Down the gunbarrel


In two days time I leave Perth on my motorbike to attempt again the trip to Uluru , that great red rock at the heart of Australia.  You cannot know how beautiful that sight is until you see it rise out of the red interior, grand and indifferent like death; bright and sacred like life.  To get there my friend and I will travel northeast for 900 kilometres to the small town that is the beginning of the Gunbarrel Highway. We will follow this until it becomes the Great Central Road. We will follow those ragged dusty serpents 1400 kilometres East across the Gibson Desert, through the Ngaanyatjarra lands past Warakurna and into the Northern Territory. 

A year ago I lay in the dust of an empty road, 800 kilometres from home and just 100 from the Gunbarrel Highway which we’d dreamed together for three years and smelt and lived and tasted.  They flew me home with my gashes and fractures; my friend turned around and rode back alone along the way we’d come together. Without bitterness or reproach.  Like a friend. 

As I nursed my injuries, I looked for things to do.  I became bored and I started this blog.  Now I only have some scars to remind me of that time.  In two days I will leave this virtual world for one so ancient you cannot imagine it even if you could build time like a mountain with your hands.  Maybe some black men can imagine this oldness; maybe their grandfathers and grandmothers could remember my country as a child.   

And me, well, in a few days I’ll  “see the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended/And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.” (A.B. Paterson) Will I return to this blog?  I don’t know.  It seems somehow fitting to stop here at the point of starting again.  Just as I started at the place I stopped. 

Will we succeed this time? I don’t know but I will tell you this: in that tiny moment before the accident, as I flew unknowing and singing at 90 kph through the silent land, I was that rarest of things.  I was happy.



Filed under australia, friends, Gunbarrel, life, motorbikes, self

16 responses to “Down the gunbarrel

  1. Doktor Holocaust

    A quest for the giant red rock in the middle of nowhere… it has a nice mythic sound to it.

  2. If you don’t come back, know that you’ll be sorely missed. But life is all about the journeys we take. Have a fabulous trip. Soak it all up. Carry it with you always.

  3. damewiggy

    I hope you do return. However, should you not, and you find that rare, remote, and precious happy — ride with it. Ride it as long and as far as it may take you.

    Safe travels, my friend. It’s been a pleasure.

  4. Hi Dok – it is the eve of our departure and, you’re right, there is something mythical about it. Funny find to find that in this modern world.
    Thanks Myotherhalf – it is good to set out on something for which you know you will havee no regrets, no matter how your life finishes or when (of course, I might reconsider that if I have another collision with an animal!)
    Damewiggy – how could I say goodbye to such people as yourself? But just case, as Byron says, “Fare thee well and if forever, then forever fare thee well”

  5. S

    Bit late, yes, but have a good one! How amazing that you’ve not let your accident debilitate you.

    Should you end your blog after the trip, you had a good run, I’d say.

  6. Sorry I’m late to your leaving party.
    We hold out our hand for your’ Literary bread’ Oscarandre and you give us a rock to smash our teeth on, a big red un you bounder!
    Have a good trip.

  7. Well, damn. How upsetting to have missed out on the opportunity to wave a plantif handkerchief in your direction Oscarandre.

    Hope the trip is everything and more – it sounds tremendous in every possible respect.

    Waiting with baited breath for you return.

    No pressure, then…

  8. I wish you all the happiness you can get out there. 🙂

  9. I haven’t been in our little community for much too long, I see. I wish you well in your travels; thank you for all the sound advice. Be careful out there in the wilderness. Should you return, drop me a line.

  10. Best of luck in your travels Oscar, you’ve been a real pleasure and inspiration.

  11. Kym

    Does anyone else find it ominous that he isn’t back yet?

  12. damewiggy

    still checking in and up on you.

    hoping the trails are keeping you safe — no brave wild animals or hellish sand storms whipping you in the face, etc. etc.

    but when i worry, i thing, eh, hell — betcha’ he’s seeing some wicked sunsets and tumbleweeds crossing the ways before him.

    and that’s just good.

    burn on, you lil dust devil, you.

  13. I hadn’t been around to check you out for a while. co-incidence then that I should do so 3 days before a jaunt of my own: small backpack, 3 days clothing and a few bucks in my pocket I hit the road on foot next week to see where it takes me…

    time for adventure. go well OA.

  14. Oh what an adventure! And starting from my home town! Hope it was all that you needed it to be 🙂

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