Our Family Ramblings – Take two posts before bed and call me in the morning

Hot to Trot

Deb’s Did You Know

The online dictionary definition of hot is:

  1. a) Having or giving off heat; capable of burning, b) Being at a high temperature
  2. Being at or exhibiting a temperature that is higher than normal or desirable
  3. Being sexually attractive:

The McGrath’s definition of hot is:

  • hot is when your bread turns to toast 2 seconds after taking it out of the bread bag
  • hot is when you pour the peanut butter on to your sandwich instead of spreading it on
  • hot is when your tent feels like a sauna when you step inside at 10pm
  • hot is when the cold water from your 90litre water tank is so hot you could make a cuppa
  • hot is when your sweat dries before it can bead and drip down your face
  • hot is when the ground is too hot to walk on even when wearing your rubber thongs
  • hot is when your tub of maltesers won’t roll down the aisle because it has become a tub of chocolate sundae sauce
  • hot is when you haven’t seen the temp drop below 30 degrees day or night for 5 consecutive days
  • hot is when you are that desperate a nights camping at Cooper Pedy is required to seek relief at the underground pub.
  • hot is when you are happy to jump into very brown cloudy water not knowing what lies beneath (many teaspoons of cement required)
  • hot is confirmed when your temp gauge in the car hits 46 degrees (& it’s no joke)
  • hot is the central Australian outback in January!!

I’m tired.  Kilometres and heat have made me weary.  I’ve no right to complain.  How can you when you are on a 9 month holiday!  Whose shoulder could I cry on?  It’s not the sort of need to go to bed she’ll be right in the morning tired.  Its more just a straight up I need to stop moving tired.  Nothing a night or two in one spot won’t fix right away.

Sixteen years ago I spent one night in Coober Pedy and left early the next morning confident that I had spent one night too many in that place.  Somehow we decided that another trip there would be a good idea.  On the way into and out of Coober Pedy, the super-heated sticky black bitumen road carves an ugly snake through the higgledy piggledy piles of dirt cast around the desert.  These are the remnant scrapings of the tough opal miners who have sunk countless holes into the ground in these parts and, I assume, walked away either with a story of good fortune or misery. Either way, they walked away from their holes without filling them in!

Around 5pm we pulled into town with the thermometer still on the Devils’ side of 40.  We were kept moving by the thought of a cool underground experience at the local hotel.  Even after a couple more hours spent sipping surrounded by the dirt walls of the hotel carved into a hill, temps were still too high to contemplate cooking so we settled in for emu and roo pizza (do any other nations delight in putting their coat of arms on a pizza?) over the road at the only other place in town open on New Years’ day.  Still didn’t need a booking!

Finally there was naught to do but suck it up and head back to the tent to take on a 9pm set up of the trailer and a night where the mercury did not drop below 30 degrees.  With pleasure, we put kilometres between us and Coober Pedy early the next morning with a fair bit of excitement about heading north and then east into the great emptiness of central South Australia.

The desert of central South Australia is the nastiest I have seen in my travels.  It is hot.  It is barren.  The plains are littered with rocks the size of your fist.  The larger trees on the plains are only a bush and in the ravines where there are a few shady boughs overhead, the boulders are larger and the ground uneven at best.  Two things I kept thinking as we travelled around out there.  First, how and why on earth did the early pioneers and explorers work their way through this place on horseback, camels or foot in leather boots and no GPS?  Second, could I fry an egg on my shovel?

Picture this; you are deep outback in 45 degree heat.  There is a hire campervan of sorts pulled over to the side of the road ahead of you.  One tyre is shredded (it was pretty bald to start with).  Right underneath the vehicle is a Swiss man currently hailing from Tamarama.  He has an exhaust jack out because he is having difficulty using his normal jack but the exhaust jack is sideways and only staying inflated to keep the vehicle off him because beside his vehicle is his partner standing proud in the middle of the road in a bikini top and miniskirt holding a kink in the end of the jack hose so the air does not escape and the jack deflate on him. Oh yeah, and he already has all the wheel nuts off the wheel with the shredded tyre.  Yikes.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Everything.  And so it was another Hoffs to the rescue moment.  With a bit of jacking and mucking around we managed to help these guys change their tyre. Unfortunately they could not buy a spare a little up the road at the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta.  I reckon it would have been a slow and nervous drive for them down the rest of the track from there.

Still too warm to do much else but drive on, we ended up at Coward Springs late afternoon.  Thankfully it wasn’t busy there or else we would have all been in a queue the next morning to have a “swim” at the springs.  We managed to fit about a family and half in the springs at any one time.  It was however, great to get a refreshing dip in before moving on down the road.  At this point Deb and I were just about ready to go South, East or anywhere at any pace to get out of the heat and the car.  But, being so close to Lake Eyre and reinforced with the advice from the roadhouse that the swimming at the campground was great and Lake Eyre was a “gotta do” we took a deep breath and headed North.  I am really glad we did as the Lake Eyre proved to be better than I thought it could be.  And then, as we all splashed around in the slightly green Muloorina waterhole, a slightly cooler air flow swept through and temps plummeted to the high twenties almost as fast as our moods improved.

Reaching Arkaroola, the “Jewel of the Gammon Ranges”, required another long day’s drive but we were pretty relaxed about it as the day following that would consist of the 37klm 4wd track on the station.  Readying to take on the 4wd track we aired down and took gear off and out of the car.  Then to my disgust, we packed lunch as I figured we’d be back from the drive before lunch.  How long can it possibly take to do 37klm?  Rob de Castella would have it knocked over on foot in 3 hours flat!  Some 6 hours later we finally returned to camp after climbing, dipping and scraping our way around the track visiting various water holes, holes with water and taking in some top vistas of the Gammon ranges.  Me; wrong again.

The Flinders Ranges were high on my list of “to dos” for our trip.  In the end we knocked ‘em over on a flying visit over two days.  It is a strange landscape indeed with high jagged hills surrounded by rolling treeless hills and valleys thick with trees you’d expect to spot in Yosemite in the USA.  We chased elusive fossils around the rocks in a creek, marvelled at the age of the rocks and spent a few hours in soft rain walking up to view Wilpena Pound through the mist.  Two days was no where near enough to do the place justice.  Two weeks and a whole lot of walking would have been better.  I’ll put it on my list of “to do next times”.

Leaving the Flinders, plans changed and changed and changed again until we did not know if we were stopping or going.  Our car needs a service again (another 10,000klm down) and we need a general recharge.  In the end we ended up at Mildura for a couple of nights while Mick and Karla move on ahead to visit friends near Albury.  Cappuccinos and Cookies for brunch help the recovery process and the kids and I took in a movie this afternoon.  We saw Tin Tin.  We give it two and half stars.

Tomorrow is Courtney’s birthday so it should be an easy day again.  Courts has ordered French toast for breakky, meat pies for lunch and lasagne for dinner.  Sounds like a pretty good menu to me.

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