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    quokka
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Country Retreat - 39. Backpackers go their own way

“We hired a campervan, that one over there, which had broken down. What you call… Roadside Assist came to inspect and send a report to the rental company today. They say the campervan can not be driven any more and needs to be trucked back to Adelaide for repairs. They do not have a replacement available for us, so we are stuck here. We originally planned to drive to Uluru, and Alice Springs, then fly out from there to Darwin or Perth.

Your friends here say you own this vehicle and that you are on your way to Uluru and on to Perth via the Great Central Road… Would you be interested in two more passengers?” the young men - Dieter asked me, and I looked over to Giles and Rebecca who just shrugged their shoulders. “How long before your campervan is trucked back to Adelaide?” I asked, “They say possibly tomorrow lunchtime,” the second man – Bastian replied.

“Let me think about it while we are settling in and having dinner, then we will let you know. OK?” I responded, “Sure, that is all that we ask, that you consider it. We are happy to pay for our share of the costs, and anything else,” Bastian responded, and they wandered off back to their van, which was just five or so sites from ours, as I watched them chatting as they left. “What do you think guys, do you think it is safe for them to join us?” I asked my two good friends, “Well it is your vehicle so really it is up to you, but they seem to be nice guys. I think maybe we should have them over after dinner coffee and chat to get to know them better, and see how that goes,” Rebecca suggested.

“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Giles added before he stood up and grabbed his gear to go and have a shower. After dinner, Deiter and Bastian joined us for coffee and snacks, and we sat in silence for a while. “We need to get some supplies if you allow us to come with you,” Bastian said breaking the silence. “The annex had a tent section, so you guys can camp in there, so all you will need will be an air mattress and a sleeping bag,” I responded, “We have our swags to sleep in, so that is fine with us,” Rebecca added.

“Are you with one of these guys?” Deiter asked Rebecca, “We are best friends that is all, and we are very protective of our friends,” Giless replied, and I nodded my head in agreement, while Rebecca just smiled, “Not interested in any relationship of any kind, so just friends is as far as anything will go,” she announced to our visitors. We listened as the two Swiss lads talked about their adventures in Australia so far, which has mostly been along the East Coast.

During a period of silence, I mentioned that we would be happy for them to join us on our journey across the centre of Australia and that we would cover fuel costs and they would only need to cover camping and food costs that we share, and they will also not be needed to share with the driving, since they are not familiar with rough outback roads, with many hazards on the way, including camels, goats, emues, kangaroos and cattle. The next morning, as we packed up camp, Giles and I put all our swags up on the roof rack to make space for the additional luggage, with the two fridges now in the outside back of the ute, where there are external power sockets, to allow for the extra two passengers we would be carrying.

The two Swiss lads arrived back from their shopping trip in a taxi at about 9 am, and we loaded up their luggage and additional supplies, with Rebecca taking the wheel as we climbed in and set off on our adventure northwards. I estimated that it would take us six days to travel, which is about the same as before, but with additional passengers, it would be a bit of a slower trip, when we hit the gravel roads, as more care had to be taken with the additional weight.

Six hours and over 500 kilometres later, with just two stops to change drivers, have a walk around and have a toilet break, we arrived in the town of Coober Pedy, and we checked into the resort caravan park that is located just off the main highway. While Rebecca headed straight to the bathrooms for a hot shower, the rest of us set up our campsite, where I have a canvas tarpaulin that I set up on the other side of the vehicle, to provide shade for our three swags, while the Swiss lads set up the sleeping area in the awning tent.

Once we were set up, we went for a walk to explore some of the town, which is an amazing place to see. That evening, we used the camp kitchen facilities to cook our dinner that night, so we didn’t have to set up our BBQ or anything like that, which cut down on cleaning up afterwards too. During dinner, we looked at what tomorrow would be like for travelling, which would be a very long day, with 740 kilometres of driving ahead of us, with not much in between. The small town of Marla would be our last town until we arrived at Yulara, with just two roadhouses on the way after Marla, those being Erldunda and Curtin Springs, with the three of us swapping over driving duties at each rest stop.

The only thing that I insisted on during this journey, was that only we Aussies would be driving the vehicle because we all had outback driving experience, and were used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. Rebecca also insisted that when not driving, she would have the front passenger seat, as she was not comfortable with sitting next to the Swiss guys, which Giles and I were totally happy with.

It was after nearly eight hours of driving that we finally arrived at Yulara, having seen Uluru in the distance, as we were approaching the outback tourist town, and we checked into the Ayers Rock Camping Ground, where we had a powered site, which is what we needed to keep my two fridges going. Once we had set up camp, some of us headed to the showers, with either Giles Rebecca or I at the campsite at all times.

Using the camp kitchen, we cooked a delicious meal and chatted about what to expect for the rest of the journey, which we estimated would take us a further three nights to complete to get to Perth. One Night at Warburton after 560 kilometres of driving, another in Laverton after 550 kilometres of driving and a final night at Coolgardie after 400 kilometres, with the last day to Perth being a distance of 530 kilometres, with 1000 kilometres of this to be on gravel roads between Yulara and Laverton.

We were planning to spend the whole of the next day checking out Uluru and the Olgas, before setting off down the Great Central Road the following morning. We decided to check out the Olgas first, since they were the furthest away, with 50 kilometres to the west to go and see them, and we were up early and packed up before having a quick breakfast and setting off. On the way, we had the chance to have the closest look so far at Uluru, which we planned to do later in the day.

When we arrived at the Valley of the Winds, we looked at the information board and decided to give the loop hiking trail a go, which would take us four hours to complete, which was amazing to walk through these amazing valleys of ancient rock formations. Back at the vehicle at the car park, we put together some lunch with the plentiful supplies that we had and relaxed after the long hike that we had completed.

Once lunch was over and we had cleaned up and packed away everything, we headed back towards Yulara, but at the T-junction, we turned right towards Uluru, and we stopped on reaching the Culture Centre to check out all the information and view some stunning indigenous artwork.

When we saw information about cycling around the base of Uluru, it didn’t take long for all of us to agree to go ahead with this, so we rented a mountain bike each and started the estimated three-hour tour of the base of Uluru. When we arrived back at the Culture Centre, it was getting fairly late in the afternoon, and we decided to use the picnic facilities to have dinner there, so we could watch the sunset afterwards, and what a sunset it was.

Truly amazing to watch, we headed back to Yulara, to set up camp once more and to settle down for a good night's rest as we started the next part of our journey towards Western Australia first thing in the morning. When we woke up the next morning, we found our Swiss travellers had already packed up their part of the camp, along with their large backpacks, and sleeping gear.

I looked at Giles and Rebecca wondering what was happening, and they both just shrugged their shoulders. “We want to thank you for bringing us here to Uluru, it has been a wonderful experience…” Deiter started, “But we have decided to continue to Darwin, instead of travelling with you to Perth via the Great Central Road. We have managed to get tickets for a coach to take us to Alice Springs, leaving at 12.30 this afternoon, so once again, thank you very much for coming to our rescue back in Port Augustus,” Bastian added, as they picked up their luggage and started to walk away, leaving us a little stunned.

“Ok, I guess it is just us for the rest of the trip, which I am happy with,” Rebecca eventually said to break the silence between us, “Yes, and not so damn crowded in the vehicle either, which is great,” Giles added, which made me chuckle. “Very true my friends and it will be good for just us to worry about and not them as well,” I added, as we packed up our campsite, and did a bit of shuffling around of gear, since we no longer have two extra passengers, so the drinks fridge could be inside again.

As we made our way down Yulara Drive, past the first resort, we saw the sign for an IGA supermarket and I turned in, last chance to stock up until we get to civilisation on the other side of the border,” I commented, so we parked and headed into the supermarket, grabbing a basket each and we wandered around discussing what we needed for the three-night and four-day journey to Perth.

As we were shopping, Rebecca received a text message but she didn’t share who it was from or what it was about, so I just kept on shopping, as she appeared to be sending a reply, while Giles and I were discussing what to buy for the rest of the trip. “Err, guys. I just wanted to let you know that I have had a message from Hugh. He said that you know who is out of his coma, and that it is not as bad as the doctors expected,” Rebecca announced, watching me very carefully. “As much as I wish it never happened, I guess I can accept his earlier apology, but make him clear on this, it is going to take me a long time to get over what he did to me, so he is not to expect me to be friends for a long time,” I said.

Copyright March 2024 All Rights are Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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42 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

I'm glad Ritzen, isn't as bad as first suspected. At least Oscar forgives Hugh, even if they can't be friends anymore.

Dieter and Bastian just needed a ride as there camper had broken down.

Just to clarify - it is Rizen who cant be friend anymore, Hugh was just the messenger.

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3 minutes ago, quokka said:

Just to clarify - it is Rizen who cant be friend anymore, Hugh was just the messenger.

Yeah, I realized that after I posted my comment.

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It’s interesting that the guys they helped out seemingly just abandoned the trip, but maybe sitting in the back cramped up for the long rough trip was not what they wanted to do any longer.

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