Last July, I was in Darwin after a week’s road trip rush from Melbourne. We had our permits checked to enter South Australia, were even more nervous about our Northern Territory permits, and had to forego a night’s accommodation in Alice Springs when that town locked down. Our road trip proper would not commence until August, when we would mosey eastward across the Gulf, seeking to see Brolgas and Sarus Cranes. But it felt legitimate to ask if I “learned” anything from 4,000 kilometers on mostly outback highways.
I’d say the trip reinforced for me the strange vastness of my country revealed by hours of blurred driving. The inhospitability of the outback was reinforced. But the metaphor that has stuck with me is the wrecked car. Northern Territory seems to offer up a vision of decaying fossil fuel aftermath every few hours, as if encapsulating the human ethos here: rev up big, then dump. In the Anthropocene, we are the car and we are the wreck.