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Published: April 13th 2011
As we farewelled the Barossa one sunny morning with grape-stains on our fingers, grape-vines in the rear-vision mirror and memories of being called back to work after lunch with the word "Cupla" (meaning "a couple of minutes" before we start work again!), we headed across to the York Peninsula. But…as it turned out, we ended up in the Flinders Ranges, not because we had our map upside down, but thanks to our new friend Mohican!!…
We stopped in a little town and as we emerged from the fruit shop we saw a slim shirtless man with a shaved head and lots of tatts. He looked like a biker from way back. He had a bunch of women in the car presumably partner, daughters and grand-daughters. While drinking a can of beer and jump-starting his car, he said to us: "Wanna buy a Commodore, girls?". I replied, "Nothing worse than car trouble" which was apparently an invitation to enjoy some banter, and as such he replied with a grin suggesting a great pleasure at his own cleverness, "Well, it wasn't a bad buy for $250!! He came over and shook our hands wanting to know from whence we had come
and to whence we intended to go! We stopped a few hundred metres away at a park for lunch and who should re-appear but Mohican!! He wandered over to chat while the women sat in the car! He gave us his address in Pt Augusta and invited us to stay! Sue became a bit nervous expecting a police ambush as she thought he was waiting for a drug deal and I must admit I was wondering what he was up to as well. We had just started lunch so we stayed as he told us about his brother who had recently died in Perth from asphyxiation on his own vomit. Mmmm. Apparently Mohican had wanted to put him in an old box, cover him with ice, throw his beers in on top and drive him home across the Nullabour! For some unknown reason the authorities wouldn't approve this method of transportation and in the end he was forced to pay $17,000 in costs, because, "it's all based on weight, you see mate, and he was a bloody fat bastard"!!! Eventually as we finished lunch his contact arrived and he was given something very long which, as he drove off, he
held up to us with a huge farewell grin and said, "Not bad, eh, girls?". Later in the butcher shop, the mystery of the long object was solved when we spied the very same thing, a 5-foot long $37 salami!!! Perhaps like The Soup Nazi in Seinfield, he had been banned from the Butcher shop and had a friend buy it for him!! Anyway, in the course of our conversation he told us that if we were to go anywhere in S.A. we should go to Wilpena Pound. It was a place I had always wanted to go as school friends used to rave about it… so we got out the map and off we went!! And we were definitely not disappointed!
On the way we had a stop at Port Germaine where the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1.5km's seems to go on and on forever. Even during the day it is almost impossible to see the end from the start but when when walked at night, as we were silly enough to do, with stars in the sky and the water lapping the pylons, I was sure when we got to the other end we
would be in another country!!
Leaving Port Germaine we suddenly realised we had entered a different space as the soil turned a deep red, the earth seemed to dry out and the town of Port Augusta reflected the feel of the outback. We spent 4 hours at the museum there which was fantastic.
While in the queue for fuel we waited and waited (at least 10 minutes) for the driver in front of us to return to his car after he had filled up. We discovered he was having a lovely time eating his lunch in the sun about 30 metres away!!! When asked to return to move his car, he walked at a snails pace with no apology or acknowledgement! If I live to 200 years, I'll never make sense of what might have been going on in his brain!! Too much ganga I reckon!!
The Flinders Ranges spoilt us with an ancient, spectacular, sweeping landscape complete with Aboriginal rock art, amazing gorges, rock-faces and a glorious sense of space and beauty. The purple hills, the red soil, the jagged cliff faces and huge old river red gums begged to be painted as Hans Heysen had done and as
we had seen in his work.
We saw wedge-tailed eagles, the rare yellow-footed wallaby (there were only an estimated 50 left in the 90's) as well as our own close encounter with a kangaroo from the camp-ground who had been fed once too often and is now so assertive she actually tried to climb into our van which was just a little disconcerting! If it weren't for some yelling and stern words I'm sure she would have succeeded and that, no doubt, would have been the end of our lunch, for I for one, would not dare to grab a sandwich from the mouth of a wild kangaroo in the confines of a van!!
We unfolded our folding bikes and let the wind blow through our hair (all 1.3cm's in my case!!) and explored the old Wilpena Homestead. We were reminded of the struggles of the early pioneers and their lack of understanding of the land. With their inappropriate clothing, fences, and attempts to reproduce European gardens and to tame the land, surely the Aborigines must have thought them strange, arrogant, foolish and ignorant.
One day we drove through some of the gorgeous gorges and stopped for lunch at a
pub famous for its "Feral Platters". We ate emu and kangaroo meat, goat's cheese and camel pate! Yum!!
On the way we passed a tourist park with a sign out the front which read: "Real People Only. No Yuppies"!! As we have i-phones, we weren't sure whether that would make us Yuppies, so we moved on and explored the old cemetery. It was so interesting to put together family stories from the 1800's by reading the head-stones!
One morning as we awoke Sue reported to me that a bat had been flying around our van during the night. I thought she must have been hallucinating. How would a bat get it? Surely it was just a moth and despite her protests, the conversation was forgotten. That night I awoke to the sound of flapping wings whizzing past my ears. IT WAS A BAT… IN THE VAN!!! Sue was in the bathroom, so I gingerly lifted my head and searched for it! I found it hanging behind a curtain! My first thought was of how cute it was, then I realised I didn't have my glasses on and I really wasn't sure whether I was looking at its face or its
bum!! But as it turned out, it was hanging upside down (as bats do!) and in an ugly sort of way was extraordinarily cute!! It was a Little Brown Bat about half the size of a mouse and I managed to catch the tiny little thing in a towel with little protest! I presented it to a suitably vindicated Sue in the bathroom and we opened the towel and watched it fly away into the night. But how had it got in? Anyway… that's not the end of the story!!! The same thing happened two nights later at 2.30am!! This time Sue caught it in a towel and managed to expose it's cute little ugly face for our admiration and awe! It even exposed its cute little ugly teeth in an attempt to frighten us!! It's whole face was no bigger than a 5 cent piece, so that really didn't work resulting in more of a chuckle than anything else!! Hope we didn't offend it! Again we bid it farewell into the dark night and named it Boomer, short for Boomerang as it just loved us so much it kept coming back!!
As we left the Flinders Ranges we sent
Mohican a post-card thanking him for the travel tip! We weren't sure whether we had remembered the number of his house correctly, but we reckon everyone in Port Augusta would know him, so he'll probably get it!!
And here we are on the Ayre Peninsular where the glorious weather of the past weeks has disappeared and we now have chilly and windy. Anyway, we'll go down one side to Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay and up the other side. Then it's the Nullabour…
See ya next time.
Ros, Sue, Molly and Boomer!!
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