Oz: Hiring a car, roadkill kangaroos and Driving into "the bush"

Today saw me hire a car. I figured that it would cost me A$35 for a taxi from downtown Perth back to the airport, plus I wanted to catch up with a ex-C&B buddy who has a ranch close what you and I refer to as “the bush”. His ranch was some 80km east of Perth and involved navigating the Great Eastern Highway, the Roe Highway and the Great Southern Highway…and back again. The trip back was a little fraught with split-timing in order to get the hire car re-fueled and back to the airport in time. Everything, it seems, is much more laid back than here in the UK, most places close up “early”, i.e. between 1600 and 1700. Even with the car hire return staying open “late” until 1730, I was still pushing my luck a little. So much so, the desk was empty and I was forced to use the late key drop facility. I hope that works.

[Update , it seems that it didn’t.  Alison, my wife, received a ‘phone call asking if I still had the car…pretty tricky given that I was in Dubai at the time of the ‘phone call.  And I’d called their local office to let them know what I was doing, so I won’t be expecting to be charged for a second day of hire.]

[Another update: wow! I only paid £23 for the car hire for the whole day…why does it cost so much to hire a car here in the UK? That said, the fuel cost me £25…petrol engine I guess, I’m just so used to diesel these days]

The 80km trip out to my buddy’s ranch was fairly painless, I made a couple of wrong turns that took me off track but only for a couple of minutes. Here in the UK our highways have slip roads on the left-hand side of the carriage way. Not so in Australia, they have a T-junction with traffic lights, which meant that I had to pull across the outside lane (lane 2, overtaking lane) into a slip near the central reservation just to turn right. I suppose it’s cheaper than building fly-overs and slip-unders. Anyway, since the Aussies drive on the same side as the Brits, my mind could focus on other things whilst I was driving…like watching out for kangaroos (roos) jumping out in front of me. Without the added protection of a “roo-bar”, my vehicle was particularly vulnerable. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough not to hit a roo, never mind see a live one. My buddy whose ranch I was headed for was not so lucky. On Friday he hit a roo whilst on his way down to the Great Southern Highway. He thought the roo had “gotten away”, but this was not the case – during a tour of his homestead/land, see saw his vehicle’s indicator…I spotted the roo decomposing at the roadside. This was somewhat pleasing for two reasons. Firstly, this roo caused A$3500 worth of damage. Secondly, roos are seen as pests down under, they harass livestock and eat their feed. Anyway, my buddy was chuffed that “he got the bastard”. His day was made, glad I could have been of assistance!

It turns out that my buddy’s wife is from Gourock, small world. Even smaller world: I drove into York to buy a small “house gift”, the bloke who sold me the gift was born in Dunfermline, lived in Manchester and moved to Oz some 15 years earlier. He was a “good guy”, I described what I wanted…he sold me a picture frame priced at $24.95 for $15, and a furry toy for $5, wicked. Settler’s Gifts, left hand side of the main street in York after leaving the Great Southern Highway. Kudos my friend, what goes around comes around: I left him with the tale of José Mourinho’s cup medals and eBay. Oh how we laughed.

I’m not sure how my buddy does it. He and his wife run a moderate sized farm, sheep, cattle, crop. And he has a day job working for Currie & Brown, which is the aforementioned 80km back to Perth – that’s a 60+ minute drive. They collect all their own drinking/washing/cooking water via carefully designed corrugated roofs. 1mm of rain can collect some 200 liters of water. Today, we must have got way more than that. I was treated to a tour of the homestead in the ut [utility vehicle], a 2.8 diesel 4×4. Kangaroos were off the agenda pretty much…except the dead one that I spotted and noted in an earlier paragraph.

roo.gif
I did see two kangaroos: this model and a dead one

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