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Published: August 4th 2006
The west face
My initial attempts to find somewhere in Port Augusta to spend a couple of nights were scuppered by the facts that i) I didn't have a map, and ii) the one hostel mentioned in my guidebook had closed down last year. While driving around, I did see a McSporran Crescent, which sounded like something from the Two Ronnies. Fortunately the Flinders Hotel was able to offer me what was essentially a motel room for the same price as the average dorm bed - unfortunately they accidentally gave me the key to someone else's room and I was lucky that the man currently in residence was simply sleeping rather than doing anything more embarrassing.
There was mutual surprise when I bumped into the weird American guy from Quorn, who was staying in a room a couple of doors down from mine. It turned out that the hostel owner in Quorn had rumbled his room-swapping antics and had confronted him with this. He hadn't attempted to deny it, and instead had tried using his weird logic to justify why it was acceptable. Naturally the hostel owner didn't quite see it this way. I didn't particularly fancy having this discussion all over again,
so I made some feeble excuse that I needed to clear my car out, and that was the last I saw of weird American guy.
The purpose of me staying in Port Augusta was to have a base from which to visit a couple of isolated sights that had tempted me in the guidebook. The first of these was Mount Wudinna, supposedly the second largest monolith in Australia after Uluru. It was somewhat less impressive than (I'm hoping) Uluru (will be), and I was sufficiently demoralised at driving 250km for such an anticlimax that I ditched my plan to visit a wave rock that was a couple of hours further away.
More interesting was the Wadlata Outback Centre, which I visited on the morning that I left to head back to Adelaide. This contained a variety of displays, including the interpretation of some Dreaming stories, e.g. how the moon got into the sky, where the Southern Cross came from, etc, as well as some short videos on Aboriginal skills, e.g. when cooking a kangaroo, you have to break its legs (accompanied by glorious audio), cut off its tail, and cook the tail on the left side of the
View from the summit
body. The sinews from the kangaroo's legs can be used to bind a spear point to the spear shaft (using a wad of spinifex gum too, of course).
My final task before reaching Adelaide and handing back the car was to get the thing washed, which necessitated my first ever usage of an automatic car wash. The end result was surprisingly good, though a seagull turd was still defiantly encrusted on the windscreen, and some of the myriad insects that had perished on the front bumper and licence plate were hanging in there.
Back in Adelaide, I gave the Blue Galah another night of my custom. Tomorrow it will be goodbye to South Australia.
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