You might be forgiven for assuming that by Day 9 of a trip like this, all that could have gone wrong would have by now. Many of us thought the same… The day started just like any other – 5:30 wakeup, on the road by 7, quiet time, bus aerobics, bush wee stop and some bus games.

It was only 10am when we rolled into Tjukayirla Roadhouse, virtually the only sign of civilisation on the Great Central Road between Warburton and Laverton, and we were anticipating nothing more than a quick shop-stop. And then we saw it. The blunt and unforgiving sign that decided on a change of plans: Road to Laverton – Closed. That’s right. Closed.

Too much rain on the unbitumised roads usually results in immediate closures and we’d been unfortunate enough to encounter one. We still had 315km to Laverton – our planned evening stop – but some quick phone calls and reorganizing soon had us settled in at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse campground with plans to make up the extra kms tomorrow and arrive later than hoped at Goongarrie homestead the following night – unless of course the road remained closed, in which case we’d have been forced to add another night to our Pilgrimage!

But our legendary bus drivers managed to make some connections in high places and were assured we’d be on the road again by 7am. Unplanned as our free time may have been, we certainly made the most of it with a communal nap in the air-conditioned rec room, a movie and a few chapters of a Gerald Durrell novel enjoyed by all. Our pilgrims really are flexible and ready for anything, so come at us day 10!