Were we in for a shock or what?!
Karijini had left us breathless and needless to say, our expectations had risen about what was to come next. All the reason why dirty-dump-bum-hole-nowhere, or more commonly known as Port Hedland, was a big disappointing slap in the face.
Port Hedland is a very small port/mining town, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. And well, that’s all there is to say about it really. The fact that it was a Sunday and everything was closed for this day, probably didn’t help much towards our opinion of this little place either. Driving around we did find a 24/7 (?) McDonald’s and a deserted but functioning Coles. How deserted? Well, the guys had a full on thong-fight: running around barefoot, throwing their thongs over the aisles trying to hit each other. Then deciding that using the deodorant-cans was more effective in making everyone smell like Britney Spears. After that they got thirsty and they downed a Fanta each before putting the empty bottles back on the shelves. Aahh.. well done guys… Mark: “Only in Port Hedland can you leave Coles re-hydrated and smell like a woman! Fuck yeah , Australia! Whoo!” *Air-punch.
We needed a plan. Nobody felt anything much for staying here, but it was getting rather late and even though Britney Spears deodorant smells awesome, we were still smelly and covered in bush/pindan/camping black dirt. Another nearby camp-site provided us with our necessary shower needs and we met up at the servo next door to discuss the next step. What was it going to be? Stay and leave early? Or drive on to the next town; Broome… 600 km’s up the road.
Up here, wet season was starting to get noticeable. Although it was the end of the season, it didn’t stop the ridiculous humidity and heat increasing by every km. The non-air-conditioned drives had gotten pretty tough. The nights’ cool breeze would give us a break from the sweating-fest. Night drive it is, red-bulls got knocked back and off we went.
The Great Northern Highway is long and straight.. very straight. No roadhouses or anything else for the whole drive. There was an 80 mile beach was on our left but we couldn’t see a thing because of the darkness, the only thing that truly stood out was the amazing lightning storm in the distance. Perfect wet-season weather. To keep ourselves awake and kill time, we started singing. The guys started banging on the roof for a bass and the singing soon turned into some jungle tune/monkey screeches.. oh well, whatever keeps you awake:)
After a while it was Dick’s turn to get some sleep in the back before he took his turn driving. No problem. But there is a slight offside to being stuck together in a van 24/7 all the time. There comes a time where burps or farts can’t be hidden any more, if you gotta go, you gotta go, there is no point in trying to keep it in. Especially if you have another 500 km’s to go. So the time also came for Dick to drop his guts. You know… all good, just keep your head close to the rolled down window. But then again, and again! Until it became a every two minute fart and not just the average smelly kind, but the silent ones, the kind that burns your nostrils and stays hanging around you. Every few minutes the silence got disturbed. Ben: “AAaahhwww!!!!! Dude what Did you eat!?” Mark:”Shhhhitt, even sticking your head outside of the window doesn’t help!”……. ” Are you Serious! You’re going to make me pass out and hit something!” Dick: “Hey I can’t help it, I have a really bad stomach ache.” The thing was, the smell seemed to get worse by the second. To the point where we actually pulled over and forced him to ‘go’. He said he didn’t need to but that he couldn’t stop the farting. This actually went on for almost two hours, it was funny at first but we all just started to get pissed off by the end of it.
A sleeping Dick and a few hours later there was a loud bang and the van skidded off to the side of the road where Mark stopped the van perfectly. “Woah, what was that?” Ben asked worried looking. The tyre had blown. We sort of knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but all was alright because we had a spare tyre attached to the bull-bar. We all got out into the pitch-black night and helped with the jack and getting tools out to remove the tyre. I actually found it a little exciting, stuck in the middle of nowhere, blown tyre - just a little adventure to write home about. Neither of us had ever changed a tyre but everything went smoothly, just had to re-attatch the spare and off we could go. The van was quite old and in bad shape as it was, we were lucky to even get a spare with it when we bought it. So, so lucky.. The tyre did not come off. Didn’t even budge in any way. The screw was stuck and none of us could get it loose. We all took turns in holding the torch while another would bang the tyre with a wrench/crowbar/foot-out-of-frustration to try and get the tyre off! It got to the point where we thought it might be easier to remove the bull-bar too. Yeah the heat was getting to our heads by then.. After two hours of screaming, banging and utter frustration of being stuck without help, it came off!! Ahh! Imagine the clouds parting and a ray of sun shining through. Two hours for a tyre change but we did it! The last few hours were smell and worry free.
Exhaustion had kicked in and the needle was hitting the Empty sign. Battling our way through the last km’s we arrived at the closed Roebuck roadhouse at 5 am. 8 hours of one hell of a drive and out of gas and energy we closed our eyes until we could fuel up.
What’s the moral of the story? None really It is however a part of my story that could not be left out and that made my trip what it was