ARE WE IN THE OUTBACK YET?
by Joe Mehaffey
My wife, Celia and I along with another couple went on a 5 week tour of "Outback Australia". People asked us, "How can you tell
when you are actually "IN the OUTBACK"? Here are some of the answers we have come up with. Keep in mind that NONE of these
tidbits applies EVERYWHERE in the Outback. But EACH ONE applies SOMEWHERE in the Outback. All of us had a wonderful trip as we
traveled along the route Sydney> Canberra> Melbourne> Adeliade> Perth> Geraldon> Port Hedland> Broome> Katherine> Darwin>
Karunda> Alice Springs> Adeliade. We loved the trip, had no problems, the roads were good, (We stuck mostly to "sealed"
[bitumen] roads.), hotels always had a room. In short, we had a GREAT time!
Now to the MEAT.. You know you are in the Australian Outback when:
1) You have to wait until after 9pm at night so the COLD water won't be too hot to bathe in. (Mt Isa)
2) You find out that the water spraying over the pond near the artesian well is to cool it down from 160F so the cows can drink it.
3) Some of the tractor trailer trucks you pass are 160 feet long and have three trailers in tandem (road trains).
4) You are thrilled when you go out at 7AM and find the temperature only 33C (90F) so far.
5) Stores offer insect repellent as "impulse items" beside the cash register.
6) The petrol stations are 150 miles apart.
7) You notice sweat running down your legs but in the next breath comment on how comfortable it is today.
8) You look forward to the availability of the NEXT 3 STAR motel.
9) You carry your own jar of instant Lipton's Iced Tea (with lemon) into the restaurant for dinner.
10) You find that you can routinely see 3km or more down the perfectly straight road when you get ready to pass a road train truck with 3 or 4 trailers.
11) You can drive on the main highway in Western Australia (and the ONLY paved highway) for the region and pass just 5 vehicles an hour
coming in the opposite direction.
12) You stop on the side of the road, and any driver coming along stops and asks if you need help.
13) The anthills on the side of the road are taller than you are.
14) Farms along the highway are often larger than Rhode Island.
15) Your Hertz rental station wagon is the only 2 wheel drive vehicle in a parking lot. (And the others all have "Roo Bars" and snorkels.)
16) You are afraid to drive at night because you might hit a kangaroo.
17) Petrol costs 95 cents a LITER and you are DELIGHTED to pay it. (in 1998)
18) The car air conditioner is always on BOOST.
19) You get excited because the sign says "McDonald's - 190km ahead".
20) A heated discussion develops over whether to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the car or to eat at the roadhouse lunch bar, the only restaurant within 300 km.
21) Your wife keeps asking if you checked the oil and water at the last petrol stop.
22) A petrol station with 2 pumps, a one star motel, and a lunch counter is shown on a map of the continent.
23) The nearest telephone is 150km away.
24) You see a bush fire and report it at the next police station and they say, "Burn now, burn later, don't worry about it".
25) They call dust devils "Willie Willies" and you can see 4 or 5 in a day.
26) Getting dressed up to go out to dinner means putting on your socks.
27) One of the questions you ask at the motel desk is: "Do you have evaporative cooling or refrigerated air conditioning?"
28) The lizards you see on the highway are 2 feet long.
29) You notice that the electric power line along the road has only ONE wire.
30) The motel runs its diesel generator all day and all night every day so you will have electricity.
31) The motel has its own water demineralization plant.
32) You wonder why in the world you brought all of those long pants with you.
33) The Flying Doctor Service guarantees they can get you to a hospital in less than 2 hours in case of emergency.
34) The locals advise you to take an HF radio with you to use in case you have an "off the road" emergency and need help.
35) You check your emergency food and water supplies each morning before leaving the motel.
36) You come to know the true meaning of "miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles".
37) You go outside and notice sweat beads rolling down your back and consider it perfectly normal.
38) Most of the wide river beds you see are without water.
39) Road signs say names like "Humpty Doo and Jabiru, next left".
40) Road signs warn of "Kangaroos, next 50km".
41) The TV in the motel has ONE channel and it ISN't CNN.
42) You turn on the car radio and fail to locate ANY station on either the AM or FM dial.
43) You notice that the flies go for the nose first.
44) The girls notice that the lower back half of their hair is soaking wet and they haven't been swimming or showering.
45) You aren't able to wear a t-shirt more than one day.
46) You are pleased to invest $7 in your own personal "face net" to keep the ever present flies at bay along the shore.
47) The water in the swimming pool is warmer than your bath water.
48) The locals all have SNORKELS on their four wheel drive vehicles in case of flooded roads. (And, just as important..
to keep the air intake up out of the dust so you will not have to change your engine air filter daily if you drive on "unsealed"
49) The cockatoos and parrots are flying FREE.
50) You know you can't be lost because there is only one paved road within 250km and you're on it.
51) You realize that the Aussies wear knee length socks in the desert to soak up the sweat and help cool off their legs.
52) The hotel you stop at for the night has a large outdoor swimming pool with 40 tons of refrigeration so the water is
cool enough to swim in. (Mt. Isa)
Whatever it is about the Outback, you know that the beauty, the
harshness and the uniqueness of the Australian Outback are
without comparison and that you will return one day to this
picturesque place. Original written 2/15/98
By Joe Mehaffey, et al