On past Coonamble to a small town called Quambone and our decision to drive back roads through the Macquarie Marshes on a wet and slippery day. Five minutes out of Quambone, into the rainy landscape, we happened upon some broken down bird-watchers. Well, their car was broken down.
After offering to carry one of them (Bob) thirty kms or so along the road to their camp and second vehicle, Vanessa squished into the backseat with our ludicrous load of luggage and I took off at a rate of knots. For some reason I had it in my head that we needed to hurry.
But of course it was raining. And soon the sandy soil turned black.
"It's the trecherous, splippery black soils that make driving so difficult," stated Bob the birdman after the distraction of a frenzy of bird indentifications (in which Vanessa eagerly joined I might add). His hand wrenched on the handhold above the passenger door, grip tightening.
"Please let me know if I'm doing anything wrong, I'm not used to this 4WDing caper," I requested, surface cheeriness masking my growing anxiety as the car powered along... we seemed to be sliding around on the oily soil.
"Zzzhhhhhmming," Birdman tittered nervously, reaching up with another hand to grasp the handhold firmly.
I only lost control of the car twice.
After about half hour driving it dawned on me that we all might feel a little safer if I slowed from the hasty 80kmph I had been aiming at to a more sedate 60. The difference in my control of the vehicle was remarkable. Five minutes later we dropped Bob at the gate to his camp. He declined our kind offer to drive him all the way in, despite the fact that it was pouring rain and the camp was a good 500m away.
Bob's parting suggestion: "Perhaps you girls should think about taking the sealed road to Nyngan instead of the short cut across country to Coolabah. Some of the roads between here and there can get a bit sticky."
Kind man. We took his advice.