Journeying South in the viral age .3

Part .3 Day 10 – 15

The drive back to Alice from Trephina went way too fast. I don’t think any of us were ready to say goodbye, in fact I felt that it was the two nights at Trephina gorge that grounded us. Travel in the desert requires time it takes time for the land to enter you.

The Bluff – Trephina Gorge

Passing through so much country in such a short time can still leave the spirit and mind reeling! As I think about it, we’d barely put our feet on the ground at most of the places we visited and once we had we needed more time to assimilate the experience. Tourists travel through these places as if they’re on a conveyor belt ticking iconic sites off their list along the way… Everyone has to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta! So obviously, We Did! We joined the throngs thinking and maybe believing that we were somehow different, that our experience might be somehow more connected, more spiritual, more meaningful… It wasn’t. We came as tourists we saw with eyes that did not truly understand or appreciate the significance of the place we had entered and we walked trod the paths of countless tourists before us…

By the time we reached Trephina I was feeling quite uneasy! Kalu Kalu, Uluru, Kataj Tjuta, Watarrka… too many places too many big names, no honour given to the places where my feet came to rest, the land I lay on or the water I drank. Of course I thought about it, and tried to be respectful but I know without a doubt that I did not allow the process of assimilation to take place within me. It takes longer than that.

After a couple of decent coffees and a pretty good caffe’ brunch I was dropped at the manse of the local church where an old friend was living and working as the minister for a congregation. He’d graciously offered me a place to stay for two nights before I was due to catch a Greyhound south to Adelaide S.A.

It was nice hanging in Alice Springs for a couple of days. There was another colleague staying at the manse and a couple who had journeyed on the Grey Nomad trail from Geelong Vic. I played around with my host’s dog and walked around the neighborhood where I found heaps of delicious mandarin trees overhanging fences and a thriving community of Desert dwelling ex hippies and new age environmentalists. Anti Fracking posters abounded at East Side, the other side of the Todd River.

At 10:30 am on Sunday I boarded a Greyhound bus, there were only a handful of passengers. I had two seats to myself, a usb port to charge my phone and a comfy chair that folded much further back than your average jetstar seat. The journey was 20 hours. Even though I boarded at 10:30am I don’t recall much scenery, I am pretty sure I dozed for most of those 20 hours. The other passengers were pretty good company, an older lady with her teen grandchildren, all quite polite. I read, snacked a little, checked my messages when we approached towns big enough to have mobile phone reception and slept. This to me was absolute bliss! My favorite way to travel.

The bus pulled into Adelaide at about 6am. I disembarked into a cold but clear Adelaide on Monday morning. I walked. A lot. Carrying my pack on my back and a small shoulder bag I walked through dark lanes and into the parkland that surrounds Adelaide. I felt fresh and alive. Visited the museum and checked out Rundell Mall. At this stage travel was safe between N.T. and S.A. but people in Adelaide had just come out of covid lock-down and everyone was particularly cautious, most stores were closed.

That night I caught up with an old work colleague for dinner and stayed with he and his wife for the night while planning the next leg of my travel. I wanted to visit family on the other side of Adelaide hills. Not far as the crow flies but it would require a couple of bus trips to get to a place where my cousin could pick me up. I pondered the options for most of the morning, googling routs and times… As I checked my facebook updates I noticed an add for Campervan relocation. Too many people had entered the N.T. prior to Western Australia closing it’s borders. Campervans were stranded on the wrong side of borders and needed to be returned particularly from Alice Springs, as I write this I believe the situation hasn’t changed.

I searched for relocation opportunities in Adelaide and found a vehicle relocation company called Transfercar they hooked me up with a campervan on same day. SOLUTION FOUND!

With help from my friend (Lucky he had the whole day free) I eventually picked up the camper, which had minor damage caused by impact with a kangaroo. I headed for the hills! It was a fantastic drive, I was free, I had snacks, a fridge and a tank full of fuel! It took me three hours to to get to Cambrai S.A. which would have been an hour and a half drive if I’d been focused on arriving rather than meandering. What a blessed life I was living today.

Creeks were flowing, there was a mist across the road and I was traveling some pretty windy trails. On the other side of the hills, as usual there was no rain but it looked like they’d had plenty. The farms covering what was once Mallee were bright and green with new crops. The view was amazing! I rolled down to the farm just before dinner time. (A happy coincidence?) Finally I return after 20 years! It is still so familiar. Something about this place feels very much like coming home.

I had a time limit to get the van back to Melbourne and really felt like having a look around the country along the way so I left Cambrai in the afternoon… Crossing the border was nothing special. I expected to be pulled over and quizzed about reason for entering Victoria, but though S.A. was officially an orange zone, I don’t think anyone was too worried about the virus being transmitted from that particular border.

I took the central Victorian rout through St Arnaud, Avoca and Ballarat before arriving in Melbourne the next day… once again, just before dinner was served! Mission accomplished! Over 5,000 km across land through three states, adhering to all covid restrictions and safety precautions. I arrived at my parents place 1.5 hours before Victoria went into full lockdown No.6!

Covid safe Hygiene on the road:

  • I carried alcohol based disinfectant hand wash in all vehicles and used alcohol based disinfectant at stores wherever it was offered
  • Wore face mask whenever in public while in S.A. and Vic.
  • I had my second covid19 shot in Alice Springs on my rest day (fully vaccinated)
  • I avoided entering stores wherever possible and kept personal contact with others to a minimum
  • Received a covid19 test in Ballarat while in transit (First opportunity after crossing border)
  • Avoided contact with others and followed isolation requirements since arriving in Melbourne including isolation until negative test result received. (Test result arrived within a day!)

Published by David F

Disorganised Dilettante

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