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France 2011

Central Australia April 2015

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 22 June 2015 | Views [192]

                    An Outback Ode

There was movement in the outback for the word had passed around
That the folk from way down south were on the move
They would come to do the Old Ghan track and the locals there had found
That to leave was best - they'd nothing they had to prove.
All the tried and noted drivers from the suburbs near and far
Had gathered at the start point with their crew
Well perhaps not every driver had turned up with his car
The final tally was actually only two

There was Mark, who'd leave his pile when in his car he went
Sideways loosing traction on every tyre
He'd modify his driving after that renouned event
In part to mollify his passenger's ire.
He drove a  Landrover Defender, a really good 4 wheel
And for  outback work, a vehicle at it's peak
Maybe  a little noisy and possibly not well sealed
But OK  if you didn't  breathe or speak

And Judy of verbal overflow came down to even up the score
No better driver ever took the wheel
She'd bought her Toyota from a Rotarian years before
And most would  agree it really was a steal.
And on the back of her powerful car
There was an off road van she towed
None of this rough tenting for her
She brought  her own abode.

And there was a girl named Jelte from a  land distant and exotic
She was here to learn ; by Rotary subsidised
What she learned is that Ockers are not refined or quixotic
Though she had gained a slight Ozzie accent which she  prized
She was tall and fair and slender just the sort who won't say die
There was courage, self reliance and all the rest
Not the type to go on a bender though I imagine she might try.
But ready to deliver on any test.

But still not yet an Aussie  and one would doubt her power to stay,
Mark, the leader, said" That girl will never do
For a long and tiring drive, young lass, you'd better stay away
These roads are far too rough for such as you."
So she waited sad and wistful, only Neil he stood her friend
"I think we ought to let her come " he said
"I warrant she'll be with us when she's needed at the end
If we can keep her awake and see she's properly fed"

So she went.They started out from Melbourne town
With 700 k the first day done; no worry
And to the Pink Lakes  took a dirt track down
Through dirt, rocks, mud and slurry
Little pink was seen in the lake so named
Still they gazed in awe and wonder
Pink Lakes is  what the sign proclaimed
Though "Bollocks" was scribbled under.

And soon they reached the Murray wide
Mark and Judy looked and reckoned
A deep river crossing seemed suicide
But still the challenge beckoned
They perched above the steep descent
The sole voice of reason: Rosemary
Then both plunged down success hellbent
Down - ever  down  - down to the waiting ferry.

The first night was spend at  Loxton when
Some rapid and smoothe talk by Mark
Assured a cabin was let to them
With Judy encamped  by dark
An invite to sup was billed as the deal
In a cabin! Some food! What a treat
But not a hearty and wholesome  meal
There was nothing but  pizza to eat.

After sleep the next day's destination:  Roxby Park
Where a renowned and dreaded 4 wheel track
Was there for the taking; a real lark
And only a k or two back
On a road  strewn with bolders; potholes by the ton
The drivers resigned to their fate
But the first terrifying challenge was won
When they made it unscathed  through the gate.

The track was defeated with nerry a scratch
Not a battle - merely a tiff
Sure - there was the odd rough patch
But who needs the car's second diff
So they continued  using all their outback nouse
They were due to meet a third car : the final link
At the famous Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse
Pink Lakes! Bah! My giddy aunt - that structure's what I call pink

Ian and Jenny left home one day late lets say
Ian drove like a man possessed
Then passed the other two on the way
A little speeding later confessed
So now with the  group completely assembled
They continued in convoy formation
Past wreckage and ruins which junk art resembled
No wonder we're such a proud nation

Twas now the chinks showed in the van - with respect
To it's  strength and its off road agility
Bits littered the road for Ian to collect
The van suffers from high scrapability
But they continued with fixes and patches each day
A tape here a screw there and such
Nothing too major I'd just have to say
But no brakes was a little too much

But a major hurdle occurred on a little used  track
They changed a wheel to stop a tyre from hissing
But it was not the tyre this time that was flat
The whole bloody wheel had gone missing.
With the van on an angle now they could see
That disaster could well be nigh
This time they were really well up the creek,
Thank Christ  creeks up here are bone dry.

As they all scratched their heads, it was Mark who knew,
He dug a hole into which went the jack
Up went the van and in a moment or two
On went the spare from the back
Over the next 20 k with the bumps and the ruts
They checked both the wheels - so don't  scoff
What's that you say "Why didn't they check  all the nuts
Before the wheel actually fell off?"

It's 100 kilometers to reach Pernie Bore
An old hotwell now long since cemented
So to see it takes an hour or more
Which makes sense - for the totally demented
But a lovely warm swim in the Dalhousie Spring
Is worth the effort to brave the rough path
Though the clouds of red dust when they drove that they'd bring
Makes it  more like  flaming mud bath

Last on the adjenda : an Old Ghan spike
From the old track long since demolished
They'd read about them on Facebook Likes
And they wanted one mounted and polished
They cast about looking under rocks and rubble
They searched till their eyes burned like fire
But they needn't have bothered to got to the trouble
There was one stuck right there in the tyre

So really these were the highlights
The rest was just bumping no end
After 8 days and with Alice in sight
They were not far from right round the bend.
So if it's my  outback knowledge  that you seek
Advise that you know you can trust
While you may not end up in that well known dry creek
You won't see much  outback for dust.

Now I heard some laughter and chortling here
Some mirth now that only natural
But I can tell all now: I was there
And this ode is mostly all factual.

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