Seeing the “Outback”
I read the last of Down under by Bill Bryson yesterday and he was in the outback for the last part of it. He’s right. There isn’t much out there. Broken Hill seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Looking at the map planning the drive, I saw a towns regularly scattered along the road into and out of Broken Hill. The map doesn’t let on how big these towns are. They sure aren’t very big. Some of them are a petrol station with a few houses and shops around it but that’s about it.
The road in between the towns has absolutely nothing around it. The pavement is quite good the whole way but it’s definitely not a good place to doze off. The roads are wide enough so going past other vehicles isn’t too bad. You just have to make sure there aren’t any large bumps that will throw you towards the other lane. Going past the large semi’s that also run these roads is another story. They are only semi’s with 1 or 2 trailers but the sight of them coming at you at 110 on a narrow road isn’t relaxing. The roads are quite dusty and you are showered with dust and small rocks when you drive past them. I haven’t seen an actual long road train yet which actually require you to get off the road as they pass, but some of the semi’s I’ve seen so far have had a road train sign on them.
The town is like most other small towns with a McDonalds, malls, petrol stations and school. It just feels different because it’s hundreds of kilometers from any city of comparable size. It’s not quite the proper outback but it’s pretty close, as close as I’m going to get to the crazy heat and unending nothingness of the middle of Australia.