Day 2 (7/18/15), Blackheath to Trangie, 229 miles
When we woke, we were amazed to see ice at our campground since we descended below the snow line the night before. Sheets of ice were in place of water that had been splashed and left on our sink and water tank spigot. There were ice crystals in place of the dew on the grass. It crunched as we walked to the bathroom. Even the ferns (some as big as our truck) were not immune from the overnight freeze.
After the initial shock of waking up to 31º F temperature, we got down to business. At the beginning of any overlanding trip, we always have at least one last grocery bag worth of shit that did not find a home within the LX450 or Chaser prior to departure. This time was no different. Also, to be checked were the new things that had been attached to the truck in the last few days. The first day on the road can lead to bolts or straps loosening. (Ask us how we know!)
We packed up and hit the road after breakfast. On the face of it, the road conditions on the drive back up the winding Megalong Valley road should have been more treacherous than it was the previous evening. The road was colder, hence icier. But, we knew what to expect, were driving uphill, and had light. This actually made it easier going. We passed the same abandoned vehicle that had gotten stuck a day earlier.
We decided to look for the last of the hard-to-find foodstuffs in the town of Blackheath. These were exotic things like half and half, coffee beas, and non-instant rice. We don’t think half and half exists in Australia, coffee beans were over $20 USD per pound, and we finally got a couple kilos of Calrose rice!
We found an awesome butcher shop so we picked up some sausages which is one of our favorite camping foods. As an additional bonus, they had the only non-yellow mustard we had seen so far.
As we were meandering through town, we heard people talking about road closures. We discovered by word of mouth and confirmed with the official transportation website that the Great Western Highway was indeed closed in both directions. So, we repacked some stuff, took care of some business, and took advantage of good wireless data service.
Around noon, we decided to go wait in the line of vehicles for the road to reopen. The locals seemed to think the sun would have taken care of the ice by then. When we arrived, we found the northbound direction had just opened! The southbound had not. Hundreds of cars and big rigs were stopped and waiting as we sped by.
After the descent of the mountains, we settled in to a flat savanna-like landscape. I’m not sure this was quite the Outback, but it was getting there. This is where LeeWhay saw her first alive (many were roadkill), wild (she pet them in a Brisbane zoo) kangaroos!
Gasoline was about $4.50 USD for 95 octane. We filled up our onboard fuel tanks and two Jerry cans for a total of about 65 gallons!
The rest of the drive was uneventful.
It always seems to take us a day or two to get into the rhythm of driving, cooking, washing, and sleeping out of the truck and trailer. Remembering what goes where, remembering that certain things need to happen in a certain order, and who does what are part of this rhythm. Today was one of theses days…