No more money for petrol: the long drive home

I’m sitting at my kitchen table. Not the exotic or remote location from which my other travel posts were written. It makes me feel like a hypocrite, writing a travel post yet being static. Oh well, I gotta finish this thing and since I’ve spent the last hour immersed in the photographs and tweets about this trip, I feel like I’ve got the ‘mood’ right.

We discovered that we were (seriously) running low on cash as we drove along the Eyre Peninsula. The plan had always been to round off the trip with a couple of days on the south coast of South Australia at the beautiful Robe and Kingston SE. But the reality of very pricey fuel, no free camping and only enough food to last us another day, we had to make the sensible decision and head back to Sydney via the most direct route.

Thanks to Maps on our iPhone, we were treated with a route that took us to places we had never seen – a poultice for our broken gypsy hearts. The squiggly blue line directed us from the Eyre Peninsula to Sydney via the smallish in-land ‘highway’ B64 and the 20. But before we would get there we were treated to the secret beauties of the Eyre Peninsula, SA.

I must confess that we took the Eyre Peninsula kinda lightly – thinking it’d be a fairly easy side-trip on our journey. The truth is that it requires quite a bit of driving … dull driving … before you are granted permission to visit its secret beaches and coastline. BUT when you do get to them …. fffwaaah!! I think my favourite was Venus Bay. If we ever go back to this part of Australia (which knowing us, we will) I would like to spend a few days here. This little Winton-esque town is the complete Romantic adventurer’s dream. It is simply a clutter of shacks and boats and 4WDs. Fishermen and fisherwomen mix with caravan families and retirees. The sand is yellow, the sea is blue and the cliffs are jagged and steep. It is small but not creepy-small. It even has a Romantic name … Venus Bay. Maybe I just liked it because we could bring the Kombi onto the sand, right at the edge of the water. You can’t do that on any beaches where we live.

From Venus Bay we visited Tahlia Caves … oh the story I can tell! It certainly could have been a Romantic narrative – full of tragedy and melodrama, remote locations and attempts to push personal physical boundaries. But really it’d be more apt for me to tell you that the cave we walked to was stunning to look at but smelled like bat shit. Lee (with the healing broken knee) decided to make it to the back of the cave, despite having to walk along a narrow ledge covered in a shifting sand/bat shit mix that plunged into a crevice of sucking sea water … OK it wasn’t that far to fall, only 5 or 6 metres, but enough to break his other knee if not his neck! I guess he got tired of my objections to his adventure, and he returned – albeit on his bum because his weaker knee couldn’t lead him back. Oh dear.

Another notable place along the Eyre Peninsula is the Sheringa Roadhouse. Lee loves these types of places … let’s put it in the category with the Olary Pub. It is a hodge-podge shack turned roadhouse with two petrol pumps outside and inside a mess of fishing gear, camping supplies and fast food. Oh, and it has a make-shift bar that sells bottled beverages. On one of the walls outside is a collection of newspaper clippings about the town – I think there’s maybe 3 houses in total in this ‘town’ – and the roadhouse. It’s been in a film too – an Aussie thriller called Nowhere Else, based on a sign at the roadhouse. The owners and the guy who works behind the counter are nice … but you can easily see why the film-makers chose their location and cast the owner as a bad guy. You can read about it here.

We passed through Port Lincoln quickly and saw nothing but the petrol station, the same can be said for Whyalla. I’m sure these places have lots going for them, but we simply had no time and less money. As the sun was beginning to slip from the sky again, Lee did well to avoid anymore roos (we’d hit a joey early in the morning, killing it instantly – it was horrible and Lee picked it up from the road and laid it in the bushes … saving it from further human disgrace) and we eventually made our ‘camp’ at the back of the Tinman Roadhouse outside of Port Pirie.

The second last day of our adventure was surprisingly pleasant despite the hundreds of kilometres we covered. After an early morning departure, we stopped at a too cute town called Burra. I’ve never heard of it before but I think it’s somewhere people should know about. It’s one of those places that has invested a bunch of money into restoring or protecting its history. We were stoked to see so many heritage buildings from the early to mid 1800s. My favourite places were Burra Gaol and the Police Lock-up – my imagination fired as I thought about the drunks and the Irish that would have been holed up in the singular dark solitary confinement shed. This town has a lot of stories and one day we will return to discover them.

Crossing the iconic Murray River always gives me a buzz and I wasn’t disappointed this time. The wide brown strap of water was dotted with house-boats … a future watery adventure taking shape in our minds. There is something earthy and awesome about the towns on the Murray … they smell fresh and wholesome. Our puppies really enjoyed jumping off the banks of the Murray and scrabbling to get back to land. And we enjoyed laughing at them!

The night was spent in a very tidy town, Narrandera. We pulled up at the rest stop right out front of the Visitors Centre and popped the top. Puppies slept inside with us this night because our youngest pup barks at trucks … and we had them rattling past us all night. I love little towns that have perfectly mowed public lawns and funny little sayings on their signs … their slogan is ‘Take a Meander in Narrandera’. Cute.

And yesterday … well there isn’t a story to recount. Just a quick drive up the Hume and a voyage under the harbour and we were at home, bundling out of the Kombi all bleary-eyed, tired, smelly, hungry and a little disappointed that our adventure was over.

Thanks for sharing it with us … you can read our tweets and see our photos in this Storify if you’re bored or mad or keen to take on the journey like us!

Cool Family 3000 Cross the Nullabor.



One thought on “No more money for petrol: the long drive home

  1. Pingback: Crossing the Australian continent in a 1974 Kombi camper | Bianca Hewes

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