So another 8ight days come to an end and it’s time to hit the open road.
The enigma that is the Australian Outback. Endless blue skies and the red dirt that seeps through your skin and into your veins.
You could quire easily turn around and head back to the city….
But why on earth would you!
Archive for the It’s a Land Rover thing Category
So another 8ight days come to an end and it’s time to hit the open road.
It takes a lot of patience to be a trainspotter in this part of the outback, especially when there is only the one train a day, well okay two if you include the return journey around four hours later. There is no strict timetable as such, but you just know that out of summer the train will usually pass through sometime between the hours of lunch and tea. During the scorching hot summer months the timetable is changed to reduce the risk of the train being derailed, it’s a time of the year when the lines get so hot they can quite easily buckle in the heat. Out here in this arid land, the mercury can fall off the end of the scale, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees centigrade or more. During these summer months the train, so I am told, passes through sometime between 11pm and the early hours of the morning. I for one have never heard the train at this ungodly hour let alone seen it.
So here we are, it’s one o’clock in the afternoon, just the two of us here in the Land Rover, patiently waiting, waiting, and waiting for the train. Well I am at least, for my mate Banjo has long given up, he’s stretched out in the back of the truck sound asleep, snoring, twitching, chasing roos or more than likely dreaming of tonight’s dinner, it sure is a dogs life.
Sitting here, parked up in a scenic lookout with commanding 360 degree views of the surrounding area, there’s not a cloud in the sky, you can see forever. The wind is softly whistling, flies are buzzing outside, a Wedge tailed eagle soars high above, and quite an amazing sight as I count thirty two Emus, both young and old at the side of the road grazing together or whatever it is that Emus do.
Through the windscreen, the flat arid land stretches out before me, red dirt, pale green foliage of the Saltbush, Flinders ranges to the side contrast beautifully with the clear deep blue sky. From my position perched up high, I can see the road going south and like a river it meanders slowly away, twenty kilometres into the distance as far as the eye can see, and not a vehicle in sight.
Finally the wait is over. Way over in the distance I finally see the headlight of the train. Not any old train, but the Leigh Creek coal train. Like a huge dreamtime snake of old, 2.3km in length crawling ever so slowly over the ancient desert floor.
Rest of the story can be found HERE
Of course the nice thing about being a Land Rover Defender driver is that fellow owners wave to each other in passing. Which is quite nice in the modern driving era where road rage rages!
It’s a Land Rover thing! You either get it or you don’t.
Camping by the Dog fence, Corner country in the state of er NSW? QLD? Or was it SA?
Either way what a beautiful and remote place it is.
This was the trip that made us decide to chuck in our city jobs and lifestyle and head for the outback.
But I can’t vouch for the others! Well actually the present owner tells me that there has only ever been two.
The last of which was his dad so this lovely old Landie that I came across in a remote outback town isn’t for sale. It’s sentimental value is worth far more than any of the offers made by Land Rover enthusiasts passing by. Let me tell you there have been a few over the years.
All I wanted was the rear badge, I had buckleys chance.
But after hearing the story as told by the son, I fully understand why this old Landie is not for sale.
The Strzelecki Track in South Australia, Four hundred and fifty kilometres of remote and mostly wild frontier with station families and gas fields dotted along either side. South Australia the remotest and driest state with a population density of 1.5 persons per square kilometre compared to 246 in the UK. But hang on a minute! How can you have half a person? Maybe it’s because I’m forever hearing Aussie Sheilas screaming at their husbands “You’re only half the man I married!”
Out here in the dry arid conditions, families struggle to run sheep stations that are larger in size than most English counties. They battle against extreme temperatures when the mercury breaks the glass, dust storms and drought. It’s an unforgiving land, it takes no prisoners.
The Strez, still geographically remote but technology brings the outside world ever closer. The children of the track live too far away to attend normal school so they are taught via the school of the air. Technological advancement creeps along the track and lessons that use to be via crackly radio’s have been replaced by the internet. There’s no hiding in class either! Webcams have seen to that.
Thanks to Satellites, wireless and computers station managers can now keep a watchful eye over their cattle or sheep from a monitor. They can even control valves and pumps to give stock a drink all without leaving the station. (In theory)
Technology, bah humbug! The families on the track still need a reliable delivery of provisions. A newspaper, spares for the truck, a case of beer for the station hands. A welcome face, news and gossip. A human touch ensures the bush telegraph stays open? A good old fashioned parcel wrapped with brown paper and string. A birthday present for little Brad from Gran? Computers? Second Life? Virtual reality postmen! Bloody useless!
“I’m riding shotgun along the Strez, I can see smoke signals! There’s Injuns about! Their trying to cut us off at the pass! C’mon Oneten! C’monTeedeefive faster, faster, the mail must get through!”
“Eric! I’d better slow down and pull over, there’s a road train coming, can’t you see the dust it’s kicking up?” “Eh, what was that you said Alf? Sorry I was miles away”
Monday 15th August 2006 Induction day I’m a new sub contractor for Talc Alf working in his office. His office that just so happens to be one the biggest and most beautiful in the whole wide world that encompasses most of the famous Strzelecki Track. Talc Alf mailman of the track, a contractor for Australian Post. I first met Alf funnily enough outside the post office in Woop Woop a year ago. I had read and heard about him, he was after all and outback icon. He was admiring my Defender 110 TD5. He told me that he had tendered a bid to do the mail run up the Strez and was after a suitable and reliable workhorse. Yes, yes I’ve heard all your jokes about Land Rover reliability but a 110 is what Talc eventually purchased and so far (touch wood, cross fingers, hop on one leg) the mail has always got through.
Alf or Talc Alf as he is known is famous for the fine sculptures that he carves from Talc rock and his slant on the development of the alphabet. Also his design for a replacement Aussie flag should Australia ever become a Republic. He’s slightly eccentric but aren’t all great artists? It’s quite obvious after shaking hands with Alf just what rock he carves with as his hands are as soft as a babies bottom!
Alf’s contract with Australia Post stipulates that he delivers the mail twice weekly to stations about halfway along the length of the Strzelecki Track as far as Murnpeowie. Beyond here the mail is delivered by the flying postman. But hang on a minute! Alf in a Td5 engine Land Rover bombing along a corrugated dusty unsealed track has known at times to become airborne, albeit all too briefly but airborne none the less!
In case of illness Alf needs a couple of relief drivers and so he asked me. I nearly snapped his hand off! What an experience it would be, stories to write, photo’s to take, tourist pay a fortune for this!
My induction day with Alf begins by picking up the sorted mail from Woop Woop post office and calling into the local store to see if any of the station families had ordered any groceries. Next stop Copley. Calling in at the Packsaddle for any parcels, stockfeed and at Cooke’s garage for spare parts.
36km up the road once past Lyndhurst, Alf’s town, the tarmac ends and the Strez begins. We call in at the Roadhouse which is also the post office and general store. The mail is sorted into bags for each station. Alf drops off any mail for the Elsewhere hotel in Lyndhurst and picks up any slabs of beer that may have been ordered by thirsty station hands or shearers. All these little extras are above and beyond the call of duty, a “Gratis” part of the service that Alf provides, such is his friendly nature. So too is the newspaper delivery service he provides for the owner of the roadhouse in Lyndhurst and to Larry the grader driver somewhere out on the track. Just head towards the cloud of dust, flash lights and beep the horn like mad!. Talc only gets paid for delivering the mail; it’s outback mateship at its best. A favour for a favour looking after ones mate and neighbour. Sadly all too rare these days especially in the greet, cut and thrust world of metropolitan living.
Finally we head off up the track a round trip of 459km. I notice that the local Roo shooter is transferring his kill to a refrigerated truck for transportation to the city abattoirs far to the south.
Outback living, it’s a different world. By days end I will have great satisfaction knowing that I have done a good day’s work providing a vital service to those lonely families that live along the track at Mount Lyndhurst, Mount Freeling and Murnpeowie stations.
What an office Talc Alf has! Bright clear blue skies, wide open spaces, beautiful scenery. Crossing dry creek beds, Emus running alongside the truck. Wedge tailed Eagles soar above, Galah’s cockies, the odd road train. Fantastic, instant stress relief no prescription required. “Alf do I really get paid for this? Surely I should be paying you.”
FOREVER WARMING THE BENCH
Now I know what it must feel like to be forever on the subs bench for Leicester City. A year has passed since my induction. But finally Alf has given me the call to go solo on the track? He’s had to go to Adelaide for family reasons. Would I be able to cover for him? Is the Pope a catholic?
I had a great time. I took longer that Alf but then I did stop quite a bit to take photo’s take in the scenery, savour the experience, morning tea in a creek bed, you know how it is.
People must have thought that we were mad, giving up our jobs in the city. I used to work with stars you know. Nothing quite beats this.
Roll up Roll up, Outback mail tours this way only $120 a head. Billy tea and Damper all provided. The experience of a lifetime. Shake, rattle and roll along 459km of dusty outback track in a Land Rover Defender.
Land Rover reliability!! The stuff of legends. C’mon teedeefive, the mail must get through and it does!!
Quite appropriate really! The 50th post in the series and the very first Land Rover that we purchased in 1998 the year of Land Rovers 50th anniversary.
But the less said about our Freelander the better. Although it did take us to the lands that lay far beyond the Westfield car parks and the beaches. Alas though, fault after fault and many battles with Land Rover later what did we do? Buy a Toyota? Buy a Nissan? No we took the only option available to us. We purchased a proper Land Rover.
But back in 1998….
As far as I was concerned cars had always been just a means of getting from A to B, so it’s hardly surprising that I had never been to a Motorshow before. But when I was offered through work, two free tickets to attend the 1998 show in Sydney, I thought well why not, it will make a nice change, a cheap day out!
I’d heard the stories of how people get totally carried away by the glamour of the show and end up buying a new car that they do not really need or more importantly can’t afford. Half naked models spread over the bonnet of a Ford Capri! “You know that you want me” Yes I can see just how easily it would be, but willpower that’s what’s required, a level head and plenty of willpower.
Ho-hum yep that’s a car, oh look there’s another one. Everything was fine until I came across the Land Rover stand with it’s huge green and gold oval lit neon. It was Rule Britannia with a slight German accent. Deep down something from within was stirring my Pommy heritage, small at first but growing bigger by the minute.
It was love at first sight from the moment that I first lay eyes on her, there she sat shiny and alluring, she smelt nice. The new Land Rover Freelander, I just knew that I had to have one. I had all the symptoms commonly known as “Motorshow disease”
The rest as they say is history