Wednesday 14th of August, the first day of an interesting journey. Tom and I depart together with Cindy and Rogier a week before the rest of the team to Australia. Cindy and Rogier as quartermasters to Darwin, to prepare our living- and workspaces for the arrival of the team. Tom and I to Adelaide, to drive the World Solar Challenge’s course in the reverse direction, to explore the road.
We gather in the morning at Schiphol Airport for flight MH 0017 to Kuala Lumpur. After the usual checking in, waving goodbye (farewell committee, thanks once again for your presence) and customs it was time for a, well provided, 12 hour flight. Once arrived in Kuala Lumpur there was just enough time for the four of us to take a quick tour through the city.
In the evening we had the opportunity to refresh ourselves in a hotel before taking the next flight to Adelaide. We also parted ways with Rogier and Cindy, who continued their journey to Darwin.
After arrival in Adelaide Tom and I took a bus downtown where our rental car was waiting for us. The car that would take us the 3000 kilometers to Darwin and that will take part of the team the 3000 kilometers back to Adelaide later on. After a few days in Adelaide and a great conversation with Chris Selwood (the Event Director of the World Solar Challenge) we drove north ways, into the Australian outback. For Tom and me this was the first encounter with the Australian inlands. The first part to the north is pretty inhabited, but after about 500 kilometers the feeling of being alone creeps up on you. It is a road that continues straight on for kilometers on end, and even, so it seems, disappears into the sky.
Road trains, cattle grids made out of rail track, road kill (unfortunately, we saw more dead kangaroos than live ones). Al together a lot of new impressions on our exploration of the World Solar Challenge’s route. We spent most of our evenings in road houses, often little more than a gas station with a little restaurant and a place to sleep. The further into the outback, the less people, and the more interesting the atmosphere. We learned a lot on the journey, about the road, attention points for the race. We also came across some local peculiarities (“please, do not drink the water from the tap, drink the provided rainwater instead”).
Last Saturday we arrived in Darwin, and our team re-united after two weeks. The first working days on the other side of the world have ended. In the coming weeks the other teams will arrive in Darwin as well, something we look forward to together.
This is also a great moment to look back on our time in the Netherlands. We all worked very hard the past months to put a top performance in place, something we have achieved together and with all our partners. Now is the moment of taking everything out of our team and our car, with the last preparations. Everything to travel the last 3000 kilometers together, a race towards the ultimate result!