….. and how little did I know!
A half century ago, on Tuesday the of 1st November 1966, I clambered aboard aboard a ’22 wheeler’ in Adelaide, bound for Perth, Western Australia.
Against my better judgement I’d taken up my brothers offer of a ride to the ‘West’ aboard a ‘semi’, I’d turned down a free first class trip on Ansett’s direct flight to Perth, a trip of a few hours, for a road trip across the Nullahbor, which would take….?
It was anybody’s guess how long…The previous day, Monday the 31st October, I’d travelled across to Adelaide from Melbourne by semi, also at my brothers instigation. This map will give you some idea what was in store for me. We were not metric in ’66, that’s 1966 not Route.
Today, one can tavel on sealed road, all the way, from Adelaide to Perth. Fifty years ago?Not on you Nelly! Dirt, gravel and bulldust for mile after endless mile. Once in a while the State would send a grader to give the ‘road’ a bit of a clean up; but obviously it was not on the must do list.
With no thought of it being “Cup Day”, I arrived well before time at the depot, to meet the truckie, who was to have the dubious pleasure, of my company for the next several days; or so it was believed. He wasn’t particularly happy about having a passenger along, but he’d been told he had to take me, like it or not.
I never did know what pull my brother had, obviously he must have some, if not considerable, at that time.
Naturally, I can’t remember this blokes name, so for the sake of this post I’m going to call him Fred; surely you don’t expect me to keep calling this poor, suffering, bloke ‘the driver’ do you?
I’d taken the precaution of buying a reasonable supply of canned food as I had no idea how or when I’d be able to eat. Those were the good ol’ days, when I had a stomach, that needed filling every so often.
We got away late in the morning and Fred warned me not to doze off or go to sleep whilst we were mobile. Apparently, if a passenger on one of these long haul vehicles, does doze off, the driver can easily follow suit. 😳
The going was easy, as we went up South Australia, through Ports Pirie and Augusta; down to Whyalla, then across and up to Ceduna.
I must point out here that Fred knew his way, sort of, from Adelaide to Perth. However, on this occassion, he had to go to Perth via Port Hedland; and he had no idea how to get there! He confided this bit of, not useless, information to me, as we were heading for Ceduna and the Nullahbor at great speed with the suggestion that he thought it might be a good idea if we bought a road map, when we stopped for a break at a roadhouse. I thought it’d be a good idea too.
Obviously Fred had never been in the “Boy Scouts”. Fred also had another good idea, he appointed me navigator. Naturally enough, he would be too busy driving, and I didn’t have much to do except sit there and watch the sand and scrub flash by. I was free loading, so how could I refuse?
It is not my intention to regale you with the full story of my great journey to Perth, it would take too long; just as the journey was. Melbourne, from where I started, to Perth runs 3281 km; not the 4000+ shown in the map above, that route follows the coast.
But going via Port Hedland added an extra 3207 km. A total of 6488km, or 4032 miles, for those who can’t be bothered, or don’t know how to, to do the conversion themselves; and of that there was more than 2000 km of dirt, gravel & bulldust.
My intention of going to West was primarily for a couple of months holiday (vacation) and to suss out the boom that had started.
My first marriage had broken down and ended some two years previous, and I knew that now was the time to go, never thinking for one moment that it would eventually land me up back in the East and marrying again some ten years later.
We left Adelaide on the 1st November 1966, arriving Perth, 2, yes two weeks before Christmas 1966. 8-).
Fifty years ago to the very day!
Not being a photographer, I cheated, and copied and pasted some photographs from Google of scenes across the Nullahbor. As you can see there is one of the road, when it was dirt.