It’s Saturday, 7 a.m., which means that it’s time to start the car, leave the house and head towards (and beyond) more black stumps on my Australian map. Winter starts in just a few days, so I might as well spend these days travelling to the regions where summer never really ends.
The sunrise that follows has some spectacular cloud formations, and I make sure to capture them all while I can. The blessing and the curse of landscape photography: you can have the most beautiful scene in front of you, but you have no control over it whatsoever, and if the clouds or the light change, they change for good. If a sunrise is bad, you can't do anything about it; but if it's good, you're the luckiest person on Earth. Like right now, for instance.
In the morning I take another detour from the Track and venture out into the Painted Desert. The name alone is worth a try, right? It looks pretty bleak most of the way, but as I approach the Arckaringa Station, I can clearly see how the region got its name.
Did you know that Anna Creek Station, the largest of its kind in Australia, is bigger than Israel? Just think about it. An area of land as big as a country, just for your cows. You have probably never even seen a lot of your own property in person. Hell, there are probably places that no one has ever seen so far, except for your cows. And maybe not even them. That's Australian outback for you.
It was quite interesting to see how this particular piece of Australia can be so different from the mainland, and I’m not talking just about scenery and wildlife. Small things here and there stand out and create a very unique experience. For example, I’ve never seen poplar trees lining the roads anywhere in Australia before. Or so many timber forest reserves, for that matter. They also love the “JCN” abbreviation on the road signs there (meaning “junction”). They don’t however, like to put up too many speed limit signs, and as you return to the main road you have no idea whether it’s a 80 or a 100 zone. An extra $12 for the vehicle in national parks wasn’t a particularly great surprise either.
There are two options for me when I disembark the ferry and enter Melbourne at 7:15 in the morning. Should I take a good look at the Great Ocean Road and the Otways National Park, spend another night on the road, and get back home tomorrow? Or ignore the Otways for now and do the GOR and get back to Adelaide in one go? I decide to pick the latter. No doubt that the Otways are spectacularly beautiful, but from what I know, these rainforests look a lot like Tasmania’s; and besides, I really could use a calm day off at home before going back to work on Monday.
The morning is quite sunny, but by the time I get to the Freycinet National Park the sky is overcast again. Erratic Tassie weather doesn’t work in my favour this time. Luckily, there’s no rain, and nothing stops me from taking a hike towards the Wineglass Bay lookout. It doesn’t look impressive at this weather, but what can you do?
Having deflated the tyres in the morning just for good measure, I retrace my steps back across that nameless 4WD track; and, of course, take two is a lot less scary than take one. Valuable lessons learned, though (never trust Google!), and some four-wheel driving skills gained, and not even a single busted tyre for it. Could be worse. Could be much worse.