The Australian Outback gets under Peter Robinson’s skin as he reveals the great promise of an outback adventure, how it shapes how Australians view themselves and our psyche.
A day’s drive from any of our mainland capital cities takes us to the edge of the outback.
Two days in, and the vast interior is open for business. For many, there’s a certain sense of exhilaration as the country becomes flatter, towns are spaced further apart, traffic thins to a trifling and the next bend leads to unknown territory.
“… this is the country where the true ANZAC spirit was created, and dwells today. Trust, friendship, mateship, places where everyone is a neighbour and they still don’t bother locking the doors to the ute. Try that in the city. “
Three days in and the loneliness is palpable. Wherever you travel, the once-numerous Cobb & Co coach-staging towns are shuttered and deserted, derelict farm buildings are marked by rusty piles of iron and sunbleached wood, and the roads are littered with roadkill.
But, studded through the dust and scrub, are towns buzzing with vibrant human life – in a unique Australian country manner. You need to experience it for yourselves to know what all the fuss is about.
More than images can convey, the old pioneering quality comes to life in outback towns, where you’re sure of more than a “g’day” or two; this is the country where the true ANZAC spirit was created, and dwells today. Trust, friendship, mateship, places where everyone is a neighbour and they still don’t bother locking the doors to the ute. Try that in the city.
An aspect of travelling in the outback often missed is the chance to see and experience the culture of our Indigenous population. City folk can’t get a finger on the pulse of this issue without firsthand knowledge.
Towns and settlements throughout the vast interior amply display a range of Aboriginal difficulties – and their proud achievements. Years ago, hearing the story of the Lightning Brothers from Aboriginal elder Ronny Smiler in the Northern Territory was a highlight of my trip to the Kimberley.
Another beauty of outback travel, especially in your own 4WD, is the freedom to change route plans, stop for a basking goanna or blue-tongue lizard on the road, drop in for a pie and a friendly chat at any general store and, especially if you’re a guy, view any tree as a potential toilet stop. (Or, for that matter, the middle of the road, since there’s no traffic).
There are kangaroos, emus, parrots, cockatoos, galahs, copperheads, browns, stumpys, shinglebacks, perenties, dingoes and camels. The trick is . . . how to avoid running over them.