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Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, Day 19

The weather in Australia has turned cooler again, and we’re set to start hunting down some more meteorites. To give you a taster of what that’s like, here’s some more of Luke’s blog from a recent trip … (the story started with On the Road Again)

That’s it then. Realisation dawned like the rising sun, we had failed. Well, not entirely. We had fought against the weather, found all the places the meteorite wasn’t, learnt a hell of a lot about searching out here and what good and bad methods to employ. We didn’t hate each other, despite having been in close proximity and some stormy nights spent literally sleeping on top of each other! The team was still together and morale was high! We had, in short, had an absolute blast. The only thing we had missed was coming back with a nice shiny black rock. The tricky bugger had evaded us. We had been outwitted by an inanimate object.

A beautiful day at the beach ... actually it's a salt lake

A beautiful day at the beach … actually it’s a salt lake

The night before we had packed the cars so it was just a case of roll out of swag, roll swag up and hit the road! Well, the theory was simple. The underneath of the swags had brought up some water to make the soil underneath damp and the swags muddy. And one swag had a scorpion under it and another had a centipede. Those things have a nasty bite but we managed to avoid that. We drove for an hour down to Glendambo  rest stop for brekkie. We decided in the interests of speed to have food on the road. I grabbed two pies – one meat and one banoffee, thank you!

Pie selection

Pie selection

We were returned then to asphalt and we really zipped along. We ploughed through to Port Augusta. Rob lead us to our storage container at Gum Glen and we started unloading all our gear.

Last stretch of dirt road

Last stretch of dirt road

We once again said a big thank you to Dean, who has allowed us use his land as our forward base into the South Australian deserts and store all our gear there. He is such a nice guy. Last time he showed us how to shear a sheep and keep the whole fleece intact! We locked up and left the DFN ute there for the next team and piled into the hire cars. I was banned from anymore driving. Apparently I’ve done too much on this trip. I love driving out here! But anyway, I’m banned. Maybe other people wanted to have a go. I got to relax in the back of a car on the back seat! I haven’t been in one of those for ages. That’s where plebeians and Engel fridges sit isn’t it? The fridge life is good too. You can relax and just watch the world go by whilst making conversation with other passengers. Getting into Adelaide there were suddenly too many other people. It’s amazing how isolation and seeing the same six people for two weeks can make being surrounded by thousands of other humans is quite intimidating.

The forthcoming was a revelation and something I want to make a tradition with the person who is unlucky enough to get landed with me till death do us part. Basically, imagine the sight: we haven’t showered for seven days, we have been in the bush traipsing through deserts getting disgustingly dirty, unloading trucks, covered in red dirt, diesel and sun cream and we have just rocked up at one of the nicest hotels in Adelaide. We look like we took on the apocalypse and lost. And walked into a marble gleaming foyer. This is where you get what you pay for – they didn’t bat an eyelid. They greeted us with courtesy and their faces barely flickered in disgust at the abominations in front of them. We apologised to the valet who had to take the cruiser to some secret carpark for the state his suit was going to be in (just from coming within 5ft of the car let alone getting in and driving it)! They smiled, laughed and joked with us and took our bags (which is a generous description, I mean there were bags in there, but the predominant component was mud and spiky grass).

We got to our room and the challenge was: how orange could we make it? We proceeded to use all of the little bottles! I dived into a glorious shower, chiselled the grime off my face and generally clenned* and then wrapped myself in one of those gowns, silly one-use slippers and about four different sized towels. I drew the line at wrapping my hair up in one. I also realised my beard had actually grown quite a lot … I say beard, I mean more ‘patchy monstrosity with mating hairy caterpillars’. It looked dreadful and I didn’t have a shaver. I suited up and shamed everyone else into doing the same and then went downstairs, transformation complete. This broke the staff. The transformation from ‘something the cat dragged in’ to ‘upstanding members of society dressed for cocktails’ was too much contrast. This is what I want to do more of in the future! Go camping, get hideously dirty, then go to the poshest hotel we can find, worry the staff and then turn it around by going down for dinner in a three-piece suit. It was hilarious! We got down for dinner just in time before it closed.

The team, still smiling at the end of the trip!

The team, still smiling at the end of the trip!

It was a beautiful way to end an amazing couple of weeks of seriously hard graft. The only shame is that now we were clean and wouldn’t be able to shock the passengers on the flight tomorrow with our desert varnish.

*see day 14

Luke’s adventure continues in Luke Crosses the Nullarbor, day 20

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