Saturday, April 04, 2009

Trip (Day 1)

The first leg of the roadtrip took us more than six hundred kilometres, from the green and comfortable inner suburbs of Perth to the dry and disadvantaged towns of the outback. As we barreled up the Great Northern Highway the land became browner and more disheveled. The smart modern hubs on the outskirts of Perth gradually devolved into the marginal villages of the outer wheatbelt. With one or two exceptions I'd never even heard of these places. They were just anonymous little towns full of crumbling buildings, dust and shopfronts emblazoned with the names of banks that haven't existed in decades.

The drive has been interesting but not easy. Several sections of the road are being rebuilt, leading to delays, detours and slow progress. In addition it seems as if every man and his granny is towing oversized pieces of mining equipment up the Great Northern Highway, and we have to go through the laborious process of overtaking them every couple of kilometres. Of course why a granny would want a 100 tonne steel haulpack tray the size of a swimming pool is beyond me, but hey, I'm in no position to judge.

As the sun was setting we pulled into Cue, a hamlet which declares itself to be “The Queen of the Murchison”. The Murchison isn't much of a realm, it must be said, and as such it's not surprising that Cue is little more than a main street, lined with Victorian buildings built out of local stone. However the caravan park in which we are spending the night is peaceful and relatively well-appointed, so it feels good to be here.

We each have our own tents in which to sleep. The other members of my party have minimalist poptents – little more than a plastic mat with an overarching dome of mosquito netting. They are very easy to set up but offer little protection from the elements and absolutely no privacy.

I on the other hand have a proper tent, borrowed from The Flatmate. Compared to the others it's the Palazzo Versace of camping. One primary difference is that I have opacity.

You can't buy that sort of privilege. Unless you have thirty dollars, which is what my tent cost. In which case you can buy it.

But not from me. I love my tent.


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