Port Augusta to Ceduna

Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Ceduna Caravan Park

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

Awaking in Port Augusta we began the process of mental and physical preparation for our desert ordeal by nipping to the supermarket to get essential supplies for Doris, including engine oil, radiator coolant and sparkling grapefruit flavoured water (okay, the water was for me).  We were fortunate enough to meet a very helpful shop assistant in the Caltex garage who managed to interpret the gibberish they write in these car user manuals and chose for us an appropriate oil from the vast array of seemingly identical but apparently quite different oils on offer.  We were similarly lucky in Big W, where a kind man explained to us that choosing coolant based on the green vs. red criterion was an erroneous approach and that we'd be better off reading the label.  The label shed no light on the matter for me, but helped him choose us for us what we must assume to be a decent coolant product.

The road from Port Augusta took us through an Australia we were yet to see, but one that somehow felt more familiarly or appropriately Aussie.  The road straightened and the countryside seemed to become more sparse.  The tracks that led away from the main road were unsealed and the four-wheeled-drives that sped along them into farmland kicked up clouds of dust that could be seen for miles.  Around an hour into the journey, the sparkling water began to kick in and I was forced to ask Rhiannon to pull over at the next roadhouse.  

Roadhouses in South Australia do not resemble the service stations of Britain.  There are none of those 'pick up a toy with a scarily wired up claw' games you so often see, Marks and Spencer seem to have no outlets  here and there is not a Ginster sandwich to be seen.  To be honest, at Iron Knob, our first Australian roadhouse, there wasn't much of anything.  The comedy 'Bruce/Sheila' toilet block seemed to be long closed down, which took the edge off the humour of it all, as far as I was concerned.  Not even the petrol station was open, so it was a good thing we weren't relying on the place for fuel to keep us going.  

We drove around the houses of the wee town for a little while with Rhiannon muttering darkly, something about 'going before you...set off' and 'none of this stopping...in my day...'.  Eventually I cracked, jumped out of the car (it may still have been moving, the whole thing is a bit of a blur) and asked some bloke who was fiddling with his car if I could use his loo.

Singing merrily along to Rhiannon's play lists, the hours flew and it was lunchtime, the only problem being that it was Sunday and as a rule, inhabitants of rural Australia eat only at home on this sacred and holy day, and therefore finding an open eatery proved difficult (will we never learn?).  We eventually managed to get a ham and cheese toastie in a little pub somewhere.  Now, when was the last time that you had a ham and cheese toastie?  I'd bet it's been a while.  They're simplistic brilliance, underestimated genius - I thoroughly enjoyed mine.  Go and make yourself one at the earliest opportunity.

One of the most challenging things about this trip has been that no place name is pronounced quite as you expect it to be.  How do you think you say 'Ceduna'?  Answers on a postcard.  ('Eucla' [still to come] is a whole other issue.)  So, we pulled into the campsite at Ceduna, (Sah-doo-nah) and were disappointed to discover a distinct lack of grass on which to set up our tent.  This would prove particularly troublesome since we had neglected to buy a hammer for our tent pegs.  Thus far, we had been vindicated in this by the softness of the earth until now, which had allowed the pegs to be pushed in by a strong thumb.  Here in Ceduna, something that looking suspiciously like cement chippings flew; between the stony surface and the pounding we were giving them with the car-jack, the pegs bent and crumpled.   

Never let it be said that an Aussie bloke would neglect a Shelia in need.  Over the next twenty minutes we acquired a collection of three different hammers from three different men.  Increasing in girth and weight (the hammers that is, not the chaps) as the 'pegs cheap, ground hard' issue defeated the weedier among them, we eventually saw some success with a particularly meaty mallet.  

One particularly friendly hammer-donating holidaymaker, who spends three months of the year in Ceduna, also offered to take us crab fishing (everyone in South Australia seems determined that we fish at every opportunity).  Further, he recommended that we walk down to the pier for the sunset, although was unable to estimate what time that might be since he was (and I quote) 'usually pissed by then'.  Perhaps inevitably, when we saw him later it was in the pub, where Rhiannon and I were younger than every other punter by at least 35 years and where I won a Cooper's Pale Ale t-shirt with my purchase.  Rhiannon was disappointed that I seemed under whelmed by my prize, but to be honest, when I saw the 'Congratula....' on that scratch card, I thought I was getting a free beer, so the t-shirt was a sorry consolation.
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