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Australia's longest straight and Skylab.

Road Trip Day 16: 7th June 2007

There comes a point in some road trips where you want to make a certain distance by nightfall and the only way you can do it is to just drive. Rose wanted to make the town of Coolgardie by nightfall, a distance of more than 600 kilometres from Madura.

After driving the first 157 kilometres a sign at a place called 'Cocklebiddy' (don't ask how it got that name, I don't know) informed us that we were about to embark on Australia's longest straight piece of road. 155 kilometres of straight, flat road. I didn't really need to know that.

When you're driving these sort of distances 'speedo creep' can be a problem. The foot gets heavier and before you know it you're 20 kilometres over the speed limit - and it doesn't even feel like you're going fast.

Today was the day for over taking Road Trains. I did more over taking than I've done on any other day since we begun. One thing I've noticed is that if trucks are a the bane of car drivers then Winnebagoes (kind of like small truck with a mobile home on the back) must be the bane of truck drivers.

Winnebagoes are usually owned by early retires, still young enough to live their dream of travelling around the country side. Where trucks have a top speed (by law in Australia) of 100 kilometres per hour (cars can travel at the max speed of 110 kilometres per hour), Winnebago drivers insist on travelling at about 85 - 90 kilometres an hour. This means that big Road Trains are forced to change lanes. If you think over taking a road train in a car at speeds of 120 kilometres per hour can be a little hairy then imagine what it must be like if you're a road train driver over taking a Winnebago.

155 kilometres later a curious thing happens. Not only do you come to a bend but the road starts to go down hill. Not that curious except that it keeps going down hill for more than 100 kilometres. I didn't ever remember going up hill? It is quite disorientating. We went down hill for so long that I swear we should've been at least 200 metres below sea level!

Part way down this hill we stopped at the Ballidonia roadhouse and motel for lunch. Ballidonia is famous for having a piece of the ill fated space station, Skylab, crash in the region. What do you do when you recover a piece of a NASA space station?

You bolt it to the roof of your roadhouse and create a museum around it for the tourists of course. The museum wasn't open when we passed through but the restaurant did make me a very nice hot dog for lunch.

For once we did make our planned destination, the town of Coolgardie. Rose and I have been running on South Australian time, which is one and a half hours ahead of WA - giving us more light as we chase the sun. We arrived in Coolgardie just as the last rays of sunlight disappeared over the horizon. We're staying at the Coolgardie Motel in a twin share room that has a bunk bed. I get the top bunk - cool!! Last time I slept in a bunk bed I think I was fifteen years old.

Tommorrow we should make it to Perth if all goes to plan. Lets hope so.

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