19 August

Today was to be the longest day – almost 180 miles. The intention was to leave early but it was 7.45 before we managed to set off.
It became obvious before long that we were emerging from the drier terrain to the northern part of Australia where more rainfall falls. The most disturbing part is the amount of road kill which is indicative that now there are kangaroos and wallabies about. During the dry season the wild-life travels to where there is water and return when the wet season arrives. I have been amazed at the lack of wild-life for the last couple of weeks but now with so much road-kill it is stressful – wish we could teach kangaroos some road sense.
At one point we could see smoke in the distance and then we came upon a fire burning by the road-side which stretched for miles. This was a control fire, lit to get rid of the undergrowth before the really hot weather begins and to minimize the risk of serious bush fires that spread so rapidly.
At Mataranka, the setting of “We of the Never Never”, Jeannie Gunn’s autobiographical account of 1902, we stopped under the trees to check oil and petrol in the Olds as well as lunch for the Team, when the local police pulled up and came to check my car as they had heard that the Olds was the oldest car on the Run. That of course attracted a large audience with cameras. One of the other participants said that quite a few people at Elliott the previous day were breathalysed then I chipped in and said, “We missed out on that”. The policeman then said, “We’ll soon fix that” as he rushed off to the car to get the breathalyser kit. I was then breathalysed, but he was just playing to the cameras as we were all laughing our heads off. In case you are wondering, the result was negative.
It seemed a long day but we arrived at Katherine at 4.10pm ahead of schedule. The Olds never missed a beat and is enjoying the attention she gets.

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