The Barossa to Port Augusta

Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Port Augusta Campsite

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Thursday, April 2, 2009

The following day, the drive to Port Augusta took us through miles more of vineyards and into open farmland.  The grass was scorched yellow and the land seemed dusty but the trees were lush and tall - their tentacles had reached down and sucked the earth dry.  The Braeburn green and red of the leaves reminded us that we were driving towards autumn.  Swooping from behind a thicket, a flash of sunlight on the wings of birds in synchronised flight looked like silver fireworks.  Birds here are really colourful in a crazy kind of way - proper parrots are just flying around the place like feathery rainbows, and there is one particular bird that looks a drab grey until it flies overhead, revealing a fully scarlet underside.  And we in Britain get excited when we see a robin red-breast.

This was the first day of solid driving and was hot and tiring going, particularly for the navigator (yours truly) who was under a great deal of pressure due to the unfortunate lack of a South Australia road atlas.  We got a Western Australia atlas when we bought our tent, and one for New South Wales when we bought our car, but South Australia, the Northern Territories and the rest are big, empty black holes as far as we're concerned.  Luckily, our generation has evolved the skill of map-reading to the extent where the map itself is unnecessary - equipped with directions downloaded from GoogleMaps we charted our course across the state.  Of course, this is a hazardous undertaking, dependent on an accurate interpretation and visualisation of what constitutes the difference between a 'slight right', 'a sharp right' and a 'right turn'.

In need of respite, we stopped in another 'town', where we counted two houses and a shop which sold, amongst other things, ice cream, Penguin Classics, beef pies and assorted antiques.  The lady in charge seemed absolutely ecstatic to the point of hysteria when Rhiannon purchased a book for $1 - one must wonder how long it had been since she'd seen another human being, let alone a customer.  We used the facilities, which consisted of a very clean, but sinfully hot, corrugated iron hut - it was like peeing in an oversized Heinz can as they bake the beanz.  

If GoogleMaps are to the noughties what the North Star was for ye olde explorers of yore, the only significant difference is that GoogleMaps talk crap and are not to be trusted.  Progress was slow and the sun was shining full and low through the windscreen as we headed west.  By the time we arrived in Port Augusta, we were in no position to appreciate it's abundant assets.  Instead of taking in the long, winding foreshore and the exceptional view of the moody, pink Flinders Ranges, we huffed and puffed and squinted our way to our campsite.  In fact, the small town is a beautiful haven with leafy streets and sailing boats bobbing by the wharf-side boardwalk.  After we had put up our tent, it was pleasant to watch the sun go down over distant mountains and the shore, where the longest freight train I've ever seen waited for the all-clear to carry on it's cross-country trek.

Our major task for the evening was to try and fix our mattress, as we would not have the wine of the Barossa to lull us into peaceful sleep.  We were assisted in our endeavours by two very lovely gentlemen who had left their wives for two months and were riding around Australia on their motorbikes.  Posteriors aloft, we leant on our elbows, noses pressed close to the flatulent plastic sack.  With surgical precision and hearts in mouths, we applied another patch.  Adding gaffer tape and superglue to the equation, we were hopeful of a positive result, but the barely-audible hissing that greeted us as we settled in for the night told another story.    
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