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One Last Hurrah

December 16, 2012

“I’m not wearing pants ‘til Perth!” – my defining vow exclaimed to my travelling comrade, Ivan, as we prepped for a two week road trip down Australia’s west coast. I had been living for four hot months in Broome, from the boot of my 1994 Ford Falcon Sedan, and this was our final foray of abandon before a new life in the city. We were giddy with excitement – Ivan, less so about the pants thing.

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With the Falcon packed we lit out and vanished into the enormity of the Great Sandy Desert. The sun-bleached highway cleaved its way through red dust hills that softly undulated like the broad swell of an ocean after a storm. The colours around us were simple but intense. The sky was a sharp blue; the dirt, clay red; the shrub was a lifeless brown and the staggered centre line blended into a solid strip of a gleaming white that licked our front right tyre as we hove over the landscape.

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The Karijini National Park gave us a chance to see what lay beneath. On foot we waded through placid waters that crept along deep fissures in marbled rock to openings of serene pools, ribbed by the gentle fall of water curling off the drop ahead. The walls rose high above us and, as the desert for a ceiling, we were enclosed within the shadows of the earth.

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At night the sun drowned under an inky firmament and dusk drew in like the tide. The line between heaven and earth, by day so conspicuous and distant, became imperceptible in the depth of the darkness – it felt like standing on a platform in space.

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Teased by cool, purple airs we woke before the show of a heavenly sunrise and rejoined the empty highway south. For hours I stared, transfixed by the sight of the road unravelling before me and the sound of the wheels humming their way over miles of arrow straights and round easy curves. Ningaloo Reef and SharkBay provided perfect reprieve from the road. Off the coast we snorkelled among brilliantly coloured fish and carefree reef sharks, and sat as Queen Fish the size of tennis rackets swam about our ankles in the shallows.

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The sun was high, hard and white. As we drove towards it streams of gold fell in through the wind-shield. Clouds overhead raked into the distance and dropped off the edge of the world. The Falcon glided to a stop and perched at the first set of traffic lights seen in 2000 kilometres. The freedom I had experienced was brand new and one wholly unique to soaring across Australia’s vast outback – and also, to not wearing pants.

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From → Australia

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