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Racing Against Sunbeams

Smuggled into Darwin

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 11 July 2009 | Views [319]

La Duchesse, our 21 year old Mitsubishi Magna, is no more. She's done well, driving 6,285.9km from Perth, finally giving up the ghost in Katherine, 300ks from our destination. I guess that big shop we did at Woolworth's, a supermarket here, was the last straw. We conked out on the Stuart Highway, the main road from Darwin to Alice Springs and were towed (for the second time in 5 days) to the nearest garage. As soon as the grease monkey looked under the bonnet and rubbed his five o' clock shadow, I knew it was goodbye. "It's gonna cost ya" he almost smiled at me. "No, it's not - you can have it." I replied, opening the door to begin unpacking all my worldly belongings from the back seat. I arrived back at the campsite in a taxi and we unpacked all of our gear. I had a lot of stuff and looking around at all the boxes, I felt homeless for the first time in my life. Not to be down-heartened, we got chatting to the campers next door to us, Abby - from Perth and T - a Kiwi who were heading to Broome (the way we'd just come) the next day. It's easy to strike up a conversation when you quite literally have to air your dirty laundry in public and we sat down to a couple of beers. We ended up polishing off all the alcohol we could find, including a box of goon - Australian slang for that fine cask wine that you get in boxes. Waking up in the morning I thought back to the night before. As I found out later, T woke up with the same thought - Am I really going to Darwin today?? We loaded all of our gear into their van, an old TNT delivery van with a kangaroo logo on the side, and hopped in the back ourselves. With only 2 seats in the front we would have to spend the 3 hours to Darwin on the double bed in the back of the van with all of our stuff packed in tightly around us. People may think this was dangerous but I reckon if there'd been an accident, we would've been safer than the other two in the front. With no space to manouvere around in at all I was quite certain I wouldn't even notice an accident, let alone move around because of it. The only problem was the police. In the 6,000kms that we'd travelled to Katherine I must have passed two or three police cars - tops. On the home stretch to Darwin we passed (or were passed by) millions of the buggers! They were all over the place but luckily the journey passed without incident but with plenty of banter and we arrived safely at our campsite home - Shady Glen Tourist Park - where we were to stay for the next 11 nights. T, Abby, we are forever in your debt.

Tags: breakdown, camping, goon, la duchesse, lifesavers, people smuggling, road trips


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