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Arltunga - NT, Australia 06.11.2001

This posting works great together with these pics — it's an excerpt of a correspondence I had with Eric, who's got plans of going to Australia, and lucky me have been there.

The motives are primarily from a trip to Arltunga — a long gone mining community just NE of Alice Springs, Oz. You had to go there on a 4x4 track, but my little ol' Renault 12 did a real good job. Didn't get stuck in any holes anywhere, and the front wheel drive was heaven sent on a couple of occasions of deep sand. I didn't know it was a 4x4 track when I embarked on the little trip, but I ran into a Ranch owner [Andy] halfway to Arltunga, who asked whether I was nuts or just mighty brave to take this route in that car [points in direction of the car].

Turns out that he and his brother [Mike] were best friends with the man [Peter] who ran Arltunga Pub and Camping, and that they would both drop by for a "slab of beer" later that night. I was invited to join them. Well seated in the bar at nighttime [which sported a pet python named Josie lounging at the desk], Andy and Mike turned up to hear more about who I was. So I told them I had worked three jobs for a year to get the money to travel for a year, that I was 20, and that I had been working in NZ and about my other destinations on my trip. They were amazed that this young lad [me] of only twenty years of age were traveling around the world. I agreed with them. So we sat around shooting the shit, they told me about the ranching business, about living in the outback, about the Booris and Abo's [slang for aborigines], and they told me a really cool little anecdote.

Some years prior to my visit to Arltunga, Tom Selleck shot a film named "Quigley Down Under" in that neck of the woods. Actually they shot some of the movie on some land that belonged to Andy & Mike, so, naturally, they hung out With Tom Selleck in between shoots. They even taught him [according to themselves] how to roll cigarettes in your hand, and still be able to smoke them. A noble art indeed (-: Andy & Mike were really the average Australian outback Joe's — warm, friendly, interested and hospitable. As a 100% city kid, this struck me the most about both the NZ'ers and Oz'ers, really friendly easy-going peoples.

Upon finally reaching bitumen road after a lot of km's on dirt, I saw the sign with the "4x4 only" in the rear-view mirror. Figured it was destiny it hadn't been in the other end of the road where I entered, I wouldn't have done that trip knowing it had to be done in a 4x4 - and I would have missed out on a great evening with Andy & Mike amongst other things.

Another good story from Oz was just when I bought my car. Having no knowledge whatsoever about cars and engines, I bought a wreck in full make-up. The Renaults engine was crippled, but ran smooth when I test drove it prior to the purchase. I won't say I got conned, cause the guy I bought it from didn't know a wheel from a tire either. So we were equally to be blamed for running this car into the sand. Anywho, I got stock in Apollo Bay with a wrecked engine, but the people I stayed with in Melbourne managed to find an engine in a wreck shop not far from there. So I rolled slowly to Colac where the Wreck Shop and it's owner Brian "Crash" Craddock turned out to be quite a lifesaver. Not only did he fix my car [a new engine was needed] for a reasonable amount of money, he also invited me stay with him while they fixed it. So, for two days this dude bought me food and beer and gave me a place to sleep, for free. He took me to the local casino, to the dirt track to watch a race with some cars he sponsored, and I met his girlfriend, some of his friends, and he expected nothing in return. Man, that would _never_ happen in Denmark.

Erykah Badu had me humming along on "certainly" while writing this.

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