Thursday, February 3, 2011
Survival of the Hitchhiker : 17 Rides to [R]adelaide
From Warpole I hopped in with Tina  a mother of three on her way to see the principal at her daughter’s school in Denmark (The town, not the country).
Seconds later John  pulled up. The 73 year old’s mullet suggested he may have been a psycho killer – but the 2 toddlers in the back seat seemed to suggest that he was more the human trafficking kind. I was okay with that. John had just left his 24 year old [third] wife in Thailand and was obviously living out of the car whilst getting settled back into “the real world.” I’m unsure if he remembered that the tarred road was where most of the driving was meant to occur – but fortunately the road shoulder didn’t kill us. He gave me a tour of Albany before taking me to an Albanian hostel where they give you free luminous green cake and breaky.
Saturday greeted me with rain – lots of it. Fortunately I stopped to ask the direction to the highway because Ron  offered me a ride out of town – it was a good 8km...
As I prepared my “Towards Esperance” sign a car pulled up. I should have noticed the alcohol straight away and probably should have waved them off – but I hopped in with Marti and Chook  who had just finished an all-nighter and were still drinking. They took me as far as the fork in the highway and offered me a cash “job”... I opted out and walked a bit for obvious reasons.
Spencer , a uni student, was on his way to his parents farm and dropped me off at Manypeaks where I did not see many peaks or rides or anything much. Several local famers pulled in for a friendly chat – but rides were looking scarce.
Some boys pulled in to ask directions to a campsite. They returned 20 minutes later to tell me they’d given up finding it and may as well just go all the way to Esperance – now to find some space in their car... While they rearranged an insane amount of luggage, a bus pulled in and Ian and his son Lachlin  smiled kindly and said “Esperance? Why not?” So I waved the other boys farewell and clambered aboard. The 6 hour drive flew past as the Scotsman told me life tales of his 18 years in Australia and the future rock star son (look out for “Sympathy for Tiffany”) discussed music. And if the ride wasn’t enough – they let me crash in their school bus for the night and proceeded to feed me bacon and eggs in the morning. I think I may well be God’s favourite!
Ian's good friend Sussie  who had the most charming smile and incredible life story gave me the loveliest tour of the picturesque town on Sunday before driving me to the Norseman road and giving me the massivest hug goodbye. I needed the hug!
The whole of the Esperance golf course looked on and laughed as I patiently thumbed on the side of the road. Derrek  pulled up. When he found out I was headed for Adelaide he made it very clear that under no circumstances was I to attempt to walk across the Nullarbour. I laughed – but he was serious. He didn’t let me out of the car until he was certain I understood that trying to walk the 2000 odd km desert would be foolish.
A word on long distance truck riding. Choose carefully! Even if you have limited options! Hitching in Aus is nothing like Africa – there is only one passenger seat and health and safety prohibits the 1678 other passangers you would find cramped on the truck bunk in any other country. In fact, many of the trucks only come with one bed. You don’t want to have to share that bed with the truckie... Again my luck was impeccable – not only did I get a really wonderful, kind hearted trucker, but I got a whole container to spread myself in and make my bed which was amazing because the 54 degree temperatures the next day bought stretched our trip over two nights.