ODISSEA AUSTRALIANA – Prima puntata

Un sogno: andare in Australia. La realizzazione del sogno: 6 settimane in giro per questo meraviglioso paese.

I VIAGGIATORI

Oltre a me, il gruppo comprende l’appassionato di treni e camion (Pasquale, mio padre), l’entusiasta (Liliana, mia madre), la Scontenta appassionata di shopping, con la figlia B. e il compagno (che chiamerò McGyver, capirete perché).

11.280 km percorsi

IL VOLO

Per due giorni aereo, aereo e ancora aereo. Crisi nervose per i fumatori: negli aeroporti non si fuma. L’apice però lo si raggiunge a Melbourne, dove in piena notte siamo costretti a uno scalo lunghissimo per un guasto all’aereo: non si può fumare neanche all’esterno, perché tutte le pensiline sono dotate di rilevatori di fumo. Su consiglio di un’inserviente che sta facendo le pulizie nell’aeroporto deserto, Pasquale, Liliana e la Scontenta si chiudono pateticamente nello stanzino del fasciatoio per bambini, l’unico locale privo di rilevatori. Una scena penosa.

IL PRIMO IMPATTO

Dopo qualche momento di riposo in hotel (senza dormire, per abituarci subito al fuso orario, 8 ore e mezza più avanti rispetto all’Italia) e ritirato il gigantesco fuoristrada 4×4 all’autonoleggio, visitiamo brevemente la città. Ci troviamo nel centro dell’Australia, a Alice Springs, nel Northern Territory. Pasquale fotografa qualche camion, la Scontenta e famiglia si infilano in due o tre supermercati, tutti noi vediamo i primi aborigeni, che girovagano per le strade o dormono sotto alle piante.

Cena al “Bojangles Saloon”, un locale simpatico che sarebbe anche allegro, se non fosse per due tizi che strimpellano malinconicamente canzoni dei Beatles con dubbi risultati. Mangiamo mastodontici spiedini di canguro, emù, cammello e coccodrillo. A parte il coccodrillo, che ha una consistenza simile al merluzzo, non mi sento di definire le altre carni “commestibili”. Per mandare giù il tutto, qualcuno beve del buon vino, qualcun altro prende una bella fetta di “Death by Chocolate”, una torta il cui nome dice tutto.

IL GIORNO PIÙ LUNGO (1095 km)

Recuperiamo un po’ di sonno, quindi partiamo abbastanza tardi la mattina. Questo ci costerà caro in seguito, perché sono troppe le cose che non sappiamo. Ci avviamo verso nord sulla Stuart Highway, poi deviamo sulla Tanami Road, subendone subito il fascino. I primi 200 km sono asfaltati, più o meno fino a Tilmouth Well, un’area di servizio con ristorante, hotel, piscina e un piccolo museo aborigeno. Ci fermiamo per fare il pieno e notiamo una piccola perdita d’acqua sotto all’auto. Speriamo che non sia il radiatore.

È il radiatore. Queste tre parole sintetizzano il dramma.

ayers-rock_specchietto

Comunque riprendiamo il viaggio. Ci lasciamo alle spalle le ultime alture e ci inoltriamo nello sconfinato deserto piatto, dove c’è solo qualche arbusto ed erba secca. Lungo la strada vediamo spesso deviazioni per fantomatiche stations (sono le fattorie), che però non si scorgono nemmeno in lontananza. Le alture più imponenti sono i termitai: sono tantissimi, alti anche 2 metri.

La strada è ora una pista, non asfaltata ma larga e compatta, rossa e diritta. La vastità del deserto su ogni lato ci trasmette emozioni bellissime. Vediamo il nostro primo canguro e i primi emù.

La spia dell’acqua però comincia a suonare sgradevolmente, così dobbiamo attingere alle nostre riserve per dissetare il radiatore.

Comunque proseguiamo. Non troviamo traffico né segno di vita umana fino a Rabbit Flat, l’unico distributore lungo la Tanami Road, che apre solo qualche giorno alla settimana. Pensavamo ingenuamente di fermarci a dormire in questa splendida area attrezzata, ma scopriamo ben presto che si tratta in realtà di una baracca frequentata da aborigeni che può offrire al massimo qualche birra (ammesso che gli aborigeni ne abbiano avanzate).

Non ci resta che proseguire, con la prospettiva di affrontare l’ultimo tratto di pista con il buio. Questo ci permette di goderci uno splendido tramonto, reso ancora più affascinante dalla presenza di canguri saltellanti.

tramonto

L’oscurità non presenta problemi, fino a quando quella che pareva essere una nuvola foriera di pioggia si rivela essere una nuvola di fumo. In lontananza appaiono le prime fiamme, che nel giro di pochi minuti si avvicinano su entrambi i lati della strada. Siamo nel bel mezzo di un incendio. Non sappiamo ancora che è un normalissimo bush fire e ci facciamo prendere dal panico: torniamo indietro fino a quando incrociamo una macchina.

Gli occupanti sono ubriachi che di più non si può (li avevamo già visti a Rabbit Flat, mentre trincavano birra), ma ci rassicurano: non c’è pericolo. Ci scortano loro. Per un centinaio di chilometri, poi decidono che andiamo troppo piano (120 km/h) e ci mollano senza averci indicato la strada più breve (già, a un certo punto nel deserto c’è un bivio). Noi ovviamente andiamo dalla parte sbagliata, così allunghiamo di 50 km.

La spia strepita sempre di più. La strada si è fatta tortuosa e brutta, piena di buche e dossi. A un certo punto un tonfo sordo ci fa comprendere senza ombra di dubbio che abbiamo perso la marmitta. Ci fermiamo e cerchiamo di capire come fare per riattaccarla.

Non abbiamo un granché, solo molti succhi di frutta in brick. Ed ecco che McGyver ha la soluzione: svuotiamo i brick, li apriamo, li annodiamo l’uno all’altro e usiamo questa “corda” per legare la marmitta. Però non si spreca niente, quindi i succhi vanno bevuti. Sono 4 a testa.

Comunque riusciamo a eseguire la riparazione di fortuna e ripartiamo, raggiungendo in breve la statale asfaltata. Già pregustiamo un sonno ristoratore in hotel, dopo un’abbondante cena.

Arriviamo a Halls Creek, nel Kimberley, alle 10 di sera: stazione di servizio con annessi ristorante e camere chiusa; hotel chiuso. Unica persona in giro un poliziotto che sta chiudendo la stazione di polizia.

Risultato: cena a base di uova sode. Io e B. ci piazziamo belle comode in macchina, usiamo le giacche per coprirci e ci addormentiamo, non prima però di esserci chiuse dentro, perché non si sa mai. Dormiamo di brutto, tanto che nemmeno sentiamo gli altri che, decisi a dormire su una panchina, vorrebbero prendere le loro giacche, perché la notte – si sa – nel deserto è fredda.

HALLS CREEK, SOSTA FORZATA

Siamo bloccati qui, perché il pezzo indispensabile per riparare la nostra auto deve arrivare da Kununurra (tipico nome aborigeno pieno di “u” che si pronunciano “a”). C’è sempre un pezzo mancante che deve arrivare da lontano, in ogni officina. Fa un caldo torrido, soprattutto alle tre del pomeriggio, quando io e Pasquale, all’apertura dell’officina, andando a verificare se il fantomatico pezzo sia finalmente giunto, percorriamo circa 2 km di strada senza un filo d’ombra, deserta, se non per una serie di aborigeni nullafacenti che vagano senza meta o dormono per terra nei cortili. Poi, puntualmente a mani vuote, torniamo in hotel, che per fortuna è molto confortevole, con aria condizionata e una piscina con spa molto bella.

Per non sprecare totalmente questi giorni, facciamo un’escursione fuori programma: un fantastico volo sul Bungle Bungle e sul Wolfe Creek Crater (un cratere meteoritico del diametro di 875 m profondo 60 m). Si tratta di un deserto davvero particolare, con caratteristiche conformazioni rocciose tondeggianti striate. Dall’alto ci rendiamo conto della vastità del bush, che è solcato da numerose piste rosse, fiumi quasi asciutti e pozze d’acqua. Vediamo anche l’ultimo tratto della Tanami, quello percorso di notte, e due fattorie nel nulla.

Alle 5 del pomeriggio, finalmente ci consegnano l’auto.

bunglebungle

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