Menory Lane - The Wide Brown Land 5

The Pimple Festers - (newly arrived?  You'll get more out of this is you go back to the beginning…  settle in m'dears, this is a long Sunday ramble!)

The next leg of our journey from the Nullarbor Road House wound round the Spencer Gulf via Ceduna, Whyalla, Port Augusta and finally down to Adelaide, capital of the state of South Australia.  It was relatively uneventful, but a notable change came over the countryside.  Even though still very remote , there were distinct signs of civilisation and the sense that one had changed countries almost.  Particularly once the corner at the top of the gulf is turned and you're headed South again.

We drew into the main depot pretty much in the centre of the city a short while after midday on our second day of travel.  There was many a curious stare as the road 'plane roared its way down the populated streets. 

As we came into the 'hanger' there were engineers waiting to look at the damage.  We were only half an hour behind schedule. Eaves-dropping on the discourse between pilot-drivers and the 'plane doctors, it transpired that the drift of the steering column meant that a re-route had been planned ahead due to only being able to make right hand turns… "Strewth, mate, lucky you know this town like the crack at the back!" said one of the overalls. 

It was a while before I 'cracked' the code of the phrase.

Our hostel was within walking distance of the bus terminal so offloading the bags and refreshing ourselves proved to be a remarkably smooth transition.  Having scoured the literature at the desk, decision was made to make our way out on the trams to Glenelg beach.  Yes, trams.  The city beach is truly beautiful and we simply sauntered the promenade - maybe dipped a toe or five - had the obligatory fish and chips followed by ice cream.  The photos from the era will never win prizes, but memories are authentic.  Finally I am including a couple from ourselves - Aitch screamed in excitement over the etherlines when she found her album!  (See Tuesday's Me-Now-Views for a selection scanned in from Aitch's collection.)
image copyrighted to Ms HMR

That's me on the bench after eating and thinking of heading back to the hostel.

For our one full day we did the obligatory historic buildings, museums and art gallery run.  The Adelaide gallery sticks quite clearly in my mind for some reason.  The building itself was hugely appealing.   I am sure that Perth gallery was equally impressive, but perhaps because the Sceptical Tourist Fishy (STF) had by now fallen head over heels in love with the country, she was drinking up as much of the culture and experience as possible.  The Australian art collection stays firmly in mind - even now.  Would you like a peek?  Behave yourselves!
  
As we were due to head for Coober Pedy on the next leg of the journey, we decided also to pay a visit to the Opal 'Museum' - a jewellery manufacturing workshop with a good informational room on the Opal's history and how to pick one.  We took literature to absorb overnight and went back after breakfast the following day to make purchases.  As Christmas was looming, I bought Aitch a necklace that she liked - ….(confession, Aitch only just reminded me of that because she still wears it! - but at least that put in place the memory of buying of a ring for myself which I continued to wear for many years, but aging fingers prevented it of late.)

Then back to checkout of the hostel and take the luggage to the terminal and ensure they were booked in for the bus ride.

Now.  Pay attention here Dear Reader.  You need to remember two things from earlier in the tale.  Our tickets were handwritten.  We continued to wear our Chinese sunhats.  These are important facts.

image copyrighted to Ms HMR
When checking in our luggage (airline-style), our tickets were purused and - as we understood it - confirmed.  The girl behind the counter simply muttered, "See ya at 12:30 then ladies."  No worries was the response.  STF was getting 'local'.  It was 10am and time available to trot down to the riverside beside the Festival Theatre (see the bandstand in this piccie? - been there done that!), carrying a slice of vanilla custard in pastry and some milky drinks.  Books and postcards and just enjoying the view in the South Australian summer.

"OOHH," said Aitch finally, "It's twelve o'clock already!"  As if to demonstrate the accuracy of my friend's watch, a local clock tower and several churches all chimed in unison.  Lovely sound.

Up we got and made our way of up the slight, but very long hill back to the terminal.

Just in time to see a bus drawing out the junction and off up the highway.  "Was that our bus?" muttered Aitch, with something of an edge in her voice.

"Can't be, the tickets say 1pm".  I pulled them from my bag as we continued walking to the office.  Yup.  Definitely 1pm.  Walking into the terminal a group of uniforms turned as one and yelled out "Are you R*****e and MacLean???!!!!"

This could not be good.

I will not bore (or frighten) you with the arguments that ensued, suffice to say that the young lady who'd checked us in, by saying "see ya at 12:30" was in fact suggesting to the vague British tourists that she would be expecting to wave 'goodbye' to us at that time.  Had she continued with the "...so do please be here half an hour before", no problem.  Had she pointed out that our tickets were wrongly written, no problem.  Had she simply said, see you at twelve…  She didn't.

But let's cut to the chase shall we?

I do, in fact, mean chase - as in car.  Well taxi to be specific.  Our bags, despite our non-appearance, had been loaded on that there bus and no way were we going to let them travel alone.  The company was not inclined to take any responsibility for the errors in ticketing and advisory, nor were they going to pay costs of said taxi.  No wonder they went bust.

Aitch and I grabbed our day-packs and Chinese sunhats and made our way across to the taxi stand.  The first driver turned away as we approached.  Couldn't look past the hats, I suspect.  The second one said he would not be prepared to risk a ticket for trying to catch up with an Ansett Coach.

The third driver was our kinda fella.  Of Greek heritage, there was a bit of confusion of identity going on.  He sported an enormous Mexican moustache, Mexican embroidered boots - with spurs! - and a Texan Bighorn throat lace.  He did in fact have the Stetson also - on the back sill of the taxi.  He looked at our Chinese sunhats, looked at us and asked our trouble. 

"Did you see that bus leave 10 minutes ago?"  He had. "We need you to follow it.  We MUST catch it."  There was a twitch of the moustache, a glint in the eye and (I swear) a sucking of the teeth.

"Hmmmm that could be tricky - it'll be a fair way up the road by now.  How far do you want me to take this?"

I looked at Aitch briefly then spoke for both of us. "All the way!"

"You're on!" 

Chinese sunhats flung other side of the Stetson and us lodged tightly into the back seat together, bags on the front passenger seat, off we set at maximum permissible speed.  Weeeelllllllll - I say that to defend the man.  Rather think it was faster.

We were actually outside the metro area before we even came within glimpsing the hind end of the vehicle we were after.  The driver was chatty and clearly this was making his day.  Indeed, quite possibly his year.   We told him of our trip so far and he followed it with "Ah well, there you are girls, this is number three."  He was right of course.  Exhaust, steering, now 'bid-for-freedom' luggage!

Driver Mex had told us that we might not catch the bus much before it's first scheduled stop at Elizabeth.  "How far away is that?"

We had already come some twenty kilometres and it was about another five.  By this time we were staring at the meter.  This was going to double the price of our bus ticket! Never mind.  The comfy ride and friendly chatter was okay and shortly after this exchange we drew up behind the flying coach.  Mex-man began blaring his horn.  Faces appeared at the back and STF leaned out of her window and did her best at semaphore.  Attempts I am sure, which were pretty good.  The receivers were not working so well.  Eventually, we drew up alongside and gradually (slow as treacle it seemed) came up on the driver's window.  As the horn continued blaring and Mex and myself did our best to signal the driver to stop, it wasn't until the driver looked aside and saw the Chinese sunhats that his eyes widened in recognition.  He dropped his window and yelled across "R*****e and MacLean??!!!"

Image copyrighted to Ms HMR
We were famous.

He wouldn't stop till Elizabeth.  Another three kilometres.  Oh well.  As we drew in to park beside the resting bus (stopped only for a pickup of passengers) we had to make a speedy changeover.  Now came the sweetest thing of all.  Driver Mex refused to accept full payment.  "I haven't had that much fun in a decade - I've always wanted someone to say 'follow that car' - just pay the local city rate."  How much?  Less than ten dollars.  Now that is service!!!  I can report that he did get a return fare to Adelaide city, so he didn’t have an altogether dud run earnings-ways.

As we boarded the growling coach, we had to face an altogether different experience.



Come back Wednesday for the next instalment, Elizabeth to Coober Pedy and Alice Springs.


Tomorrow the final episode in teaching the old dog a new trick and Tuesday for more OZ photos and the weekly linky.


8 comments:

  1. Oh Auntie Yam, Mum is rolling about on the floor and holding her sides etc. again tonight. She is loving reading your version of this part of the journey, missing the bus is something she will never forget she says. And she does wear the necklace a lot it is one of her favourites, a perfect present.
    Love Lady Vicki xxooxx

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  2. Hari Om
    It was certainly one of the highlights of a tour filled with spotlights!!!! Lady V - make sure mum is sitting on the secure upright chair for the next instalmenat, okay? xx

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  3. Oh, what fun, Yam. Wish I had been with you for that part of the ride. I'm sure all taxi drivers wish for someone to say "follow that vehicle"!
    And you look too too cute in the Chinese sun hat.
    I just found out from Sir Husband that we are going to Iceland for his 70th birthday in March. I said if he's still alive when I turn 70, I want to go to Scotland.
    K

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  4. I am th same as lady vickis mum. LMAO. Love this story, and been waiting for it. Even though heard it a few times now. Glad Aitch found te pics. Lovely.

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  5. Hari Om, Yam! Hah, awesome! "R*****e and MacLean??!!!" It's like you're in a DieHard movie! Good job it wasn't that movie where the bus couldn't slow down... Indigo x

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  6. Hari OM
    Kay - That is one episode of life even MENO cannot destroy!!! Iceland y'say? That is a place of fascination and not ssooooo far from Scotland! Now who says you have to wait so long? HMMMmmmmmmm.....

    Mahal - all the great tales improve with the telling &*>

    Indigo - As I said to Aitch, there is no way I could make this stuff up - and hold that thought...8=|

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  7. I remember waiting dutifully at a busstop for about half an hour. The bus came, the bus went and I was still waiting. Even after over a year of living in England I was waiting at the wrong side of the road!

    Fortunately it was only about 5 miles to go...

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  8. Hari OM
    Oh dear, Mara, at least you had the excuse of being from Europe. I've done that in OZ with nothing other than a daft head to blame!!

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