'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - The Wide Brown Land 6

The Pimple Bursts - (newly arrived?  You'll get more out of this if you go back to the beginning… honestly, you'll enjoy the ride!)

Having said hasty farewells to our not-so-knight-in-tex-mex-outfit, we were scuttled onto the North-bound road 'plane by a rather surly 'coach captain'.  It was mid-'arvo' and blood sugars may have been getting low, but on the whole it must be said that the atmosphere on the bus was less than welcoming.  Even from some familiar faces.

Quite a number of our new companions were from the Nullarbor 'plane, so you'd think there might have been at least a nod or grin.


Then there were the Ansett staff.  Cap'n Steve was not about to let us off the hook for having delayed his departure from Adelaide.  There was a lot of silence.  Then would come the cracks about three-legged donkeys and such like.  Over the intercom.

Bob, the off-duty 'captain' was responsible for handing out the pillow and blanket that would ensure travelling comfort on the Ansett 'road-plane'.  There were half a dozen passengers who joined the bus at Elizabeth, as we had now done; they got the goodies.  We did not.  It could have been an oversight.  This bus was full, as in all 40 seats occupied.  Aitch and I, whilst seasoned travellers by this time, were still not of that nature which puts its hand up and says "Please sir, may I have one too?" 

We used our backpacks and Chinese sunhats to hide our chagrin.

As the night drew in it was clear that we were not being spoken to.  We were barely included in the orange juice round.  Our fellow passengers, unlike the Nullarbor 'plane, were not inclined to reach out to us.  There was none of the camraderie to which we had become accustomed.  This was a different sort of Australian we were up against.

The Eastern side of the continent takes itself rather seriously.  But we were only half way there really!  Dead centre to be exact.  Well nearly.  First we had to drive up through the Simpson Desert, using the Stuart Highway (A87).  Passing the great waterless lakes, which were salty anyway.  To our far left was Maralinga.  The A87 actually cuts through some of the designated Government area related to the nuclear blasting.  On the very edge of the invisible border, lies Coober Pedy.  By the time we drew in at this stop, some 850km North and West of Adelaide, Aitch and I were feeling a bit on the fringe.

taken from Google Images
It was about 9pm when we off -loaded for refreshment.  A meal and the now familiar syrupy, mooing cuppa was awaiting us and, as I recall, some pretty decent toilet facilities.  This came as a surprise, because this is a town with a distinct difference.  (Click on the photo to take you to images that will amaze and astound - this is the place where folk live underground!)

We were due to depart a little before midnight so had some time to visit a couple of places.  Things were alive and open because it's cool in the night.  I remind you yet again, OZ is made up of significant tracts of desert.

Here's the chapel.  Thanks to Aitch for this shot.  We both would love to go back and actually spend some time in CP - absolutely fascinating!
image copyrighted to Ms HMR

As we gathered to board the bus again, folk had wound down a bit and began chatting.  One lady in particular wanted to make sure we were okay.  Miss C was from Winnipeg, Canada.  A retired lady travelling alone, she had spunk and we became firm friends.  (Indeed, continued contact until only a couple of years ago.  Aitch and I are concerned that she has now passed - no family to advise us, unfortunately.)  It was Miss C. who told us that the driver had been muttering all the way up to Elizabeth about lazy Poms and crazy women… say what?  US!  The whole bus, apparently, had decided that silence was better than crossing Cap'n Steve!!!

Speak of the devil.  On he got, along with Cap'n Bob and the pair of them started in… only this time it was a happier tone.  "You ladies okay then?  Did you get our pillow and blanket?  What kept ya…?"

In a nutshell, cap'n, your company's incompetence.  But we'll let that slide in return for a good ride up to Erldunda.

The Sceptical Tourist Fishy (STF) was learning the style!  Aitch couldn't believe I had been so sassy, but it earned us the comforters and extra orange juices, so we decided we had been forgiven.

I must have been able to sleep a few hours of the next leg because all I remember is waking up with the sun on my face and Cap'n Steve calling out that the next change stop was in sight.  Erldunda is another of those great little dwelling places in the middle of nowhere which end up making it somewhere.  It is the junction between the Stuart and Lasseter highways.  This is important why?

Here was where a few of us dismounted and retrieved luggage in order to take a side trip to Yulara - Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and Olgas).  When the much smaller, but not quite mini, bus turned up to collect us for the Lasseter Run, the driver (Who Had A Name…, so let's call him WHAN), got a surprise.

"R*****e and MacLean!!!  I thought you were left in Adelaide."

We were speechless.  Australia, it seemed, was a village with all the grapevine and gossip that entailed! Then we found voice.  So that entertained everyone for a good half hour. Later, Miss C. told us that some of the muttering she'd heard might have been over the radio...

image copyrighted to Ms HMR
After an age, we had Mt Connor pointed out to us.  A much larger edifice than Uluru, but the latter was where the Anangu Pitantjatjara placed such honour and mystery.  The growing tourist village was quite new when we arrived.  It was hauntingly beautiful, fully ergonomic and environmentally low-impact and you hardly knew it was there until you were upon it.

Tomorrow, read more about this incredible place, but if you're keen for a sneak peek, try out the climbing escapade!


  1. Sorry Capt Steve was such a cranky bugger, but they are everywhere.
    I'm following your tour of inland Australia but have missed a few days so I'm doing it backwards.

  2. Hari OM
    HAH! It works both ways Merle!! xx

  3. Hari OM
    I truly love the OZ outback, Jessica. I am sure there are plains in the US which have the same feel - that sense of the land beneath ones feet sighing deeply...


Inquiry and debate are encouraged.
For personal contact, please use the email box on the Wild YAM/Contact page.