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August 12, 2001

Overland Australia - Update 18

August 12, 2001
Day 20

The team members stared at the road sign in the fading sunlight, 'Julia Creek- 375km'. Pictures of a fuel pump and water tank, a line drawn through each, indicated no services available.


At the team meeting that evening, it was determined that I should take the support vehicle into Croydon the next morning to top off the fuel and water tanks while the rest of the team headed down the dirt track toward Esmeralda Station. (At this point, you may be wondering why a human powered expedition has a diesel powered support vehicle in tow. The vastness and isolation of the Outback makes it an impossibility for us to individually carry the amount of food and water needed by each team member to cover these vast distances between supply points. In the absence of John, the support vehicle driver for the upcoming ten days, Jim, Mike and myself would share driving duties.)

At sunrise, the team headed south while I struck out for Croydon, 25 km in the opposite direction. I had a list of 'to dos' when I arrived. Jason had given a list of instructions, "Call John in Cairns to see where all of the porridge may be stashed in the truck. If he thinks we've gone through it, you'll have to stock up. Top off the extra water drum, as well. This next 375 km looks pretty dry."

As I pulled into town, the stark contrast between Mt. Surprise, Georgetown, and Croydon was evident. Croydon, with a population of 250, had the feel of a town in use. Not much in the way of shops catering to the passing tourist, but businesses suited to support a cattle and mining area.

After calling John, I determined the missing porridge might be hard pressed to find in the dark recesses of the truck storage box in a short amount of time. I would pick some up at the Croydon General Store. I discovered it off the beaten path, the truck route, across town. A long, narrow 1930s vintage building awaited me. Gazing up at the floor to ceiling wooden shelves in the dimly lit space. I searched out the items on my resupply list. Unable to locate much of anything I needed, I inquired of the woman standing behind the counter.

"Excuse me, but do you have boxes of porridge?" She located the porridge section halfway up the wall. "Oh, good," I remarked. "I'll take two, please!"

Peering at me over the top of her glasses, she brusquely remarked, "You just need one box. One box makes a lot of porridge."

"Uh, well, I'd really like two, please," I explained patiently. "You see, I'm feeding a crew."

Mumbling as she reached for the second box, she remarked, "Well, you only need one…"

"I also need some jam," I began hesitantly. "Do you have some apricot?" The woman ambled over to another shelf where several jars of assorted jam were stashed. Eyeing the selection, a jar of marmalade leaped out at me. "Oh! I'll take the marmalade, too," I said excitedly.

"Nope…Don't need it. It's a 'lite' brand," she countered.

Exasperation in my voice, "But I WANT it!" I couldn't believe how hard it was to be spending my money in this store.

"Nope," she replied once more. "It's not the brand you need. Get a second jar of apricot…"

"Fine," I sighed. "Apricot it is…" Paying for the limited amount of groceries, I thanked the woman for her help. "Hmmmm," she acknowledged as I headed out the door.

The shopping completed for the day, water and fuel tanks topped, I left town to track down the rest of the team. After my exasperating shopping spree, the high, wide, and lonesome of the Outback looked pretty darn good once again.


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Posted on August 12, 2001 12:38 PM