We began what would be our regular road breakfast for pretty much the end of time. S&E muffin and coffee for me, B&E and coke for my brother. Drinking coke at 7:30 in the morning is disgusting. It is the wrong thing to do. I bugged my bro into buying shitty sunglasses from a servo, the kind you see eight year olds wearing on holidays up the sunshine coast with their dads. We pulled onto a highway that would take us up the spine of Australia’s east coast. I think we were listening to a Living End cd with a couple of the really good songs missing. We were in high spirits by then.
I was wearing a big jacket and an army jumper because I couldn’t maneuver my seat belt to take them off. My brother wore a t-shirt. I sweated like some kind of butter statue. The road we were on was empty except for tin windmills and tin sheds. Mountains, the shitty kind of large hills Australians call mountains, were on every horizon. I had expected all this. I was looking forward to it. I hadn’t expected how depressing the open road actually is. We ended up looking forward to the roadside speedo checks because it was something to do. We ran out of conversation topics pretty much instantly. There is only so much two brothers can talk about when they have lived together all of their lives. It was about an hour or two into the trip.
We hit Warwick. I had kind of been looking forward to it. I had seen the signs as a kid and always wanted to go there because I had a friend in pre-school of the same name. This is the friend that told me on the first day of grade 1 that we couldn’t be friends any more. The only friend I had in that year was a teacher that yelled at me for not colouring between the lines and tolerated me following him around at lunch times and picking up rubbish.
If I could describe Warwick in two words they would be single storey. That is the nicest thing I can say about it. There are about two roads in it. We took the wrong one. We were already lost in a country we had lived in but never really been to. Every side street we turned down seemed to lead to a cattle yard. It might all just have been the same cattle yard. A shitty google maps printout with smudged words from coffee stains is not a good tool on a long trip. Especially when it only shows the main highways. We pulled over at a service station and argued over who would get out of the car to ask directions. It ended up being me. It always ended up being me. The road out of town was huge and unmistakable and just at the end of the road where the service station was on. It was alright, I was used to looking stupid. Just not reeally used to being stupid.
We eventually got to Goondiwindi. I do not know how to pronounce that. I do not remember the drive there. I had just started reading The Lord of the Rings for the fourth time. I was still red-faced from Warwick and wishing I had a cloak and a pipe. I had managed to worm my way out of my extra layers though. The Goondiwindi McDonalds has very nice people in it. We ate in the parking lot. It felt like the edge of the world. I couldn’t remember ever crossing the border before. And yet there is was. New South Wales was a real place. And it did not have whales in it as I thought when I was a retarded child. We crossed.
There is not a lot of stuff in NSW. There is probably less stuff in the rest of Australia but Western NSW shows you really how empty this country is. That is because there is supposed to be towns there. It said so on our shitty map. We passed a town that a recognised from an Australian film I saw in uni. It consisted of a general store on the other side of the road from a bus stop. There were probably some house there. We were going really fast so I couldn’t sightsee.
We were going down a road that was more like a perfect line, dead straight and infinite in length. I lost track of time. Events, if they could be called that, re-arranged themselves. We only passed trucks. I didn’t even flinch when my brother overtook someone like I normally do. I could see when vehicles were coming from an hour off. I looked down at the map. We we halfway to a big green patch. A silo went by. And then… nothing.
Two brothers flew into the Sol system. They had heard good things about a little blue and green planet. Apparently there was good beer there. They landed on a large tropical island filled with happy, tanned people and cute animals. There had never been any civil wars there, no huge unrest. People mainly partied and bought shitty used cars and smoked terrible cigarettes. They landed in Western New South Wales. They stood looking at the open expanse of dirt from horizon to horizon. An eagle cried or something. They turned to each other and said “This is shit.” Then they took off in a spaceship and went and did something awesome…
I woke up. We were about to cross into the big green patch. I was excited. We had seen nothing but open dirt for about three hours, maybe four. Maybe more. The map said it was some kind of state forest in those words. I wanted it to be a magic forest full of elves and goblins so bad. Just as I was readying myself to slay some monsters we hit it.
The only thing more depressing than seeing nothing for large periods of time is seeing the same thing over and over again. The map had lied to us. This was not a state forest. This was one tree that someone had copied and pasted five-hundred million times. Exactly that number. I counted. My brother and I came up with a game to pass the time. Think of every word you can that started with A. We are not very creative. At some point in the forest we came upon something cool. It was a scale model of the solar system. we were at Pluto I think. The sun was hundreds of killometres away. At the time it seemed pretty cool.
We kept driving. It was getting late. We had forgotten to organise accomodation for the night. We argued about who would call the numbers on the list of places our mother had printed off. It ended up being me. I called the first place. They were full. I thought the guy was pretty rude for pointing out that I really should have prepared this earlier. The second place was full. And so was the third. We arrived in Coonabarabran, the coldest place in Australia, in the middle of Winter with no-where to stay. We drove around the town. There was nothing in it. Nowhere to buy food. Nowhere to drink. We saw a small house with some tents and caravans set up out the back. Turns out it was a camping ground. Turns out we went camping.