The phone rings red hot when I get back into reception. All my surrogate families calling up to see how I am, and what I have been up to. The unexpected response of ‘Oh I have been hitch hiking my way around the country,’ is closely followed by a loud “WHAT! There’s no doubt about ya Alice."
But knowing that I am more than capable of looking after myself and not putting myself in bad situations I get right to the highlights of my travels.
Well I said, I have been swagging it on the back of a truck, bouncing down some dirt roads that you would swear had not had a car on them for years because the corregations were big enough that I had to stop and tighten my bra straps to prevent well you know what!
But the scenery and the wild life and the laughs, oh the laughs will be mused over for years.
I set off from Perth with Steve Grahame. The lead up to the leaving, I had anticipated, but when you find yourself in the situation, it doesn’t matter how much you have prepared for it, it’s still hard. You could have cut the air with a knife the two days before we were due to head off. Steve was stressed and things were not going right.
And here was me, knowing space was tight but wanting to take everything but the kitchen sink, as all photographers would understand!
My clothes, swag, camera bag, drone, ladder and supplies to eat. Oh and let’s not forget the beer. Funny thing is we had a bit of a disagreement over whether the drone could fit in the truck or not, but not the beer. Talk about men’s priorities!
You could tell Steve was unsure about me. ‘I know you media people, you say you can hack the bush, but it’s amazing how far you will drive to get to a road house to stay the night and get a shower.’
To which I responded, ‘Steve do you remember how long I spent out in the bush to do The Drover book?’
The first day was all on bitumen and nothing exciting happened. In fact I managed to close my eyes for a fair part of it and catch up on some sleep.
I got to know Steve as we exchanged stories and I asked lots of questions about his trucking career. The highs and lows and how he got to where he is today.
All these great details you will have to wait to read about in the new book!
I decided he was a pretty knowledgeable kind of chap and so I let him in on my developing oyster venture. Well this was the worst thing I could have done. He took my idea and blew it way out of proportion! Always trying to make a buck these truck drivers are!
I will elaborate on my oyster venture when I have some photos for you! But let’s just say, I am going to take the pearl industry to a whole new level!
The second day when we hit the dirt is where all the action started.
A mob of camels burnt a hole in Steve Grahame’s wallet one night when he had to jump on the brake.
Lamb steak, mixed veg and fried spud with mushroom sauce was on the menu. The following night we had Italian for dinner. This consisted of steak, mixed veg from a can, champagne mushrooms from the can, baby potatoes…..from a can and the Italian part….. tomato paste, from a can! And a touch of sweet chilli sauce. All brewed in the same frying pan.
"The bit that's hard to get is that coating of fine flouring of red dust on the steak. But tonight I think we might achieve it. No need for sauce” said Steve as his empty beer can flew off the trailer in the wind.
We ate dinner at the ‘board room table’. Steve at one end of the bull bar and me at the other.
The open sky was so big out there and I made a couple of wishes on some shooting stars that were buzzing around. Steve showed me the ‘bird in the sky’ which was pretty hard to see but I did manage to make a bit of an image in my head. Note to readers: Don’t bother looking for it, you will think I am mad! But it is there, I promise! I will try and take a photo of it one day.
The next day the things I had wished for from my shooting stars, came true! I got camels, wild horses, truck action, dropping dust, and the iconic Uluru or Ayers Rock as some may know it by.
We made it into Alice Springs at midnight and I had instructions that there was a spare donga for me, the one with the stool out front of the door. Weary eyed, I grabbed my swag and made for bed. The air con was on and there was a note on the table. The photo says it all! These truck people look after me well!
Just in case you can't read it on your computer the note says; 'Hi Pickle, Tea & coffee and some food in the fridge & snacks & beer. Noodle. Have a shower but lock the door! Sweet dreams'
I was woken by the sound of baby elephants crashing around in the foyer. I swear I had only just got to sleep and I was being woken again. But the day was starting and I had trucks to photograph.