We’re on the road – again. This time we’re traversing our own big continent, Australia … earlier this year it was the North Island on New Zealand and the US from NYC to LA. You know you’ve shared the travel bug with your kids when your seven year old compares the Barrier Highway between Broken Hill and Port Augusta with the desert of Arizona and Nevada, or when he compares the smell of Port Augusta to the smell of Rotorua.
The drive has, understandably, been littered with anxieties and mini-dramas. On the first day we realized we’d forgotten a series of rather important things – inverter to charge our phones, jack in case of a flat – and our puppies (who we have decided to bring with us) were showing signs of distress in our purposefully designed enclosed trailer. Oh, and then there was the $450 fine hubby got for forgetting to renew his licence. The fresh-looking cop was well pleased with himself and was genuinely unwilling to feel any sympathy for our situation. It’s his job. Urgh.
Broken Hill is a surprisingly big city with a population of 19,000 largely sustained by the local mines. The wide streets of BH are flanked by small, one-story houses made of corrugated iron. I was informed by the publican at the quaint Olary pub that iron ore is one of the main metals mined in BH – I guess that explains the popularity of it as a building material.
We didn’t manage to leave BH before the sun peeped over the flat land, Lee had to make himself acquainted with the local RTA to get his licence renewed. By 9.30am the sun was bursting hot and me, the boys and the dogs found ourselves parked outside the small yet very busy RTA whilst Lee waited in the air-conditioned building, watching the parade of locals.
I’d love to say the drive from BH to our next destination – Port Augusta – was uneventful, but alas, we drive a 37 year old van … it had other ideas. Deciding to stop at the South Australia border sign at the one pub, one cop town Cockburn was a bad idea. Kombi decided that changing gears was trifling, and promptly seized. Lee got under the van, scorching himself on the burning red sand, and struggling to sort out the clutch cable made the heart-breaking decision to head back to BH and have it looked at. Long story short, after an extra 100km of driving, Lee worked out how to adjust the clutch thanks to the useful blog posts of fellow Kombi drivers.
We made it to Port Augusta late last night. The drive in to that small port town is one you really have to see as the sun is setting to appreciate. The olive-green hills of the Flinders Rangers touched by the fading rays of the summer sun were as pretty as any painting.
And now we’re back on the road … heading to Ceduna before embarking on our greatest challenge – the Nulabor.