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Blanchfield Recounts Epic Mackay to Perth Drive

Todd Blanchfield’s journey to Perth was anything but ordinary.

As the new Perth Wildcat made his way to his new hometown, his drive from Mackay to Western Australia included visits to country towns, encounters with Australian wildlife, border ordeals and ultimately a two-week quarantine stay in a Fremantle Airbnb.

In total, it took 25 days for Blanchfield, his partner Jess and dog Rollo to gain freedom in Perth after leaving Mackay on August 14.

Eight of those 25 days were occupied by a drive which had an approximate path of 1,400 kilometres west into the Northern Territory, 800 kilometres southwest to Alice Springs, 1,200 kilometres through the Northern Territory to the South Australian coastline and 1,900 kilometres to Western Australia.  

“It was actually really good. It was cool, I actually really enjoyed it,” Blanchfield told Gibbo Goes One-On-One Driven by MG.

“In saying that I don’t know if I would do it again but to say I’ve done it is cool.”

The scenic – but no doubt gruelling drive – was highlighted by a GPS finding an alternate route which took Blanchfield on an adventure with some of Australia’s most native animals.   

“One part that stands out to me was when we crossed the Northern Territory border into South Australia, Google Maps told us to turn right off the highway because it took two and a half hours off the trip,” Blanchfield said.

“We decided to take the right and we ended spending four hours on this four-wheel drive track.

“We saw three cars in four hours, lucky I had jerry cans on the camper trailer because the fuel stations were in the middle of nowhere, I don’t know how they would pump fuel out there.

“I saw stuff that you see in the movies, we had three emus run beside the car, we had to stop for sheep, cows, wombats, echidnas, we had to stop for everything. We crossed through about 20 different creeks…it was really cool.”  

When recalling the trip, a couple of towns and landmarks stick out in Blanchfield’s mind.

“We eventually got to Camooweal which is on the border of the Northern Territory and Queensland, I think it’s got a population of about 200 people,” Blanchfield said.

“Service was limited out there, I think I had one bar of 3G to check in with mum and dad and make sure everything is alright and we are still tracking alright.

“We then crossed into the Northern Territory, got to the Threeways Roadhouse which is quite famous in the Northern Territory, I think it’s in the middle of Alice Springs and Darwin, it’s on that highway.

“Turned left there, went down to Alice Springs, stayed the night in Alice Springs and then trekked down to Ceduna which is on the coast in South Australia.

“Eventually we just made our way along the coast, saw the Great Australian Bight, which was unbelievable, the whale watching there, you are only 50-70 metres away from the whales which was really cool to see.

“Then we crossed the Nullarbor, which was another thing I’ve always wanted to do, seeing that outback Australia.”

The process of crossing the Western Australia border was slightly complicated and prolonged due to the state’s strict COVID-19 precautions but Blanchfield says they got through with no dramas and eventually settled in their Fremantle quarantine base.

“It was a little bit of a mission on the WA border because they are so strict here with what’s happening in the world right now,” he said.

“Not only that but the food and produce, we had to have our car searched for that as well so that was about a 45 minute to an hour ordeal at the border.

“They’re doing their jobs, and everything is smooth sailing over here and you got to respect that.

“Lots of fun along the trip, finally got into Perth, got an Airbnb in Fremantle and we were there for two weeks.”

Blanchfield hit the practice court with the Wildcats for the first time this week as preparations ramp up for NBL21.

Listen to the Gibbo Goes One-On-One podcast driven by MG every Wednesday night at 6:30pm AEST, as Adam Gibson is joined by a special guest each week. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

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