Its 4:02pm on Sunday, November the 27th. We have just left Southern Cross. For those not well versed with the West Australian countryside, thats the point where you tell yourself that you’re almost half way between the Kalgoorlie-Perth trip so that you feel like you’re making more progress than you really are. Kalgoorlie and Perth are separated by roughly 600km of agriculture and maybe a dozen towns at best. Having been born in Kalgoorlie, its nothing to make a trip to Perth on a semi-regular basis. You just learn to switch off and drive.
However, as much as we have honed this skill of switching off, we weren’t prepared for a 4 hour wait in the glorious Southern Cross. In true ‘lets do this trip as skint as we can’ form, we decided we would hitch a ride with my sister to Perth in her new car.
She’s just got an Elantra.
Its a good car, my wife used to drive one, and despite even cleaning up a kangaroo, it still served her well.
So, I take first drive.
Naturally, its the gentlemanly thing to do right?
We’re about 70km out of Southern Cross, and then right at the start of a heap of roadworks, the car decides to cut out. I’m flat to the floor, and I’m getting nothing. We pull off to the side of the road. The road worker about 5 metres in front of us couldn’t care less. The area were parked on is blatantly unsealed and even to the untrained eye, isn’t even a makeshift car park.
He looks up at us.
He doesn’t care.
He keeps working.
Kinda made me feel like I was at home and welcome to stay to be honest.
We turn the car off and let it have a momentary nap. I mean, I can empathise with the car. I get a little bit tuckered out myself from time to time.
We fire it back up, and she wants to play the game now, so we get going for a while.
It doesn’t last long though. Her engine keeps cutting out, and we intermittently hover around 100-110 km/h. Then we made a rookie error. Were all unsure of whether to continue, and I’m not a car guy, so I’ve got less ideas for what could be wrong, than Nick Cage has hairstyles.
With our vast knowledge of food, graphic design and photography, we decide that its a good idea to see if we can assess whats going on. We pull over and pop open the bonnet.
I’m not sure what we were expecting, but I find myself standing next to my wife and my younger sister increasingly feeling the need to fix the problem, or at least come up with a reason as to why I cant fix it.
Step 1: Rest your hands roughly above the radiator and lean right over the engine and pretend to look around for something that you don’t know you’re looking for (if need be, you can take your hat and/or glasses off to give the illusion that you’re searching harder than you really are).
Step 2: Make a few ‘Hmmmmm…’ ‘Oh yeah?’ sounds as though you’re putting the pieces together in your mind. But, as any true professional knows, you don’t explain anything until you know whats going on yourself.
Step 3: Resort to the only thing that you think you might actually not be able to screw up… the fuses…
The only thing I can think of is that the fuel pump may not be getting the fuel to the engine?? We try to pull the fuse for the fuel pump out, but the fatness of my fingers and the slimness of the space between the fuses wont let me get a “decent grip”.
Well, there it is.
I have my reason as to why I cant fix it: I cant get to the fuse.
The car is still screwed, but my reputation is intact, so I’m good.
We decide to fire it back up, and we get going on the road. Were about 30km away from Southern Cross, when the car gets increasingly worse. We drop from hovering around 100km/h, to being lucky to maintain 80km/h.
I kid you not, we are like 500m from the petrol station, when everything turns to custard. We pull into the information centre to let the car rest and check out all the reasons that people died in 1898. Mostly Typhoid, but people died of Gastro and Teething…
Teething? Just munched your self to death or something? 1898 was a little out of my league if I’m to be honest.
We let the car rest for a few minutes, and now we struggle to make it past first gear. She’ll give us enough juice to pretend that she wants us to get to the petrol station, but as I start to back the clutch out, she’ll run away along with our hopes of reaching Perth at a semi-reasonable hour and we’ll just sit there looking like our parents are in the passenger seat, telling us “You’ll get the knack of this driving thing soon mate. Just take it slow”.
She’s like that friend watching a movie with you who keeps pulling popcorn away just as you go to grab it.
Except she does it too many times.
And then does it again.
We pull into the Southern Cross Shell, and to get across the road, we have to roll down with the slope of the hill, gain momentum and pray all the prayers that there are no cars as we approach the crossing.
Apparently, there were more prayers to pray.
So, we reversed and did our run-up thing again. This time, we used up all the prayers and made it across to the BP, because there was nicer parking and better shade.
So, we walk in to the roadhouse and assume our position for the next 4 hours.
Finally, the cavalry (gramps and mum) arrives to deliver our new steed, and escort the faulty car back to Kalgoorlie.
Were back on the road.
We’ll be on the road for a while.
We were meant to be there nearly 2 hours ago, but now, it might be 9 before we get there.
Pretty eventful start to our trip, I say, but less eventfulness for the rest of the trip would be ideal.