The Stuart Highway is long, straight and uncompromising. It’s not bothered by hills, rivers or much habitation. The steering wheel only needs to be turned to avoid Wallabies and Kangaroos in the road.
We boarded the Greyhound bus from Katherine and, after our eighth overnight journey of the gap year, arrived 16 hours later in Alice Springs.
For most of the time, it was a journey of darkness, as if the road existed in an empty black vacuum. Nothing to the right or left, except for the occasional flicker of an aboriginal fire or the neon of an isolated roadhouse
By law we had to wear seat-belts. But it didn’t need the government to suggest this was a good idea. Signs at the side of the road said “arrive alive not dead”, whilst our driver was foot down hour after relentless hour.
The half-full bus, soon fell silent and slumbered; asleep or in front of glowing screens. Aboriginals and global travellers all equal now. Upfront, the driver’s radio hopefully kept him awake by crackling semi-incoherent messages.
After 1400 km, the dawn sun revealed a landscape of deep red dust and few trees. We were in the Red Centre.