And they all lived happily ever after…
Well that’s a bit of a let down ending to the start of a story isn’t it?
I guess maybe I should continue the story I started rather than end it at the very beginning, that would be better wouldn’t it.
Where was I? Oh yeah I was coming back from the Ponton River rescue and Gary and Jarrod were following me in their Pajero. Their vehicle appeared to be running fine and they had suffered no adverse effects in the hour or so since we’d left the camp but they were following me to Halls Creek just in case. They were also following me because heading into Halls was a part of their original itinerary which was a day out of whack thanks to their unscheduled stop on a rock.
After being on the bitumen for about twenty minutes we came across an escort vehicle with flashing lights and a sign indicating there was something slow moving ahead of them that all road users needed to be cautious of. There would be another similar vehicle ahead of what it was we’d be passing doing the same thing for on coming traffic. Now as I might have mentioned previous, wide loads and escorted loads are not an uncommon sight on our country roads, technically a vehicle needs “Oversized” signs when it or its load is larger than the manufacture meant it to be. An escort is used when a load is either so large it takes up more than a single lane or if it’s so slow moving that it may become a road hazard to other road users, there are times where an escort is also escorted by the police.
What was ahead of us wasn’t too wide, in fact I couldn’t see it, but it was moving at less than ten kilometres per hour. Now as I might have mentioned I knew what was ahead because I’d been listening to the radio and it was news for a town like Halls Creek that such an escort was coming through town.
The boys and I had been using a local channel to communicate between our vehicles on the trip south rather than the open road channel, it wasn’t necessary especially given the limited radio chatter in such a remote area but it was just something I preferred to do. Because of that I wasn’t sure if the boys were monitoring the road channel as well or like me they had two radios so I radioed back to them to tell them that we were ok to pass the escort vehicle in front of us.
“Hey boys, in case you didn’t hear we’ve got a slow moving escort ahead. We are clear to pass, I’m going around now.” I didn’t feel there was a need to add anything about driving cautiously partly because they’d be following me but also because the boys seemed smart enough to be cautious without my warning.
“No worries Dean. We were listening on the side.” It was Gary who was replying. “What are we passing?”
“You don’t know?” I asked as I pushed the button on the side of my microphone to talk.
In case you haven’t noticed there was no radio code like “Breaker, Breaker” or “Roger” etc, that’s mainly because there was so little radio chatter from other people. Between the boys and I on the local channel there was no one else to break and honestly saying “over” after every bloody sentence is just annoying and doesn’t happen outside of the movies. If we were using the road channel and there was someone talking when we wanted to talk we would definitely offer the polite radio code to break in and ask our questions but with no one else talking it just wasn’t necessary.
“Nope Dean, no idea what it is.” Gary responded, “and your conversation with the escort didn’t give us any hints either.”
“Oh ok, then,” I said pushing the call button again. “Well you might be in for a bit of a shock! I suggest you slow down a bit and have a look as you pass. Give them a blast of horn as you pass to show them some support too.”
The radio then went silent. I flicked my indicator stalk down to indicate my intention to move into the right hand land and slowed myself down to less than forty clicks. I slowly began my over taking manoeuvre, the boys behind me had caught up a bit and were now only about twenty metres off my tail starting their passing manoeuvre as well.
By the time the front of the Beast was up to the rear wheels of the Mercedes Sprinter escort van I could see what was being escorted and I tell you even though I knew what it was before hand it was still a huge shock and one I couldn’t help but be amazed at.
There in the thirty three degree heat of the Aussie outback was a person walking along the road’s edge pushing a makeshift pram, pusher, baby carriage type thing. Now you might think that’s strange, and it kind of is but time and again we do get walkers, bike riders and all sorts walking from point A to point B, or all around the country to raise money for charity. Honestly it’s amazing the lengths some people will go to for a cause they are passionate about. These people are the sort of people that put the rest of us to shame, instead of sitting back and just accepting things these people go above and beyond what most people would even consider to do something just to help others, but I digress.
However what I could see of this guy took all that to a new level, not only was he walking the 15,000 kilometres of bitumen that was Highway 1 which goes all the way around the Australian mainland he was doing it unlike anyone had ever done it before, so much so that as I said I was still shocked to see it and I knew what it was.
Walking before me pushing that carriage like thing was a man, dressed all in white, well white that had clearly been road worn. There was signs of dirt and dust all over it, as there was on the carriage, which indicated the man had been at it for a while, and he indeed had, however he wasn’t even half way into his 15,000 kilometre trip.
“What the hell?” I heard on the radio as the boys caught up to be about five metres from my tail. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yep Gary, it is.”
So what were we looking at?
What we were looking at was a man walking through the hot Aussie outback pushing a carriage and wearing a complete Stormtrooper outfit from the movie Star Wars. Now I might have been acclimatised to the heat we get in the outback but there was no way I envied this guy from the city walking all around the country, but doing it it a bloody Stormtrooper suit, how dedicated to raising money was this guy?
I gave the Stormtrooper a blast on the horn as we passed, as did the boys, he waved to us and kept walking. Still shocked by his dedication we sped up a little bit once we were well clear of him and a few minutes later we were passing the front escort vehicle, which was towing a caravan, and on our way back to Halls.
The boys and I had a little chat about the Stormtrooper and what he was doing, why he was walking around the country and that he’d be in Halls Creek later in the day if they wanted to talk to him.
We arrived back in town about thirty minutes before lunch.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.