The last week or two has been a bit of a blur. what with Candi coming back, finishing work, final movements of things to Dangar or onto the street for the council pick up, several (successful) trips to the casino with Steffen and plenty of farewell drinks, Monday was always going to be a bit of a funny day.
Final packing of the troopy was largely uneventful other than me losing the car keys (finally located in one of my packed bags) and hurting my back lifting the fun box into the car. A quick farewell to Ken and Jean (off to Europe) and Candi/Steffen (dealing with the real estate for us and then moving in) over bacon and egg rolls and coffee and before we knew it we were edging our way down narrow prospect street in our big truck. (Four days away from Sydney and the truck doesn't seem so big anymore as most of the other vehicles are the same size or bigger).
We headed off along the M4 out of Sydney, through the blue mountains, picked up or national parks pass at Blackheath and then stopped for some shopping in the delightful prison town of Lithgow. I'd stayed at Lithgow before when my parents were out here once as it was close to the zig zag railway which I knew my dad would want to see. From memory there was some sort of altercation in the bar next to our motel which he either instigated or got involved with. Anyhow we were pretty happy to be getting back onto the road loaded up with a week's supply of food, beer and wine.
For our first night we stayed at the hard to find but worth it if you can Goulburn River National Park. The GPS on the phone let us down a bit and the maps didn't have any of the dirt roads on them but we finally found a lovely spot next to the river and prepared our first camp.
Second day we took on about another 300 kms through Dubbo and along gunbarrel straight roads to camp at the Coolabah Hotel Motel. We got there around 2.30pm and got stuck into the XXXX gold (mid strength beer). The owners (John & Marcia) were from WA and had bought the place about 6 months ago. Some increasingly lively banter with the locals got a bit out of hand when Chris (the local postie whose wife had left him and who now seemed to be batting for the other side with his regular "visitor" Tony from Sydney) was cut off at around 8pm. He was already drinking when we got there and after a massive dummy spit drove off leaving Tony behind. Tony was in trouble for chatting to some girls.
Day three and we were off to the real outback. The landscape had been getting flatter since we left Dubbo and now things were getting more open and the trees a lot shrubbier. We stopped at Bourke to pick up some more diesel and to have a coffee and to get the latest on whether we should go to the east or west side of the Darling River for the Darling River Run. West (or more aptly described as North) side of the Darling it was and left the bitumen and onto some fairly exciting four wheel drive terrain. We stopped to let some air out of the tyres for a smoother run. We'd remembered somewhere about 20 something for sand driving but couldn't remember whether that was the absolute number or whether that was how much you should let them down. Not to worry, we took about a minutes worth out of each (noting the back tyres were already about half what they should be for fast road driving, oops) and we were off again for what was a fairly smooth if slightly slidy drive to Louth and then to Trilby station which is where I am writing this from. Unbelievably they have mobile reception (1 or 2 bars max) and that means I can also get onto the interweb. It also means work can get in touch...
We had a great night last night. The birdlife is amazing, the sunset was sensational followed by a newish moon set and then a wonderful star show. I even managed a shower this morning (first of the trip). We will stay here one more night and then head on down the Darling to Tilpa and then make our next camp at Wilga in the Paroo Darling National Park. All being well we'll find a decent outback boozer to watch the grand final in the weekend, and then its off to Broken Hill for four wheel drive school for Monday and Tuesday.
First impressions are that we're going to really really really enjoy this wonderful opportunity.
Candi is running a book on whether Ness and I are still together by Christmas and/or if one of us will kill the other (accidentally or deliberately). Get your money on now folks at firstname.lastname@example.org.