I would never get a job as a Las Vegas card dealer, for I talk so much. Walking from the Nullarbor roadhouse I shuffled my feet like a pack of cards and that day I dealt out fifty-two kilometre aces. I was on the same stretch of road, a 1,200 piece of a the Australian jigsaw that my fellow world runner friends Tom Denniss and Kevin Carr had run along a couple of years before.
Tom sends me frequent texts telling me what to watch out for. He has generously sponsored a steak dinner for me and Michael when we arrive in Ceduna. That day, I also stopped to talk to an Irishman called Timmy who was originally from Co. Clare in Ireland. He has been living here for eleven years and was on his way to the Northern Territories to buy a farm.
The night before Michael drove off the road and into a clearing behind some bushes to give us cover while camping. It was no different to any other night, except this time he hit a patch of soft sand which was deeper than normal. In the morning we spent five hours digging, jacking up his car, and putting rocks below into the sand. Unfortunately, his Toyota Corolla front wheel drive was stuck badly and we only made minor progress.
Thankfully, two young lads who were driving by came to our rescue. They worked at high speed finishing off our donkey work. The younger one called Blain cut up some dead eucalyptus branches. First he removed the leaves as they are slippery. These branches were pressed into gaps between the rocks which I had put into place earlier. Sam jumped into the car and with an aggressive reverse movement he stuttered the car in reverse back about thirty metres onto a slightly harder patch of sand. Then he managed to do a u-turn. The three of us then pushed. With another big effort, and much to our delight Michael's car was back on the road. Thanks lads, it was so good of you to stop. They wouldn't take any payment, just a kilo bag of licorice all-sorts! Karma will repay you big time one day.
Having dealt out a big days walking the day before the remaining half-day after our digging ordeal, I also dug deep and slapped out a sloppy twenty kilometres. Then another small chip day, for my tired feet felt like they were sticking to the road like strips of velcro.
I was also stopped by a twenty- something year old man from Delaware, USA called TJ Weisenberger ll. TJ has a great attitude and loves traveling. He has been on the road for three years. In Australia he is working as a fisherman for almost a year.
When he stopped and jumped out of his pickup I was a bit confused for here was a man with an obvious American accent saying. "I saw your Irish flag and had to stop because I couldn't drive by one of my own people!"
It turned out that he has never been to Ireland and that he was on his way to Perth to pick up an Irish passport at our embassy there for he had just obtained Irish citizenship due to his grandmothers birth in Co Cork. Since Brexit there has been a rush on Irish passports by people who qualify. He told us that there used to be a waiting list of about eight weeks to process citizenship application. Now, it's six months. Just then Michael caught up with me, so we all stopped by the side of the road for a cup of TJ's espresso coffee. Michael now calls him O'Weisenberger ll. Ireland's latest adventurer has a big dream to ride a horse across Mongolia.
I walked on towards a (now closed down) former aboriginal run road house in Yalata. A sign mentioned the closure was due to asbestos construction materials which were discovered in the roadhouse. I am sure this was important and much-needed source of employment for local aboriginal people.
From my conversations with many Australians I regretfully report little sympathy for their indigenous people. Though they make up 2.5% of Australia's almost 25 million population. It seems to me they are almost hyphenated-Australian people in a country of 'them and us.' It's only fifty years since they were even included in the Australian census.
Others speak of Australia being one of the most racist countries in the world and how the white man has crapped all over the aboriginal culture. Constantly, I have to listen to stories about how they are ALL drunkards and stories of domestic violence and how they just take big benefits and won't work. While I am walking there are days when aboriginals stop and with big smiles check to see if I am okay. Unfortunately there are few too many that seem to make it through the loops and hoops to a better life.
It's to Australia's shame that there is little integration and how the Australian government doesn't appear to embrace aboriginal culture as much as New Zealand proudly does with its Maori culture.
Indeed, I have read a BBC report that there is absolutely not one mention of the word 'aboriginal' in the Australian constitution.
Recently, near Ayers Rock there was a First Nations Convention where some 200 plus leaders from aboriginal groups from all around Australia discussed recommendations to be submitted to the government with the possibility of having the Australian constitution altered to recognize aboriginal culture and also those of the Torres Strait Islanders. This would then have to be put to a referendum to the Australian people to vote on.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten "respectfully declined" invitations to the convention, saying they did not want to influence the outcome.
The possibility of negotiating a treaty, and removing clauses criticized as racist from Australia's founding document were discussed. This included two so-called "race provisions" which allow the states to disqualify people on the basis of race from voting, and allow laws to be made based upon a person's race.
One cop told me that he and two other officers have to patrol an area the size of Ireland. Most of his calls are in response to drunks and domestic violence on fenced-off aboriginal lands which white people need a permit to visit. Several people have also mentioned that there is no violence directed at white people and that the most serious crime would be asking someone to purchase take away alcohol for them. I asked some questions about this and though some alcohol does get in it seems that most communities have a voluntary ban. Whereas, aboriginal people are served in bars I have been told that they are refused take-away purchases as local watering holes generally respect the voluntary community bans. Many years ago there was a total alcohol ban. This was later reversed when rights activists took an anti-discrimination lawsuit. Unfortunately, it seems that alcohol mixes badly with the aboriginal dna.
When I arrived at Nundrooo roadhouse I stopped for a hamburger meal. We got chatting to the manager an Indian man. He had previously studied in Australia ten years ago and then he took up the opportunity to run the roadhouse when it was bought by another Indian man. That was just one of seventy businesses his boss owns. Michael and I noticed that he was trying to look after petrol, shop, bar sales in addition to taking and serving restaurant orders. Not only was he overworked for his poor wife was preparing the meals in the kitchen. So as to catch up on my writing I decided to take a rest day there. Over breakfast to his credit Michael offered to help out in the kitchen. Michaels gallant offer was politely refused, it seemed that help was on the way as another Indian man was flying into Ceduna airport that very morning. The manager was pretty stressed as his own car was out of action after he had hit a kangaroo a few days earlier. Now he was facing a $400 taxi fare for his new employee. It was 150 kilometres to Ceduna yet Michael offered to pick up the new employee. A phone call was made and the young man got out of the taxi just a couple of kilometres into his journey. At the roadhouse the manager mentioned that with that savings he could live in India for six months.
I had a good days work and after we paid for our expensive dinners we retired to our tents in the half empty motels campground knowing we ha done our bit for Karma.
After my rest day I brought myself out to play on the road. Like two children gone wild my feet cranked out 39, 37 and 40 kilometre days. I walked past some small homesteads, farms and even green grass and sheep. And I met yet another Irishman, Patrick from Mayo who has been living in Australia for most of his life.
Next morning, we stopped for breakfast at a picnic site in picturesque Penong. That means rocky water hole in aboriginal speak. It's also famous for having Australia's largest windmill. Though it's barely a village, it was the largest community we passed through in a month. Michael surprised my with a burger and a choc ice.
On the road I saw camels grazing in yet more emerald green fields. I wondered if those fields were irrigated using nearby salty sea water. Australian roadhouses operate by a serious of generators. On the Nullarbor drinking water is usually desalinated, an expensive process. Sometimes water is brought by water tank vehicles or rainwater is used.
That night we enjoyed our first campfire for we had run out of propane for our stove.
Wednesday, June 21st, the southern hemisphere's shortest day of the year we arrived in a small town called Ceduna. On the way I was stopped by a man who escaped from former Czechoslovakia 37 years ago. Milos Krejci was a former champion amateur cyclist in the Iron Bloc country. He told us how the Czechs and Russians used sport for propaganda reasons. He spoke of an easy life as an athlete and lived in luxury doing little else but competing for seven years. Perhaps, Milos realized that a comfortable living would only last as long as his cycling career for he planned his escape to the west. His plan was simple, he bribed immigration officials. As many officials were loyal to their party it was not easy for the average person to find a bent official. Due to his sporting contacts he was able to find one. All it took was two bottles of whiskey to get a holiday visa for him and his family to get to Yugoslavia. Once in Belgrade he successfully applied for political asylum in the Austrian embassy. He came to Australia as he said it is the furthest place from Czechoslovakia. Once there he was put up in a hostel and given welfare assistance. Not happy with that Milos wanted to find work as a plumber. He said that one good thing about the communist system was the training that people received. Though he could do the work he couldn't speak English. Searching the Australian telephone directory he found a Czech man with the same name. That man was able to help him find a plumbing job where some workers spoke his language.
Ceduna has a population of a couple of thousand. I decided to take couple of rest days and am in debt to my friend Brefine Early for contacting his friends Rob and Pauline Price. Unfortunately, Rob was out of town but we were made welcome by Pauline.