I’m on the way to the Australian ‘outback’. Well actually I’m not on my way, I’m almost there. I’m writing this from a small country town called ‘Hay’ 750kms West of Sydney. I’ve just driven over what’s known as the ‘Hay Plains’ and I’ve never seen flatter terrain in my life. The sky is endless as the giant expanse of blue domes over you before ending so cleanly and beautifully at a horizon so perfect and straight you’d think it’s was taken from a sketch drawn by a child with little understanding of what normally constitutes geography. I drove as the sun literally dropped off the crisp razor edge horizon in an abrupt glory of gold and orange giving me everything it had before finally setting.
The Outback is really an unknown. A term derived, I think, from the fact that as Australian’s, we like to face the ocean. So whether you’re on the east or the west coast… The vast, desolate and arid desert expanse in the middle of Australia we call the Outback is “out back” because it’s over our back and out that direction. You hear stories of naïve backpackers who, not understanding the sheer scale of the outback, hire some shitty van from Kings Cross in Sydney and decide to drive to the outback in search for the unique isolation and expanse of sky that only such an area can fulfil, only to break down on a dusty dirt track that has no respect for such vehicles or un-prepared tourists with idealistic notions of the desert. They finally respect the outback for its unforgiving ruthlessness just before they die on the side of the road, their body discovered weeks later.
Anyway that’s all a bit depressing, but the point is everyone, Australians and tourists alike have a fascination towards the outback… It’s as if you can hear it calling you as you sit in your inner city coastal apartment… Whispering promises of dramatic landscapes, stars like you’ve never seen and deafening silence.
I’ve flown over Australia many times on the way to Singapore and Asia and stared curiously out the window from 35000 feet at the deep red landscape below, dissected like giant puzzle pieces by vein-like orange dirt roads that seem to connect various places of no significance… of nothingness… It’s as if the puzzle itself has been flipped upside down by an angry child and the picture in-fact lies on the underside. We see only the deep red backing… What is the picture on the other side?… No body knows except maybe the indigenous aboriginals who lived and thrived there for years as if the land itself was alive.
So I’m ready… I have water, extra fuel a uhf radio, gps and a strong sense of adventure… tomorrow I drop off the known.