Planning a big trip is exciting in itself
Call of the Wild
It all started with a phone call, as these things often do. One morning in early January I got a call from old mate Andrew, a long-time friend and fourwheel driving buddy. After pleasantries and season’s greetings, he got right down to business, “So mate, got any big trips planned this year?” Coming from Andrew, I knew this was a very leading question. “Nothing major, what did you have in mind”, I asked, always eager for new adventure. Long story short, Andrew had been across the Simpson during 2017 and had some time left on his annual South Australia Desert Parks Pass. “I wondered if you and Elizabeth would be interested in heading out that way later this year…on the way to WA.” I quickly grocked that he was proposing another Big Lap and my response was immediate and unequivocal, “Hell yeah”, thus opening another exciting chapter in the great odyssey (dubbed “Ausquestria”) that began when we “retired” six years ago.
The Trip Outlined
This would be the second Big Lap for the Whitelaws. The first was in 2012-13, which basically took us around Victoria, through The Centre and Great Sandy Desert to the WA Coral Coast and returning via the Kimberley and the Top End, down the East Coast to Canberra and back up north to settle in our new home at Hervey Bay (about 40,000km, give or take). This time, the idea is to cover the other half of Australia – down the Darling River, up to Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, through the middle on the Anne Beadell Highway to Carnarvon and back via the Bottom End, southwest WA, the Nullabor, Eyre Peninsula, outback New South Wales and central west Queensland (see the map).
It rolls easily off the tongue when you say it quickly but we know from experience that it’s a very big journey, one not to be undertaken lightly, requiring careful planning and thorough preparation. For Big Lap 1, we planned and prepared to the nth degree and, while most everything went well, some things could have been done better (or smarter) and, of course, there’s always the unexpected that throws a spanner in the works – “the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay”, as Robbie Burns once wrote – and so it was for us.
One mistake we made last time was that we travelled too quickly. In our eagerness to “do” the trip, we had not left ourselves enough time at many places to kick back and “smell the roses”, so to speak, leaving us exhausted and a little dazed at the end of it – an error we are determined not to make a second time. Our best estimate of this second open-ended safari is around four months, but we’re happy to roll along with a flexible itinerary and see how things go.