It's an eerie long drive at night, dodging the wildlife and the wandering stock. Soon after dusk, the new moon slides below the horizon to my left, leaving the sky a moonless, starry black. The kangaroos are the worst. I slow right down for them, but of course you can hit a roo even when you are stationary. The idiotic creatures will just jump into the side of your car. The lights of Minilya roadhouse come and go. I drive past the campsite fifty kilometres further north, and its solar powered light diminishes in the rearview mirror. I take a sip of water, and test out the cruise control. Rest the accelerator foot. Then, sleepily, i take the turnoff to Coral Bay for a coffee and some takeaway lasagne. Last time i was here i had the seafood basket. It was fabulous. I ordered extra whale meat.
I sit, staring at a turtle ashtray. I really am an idiot sometimes, i decide.
Writing for a while by the dim light outside the restaurant. People come and go on their rusty, dusty, red quad bikes, carrying up to three passengers at a time. They seem to be having fun. I have taken Safari Bob's advice and bought a whole suite of Hawaiian shirts. Life is more fun in a Hawaiian shirt, says Safari Bob. Well, with that and my blond hair, i should be having more fun than hot dinners. My hot dinner arrives in its rectangular plastic box. I finish up my coffee, climb back into the car, crank up Nick Cave, and drive. Bring it on, sings the former Saint, Chris Bailey. Bring it on. All your shattered dreams - and I’ll scatter them into the sea.
Into the sea.
Driving the North West Cape at night is an eerie experience. All those military installations all lit up, those Federal Government warning signs that flare up in the headlights, prohibiting trespassing, shooting - let alone camping - and the ubiquitous wandering wildlife. I hunt around for a place to crash. Stuff it, i think. Into the ranges. I turn up Charles Knife Road, the front wheels scrambling to pull me up the winding razorback ridge road between the gorges.
I inch carefully off the road and park on the edge of a cliff, locking a canvas windbreak into the doors of the car. I roll out the swag under the blazing stars, and crack open my hot dinner, eating by starlight. The Coral Bay chef has decided lasagne doesn't really need bechamel sauce. I chew stoically on dry minced meat between sheets of gluey pasta.
Living in the North West really toughens one up.