Short Travel Stories: The Nullarbor Plain & Mount Gambier

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Chapter 3: Crossing The Nullarbor Plain & Discovering Mount Gambier

The Nullarbor Plain seems to go on forever. We drive and drive for thousands of kilometers without seeing any other car, all that we see is old, abandoned, rusty cars on the side of the road, ghosts of what they were. They match with the desolation of the desert plain.

The scenery of the Nullarbor begins with trees that seem broccolis, growing in intense red dirt, and when the sun goes down it seems as if you’re in Africa. Afterwards, the vegetation starts to disappear and the trees become small bushes and when you see towards the horizon, it’s all the same, it seems infinite.

crossing the nullarbor plain

In the middle of nowhere a roadhouse pops out and surprisingly an Estonian backpacker works in there.

The Chubby makes it alive out of the scary plain, we’ve been driving him at 170 km/h, and every time we push him to that speed it starts trembling and making a weird sound and it seems like it’s going to explode. However, it doesn’t, it makes it through Adelaide too, and then we enter the lands of victoria.

We decide to stop and see a famous Blue Lake in the town of Mount Gambier.

blue lake in mount gambier

It’s one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. The lake is a crater with the bluest water ever, it’s impressive. We stay there looking at it’s beauty and then the sun starts going down and the sky turns red, velvet red, it’s genius. The lake get’s darker and in the background you see this velvet sky.

After the unexpected marvelousness we get back to Chubby but it won’t start. We left the lights on, damn it, no battery. Luckily another car sees us, stops, we explain the situation and he says he’s coming back with some cables. He does, he charges our battery and we’re ready to go.

Only five minutes on the road and the car’s battery stops working again. Fuck, it’s on strike! We call the road assistance and they take us back to Mt. Gambier to the car park of a mechanic. We have to spend the night there, but we’re really stressed out, as the car’s insurance won’t cover us because it’s a relocation service. I find a clause that states that if there’s engine damage due to poor state of it, and then the company will pay. We’re hoping for that.

The next day we came face to face with the Australian kindness. The owner of the mechanic, called Dan, tells us he’ll have a look at the car and that he’ll take care of the issue with the company.

“Leave it to me son, I’ll solve it”.

On top of that, he tells a driver of the place to take us in a car to go see town, buy some groceries, get a shower and anything else we need. We go and hang around the town and get back a few hours later. Dan says it’s the alternator, fixing it costs $500 but the company should cover it. It’ll be ready tomorrow and in the meantime we go for a drink at a local pub.

We get two beers, and for buying them we’re participating in a raffle for $100. I tell Daniel, my friend, that after last night’s bad luck, we’ll win the money. Instant karma, we do win!

And the next day Dan tells us that the car is fixed and the company paid for everything. Yeah!

“Told you to leave it to me son. I´ve dealt with this a lot before, and it’s not nice to see backpackers pay for repairs that are the company’s fault for not treating their cars with care”.

Thanks Dan.

We leave Mt. Gambier and start driving towards the Great Ocean Road. The fucking Great Ocean Road it should be called. We’re incredibly excited and relieved after two days of stress and other days of driving in the middle of the desert; finally we’ll get to see the 12 Apostles.

The best thing though, is that we’re grateful. Maybe there’s not that much to do or see in Mt. Gambier, besides a beautiful sunset in a lake, but there was kindness, welcoming and friendliness. First it was a total stranger who stopped in the street and used thirty minutes of his life to help us. Then it was a mechanic who stepped up for us, solved us a money issue and treated us like friends, helping us with a car, internet, showers and free coffee.

Until this moment Australia has been all about amazing landscapes and memories with other backpackers, now I can add the local kindness, and it has a sweet taste.

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