I’d always heard stories about the road trains (RT) up here, but never really thought about how big they really were … until I had to overtake one. Now you may not think this is really that big a deal … and it probably isn’t to a normal person … but as you have probably realised, I’m really not the definition of normal. Far from it actually. Just ask the poor bloke who had to spend 17 hours in a car with me (this poor bloke will now be known as Mr W … xx).
So why was overtaking a RT so BIG for me? Firstly, I haven’t driven a manual car, let alone dirty great big four-wheel drive, since I got my licence (and sadly that was over 10 years ago now). So you can imagine the fear that set in when I was told … “ok, it’s your turn now” … pardon me, what??? The horror of learning to drive the first time around was all of sudden very real again … the fact that I could never quite get that clutch/accelerator thingy right … and the fact that I failed my first driving test … it was all flashing before my eyes. But praise where praise is due, I had the best teacher … patience of a saint that man. He didn’t bat an eyelid when I forgot to take the hand brake off, meaning I stalled it before I’d even left the side of the road … and didn’t flinch when I accidentally put it into 5th gear … instead of 3rd. God love him.
And so, after my “Dummies Guide to Driving a Stick” Driving Lesson, along the road we went, me thinking, gee this isn’t that hard … once you get into fifth gear it’s just like driving an automatic (this has been quoted back to me by Mr W. on several occasions, apparently this really isn’t the case). And so, Mr W. decided he would have a little nap (god knows how he drifted off, I certainly wouldn’t have been sleeping with me at the wheel). Anyway … there I was cruising along … when all of a sudden I was behind a RT … yes yes I know, it’s not like I hadn’t seen one before … however … you don’t realise how huge they are until you have to overtake one on a skinny road where you really can’t see that far in front of you!! So I slowed down, thinking, this is ok, I’ll just sit behind him for the next like 10 hours, all good. But oh no, next thing I know, Mr RT driver put his indicator on, letting me know that it was safe to pass. And there was my old friend fear. But after a couple of deep breaths, and some reassuring words from Mr W. (who had woken up to see the ass end of Mr RT) .. I put the pedal to the metal (and in 5th gear just like an automatic) I overtook my first RT … woop woop … one of my proudest Pilbara Princess moments to date. Mr RT was probably wondering why the hell some woman was waving at him like her life depended on it … I was THAT excited.
I took some photos (while I was a passenger … I might be able to eat/drink/talk while driving an automatic, but a manual is a whole different ball game, even in 5th gear) … so you can see just how big the RT really are. And some of these are on the mini side … the further North you go, the bigger they get.
And if you ever find yourself driving through the Pilbara and happen to have a two-way on board … my tip is tune in and have a listen to the RT drivers chatting to each other … it’s some of the funniest stuff you will ever hear. Another tip … try not to get involved in their conversations too much … ha ha ha they really don’t take kindly to that lol.
Stay tuned for my next post … Life Lessons of a Pilbara Princess …