Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Day 11: Matt and Nev's Road Trip - Day 2

And the road trip went wrong...

As per plan, we were up sharp and in the car for a 7am drive. We got in, Matt started the car and reversed out of the parking space, and began to move up the drive. And then the car stopped.

At first I thought Matt had just stalled the car, and internally shrugged, assuming Matt to be an idiot, which is pretty much my default state. He restarted the car - and it wouldn't start. It seemed almost get going, but would never quite manage. Matt looked very concerned. "This is bad," he said.

Immediately we were surrounded by lots of old people, flooding from all the motel doors, offering us a variety of advice. Dead battery, flooded system, empty petrol tank, faulty electronics: it was all suggested as the root of the problem by enthusiastic old people, who were peering from open doors and gathering round, enjoying what I am certain was the highlight of their holiday, if not their entire retirement. Unfortunately, nothing led to any constructive solution. We decided to go for a coffee and come back, hoping the situation might have resolved itself.

It didn't.

After trying a couple of local mechanics, neither of whom could afford the time to take a look, Matt bit the bullet and joined whatever the Australian version of the AA/RAC is, for an extortionate fee. They didn't fix the problem, they just relocated it to a garage in a different town and said they'd call Matt when they'd worked out what was wrong. It was bad news - but the good news was that the sun was shining and we now had some hours at leisure in the pretty little town of Merimbula.

By the time morning had turned to afternoon though, the weather was cooling and news on the car was not good. It definitely would not be fixed that day, and it could be a matters of days. We had two options - stay in Merimbula overnight, or hire a car and drive to Melbourne. Both involved extra expense, so we had to work out what was the most sensible and cost effective. I had to be back in Sydney the following day to attend my piano recital at the Sydney Opera House and had a flight booked from Melbourne, but if we stayed in Merimbula, getting a 10-hour bus the following morning was an option. We troubled tourist information with tons of queries on cheap accommodation, bus timetables and car hire phone numbers, and I must say that they were magnificently helpful. In the end, we decided to hire a car because Matt didn't want to have to hang around Merimbula by himself for days and also didn't like the thought of all his worldly possessions being in his broken-down car in the garage. The hire car wouldn't be ready till 4pm, so we bought some chicken then sat on a bench in the cold wind, and felt like tramps.

The hire car turned out to be a smooth and powerful beast and we drove it to the garage, just before closing time, where we were able to transfer most of Matt's possessions into it. But one thing was missing. I put my hand in my pocket, to check that the spare keys were still there - they weren't. The $600 keys had gone. I had definitely had them that morning, and had checked them during the day, but at some point they had slipped out of my pocket. I quadruple-checked all my pockets and my bag, but they had definitely slipped out. And I am sure I know how it had happened. They'd been in the same pocket as my camera, and during one of these times I'd taken my camera out to take these stupid grinning photos of me and Matt I must have pulled the keys out too, unknowingly dropping them on the ground.

Matt was remarkably cool about it, saying that these things happen, but I was somewhat displeased with myself, to say the least and as we set off, finally, in the hire car for the second day of the road trip, my mood was very glum. It had been a disastrous day - the car breaking down and the spare keys being lost - and ten hours behind schedule, at 5pm, we were only now setting off, with seven hours of driving ahead of us. I sat and sulked for a while, as Matt drove down quiet roads and the sun set into darkness - and then we put techno on.

It's fair to say that the journey from here became a pleasure, and to my delight (and Emma's horror) Matt has been converted to the joys of brutal, thundering techno. For hours and hours, driving fast in the remote darkness, we were soundtracked by muscular, thudding, furious beats on a pretty decent car stereo. I can assuredly say that, at night, it is the only way to travel.

And I can also say that the Australian night time is very, very dark, and when the car is stopped and the lights turned out, very, very scary.

We arrived in Melbourne just after midnight, tired but exhilarated by over six hours of hard techno. The road trip was over - we had made it.


The following day, I sat Emma down and confessed to losing the keys: she took it amazingly well, first not actually believing me and then just laughing in quiet, resigned despair.

The calamities didn't quite end there, as I ended up missing my flight back to Sydney due to a mix up as to which airport I was supposed to be flying from. For just $80, I was able to catch the next flight an hour later, so disaster was averted.

Despite the mishaps of Day 2, the road trip was still very enjoyable, and certainly because of the mishaps very memorable. I can only imagine if the very original World Wonder travel plan had held, and Matt had travelled with me for three years, quite what absolute shambles and folly would have ensued.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally cool with most things, even the knowledge that these photos will wind up on my fridge and what the "night out in kings cross" entailed. I am not however, cool with the thundering techno. Thanks Niall.


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