Shit Box Rally – and some of them are still going

Hullo again sports fans around the globe – Hüllő kai páli na fílathloi se ólo ton kósmo – Bonjour le fans sportif

Well motorsport fans, aspiring grey nomads, kiddies wishing to learn more about this great country and Tasmania and others who just like filling their time reading meaningless ramblings from the mind of someone flooded in Thargomindah.

No that’s not a typing error it’s really the name of this village which on arrival reminds one of those quaint towns in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Dinner was in the Thargomindah community hall and school (an all in one concept our political leaders should take notice of since it also features a bar. And you and I know there is no better way to get primary school kiddies ready for a tough day on the pens and pencils than a few sharpeners at morning tea).

Now it’s good to see Australia and Tasmania’s fine tradition of crook food hasn’t completely disappeared from all parts of the nation and territory. And of course this is real man and woman country. None of the wussie vegan caper here. No, just three meaningless blobs which one of our scientists later confirmed were steak and sausages. And didn’t we wash them down with many plastic glasses of Coolabahs best red in a cardboard box. There’s a reason they call Thargomindah the culinary capital of Thargomindah Country. There’s also a reason Thargomindah is an Aboriginal word meaning “Cloud of Dust”. Given we had enough rain last night to re-float the ark it could also mean “Rains from the Sky that wash away camping areas and all signs of human contact with the earth”.

Now of course we had to drink the red, mixed with a few of Thargomindah’s best ales, because the water here comes straight from artesian bores (if you’re going to be bored, why not by an artesian?). The ground around here is rich with sulphur and oil and gas that gives the water that delightful aroma of perfume de sulphur. Drunk straight it mixes with your natural fluids to form hydrochloric acid and taken by way of shower it leaves your body with the rich smell of ancient lava and manure.

In 1860, Burke & Wills epic expedition through far South West Queensland paved the way for settlement in the area. Let me just remind you that they had very similar luck to us and both died on the way. The town has a population of 229 which had swollen to 729 last night with the arrival of the SBR teams.

We drove there from Blackall on what some smart marketing person advised the local tourist authorities to call the ‘Adventure Way’. If you are ever up this way a real highlight besides watching the effect of sulphuric acid on your naughty bits is the Hydro Power Plant Display on the outskirts of town. There is a Hydro Power Plant demonstration at 4.30pm every day during April to October.

Back to the rally. The second day is traditionally costume day and the theme this year was Wimbledon 1960. Naturally Michael McMichael and I just wore our everyday tennis gear but the younger persons did go to a lot of trouble to find tight white shorts and dresses. Don’t Australian men love dressing up in women’s clothes! Although it would have helped if their legs were not so stubby and had been shaved.

In our team is an old Volvo. Like most things Swedish it breaks down every 90 kms. This time it’s electrical issues. To save putting too much stress on the system the driver has taken to sticking his hand out the window instead of using the turn indicators. This works well when the car is turning right but does pose a problem going left. Once we get somewhere near a place that has newfangled devices like mobile phones and the internet I will send you photos of some of our cars under repair which does look very much like a day on centre court at the all England Club.

This morning we are off for a six hundred mile drive to Tilpa along some of Australia’s best flooded roads. The ute is already taking so much water inside that Jay and I have taken to wearing diving masks and snorkels in the car. Photo on the way.