might be hard to find some food and a place to sleep the coming days, but if I don't try it I will be eating dust here at Turkey Creek.
I wrote a sign saying 'Wanted Ride West' and stuck in on my backpack at the entrance of the roadhouse. I met up with people from a travelling show who were in need for a driver to Derby, up west. They were going to leave Turkey Creek on Wednesday and if I wanted to be their 4WD-truck driver they could help me with accommodation for the coming two nights. But I had to help myself out food-wise. Like that would help out here… I told them I'd keep on trying to find a ride first, but if I'd be still here at 9pm tonight, they were welcome to pick me up.
Flies were licking me off but at least I can sit and wait here in a shady area of the roadhouse.
A Canadian guy from Perth, gave me his business card. He couldn't help me out with a ride as he was going the other direction, but I was welcome to call him when I'd be in need for a place to stay in Perth! After I explained my way of travelling to him, he said "you just call me and I'll help you out, you don't have to write about me in return." I thanked him for his offer.
Five minutes later he returned back to me and popped a 50 Australian dollar note in my hands. "When I was your age I was once stuck in the nothingness of the Northern Territory for three weeks. I just could not get out." I was stunned! He walked to his car and I saw the money in my hands. "Thanks again!" I said. "No worries! I remember how it was when I was there!"
I think I thanked him another three times. Grace the Canadians!
Now maybe I was going to regret this a lot later during this survival on almost nothing, but the first thing I did was to buy a pack of cigarettes. I know smoking is bad, but I do smoke when allowed or offered and I now was in a position when I was yearning for a smoke. Maybe it was because of the last few days and all the things that bothered me in my thoughts – I just had to.
I had been sitting there for another two hours, talking to people who passed by, until I encountered a solo guy who was going my direction too. That's at least what I found out and then he entered the store. I thought that was just another silent no-no. But when he came out he said: "Come on, let's load your stuff in."
It was Greg Lewis, a representative for Kookaburra (a camping gear company in Perth), who took me along. I told him about how I ended up there at Turkey Creek and of course he wanted to know a bit more about my latest travel adventures. When I told him about my no-budget travels through 16 countries in the last 14 months he was staggered. "So I have a f*cking celebrity in my car!?" Haha.
We drove on and on and as there was no radio reception on 99% of the Northern Highway, I enjoyed his CD-collection with Something For Katie, U2 en The Cure. What a long drive through nothing this was.
Greg had to visit some clients in Broome, before heading south to Perth again, but he was not going to make it there today. He would just take out his Aussie swag and sleep somewhere on a camping ground or just in the bush, but I had to find myself a place to sleep for the night as he had only one swag.
The sun had set when we entered the hole of Fitzroy Crossing, which has two gas stations, a supermarket and a small Aboriginal community. We drove around trying to find the backpackers hostel, as we saw a sign for it on the Highway. When I asked for it at the supermarket the v-e-r-y s-l-o-w speaking old Australian man behind the counter told me that there is no backpackers hostel anymore. "The old man who run that hostel had a stroke, some long time ago, and passed away." But what about that sign? "The sign is still there to remember him," he told me.
There I was in Fitzroy Nothing with no hostel.
Greg decided that he was going to stay at the Caravan Park of the Safari Lodge, on the other side of the river. Maybe they could help me with a place to sleep there.
We drove to the luxury camping ground where Greg registered himself for a camping spot for the night. "We are fully booked," the lady at the reception told me and when she said that two bus loads of British elderly tourists entered the reception area to check themselves in.
There were some coppers (police) walking around there too and I joked around how I could stay for a night in a police cell (the matter of fact is that I really have no invite from any country yet where a police department has offered me a night in their cell; wouldn't that be unique?). But one copper told me I should punch the other copper in the face, then they would take me along, strip me naked and put me in a cold dark cell. I looked at the other copper, quite a big muscled man with big tattoos on his arm and a wide moustache under his nose and decided not to play around with him…
It ended up that my only place to sleep at this place was going to be in Greg's car. At his camping spot we unloaded his car and created this little place in the back of his station wagon and I got an thin inflatable mattress to lay on. But without a sleeping bag or anything.
The positive thing about staying at this caravan park was also: the showers! I got my sleeping place arranged for the night and went off to take a shower after five days of camping out. Oh man, I scrubbed myself in that hot hot water (oh yeah) and it actually took a while until all the dirt had flown through that little hole in the floor. It was good and the thoughts of this shower would keep me warm the rest of the night.
Because after the sun had set, the coldness set in immediately. Within half an hour there was a layer of thick fog hanging around and tonight the temperature would be around freezing point. Greg went to the pub of the lodge to fill his stomach up with dinner and I stayed in his car, guarding his stuff and preparing myself for the coming cold night. I had six slices of bread taken with me at this morning's breakfast and had some oranges and apples with me to keep the energy level up. But I decided not to touch anything yet, as I wasn't really hungry. Yet. (Now guess this, I had totally forgotten about the money I got earlier today, just because I am used to not having any money!)
I am kind of prepared for the cold, as I don't only carry a winter jacket with me (remember my December days in Spain last year?), but also have thermic clothing with me. Grace my clothing sponsor Oxbow for that! Through SMS text messages my backup team and my friends at home gave me advice on how to survive a cold night like this in a car. I dressed myself in multiple layers of clothing with shirts and sweaters and nestled myself on that mattress and kept my head and feet warm with some thick wool sweaters. Greg had some sort of canvas sheet that I pulled over me.
It was around 9pm when Greg returned from the pub and crawled into his swag next to the car.
I would be fine. I would be okay. I would just think about that warm shower I had this night, and about how the campfires from the previous days glowed in my face and kept me warm out there and I would think about how hot it will be during the day and I would just forget how cold it is.
Yes. That would do it.
Damn! It was cold!
Goodnight Fitzroy Something!