If down south, in Walpole, I could see my breath in the morning, and if in Geraldton it was around 18° at this time of day, then here it's already 27°. We move closer and closer to the northern heat with every kilometre. As the dawn breaks, the sandflies awaken too and begin to buzz annoyingly next to our faces. Are they really trying to bite us, or they just do it for fun? Avoiding them as much as we can, we have a quick breakfast, jump into the car and drive away.
The night is warm and quiet, and the sleep is great; when we wake up, we are greeted by numerous birds in the aviary nearby: just a patch of grass surrounded by a mesh fence with perches and troughs, a perfect place for dozens of parrots, canaries and other colourful creatures. After having our breakfast and packing up our camp (feels a bit odd when two people now do it instead of just one), we take off.
In the morning Alen feels much better and says that he's ready to go. During a brief visit to the dentist we find out that nothing serious has happened with his tooth, and that it will get well on its own. Nothing to stop us anymore, then.
From Walpole, I finally begin my way up north. The morning highway leads me through the dense gum forest, where I overtake the lumber trucks every now and again. The road dips, rises and turns left and right constantly. The thick forest is full of pockets of warm and cool air; the windshield gets misty all the time, and you can never tell whether it's from the outside or the inside. Never saw that before. Go and try to see something on the road while you're negotiating a sharp bend and the morning sun hits your eyes, and the next second the windshield is so misty that you can't see a thing, and you don't even know what to turn on to clean it: the wipers, or the air con! Very unnerving. But the road is very beautiful nonetheless.
An unpleasant surprise in the morning: drizzling rain, which appears to have started during the night. Things left outside are completely wet, of course, but I'm only worried about the cooker. Just in case I evacuate it inside the tent and dry it carefully with a towel. Due to bad weather, I decide to skip the hot breakfast, and after a few snacks I start to pack up under the drizzle. Not a very exciting procedure, but what can you do.
I slept wonderfully. However, the warm and windless night resulted in thick dew all over the tent. I have to wrap it wet, and after that my hands are all covered in red sand. Still, I'm quite happy and excited. Even despite these little shortcomings and occasional panic attacks, it's still very beautiful around, and my journey is going exactly as planned.
Sleeping amongst the dunes turned out to be a lousy idea. It's quite chilly, and the moisture gets condensed on the inner walls of the tent; with each gust of the cold wind the tent shakes, and the water drips on my face. Once again I wake up before dawn and spend the rest of the night sitting in the car and shaking in cold. No more camping next to the sea!
I went to sleep quite early yesterday, so I wake up at 4 a.m., no less. After having my breakfast (instant noodles) I decide, for the lack of anything else to do, to pack up my camp, but the decision proves to be wrong. Too dark yet, and too cold, and the light of the torch attracts too many moths. Humans weren't meant to be nocturnal, after all. It's not very pleasant to realize that in the darkness that surrounds you there can be anything at all, and that all your observable Universe is limited by the circle of the pale light from your torch.
At 6:20 am I drive out of my garage in Elizabeth Park. The sun is not fully up yet, but I'm not sleepy at all. Finally! My journey is happening at last! The familiar suburbs roll past my window, changed by the suburbs not too familiar; then it's only farms and greenhouses; and then it's finally Port Wakefield Road, the first country road of my journey. Port Wakefield, a small coastal town, is soon left behind as well, and now I'm on Stuart Highway. This highway stretches all the way from Adelaide to Darwin, but Darwin is the place that I'm aiming for just yet.
A car trip around Australia? I can't remember how exactly I came up up with this particular idea, but it's very easy to find out when it happened: August 2015. According to Google Docs, this was exactly when I had created a spreadsheet where I began to outline the itinerary in full detail. Soon it became clear that a month would be more than enough to achieve this. The question was: when?