Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, March 15, 2014


We woke up and immediately, after our morning tea, took to the motorway. Not a highway in the American sense. More like a two lane, paved road that will do as a motorway. Deep inside Australia not all roads are paved. I almost believe that only motorways are paved. The signage is pretty good, we aimed for Goondiwindi, then Moree and then the town of Walgett. Walgett is in fat print on the map, so we thought of a large town. Turns out it is a town with a Main street about 3 blocks long and that is it. Only two restaurants were open. The motels were ? We took the one that looked best for us. The whole town had an unwritten sign, an aura, about itself that read " do not go out at night". I listen to those feelings. Especially after we had dinner at the local RSL club. The clients there were especially far out. Let me explain this a little.
I am a dreamer, I do believe that most people are nice. I can talk and adjust to about anybody I meet. Yet sometimes I get this feeling that, no matter how I adjust, the other party will not, will never, will always be "not with the program". I don't know if it is their education level, their upbringing, their outlook on life, their personal space or behavior, we just don't click. Well, Walgett was full of people like that. Not unique to Australia, I have had this feeling in every continent I have been on. What I normally do is lay low and get out of town as quickly as I can. Walgett was one of those towns.
We stopped in Walgett for the night, just 100 km short of Lighning Ridge, because it was near dusk. Driving near or in the dark is a no-no for me. Not only do I not know the roads, the lay of the land, the peculiarities of each country, I also saw evidence of road kill, I mean a lot of road kill, on the side odd the road. The smell, too, of the bloated, decomposing carcasses permeated my nose most of the day. Most victims of the collisions with vehicles were kangaroos. Literally, Carol and I saw hundreds strewn on the road and at the side of the road. It does break my heart to see all the mangled bodies of the Roos while driving. Most of these collisions are at dusk or at night. So any town that has a motel is welcome, even a town like Walgett.
The speed limit is strictly enforced in Australia, even with speed cameras in rural areas. 100 km/hour (60mph) is the norm, yes they allow 110 sometimes, but only in wide open spaces with no traffic. I saw the police pull cars over in spots where you would never expect police to be. There just is no speeding in Australia. The speed limit is strictly adhered to. The fines are huge and expensive. The police have the power in certain instances to take your car away and for very young drivers that do not want to listen, their car can be confiscated and crushed. Yes, crushed. If you have a car loan, too bad. Your car was just crushed.
How can one avoid the collisions between Roos and vehicles? Deer whistles do not help here. Nobody knows, nobody has a good answer. Prohibiting night driving is not practical in today's age. The big trucks, most are long, double trailer semis, have protective bars installed to prevent damage to the grill and hood of their cabs from the Roos. It is a conundrum.
Oh, RSL stands for Returned from Service League. It is the Australian version of a club for soldiers or personal returning from the military. These clubs in Australia sometimes have bars, restaurants and/or casinos attached to them. They are reasonably priced and the food is similar to home cooked meals. Not a bargain, but good food, cheap beer and I just like the idea of supporting the members by spending my money there.
We left Walgett early, everybody was still asleep when we drove out of town. When I told people in Lightning Ridge that we spent the night in Walgett they looked at me in a strange way. One young fellow said: "you would never get me to go to Walgett, those people are strange". My sentiments indeed.

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