Caiguna – start of a long straight

It’s easy to romanticise the truckers – ‘knights of the road’ – as they carry the nation’s goods from east to west and back again. There is no doubt they are skilful drivers and their job is a tough one. While these days they have power steering and air conditioning and CCTV to see behind them, it is still a very physical job. I watched one driver in a roadhouse literally jumping on the end of a two-metre-long wheel wrench to ensure everything was still tight after the vibrations on the road.


But the real strength is in their mental stamina – being able to keep awake and alert on long boring stretches of road.

Caiguna roadhouse and motel were built to service people travelling to the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962. It is a good place to stop and stretch before setting out on the 90 mile straight.

Caiguna roadhouse

The 90 Mile Straight (roughly 146.6km) between Caiguna and Balladonia is one of the longest straight stretches of road in the world. And this is where you will test your mental stamina. Many times we saw vehicles – including trucks – gradually veering to the edge of the road then straightening up at the last moment, only to repeat the sequence. It is a bit scary driving a small hatchback and watching three-trailer road-trains doing this!

90 mile straight sign

We talked a lot about our forthcoming trip to Europe and the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. A lot of time and words about why do a pilgrimage, and reviewing and previewing our life together over the past 36 years. And of course we stopped periodically to stretch our legs and take another photo of the straight road 🙂

90 mile straight

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Road trip across Australia

Why drive across a continent when preparing to walk across a country? In some ways, a road trip has some parallels with a pilgrimage walk, in that it is time-out-of-time or time out of place, which takes us out of the day-to-day context. It is a time to build resilience against the unexpected, and to get used to living with less. It is fairly straightforward to train physically for a Camino, but many seem to neglect to train mentally for it. What do you pack for the mind?

The road trip provides an opportunity to reflect on our lives, and perhaps to consider what the pilgrimage means for us. It is also a time to visit our surviving parents – to connect with who we are – and in the event of something happening to them (or us) while we travel – at least we will have spent some time with them.

In 1925 the first car to be driven right around Australia was a 1923 Citroen 5CV (856cc four cyl) driven by 22 year old Neville Westwood, who had bought the car second hand in Perth Western Australia. That car is now in the National Museum of Australia. So it seems fitting to take a road trip 91 years later in a 2007 Citroen C3 bought new in 2010 (ex-demo). Today the roads are better, the fuel stops closer, and the cars more sophisticated – it will be interesting to see how the car performs 🙂

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