Some time after 8am I finally found myself on the on the road. I was going to take the Western Highway all the way to Adelaide, approximately 751kms or eight and half hours of driving. I’d planned to have one last look at Melbourne which didn’t happen due to the still grey vista behind me, nothing photo worthy there. The only thing I wanted to do was drive and keep driving to Adelaide. Seriously, I don’t think anybody has ever been in a hurry to get to Adelaide like I was. Utee Bootee was chewing up the road, Fozzy was still conked out in a smacked out reverie and my foot was hard to the floor.
I’d asked some of my music snob friend to make me up a few mix tapes on USB sticks. Stuff that would occupy my mind as I drove the estimated 3,500kms to Perth, my final destination. I’d factored in a few stops here and there, some unintentional nights spent on the side of the road and all up I was giving myself anything from seven days to two weeks to go from coast to coast.
So, For those of you who might be geographically ignorant of the distances in Australia I shall try and illustrate this for you. They say a diagram speaks a thousand words, if that is true then I am well and truly over my daily word count and should probably go have a lie down now.
As a rule I can’t drive without music or noise of some description. My preference is disco or techno. After about three hours of uninspiring music choices from my friends I was suddenly brought to an emotional cliff face. That mad bastard of a man, Charlie Big Man, had snuck in Abba’s legendary and iconic ‘Dancing Queen’. It brought a wide smile to my face, a few more revs to the engine and before long I was karaoke-ing my way to South Australia. I’d been in an odd mood up until then; not quite joyous or sad, just resigned to the task at hand of moving interstate.
Well, this all change a few moments later when Laurie Anderson’s ‘Oh Superman’ came on. Suddenly I felt emotional, overjoyed, released, free, alone, happy, euphoric, teary eyed and most of all relieved that I was finally gone. There was something about the vibration and sentiment in the song that got me, the deliberate slowness of it, the way it cupped my heart and gave it a little tremor. You may listen to it here if you like.
So, there I was cruising along the highway passing towns called Keith(as boring as it sounds), Ki-Ki(nothing), Nhill(nought) all with their various tourist gimmicks hanging on the side of the road like fly paper. I saw a big rhino(no bigger than a normal rhino), a pioneer town(yawn) and a jeep on a pole at Keith. Hats off to the genius who had that brain fart. It wasn’t until I crossed the border into South Australia that the sun finally came out and the quality of the roadside attractions increased dramatically. On the right hand side of the road I spied a herd of camels hiding behind a shitty white fence. Eyelashes and humps peeping over at the passing traffic. Later on at Coonalpyn the first of the grain silos came into vision. I would just like to say for the record that I have a thing for grain silos. Especially ones that have been painted up. There’s something about them that I just can’t put my finger on. I like their shape, their closeness to train tracks and big yellow fields of wheat. They stand alone in defiance of every God damn thing.
I have another ‘thing’ that I need to talk about, clouds. I fucking love them. Big billowy white citadels sailing across a lapis lazuli sky. Slim wispy feint feckers jagging their way from east to west or north to south, horsetails they call them. One of the many things I will miss about Melbourne is the constant atmospheric battles between the hot desert winds, the cold antarctic gales and the wet westerlies from Adelaide. All these fronts do battle in the skies of Melbourne on a daily basis, the cloud formations can be breathtaking at times. Big long banks of cloud cutting the sky in two, like a surgical scar. The best place to witness these battles is driving west over the Westgate bridge in the evenings when the sun is setting or just before a cool change in the afternoon. Anyway, the clouds were coming out for me and I was happy, like Superman.
As Adelaide approached I was enjoying the changing architecture, gone was the bluestone and in was sandstone or yellowstone if you want to get all visually descriptive. The style of building changed, the flora was different and the clouds magnificent. I made Adelaide around five in the evening and had booked myself into an AirBnB for two nights. My plan was to stock up on supplies, do some sight seeing and then head north to Port Augusta. The poles were about to flip.