Half way through our trip – it seems so hard to believe that we are this far in! In my three month update I wrote about the adjustment and routine of camping life versus our city life, we are well adjusted now and our routine is second nature to us. However, life has continued to change as our landscape has changed and we are constantly having to adapt to new environments. In the last two months in particular we have travelled on dirt roads for probably about 80% of the time, and have had about seven full days of phone reception.
We live pretty simply these days; our money mainly goes towards fuel, groceries, camping fees and car/trailer maintenance and whatever is left over goes to fun stuff. Most of our entertainment comes for free though in the form of walking around all the wonderful feats of nature that we come across on our travels. Night time entertainment involves a camp fire and looking up at the stars, waiting for an elusive shooting star to burst across the sky. We are a lot happier and healthier for it. Our wine stash from the Margaret River and previous winery visits is long gone and without the other trappings of city life we have found we have both lost quite a few centimetres from the waist line – I can finally fit into my jeans again without getting into a serious tug of war with the zip, huzzah!
The lack of access to technology has been welcome as I know I rely on my phone way too much to fill in my free time. It’s given me time to think, to read, to write a little and to think about what to write. One of my goals for this trip was to develop my writing skills and write a few short pieces. To be honest that hasn’t really happened, I haven’t written as much as I would’ve liked so far, but I also have way less time to do that kind of thing than I anticipated. My main motivation in doing this trip was to have a break from work and pursue other interests but now that we’re on the road I want to be seeing and experiencing as much as this amazing country has to offer in the twelve months we have. At the end of a day of sight-seeing or walking, I just want to take the time to relax, I don’t have the energy to be creative. I was beating myself up about that a bit earlier in the trip, but then I realised that the whole point of the trip is to have a break from feeling like I should be “doing something more important” all the time, getting the most out of this trip is the important thing! So I’m just going with the flow now, doing lots of observing and note taking and writing down of ideas when they come to me, which I’m happy with for the moment. I’m thinking that once we settle back into life at home I will join a writing group that will motivate to me to write more regularly.
Since I last updated we have both become a lot more confident in 4WD and tackling off road situations, Jason as the driver and me as the passenger! I have done a little bit of unsealed road driving but Jason has done the majority of it, and all the hardcore 4WDing stuff. I drove the ute for the first time today by myself while Jason went off to ride a camel and even successfully parked and reversed that beast without hitting anything! I was pretty happy with that effort considering the first time I drove it last year I had a meltdown and had to pull over to the side of the road so Jason could take over. Anything is possible with practice and perseverance! I think the most hectic 4WDing we’ve done so far is either to the Saddleback Ridge lookout at El Questro which involved lots of steep hill climbs or more recently the track out to Palm Valley from the campground in the Finke Gorge NP. Quite a few cars got out two kilometres before the car park and walked the rest of the way, but we kept going to the end, HARDCORE!!!!! Fortunately in those kinds of situations we can leave Mable behind, but even in the times we’ve deemed it okay to take her along, she’s held up really well and we’re very happy with our choice for this trip.
The downside to all this adventuring is that the red dirt has gotten INTO EVERYTHING. Nothing has been spared. Jason gave everything a good clean in Kununurra after we finished the Gibb river road, but after Purnululu NP and the Tanami we are back to square one. It is safe to say that many of our few possessions, particularly clothes, will be finding themselves a new home when we return…..most likely in the bin. Anyway, we are at peace with the dirt now, it is a part of us, we accept and move on.
So we have hit Central Australia now and whilst I was originally worried than it was going to be out of control busy due to school holidays it is actually not bad at all. We were a bit worried about towing Mable along the Tanami road but all was well and the road was in better condition than the Gibb so it was a comfortable drive. There’s no way I would’ve thought about taking a road like that at the beginning of this trip but I’ve come a long way. We took the advice of a fellow traveller up at Lake Argyle to go to the West MacDonnell ranges and Palm Valley over the weekend as it wouldn’t be as busy (he was right) and in doing that we have arrived at Uluru at the tail end of the school holidays and everything seems to have quietened right down. Today I took myself to a lookout to get a close up view of Uluru and I was able to sit there by myself for ages with only a couple of cars coming along to get a photo whilst I was there. It’s been a lot more pleasant than some places along the Gibb River Road where it was packed!
Having said that, I’m getting weary of sharing my living space in close quarters with others and just being around other people all the time (Jason will attest that I go a bit mad when I don’t have enough of my own time and space) and I’m looking forward to a proper bed and proper plaster walls and a private shower that I don’t have to wear thongs in. We have been on the move a lot in the last couple of weeks so that we can make it up to Darwin by the end of the month and that has been really exhausting as well, one and two night stopovers is not how we usually like to travel. Thankfully, my friend Kristy has provided us with an opportunity for respite and to indulge in such luxury by inviting us to her wedding in Thailand which is in almost two weeks! As much as I love Mable, I will be happy to give her a well deserved rest for a week while we go and see friends and have a “holiday from our holiday” as they say. We have even booked a hotel in Darwin the night before our departure and Jason laughed at my excitement today over being able to charge my electric toothbrush properly through a 240 volt socket.
Six months in, it’s really all about the little things.