“I don’t want to sound harsh or unimpressed but to be fair hole number thirteen of the longest golf course in the world is not in the most impressive location.” Rigabold the pernicketness said to the empty car having stopped at Fraser Range Station a bit more than an hour west of his last stop at Norseman.
He had decided to keep a record of his impression of the Nullarbor Links golf course. If he had any chance of a return trip to Earth to specifically study the course he needed some detailed notes to take home.
He did make an addendum to his notes about Fraser Ranges that it was a visually impressive place and the largest hardwood forest in the entire world but there was little else there to keep Tumcuddulan’s interested for long as they had studied such areas before.
Back on the road and headed east Rigabold looked at the GPS, apart from a few bends in the road it was relatively straight and there was very little to see until his next stop at Balladonia where he would not only find hole twelve of the golf course but something else which the hole was named after.
It was about an hour of driving between stops and when Rigabold pulled up at the Balladonia roadhouse it was stinking hot, by Earth standards, in the mid forties. It was a clear heat and there was barely a cloud in sky and not even a breeze in the air. He wasted no time in finding the golf course, looking at the hole and taking a few notes. It was only a short hole, a par 3, par 2 on Tumcuddula, and it was the first hole he’d actually seen someone playing. He chatted to the golfers for a few minutes before heading inside to the museum.
Although many outback roadhouses had small museums with many interesting local artefacts that Tumcuddulan’s liked to study the Balladonia roadhouse museum had something else, something that Rigabold had not seen for a long time.
In 1979, the year of Balladonia’s centenary of settlement, they became the talk of the world when Skylab, a NASA space station crash landed in the roadhouse ground. No one was hurt but US President Jimmy Carter was very apologetic with his suggestion that NASA had lost control of the space station and had no idea where it would hit Earth. Of course he also promised to clean up the mess which was little more than a self protection effort to contain both the craft and the secrets as much as they could. But not everyone gets all their wishes, not even the US President, and a Rigabold was looking at proof of that as he stood in the museum looking at the remaining remnants of the craft.
“I’m sorry Jimmy.” Rigabold said a little louder than he expected.
“Excuse me?” the man beside him said. The man was no doubt a tourist, because he wore shorts, a polo shirt and had white pasty skin that didn’t look like it had seen enough sun to be someone who lived in the outback.
“Oh sorry,” Rigabold said wondering if the man’s name was in fact Jimmy or of he was just answering because no one else was around.
It didn’t really matter what the man thought after that way Megamouth and his friends reacted to Rigabold recounting of how Wave Rock was created how could he possibly tell the man standing beside him the truth about Skylab. The truth that did involve NASA loosing control of the space craft but only because Rigabold himself had been skylarking too close to the Earth in his previous Stargazer and clipped the craft sending it out of orbit.
Although he was fairly confident that Megamouth and the man beside him would never meet and compare stories Rigbaold couldn’t tell the man what he knew. No more than NASA could tell the world they knew their expensive space craft was shunted off line and out of their control by what many on Earth kept calling UFO’s.
Rigabold stared at the rather large dent, of which only half remained, just to the left of the Airlock warning sign on the big panel of craft that was in the museum and remembered back to how he was reprimanded for his skylarking. Sentenced to roam the galaxy of Haymelurob for twenty squeelookals with nothing but his Stargazer and more obstacles than he could count. Each time he hit an obstacle he had to return to Tumcuddula, sit a safety test and return to the course. The course was made harder by the fact that each obstacle moved unexpectedly and he could therefore not memorise it.
After making his apologies to Jimmy, not that Jimmy would have heard, and purchasing four Chiko Rolls and two Spring rolls, which he was getting used to, Rigabold was back on the road. It was approaching what Earthlings called lunch time and he was about to hit another Earth milestone.
Not far from the Balladonia roadhouse the Nullarbor Plain official started. Rigabold knew that the Nullarbor, which is Latin for no abor, or no trees, is only about 1100 kilometres, or nearly four quagnackles, wide and the “Nullarbor Plain” only made up a fraction of the area that people credited it with when they said they were “crossing the Nullarbor”. Not only is the Nullarbor Plain the world’s largest single exposure of limestone exposure it also contains one of the longest straight stretches of road in the entire word.
Because Riagbold had been on other long straight roads, during previous trips to Earth, he was interested to see how Australia’s long road compared. Even before he started the long stretch he knew from his GPS imagery that the road was in fact dead straight, unlike other longest straight roads which had sweeping bends, and he was thankful for the fact he wasn’t like Earthlings who often became fatigued on long straight roads.
As Rigabold passed the big sign telling him he was on the longest straight road in Australia he munched on his third Chiko Roll and let the Dodge drive itself.