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  Friday, 29 November, 2002, 08:56 GMT
Move over Jack Kerouac
Phil Long on the road from Adelaide to Perth

"A hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams."

No, I'm not talking about this current Ashes series, those are the words of explorer Edward John Eyre describing Australia's Nullabor Plain in the 19th century.

This week, it was this 'hideous anomaly' that stood between those of us foolish enough to drive from a thrashing in Adelaide to a likely beating in Perth.

After buying a car in Brisbane for just 1,800 bucks (about 700), fellow fans Hoover, Biff and The Grill and I headed westwards.

Pouring rain greeted our departure from Adelaide forcing us down to just 20 mph.

Jason Gillespie appeals for lbw
The Adelaide Test was a big disappointment

At that speed the 1600-mile trip facing us seemed a very, very long one indeed.

It was a weary bunch who eventually rolled into the town of Ceduna, 781 km from Adelaide and the start of the Nullabor, but to be honest the locals couldn't have been less interested to see us.

Ceduna is one of only two towns of any note that lie on the path of a total solar eclipse, which is due on 4 December.

So when we rejected the idea of buying a commemorative tea towel, the locals turned their attention back to devising ways of making as many bucks as possible during their day in the sun.

Or without the sun, I suppose.

No flies on us

Day two reminded us how ridiculous this journey really was and how hopping on a plane would have been a whole lot easier.

In 13 hours we travelled a mere 750 miles (90 of them along the straightest road in Australia), crossed three time zones and had our car inspected for fruit flies at the state border.

Then to cap it all, as we approached the town of Norseman and our bed for the night, we were stopped by the local police and had to show all our documentation as they mistook us for illegal aliens on the run from South Australian authorities.

Still, the back of the journey was now broken and after a relatively easy day we spent our third night in the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie.

A mine in Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie is famous for its mines

Mines mean miners and in order to meet the needs of these guys, the world's oldest profession isn't backward in coming forwards in Kal.

Those members of the Barmy Army crossing the Nullabor by train made the most of their three-hour stop in Kal by having a quick beer and then heading off into the night to find the woman of their dreams.

"It's a long tour," said one as he dashed out of the Exchange Hotel.

Although it looks close on the map, Kal to Perth is another six long hours on the highway.

But, at last, after countless awful outback radio adverts, Hoover's memories of a chance meeting with Richie Benaud in Adelaide, 14 stops for petrol and with the tripometer on our car showing just 2,842 kms, we arrived.

It felt great to have made it in one piece and, with the sun shining and the prospect of a few beers, everything felt right in the world.

If only the cricket hadn't started again.

You can contact Phil in Australia by emailing:

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

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See also:

25 Nov 02 | The Ashes
15 Nov 02 | The Ashes
01 Nov 02 | The Ashes
06 Nov 02 | The Ashes
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