30 Sep Maiden Voyage
Surrounded by a crowd of excited and slightly confused Aussies, Black Mamba embarked on her maiden voyage in Port Augusta earlier this week. This was the first of the many hours of Australian drive time the team hopes to get in before the race. After three full days of non-stop, cross-continent driving, we have arrived in Darwin, where we will be tweaking the last few parts of the mechanical and electrical systems and begin doing laps on the local race track. Next, we will start our road tests on the Stuart Highway, the route on which the race actually takes place, to get the drivers and race crew accustomed to driving in the Outback.
Our experience so far has been mostly positive. Aside from the occasional sight of truck skid marks leading off the highway to stray kangaroo carcasses, we’ve mostly had clear skies and decent roads to cruise along. Driving hours are limited by sunlight since livestock starts to wander into the road after dark, and kangaroos are worse than American deer since they not only freeze in the road but also like to run (I suppose they hop, actually) straight into your car. Our convoy arrived in Darwin unscathed thankfully, and we got some beautiful glimpses of the Milky Way in the rural skies.
Everybody on the team has also had the opportunity to improve their culinary skills with daily cooking shifts, ensuring the team gets a full meal together at least once a day. For any concerned parents reading this, these dinners are always chock-full of vegetables. Some of the team’s favorite dinner meals so far have been chicken curry with rice, chili with rice, and pad Thai with rice (notice a pattern?) while lunches have been sandwiches and eggs galore.
SSCP reads, too! In the few moments of downtime we find, our race crew members are always picking up books and learning new things. Here’s some of the things we’ve been reading here!
- Julianne: Australia’s Aboriginal Languages – R.M. Dixon
- Drake: On Love – Alain de Botton
- Sam: How Much the Heart Can Hold (Anthology)
- Jean-Marc: Blue Latitudes – Tony Horwitz
- Jasmine: Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
- Julia: Walden – Henry David Thoreau
- Maisam: Sum – David Eagleman
- Ricardo: Know This – John Brockman
- Convoy selection: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – Meg Jay
We’ve also noticed quite a few interesting things about Australia after spending a whole month here. Some interesting observations from the team:
- Bunnings is Australia’s equivalent of Home Depot and surprisingly the best place to get a hot dog.
- Chicken nuggets are crispier at the McDonald’s (They call it “Macca’s” here)
- There are stretches of land along the highway that look almost Martian-like with only a single turn on this 3000km road of endless red dirt
- So many roving packs of cows in the Outback, and no one can figure out how and where they get food and water
- Australian Domino’s extra-large pizza is nowhere near our definition of extra-large
It’s hard to believe that we’re less than two weeks out from the start of the race. But also, the team couldn’t possibly be more excited to get Black Mamba on the road and across the Outback.
Sunshine and Clear Skies,
Maisam & Julia