Nobody knows where the Outback really starts. It’s just an arid, mostly uninhabited world out there, explained with a shrug of the shoulders and a wave of the arm. Obie Oberholzer went walkabout.
It takes 5 hours and 10 minutes (with a 2-hour time difference) to fly the massive distance from Perth to Cairns. Whenever I peer out of the window at a large chunk of the planet passing beneath us, it looks the same as it did the previous time. My brain is of average size and capabilities, yet it is teetering on the edge of the unexplained, or rather – some exotic disbelief. I am flying across one of the most ancient continents and, except for Antarctica, the driest and most inhospitable. Two oceans and four seas surround this enormous arid land. From previous visits I know that the country is stable and well governed and everyone seems to get on pretty well with one another. Oops – my mind goes momentarily blank when trying to recall the name of the present prime minister of Australia. To get anywhere fast on this island continent you have to fast-forward time and place.
One week later I am driving a Ute (bakkie) out of Port Douglas, heading west. Behind me is the second oldest rain forest on earth, and out at sea the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism seen from space. In the coastal waters, box jellyfish, blue ringed octopus and stonefish can kill you, and salty crocs just swallow you whole.
It is later explained to me that normal potholes, under dry conditions and heavy road-trains, fill with fine powdery dust. These reach dangerous depths and are completely camouflaged from the unexpecting driver going at speed. Further on, I turn into the isolated Lappa Junction bar.
Read more about Obie’s travels in the September/October issue of DEKAT.