Buf Off Caner! Drive 2012

   

 

Day 1 Bug Off Cancer! drive Mortdale to Cobar 8 July 2012

Mario and I departed home at 0501 into the cool darkness of the morning. We arrived in Kelso at 0734 (about 3km east of Bathurst) for a photo with the Big Gold Panner. We jumped out of the warm comfort of said Beetle into –40C foggy air. Once the photo shoot was complete, we jumped back into warmth of our vehicle.

At 0806 we accept the challenge of V8 supercar race track at Mt Panorama. Challenge overcome by VW's 40 horses in 6min 21sec. This was down on previous laps probably because of my co-driver.

We met up with Joe and John in Orange for a short while, then we didn’t see them until their arrival in Cobar.

We stopped at 1100 for our first fuel stop in Dubbo.

We had lunch at 1300 in Nyngan, and yes the Iroquois has been returned.

1500 arrive at Cobar exploration mine lookout.

All in all a successful first day and a distance of 455 miles or 728km covered with no incidents (so far and fingers crossed).

End of day 1 and the crew have survived, but there's still another 13 to go.

 

Day 2 Bug Off Cancer! drive Cobar to Broken Hill 9 July 2012

Today has gotten off to a good start already.

The early morning peace was broken at 0530 by the -a-doodling-do of my rooster alarm. Tee hee, I meant to set it for 0630. I was told to keep the rooster quiet in no uncertain terms.

Oh well, we're all up now and ready for Day Two.

We departed Cobar at 0750 and made our way to Broken Hill, with a stop over in Wilcannia.

We made an unscheduled fuel stop, so we filled up from the jerry can and filled up in Wilcannia. We were given a personal tour of Wilcannia police station and the old gaol cells above the station. Lots of history in those old cells and the prison yards.

We were then shown the off-duty officer's Oval window Beetle (in pieces), but what a project to be involved in.

We departed Wilcannia at 1130 after a 70 minute stop, and then it was on to Broken Hill. It rained all the way between Wilcannia and Broken Hill.

Upon our arrival in Broken Hill, the local police held a sausage sizzle in our honour and organised the Barrier Daily Truth paper to interview us about our trip.

After the sausage sizzle, we made our way to Silverton where movies like A Town Like Alice and Mad Max were made. They also had the Terminator Beetle there. We had a drink in the pub and made our way back to Broken Hill. Once back, we stayed in our room for the afternoon due to the rain.

We were taken to dinner later in the evening by one of the local sergeants to the Palace Hotel. What a dinner, crispy pork belly with sliced potato stack.

After dinner it was back to the room to get ready for the next day.

    

Day 3 Bug Off Cancer! drive Broken Hill to Port Augusta 10 July 2012

After one of the heaviest nights of rainfall in Broken Hill, that I can recall, the morning cleared to a beautiful clear morning. We departed Broken Hill at 0755 on our way to Port Augusta.

Once we left Broken Hill, we drove straight into heavy fog, and were in it for about 60km until it broke, 20km outside of Cockburn on the NSW/SA border.

Our first stop was at the Big Dice, about 23km east of Yunta.

We met up with Joe and his '73 Kombi in Peterborough, and then we drove to have a look at the Big Gum Tree, which has a circumference of 10.89m and is aged at over 500 years.

We filled up the first lot of fuel at Port Augusta from Broken Hill a distance of 266 miles or 425km on 36 litres of fuel.

We had fish and chips by the water and had a look around the township of Port Augusta for the afternoon, and have now retired to the hotel (1824) before going for a late, light dinner and prepare for Coober Pedy tomorrow.

 

Day 4 Bug Off Cancer! drive Port Augusta to Coober Pedy 11 July 2012

The drive started at 0702 this morning from Port Augusta, and the temperature was a chilly 6 degrees.

The drive was going great until we were stopped for RBT at 0749 on the Sturt Highway. The Highway Patrol were great, we blew negative, and knew we had nothing to worry about, but when your vehicle is surrounded by about 4 or 5 police officers, it can become a bit intimidating, but I was assured there was nothing to worry about, and that I could never be booked for speeding in my vehicle (ha ha I thought to my self). I guess the highlight was the the female Highway Patrol officer who took my reading. It is a welcome change to be pulled over by an attractive police officer.

Anyway, after our brush with the SA Highway Patrol, we were on our merry way again, until we stopped for fuel at Pimba. It was then off again to make good time for Coober Pedy. We arrived at about 1300, and got to enjoy the sights of Coober Pedy.

The people of Coober Pedy were more than accommodating to us at Bug Off Cancer! John's Pizza donated our lunch, The Opal Beetle donated two opal pendants, and the Shell service station donated our tank of fuel. Even people that stopped and spoke to us donated cash amounting to $80.00 I can't even begin to thank all of those people enough for their support.

Tonight, The Greek Taverna is donating dinner for us also.

So far, the Bug Is running well, touch wood, and looking forward to the big run to The Rock tomorrow.

 

Day 5 Bug Off Cancer! drive Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock 12 July 2012

Our day started on the road at 0628 this morning. It was dark and cool, but a great start all the same.

Our first stop was at 0903 in Marla for a fuel top up. This was the last fuel stop in SA. We then made our way to the SA/NT border. We reached there at 1049.

We made our way to Erldunda Roadhouse for a fuel top up and some lunch. We reached there at 1155. Shell Super98 at $1.90/litre. Unheard of, but unfortunately no other fuel stop until Curtin Springs, which is about 60km from Yulara resort.

After our spot of lunch, we drove on to Mount Connor lookout. At first glimpse, one could be forgiven for thinking the big red mass they see is Ayres Rock, but when you take a proper look, you realise it isn't.

We reached Yulara at approximately 1530. We checked in to our room, and then made our way to The Rock. This is my first trip to the Northern Territory and my fist trip to The Rock. It normally takes a lot to shut me up, but the size of Ayres Rock in the distance is just overwhelming. After taking many of the rock, both on it and around it, we waited for the sunset photo shoot. Unfortunately, the clouds blocked any sun on the rock, but the clouds put on their own spectacular display.

While many people were disappointed they didn't get to take their perfect sunset shot of the rock, attention turned to the Bug. Lots of foreign tourists and local alike, were astounded to see this '65 Bug, the only one out there mind you, at the Rock. People were asking about what we were doing and where the Bug has come from. We were at the rock till after sunset talking about what we were doing, then it was back to the resort in a long convoy that resembled the end of a movie at the drive-in.

Dinner was simple, but the conversations with people we met at the rock earlier, and at dinner was great. Some people even donated to Bug Off Cancer! It restores your faith in people and their generosity.

Today's drive was a long one, 505 miles or 808km, including the lap of the rock.

Getting ready for sunrise at the rock tomorrow morning, before setting off to Alice Springs.

 

Day 6 Bug Off Cancer! drive Ayers Rock to Alice Springs 13 July 2012

The day started out very early to see the sunrise over Ayers Rock at 0730. We arrived just before the break of dawn, and it was a very fresh 3 degrees centigrade, but the wait for the sunrise in the cold was worth every bit of freezing agony. The change in the colour of the rock was amazing, and to see The Olgas in the distance also change colour was equally amazing. We left Uluru at about 0830 and made our way to Curtin Springs, which is about an 80km drive from Uluru.

Upon arrival at Curtin Springs, I only topped up 10 litres of fuel, as it was $2.05/litre for regular 91 fuel. That was enough to get us to Erldunda.

We stopped for about an hour in Curtin Springs after arriving at about 0920 for a spot of breakfast and met up with three French men, living in Tahiti, touring Australia on Harley Davidson motorbikes. We exchanged stories, and they're following our route, albeit a day behind us, until Mt Isa, then they peel off and go to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Those interested in their bike ride may want to google motheplo.

Curtin Springs was a great little spot to stop, as they have a resident emu roaming freely, and some typical outback Aussie humour around the roadhouse. Mobil 91 unleaded was $2.05/litre. That made Erldunda’s 98 unleaded at $1.90/litre look good. All the same, I only put 10 litres into the tank to fill up at Erldunda

After we finished at Curtin Springs, we made our way to Erldunda, the intersection of the roads going to Uluru, Darwin and Adelaide. We filled up fuel there at a more respectable $1.90/litre for 98 unleaded fuel.

After leaving Erldunda at about 1200, we made our way to Alice Springs, arriving at 1354. After settling in to the hotel, we took a run around town to check out the local action. After buying some souveneirs for the kids, we dropped everything back at our room, and walked to Lasseter's Casino Hotel, about a 3.2km walk from our hotel. After we had a drink and a small bet at the casino, we walked back to the East Side Club and had dinner there for a very good price. I wouldn't suggest walking along the Todd River at night. That's all I have to say.

The night ended on a good note, and I can strongly suggest staying at The Alice Motor Inn, as the rooms are self-contained, with complimentary breakfast and free internet (if you can get on it).

We covered 313 miles or just a tick over 500km today. Tomorrow, we make our way from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek.

     

Day 7 Bug Off Cancer! drive Alice Springs to Tennant Creek 14 July 2012

After a good night sleep, we awoke at 0630 and had our complimentary breakfast at The Alice Motor Inn. We made tracks at 0730, and fuelled up for our trip north to Tennant Creek.

Along the Stuart Highway we had a number of stops including the Highest Point Marker on the Stuart Highway, The Tropic of Capricorn, Aileron Roadhouse, where there are 30ft tall statues of Aboriginals strategically located at the roadhouse and atop a hill overlooking the roadhouse.

Soon after leaving Aileron, I could see a clapped out VN Commodore racing up behind me, overtake me and disappear into the distance. Some minutes later, we found the car stopped on the side of the road, and a man waving his arms in the middle of the road and pointing to his car. I chose not to stop and keep going, as I have heard about people pretending to be broken down, stopping other motorists and then mugging them. After a short while, I could see this Commodore racing up behind me, and then driving alongside me and telling me to meet them at Ti Tree. The passenger had a TV camera in his hand. They raced off ahead of us.

About 30km later, we pulled into Ti Tree to meet up with the clapped out Commodore and their occupants. After a short introduction, we found out that it was Brendan Edgerton, from the Blokes in Sheds fame. He wanted to do a story about us, as he was wondering what the hell an old VW Beetle was doing in the middle of the desert. We exchanged stories, and they filmed the Beetle, and wanted to include it in their story, 30 Pubs in 30 Days. Their trip is to include 30 pubs in every capital city in Australia. After having recovered from thinking I was going to be mugged, to being in a documentary, we were on our way again.

Our next stop was Devil's Marbles and then on to Tennant Creek. After checking in to The Desert Sands Motel, I made an appointment to meet with Ann Wilson at 1500. Who's Ann Wilson I hear you ask? She is the manager of the smallest RSL Club in Australia. The Tennant Creek RSL. This club only opens on Thursdays and Fridays, with a patronage of about 10 to 12 people on these days. Travellers can call ahead to have the RSL Club opened.

Ann opened the club and shouted us a beer. Beer is only served in bottles and not on tap. Also, no food is served there either. Ann took us for a tour of the club, inside and out, and listening to her stories about the history of the club was most interesting. We spent nearly two hours being shown around, looking at the albums Ann has put together to show the history of the club, and this is all done voluntarily. I would strongly suggest if ever you're in Tennant Creek, give Ann a call and visit the RSL Club. You will not regret it at all. I can at least say I have had a beer in the smallest RSL Club in Australia, and hosted by the best RSL manager in the country.

After our relaxing afternoon in the RSL club, it was back to our hotel, and then on a courtesy bus to The Memorial Club for a great dinner.

We did Alice Springs to Tennant Creek on one tank of fuel. That's 331 miles or 530km on 37 litres of fuel. Mind you, there were just vapours left in the tank.

Today, also marks our most northern and western stop on the trip, and also the halfway mark of the trip. 7 days down, 7 to go and a distance of 2553 miles or 4085km covered already.

Tomorrow is our last day in The Territory, and we leave Tennant Creek for Mount Isa.

 

Day 8 Bug Off Cancer! drive Tennant Creek to Mt Isa 15 July 2012

The rooster alarm went of at 0600, so we got up and had breakfast and got ready for the day. We did the usual routine of having breakfast, packing the car and getting on our merry way. We got moving at 0655 and headed north on the Stuart Highway to make the right hand turn at the Three Ways to travel along the Barkly Highway for Mt Isa. Just out of Tennant Creek, a young kangaroo decided to hop out in front of us, but luckily it was quite a way in front, but it still took its sweet time to cross the Stuart Highway, before disappearing into the spinifex on the other side of the road.

We arrived at The Three Ways at 0714 and this was a photo opportunity at the sign, so we took some photos there. After that, we made the right hand turn on to the Barkly.

The Barkly was an experience in itself. Today we saw the most road trains we have seen on this trip, and the Barkly is quite prone to high winds, and this was confirmed by the number of road signs stating high crosswinds and heavy headwinds increase fuel consumption, and the higher than normal fuel consumption when we filled up at Camooweal, over the border in QLD.

1107, and we stopped at Avon Downs police station to top up the fuel tank with the 10 litre jerry can on board. A quick photo there, and it was on to the border.

1146, some photos were taken at the NT/QLD border, and it was good to see "GO THE BLUES 2012" spray painted on the "Welcome to Queensland" sign.

1242 and it was time to fill up the tank and get some lunch in Camooweal, the first town in QLD after the border.

Whilst I was filling the tank, I was approached by a lovely couple who had taken an interest in my Beetle, and struck up a conversation with me. The lady said she was an oncology nurse as she deals with cancer patients. She offered an accommodation voucher to raffle/sell off to raise funds for cancer research and donated $20 toward our fuel costs. It turns out that she and her husband have both had VW's in the past and are the proud owners of newer VW's, namely the Golf and Amarok. She has asked to remain anonymous, so I'll respect her wishes.

After lunch, it was onward to Mt Isa. We arrived at 1517, and checked in to our accommodation.

After asking the owner of the holiday park if the RSL is a good place to have dinner, I was lost for words when she replied that it's been shut down. The members tried to keep the commercial side of the business open by selling drinks and food, but the government wouldn't support them, so the club had to be shut down. For a town the size of Mt Isa, population of about 22,500 to NOT have an RSL Club, I find unacceptable. It's as bad as Alice Springs NOT having an RSL Club.

I had to pull tools out in anger for the first time, to tighten up my driver side mirror, as it would be blown down by passing trucks. I also topped up 1/2 litre of oil in the engine. Not bad for 4617km since the start of the trip.

We ended up having dinner at The Buffs Club in town, and got the courtesy bus there and back.

That's about it for today, as we prepare for tomorrow's run down to Longreach.

 

Day 9 Bug Off Cancer! drive Mt Isa to Longreach 16 July 2012

After the usual wake up call, and preparing for the day ahead, we made tracks at 0703 from Mt Isa along the Barkly Highway enroute to Longreach.

0824, we stopped in Cloncurry for a photo shoot. Cloncurry is the town that QANTAS was conceived back in early 1920. After Cloncurry, we left the Barkly Highway and made our way onto the Landsborough Highway to head south to Longreach.

1223, we stopped in Winton and went to the Winton Club, but unfortunately, the club doesn't open every day. This is the building that QANTAS was born in when the documents to form Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services were signed in November 1920.

After the disappointment of not being able to go into the club, we had lunch at the Tatts Hotel. A good counter lunch was served, along with a generous donation of a schooner of beer by the bar maid.

After Winton, It was onward to Longreach to try and get a couple of hours at the QANTAS Founders Museum. After checking in at the hotel at about 1520, we dashed across the road to the museum. The museum was well worth the effort, and I'm glad we got to get at least a couple of hours in there. So much history about not only the airline, but Australians in general and the ingenuity of people in the era of none of the conveniences we have in this day and age. These people were pioneers to make an idea into the airline it is today. Longreach is where QANTAS grew up before moving to Brisbane in 1930.

The museum houses a B747-200 (VH-EBQ City of Bunbury), a B707-138 (VH-XBA City of Canberra). It is astounding to see how a 747 could land at Longreach Airport. The 707 is the original QANTAS aeroplane that was bought in 1959, the first one sold outside of the USA and is the oldest surviving 707 in the world.

The visit to the museum was one of the highlights of this trip so far, alongside Ayers Rock.

After the museum, it was off for a spot of dinner in town at the local Chinese restaurant.

Today's run was 669km and the trip so far has covered 5286km in total thus far.

Getting ready for the run down to Charleville tomorrow.

     

Day 10 Bug Off Cancer! drive Longreach to Charleville 17 July 2012

Today our trip continues south to Charleville, before making a left turn and heading East to Toowoomba tomorrow.

The day started at 0713 and we bid farewell to Longreach and the QANTAS Founders Museum.

We drove on to Blackall, arriving at 0928, and met a guy named Guy who has a 1968 Beetle done up as Herbie. This is the highlight of the day so far. We exchanged stories about our bugs, and he was impressed that my Bug has come the distance it has. After giving him a Bug Off T-shirt, we had a coffee at the Blackall BP Roadhouse, where they kindly donated the coffees to Mario and I.

After Blackall, it was on to Tambo, arriving at 1109 for a stretch of the legs and a driver change, then we went on to Augathella for a fuel top up and drive change again.

After Augathella, we drove on to Charleville and checked in at Hotel Corones. We missed staying here last year due to one of the Beetles breaking down in Toowoomba (not my Beetle I might add). After check-in it was off to our favourite bakery, Russell’s Bakery of Charleville. Great pies made on the premises.

After lunch, it was time to wander around the streets of Charleville and see their recovery form the floods earlier this year. The clean up is just about done, and you can't even tell there was a flood.

I'm blogging early today, as we had an early arrival, and as there's nothing more to tell about today's events, I’ll be getting myself ready for dinner. Looks like the RSL tonight.

 

Day 11 Bug Off Cancer! drive Charleville to Toowoomba 18 July 2012

After being awoken at 0325 this morning by the rumbling of a truck in front of our hotel, it was difficult to get back to sleep, but before I knew it, the alarm was going off at 0600. We got up, got ready and had breakfast at the local bakery, which consisted of a "Ned Kelly" pie and a coffee.

After breakfast, it was a slow departure from Charleville at about 0700 into the dark foggy morning. The fog didn't clear until about 80km out of Charleville, but then we drove into overcast conditions and eventual rain for the remainder of the trip to Toowoomba.

We stopped for a quick fuel stop and driver change in Roma, and it was on to Chinchilla for lunch at the Continental Hotel Bistro. After lunch, it was a change of drivers and onward into the dismal rainy weather for the remainder of the drive to Toowoomba.

Upon arrival into Toowoomba at 1600, we checked in to our hotel relaxed a while before going to dinner at Club Glendale, formerly known as The Hockey Club. This will be the last supper for the four of us as Joe, John and the ‘73 Kombi will part from the trip and return to Sydney via the coast. I’d like to thank Joe and John for taking time out from their work and families to join us on the drive, helping to raise funds for cancer research and new experiences that were experienced on the drive.

Not really much to report on today, as the dismal weather didn't allow too many stops or photo opportunities.

We're resting up for the drive to Tamworth tomorrow.

 

Day 12 Bug Off Cancer! drive Toowoomba to Tamworth 19 July 2012

Today started off as normal as the previous 11 days, although we did bid farewell to John, and Joe and his Kombi, as they're heading back to Sydney via the coast.

Mario and I departed Toowoomba at 0700 and made our way to Warwick at the Famous Warwick Pie Shop for a spot of breakfast.

We left Warwick and made our way to Ballandean, where we took a photo of the Bug and a Triceratops dinosaur. We then continued on to Wallangarra, which is on the QLD/NSW border and the last pub in QLD.

Onward from Wallangarra, we continued on to Glen Innes and had some photos at the Monument of Standing Stones, which is a mini-me of Stonehenge in the UK.

From Glen Innes, we continued on to Armidale where we had lunch at The Royal Armidale. After a great meal, Paul, the Hotel Manager shouted Mario and I our hot drinks. So he gets a mention here for his generosity, as it was genuine, and even before he knew we were doing a charity fundraising drive. Thanks again Paul.

After doing a walk around Armidale for about an hour, visiting one of the local shopping centres, which had a shop front that housed a Vintage Car Club that had on display a 1928 Chev, fully restored and a vintage Riley racing car fully restored.

We left Armidale and made our way to Tamworth and arrived at about 1635. We checked in to our hotel and then got a courtesy bus to Tamworth Wests Club for a great Salt & Pepper Steak dinner.

Mario will be flying back to Sydney tomorrow, as he has some personal business to take care of, so I will be driving him to the airport for his flight. I will be spending and extra day in Tamworth, as I will be meeting up with some of the Club VeeDub guys at the Caltex Twin Servos on Saturday, also, I won't have to fight the Sydney traffic on a Friday afternoon.

     

Day 13 Bug Off Cancer! drive Tamworth 20 July 2012

Today saw the drive stop in Tamworth for the day.

We visited the Big Golden Guitar and had a great Aussie breakfast in the cafe there.

After breakfast, we took a drive into the CBD of Tamworth and had a bit of a walk around, before I took Mario to the airport for his flight back to Sydney. It's been a great couple of weeks with Mario and a BIG thanks to him for being a good co-driver.

After the airport, it was off to Oxley Lookout for a great view over Tamworth and the surrounding region, then it was back to the motel for a quick cuppa, then it was a short 45km drive to Manilla (not in the Philippines) for a spot of mid-afternoon lunch and a look around. A very tidy little town which goes back to the late 1800's.

After returning to Tamworth, it was a quick check of the car for the final leg tomorrow to meet up with some of the people from Club VeeDub, and then getting ready for dinner and a relaxing evening in front of the telly, although it wasn’t very relaxing as the Sea Eagles went down to the Bulldogs.

 

Day 14 and Last Day of Bug Off Cancer! drive Tamworth to Sydney 21 July 2012

After a good night's rest and a bit of a sleep-in, I was off for the last leg of Bug Off Cancer! drive 2012. I departed Tamworth at about 0730 and cruised down to Singleton for a late breakfast at Singleton Heights Bakery. Then it was off to the World's Biggest Sundial at Singleton for one of the last photos of the trip.

After leaving Singleton, it was off to the Caltex Twin Servos at Wyong for a meet-up with VW Club President, Steve and VW Club Treasurer Martin and a couple of other VW Club members for a coffee, and then a convoy back to Sydney. A BIG THANKS to these guys and gal for taking the time out of their day to meet with me on the final leg of this year's drive and escorting me back to Sydney.

Also, I have to thank the two major corporate sponsors, QANTAS Engineering and ACCESS Group Solutions for their support and generosity to this year's drive. Other sponsors and supporters include, in no particular order:

Sturt Motel Broken Hill (discounted accommodation)

John's Pizza Coober Pedy (donated lunch)

Shell Coober Pedy (donated fuel)

Greek Taverna Coober Pedy (donated dinner)

Ayers Rock Resort (discounted accommodation)

Alice Motor Inn Alice Springs (discounted accommodation)

Desert Sands Motel Tennant Creek (discounted accommodation)

Ann Wilson - Tennant Creek RSL (opening the club especially for us and shouting us a beer and taking the time to give us a tour of the smallest RSL in Australia)

Albert Park Motor Inn Longreach (discounted accommodation)

Hotel Corones Charleville (discounted accommodation)

Carlton Officeworks (donated prizes for our Trivia Night)

St George Rowing Club (donating the room for our Trivia Night)

Club VeeDub Sydney (donations, sponsorship and raffles)

Hereford Prime Mortdale (donating sausages for sausage sizzles)

ALAEA (sponsorship and advertising of the drive)

Not forgetting all the individual sponsors who have sponsored our drive from the beginning, and those who donated during our drive, especially seeing a 1965 Beetle out in the middle of Australia.

Also, a BIG THANKS to Mario for giving up two weeks from work and his family to take part in the drive and also Joe and his co-driver John, and Joe's 1973 Kombi.

Not forgetting my Beetle, as it didn't miss a beat in the 4796 miles (7674km) and using 604 litres of fuel. The only time the tools were used in anger, were to tighten a loose driver side wiper arm and the side view mirror that kept blowing down every time a truck passed us in the opposite direction and a half litre of oil that was topped up in Mt Isa.

This has been a BIG year and the best to date, covering three states and a territory. I had never been to the Northern Territory before this trip, and that was an experience that is etched in my memory, along with the rest of the trip. Australia is a great place. Rugged yet beautiful and even as the landscape differs from place to place, and the people vary from the City to the Country to The Outback, you know you are in Australia.

I hope you have enjoyed following this trip as much as I have enjoyed driving it.

Best regards,

Norman Elias

 

 

And another perspective from Joe:

 

Me and John Mann left home at 4.50am on the Sunday morning the 8th of July, we had a head start on Norman and Mario because they left from down south, but they caught up with us at Orange where we stopped for a rest. I filled up at Wellington (333 kms, 37.1 ltrs - $58.68), stopped at Nyngan for a break and finally arrived at Cobar around 4.00pm - 674 kms. That night we had dinner at the local club where Norman got a raw deal with his meal. He and Mario ordered a chinese Noodles and I ordered chinese chicken. When the girl served us the two noodle dishes, I helped myself with one of the meals while Mario had the other not realizing that I was eating Norman's dinner. When Norman came back to his seat and was served the chicken meal, guess what: 'Not happy Jan' - I offered to pay for his meal but Norman preferred to get his money back and settled for a 'subway' just down the road for just $7.00. The next morning Norman's rooster alarm went off at 5.00am instead of 6.00am, John got up rearing to go and Mario was complaining for waking him up an hour early....I was quietly sleeping in the Kombi.

 

The next day, Monday 9/7, we left at 7.00am and heading for Broken Hill, stopped and filled up at Wilcannia 265kms - 29.05ltrs, $54.30. We arrived at Broken Hill in the pouring rain and filled up again 198 kms - 23.79lt - $38.76; We took a drive to Silverton, the road there was very muddy of course from the heavy rain, but it did'nt dampen our spirits because we had a chance to catch up with Norman and Mario and had a quiet beer in that historic pub which had all the photos relating to the Mad Max movie. When we got back in Broken Hill I topped up the tank which took only 8.23lt - 58kms - $13.48.

 

Tuesday 10/7 - we left at 7.00am, about 3/4 of an hour before Norman and Mario, they caught up with us at Petersborough where I stopped for lunch and fill the tank 280kms,31.94lt - $48.50. At the petrol station we took the time to take some photos, the four of us together, Norman showing a photo of the 'Bug-Off drive' story inl the local paper, he was interviewed about it at Broken Hill.The weather was fine and sunny all the way to Port Augusta and it was pleasant enough for me to go for a long run and lose some of the weight I had gained in the last two days. Petrol was reasonably cheap here: 139kms 15.15lt $23.62.

 

The next morning, Wednesday 11/7 was going to be a long drive to Coober Pedy (about 600kms), this time I put my foot down to keep up with Norman's 1965 Beetle, he was travelling at 60 miles per hour. When I filled up at Pimba(177kms, 25.19lt, $45.35 and Glendambo 112k 12.44lt, $21.90) I realized that at that speed (100-105kph) I was only averaging 7 kpl instead of 8.50 kpl so I continued to cruise along at 90 to 95 kph. We saw some wild life along the road to Coober Pedy, big black eagles, Emus and  one  small dingo. Me and John stopped at a rest area and met these  two lovely old couples and the gave us a small donation of $5.00, they were heading down south to Adelaide - their names were:

Jack and Jill !. We arrived at Coober Pedy at 4.30pm about an hour after Norman and Mario who had already 'painted' the  town and made friends with a Greek restaurant owner who agreed to throw in a $100 for our evening meal - very nice of him. Coober Pedy - 250k 33.45lt $56.85.

 

Thursday 12/7 - All roads lead to the Big Rock - Uluru or Ayres Rock as I prefer to call it. We caught up with Norman and Mario at the Roadhouse at Erldunda, they were enjoying a good lunch. Petrol here was dear of course $1.90 per litre premium. In between Coober Pedy and Erldunda I filled up at Marla 238k 31.09lt $55.05 and at Erldunda 251k 27.65lt $52.55; At the Rock we filled up with Opal Premium at a cost of $2.01 per ltr - 244k 30.31lt $61.00 - we then travelled into the National Park which costs $25.00 each and drove around the Rock and stopped in that area where you can go and climb up the Rock and you need about two hours to climb up all the way and return, we did'nt have enough time, John decided to climb up the face of it only. We all had a good time at dinner though, Mario struck a conversation with an American attractive woman who was here for a conference, however Mario was talking to her so fast while the poor woman had a mouthful of burger and could'nt get a word in. There were other people around us who were happy to give a donation to the Cancer cause.

 

Friday 13/7 - The road to Alice Springs was only about 450kms, it was an easy trip even for the Kombi and arrived at 3.00pm, which gave us plenty of time to look around town. In the park I saw a purple Kombi towing a caravan ! I asked the owner if the engine was turbo charged and he said, "No just a 1600 cc engine" The Motor Inn at Alice Springs was very suitable for me because I was able to cook my evening meal in the kitchen instead of the confined space in the Kombi and breakfast was included in the price as well. At Alice Springs I filled up at the Caltex 210kms 24.63ltrs $42.60;

 

Saturday 14/7 - Another beautiful day to drive up to Tennant Creek, stopped at Ti-Tree to fill  up 195kms 19.98ltrs $39.55 and we also stopped at Wycliffe whre they had ufo displays at the petrol station. The fuel was very dear here $2.10 pl - 179kms 25.10lt $52.70. When we arrived at Tennant Creek Norman told us to  fill  up at the BP, they gave us a discount on the fuel - 133kms 11.97ltrs $22.10, I wish I did'nt fill up at Wycliffe. 70 percent of the population here are Aborigines, so we were told at the Visitors Centre. I promised Mary I'll go to Mass that night, so I did and the parish priest Fr. J ohn Kennedy asked me to do the reading for him which I was pleased to do and then afterwards had a good chat with the local parisheners. After Mass I joined the others for an evening meal at the Memorial Club and listening to the locl musician doing his stuff.

 

Sunday 15/7 - The trip to Mount Isa was approx 620kms, another long drive, me and John got there a little late so did'nt have much time to look around. In between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa I filled up at Barkly Homestead 228kms 29.64ltrs $56.30 and Camoweel 257kms 34.49ltrs $66.20 Mt Isa 194kms 24.87ltrs $41.96. That night  we caught a shuttle bus which took us to the club for a meal and just relax and enjoy the music.

 

Monday 16/7 - Today we said 'Goodbye' to the Outback after we crossed the Queensland border heading towards Longreach and  the speed limit was back to 110 kph instead of 130 (not that it mattered to me) I filled up at McKinlay 230kms 29.51ltrs $52.40, Winton 239kms 31.57ltrs $53.30 and at Longreach 179kms 24.14ltrs $39.55.

At Longreach we were near the Airport ideal for Norman and Mario to go and visit the airport and chat with the staff, while I took the time to go for my 10km jog and enjoy the scenery around the town. Me and John hd dinner at the Commercial, $7.50 for steak and kidney pie with vegies, very reassonable I thought.

 

Tuesday 17/7 - The road to Charleville was an easy pleasant drive and the Hotel Corones where the  boys stayed was built in 1824, very impressive piece of architecture and believe it or not it was first named Hotel Norman ! I drove into a  quiet park to cook my meal and just enjoy the peace and quietness of the town and in the evening I parked the Kombi in a Roadhouse just out of town and had a good night sleep. In between I filled up at Blackall 222kms 25.42ltrs $43.45, Augayhella 215kms 24.57ltrs $39.05 and at Charleville 97kms 10.20ltrs $16.60.

 

Wednesday 18/7 - This morning going to Toowoomba it was very foggy and had some rain as well and we arrived at Toowoomba in the pouring rain and after we settled in at the Motor Inn, caught a taxi to the bowling club where we all had a farewell dinner because the next day we parted company, NOrman and Mario headed towards Tamworth while me and John followed the coast via Labrador and Tyndale. In between Charleville and Toowoomba I filled up at Roma 272kms 31.49ltrs $51.00, Dalby 266kms 31.28ltrs.

 

Thursday 19/7 - Me and John drove to Labrador via the Logan Freeway to meet Bob Scott, his wife Lesley was the original owner of my 1973 Superbug and after a coffee and a chat, we headed towards the B & B at Tyndale. On the Logan freeway we got off track and stopped a policeman to show us the way back to the Pacific highway. He said to me 'Are you Maltese ? and i said yes I am and he said, so am I - Joe Micallef, what a coincidence. I filled up at the Gold Coast 272kms 30.19lts $49.40.

 

Friday 20/7 - Today it was a drive al the way home, stopped at Grafton to fill up 229kms 30.07ltrs $46.30, Taree 306kms $57.35 and at Toongabbie 302kms 35.07ltrs $48.70. I handed a 'Bug-Off' card to he proprietor at Grafton petrol station and when he looked at it, he said to me 'I heard about you on the John Laws Show' !

We left Tyndale at 8.00am and arrived home at 7.15pm, the traffic from Hornsby to home was heavy, welcome back to the rat race, I guess.

 

In conclusion,  congratulations  to Norman for a  wonderful trip and the hard work he put in to raise all that money, the long drive was well worth it. I  noticed every night Norman was on that lap top computer doing his homework for the Cancer foundation, well done. Mario is  character I will never forget, had the  gift of the gab which kept us entertained from start to finish. Norman and Mario reminded me of the 'Odd couple' always throwing words and comments to each other, very entertaining stuff.

 

Joe Buttigieg