My challenge was to hitch-hick from Adelaide to Alice Springs. A simple idea with a little bit of fortune.
For me, Northern Territory meant this…
And Alice Springs, a red rock…
I have learnt on Wikipedia that Northern Territory is 2.5 times bigger than France with only 230,000 people… not enough to be officially an Australian state. With 27,000 people, 18% of Aboriginals, Alice Springs, is the second city of the territory and the Australian geographic center. The big red rock that I doubt I will see is Uluru, 500km and 300$ from Alice. I’ve also learnt the following:
Darwin has per capita the highest crime rate of any Australian city, while Alice Springs has the second highest crime rate of any Australian city (and the highest murder rate)…Crime is a significant social issue in Alice Springs. The main source of crime is Alice Spring’s large unemployed population of Aboriginal residents, who live in camps throughout the town, and in camps nearby… Source.
Spend several days in Alice Springs, you will not forget it…
However, before Northern Territory stands South Australia. A real state, 2 times bigger than France, 1,644,000 people, most of them in Adelaide, the capital. A road, the Stuart Highway, goes through the land on 1500km to Alice Springs and 1500km again after to Darwin.
To have a good luck to hitch-hick, I took the bus to Port-Augusta, the door of the Stuart Highway. The plan was to wait in a Truck Station and to try one’s luck with the truck drivers. In Port-Augusta, I learnt the truck station was 8km behind me… Anyway, I was close a great place to hitch-hick.
The following morning, I waked up at 6.30am, to be in place at 7.30, shaven, cleaned, training to portray a positive image with my hat and my panel, made with love the evening before. I counted about ten cars and few trucks in one hour. At 8.30am, an huge truck, cattle carrier, stop. Pure luck !!! I read on the Internet that the truckies never stopped to take hitchhickers. I hike the cabin and meet Rian, a 30 years old trucker going to the North to get his cargo. I’m a child in a mythic truck, on a mythic highway. He wants to know what music I hear. I planed it. My mp3 is full of Creedance, Led Zep, Deep Purple, Gallagher, Ten Years After, ACDC and John Butler Trio discovered earlier. He approves and lunch a cd of crappy Techno… Anyway, the context is amazing. He picks me up on 530km to Coober Pedy.
Only 10km after Port-Augusta and during all the road, we’re in the landscape that I hoped to find there. It’s red, dry, flat, the road to the horizon, some hills who come out from nowhere, some salt lakes as far as the eyes can see, some mirages, who deceive the look, as we were surrounded by water. I enjoy the landscape from the cabin of the truck and I talk about this and that with Rian. 170Km to Pimba, the first gas station, 110km to the next one and 250km to Coober Pedy. Between, it’s just the big nothingness of the Australian Outback, the GAFA, the Great Australian Fuck All. Even if there is nobody, the Telstra 3G cover is excellent to the halfway.
Six hours after Port-Augusta, we’re in Coober Pedy. I leave Rian at the entry of the mining city of 2000 people in the desert. Everywhere around, the famous landscape of opal mines, as if the place was victim of bombing, thousands heaps of rubble, already 40km before Coober Pedy. I’ve to walk one or two kilometers to the hostel, dripping with sweat, some flies in my nose and my ears in the same setting of Madmax. There’re a lot of Aboriginal people here and they seem poorer than the average, who doesn’t seem rich either. It looks like if most of them followed a dream to Coober Pedy before to become prisonner of that life, locked in some underground or sheet metal houses. This place is famous for that. Many people live underground, in old mines. That’s the case of the hostel. After a pizza on the top of an hill watching the sunset on the outback, I’ve slept underground.
The following day, same hour, same organisation, 30min of walking to a new panel at the exit of Coober Pedy. Ten minutes after, an Aboriginal guy, Peter, pick me up on 150km to the next gas station. He”s really cool. We go in an Aboriginal cattle station with together, just the time to take some stuff and to see my first Dingo. After a coffee with him at the gas station, another guy, an old bushman pick me up on 530km to the YHA hostel in Alice Springs. I don’t understand anything but he’s a good guy. I think he doesn’t hear anything, so he can’t understand me either… The road is so long to Alice Springs, so boring… But I am in Alice now, and I am glad to did that.
The next step, on Friday, is the Waite River Station, a cattle station nowhere 200km North-East of Alice Springs. I came in Alice Springs to do that, to live an outback experience with Aussie cowboys. I can’t wait to be over there. See you