Friday, 21 April 2017

Taking Leukaemia on holiday requires some strange preparations.

The Birthday Helium Balloon came with us for 3000 kms. It was one of the easiest things to pack.



No I haven't morphed into a travel blogger, I just thought I'd share a few hints I found useful this holiday but not so much for you as for me, cos if I write it down then I don't need to try so hard to remember it, cos let's face it packing changes as we get older. The stuff a carefree 30 something takes or a clueless 20 something takes, is far different to what I need when I am packing up Leukaemia to go on tour.

As a late teenager, I packed a red bikini and a pair of thongs and figured I'd find a towel when I got to the beach in Cairns. Oh who am I kidding, I didn't even consider a towel. I have a great photo somewhere of me petting a kangaroo in said RED, and all I can imagine is that that was all I took with me, cos all around me the locals were sporting their winter clobber and mine was the only skin to be seen. Yeh I was skinny then.

Sure, as I got a little older more, was necessary in the bag, but not a lot more, especially after the nappy / bottle paraphernalia phase was finished.

I went to Dublin for a girlie weekend and the 3 of us agreed to take the smallest bags as carry on cos we just didn't want to be dragging shit around. Somehow we wedged 'going out' gear and flash shoes and all other bits and pieces - even a hair straightener, into tardis bags and off we went. I suppose truth be told it didn't matter too much, cos I do recall sitting in some fake american diner type of place on the sunday morning after the night before, being so appalling hung over that not one of us gave a flying rat's arse about what we were wearing, quite possibly a pair of knicky-noos on my head, so playing 'What's in the bag?' would have been completely moot.

And I spent a number of fortnightly holidays in Greece, when I took togs and a sarong and thongs and a couple of T shirts. I wore the sarong to the beach over togs during the day and then folded it in half to make a shortish skirt to 'dress up' for dinner at night. When you book a last minute holi it often means going the next day, or even that afternoon so no packing thought is possible.

I have packed up whole houses and moved to the other side of the world twice and I am pretty ruthless, and quite canny about what will fit where, and I think in all those thousands of kilometres only a tea pot was ever broken.

But now packing is more troublesome.

Now I need to plan for possibilities, and not only good ones. Yeh I still wonder about taking a pair of 'good' shoes in case of a possible meet and greet with someone famous, and I'll take a couple of scarves to dress up something a bit dowdy, but mostly I plan for shit, sometimes literally.

Now I need to pack up a pharmacy and consider the climate controls listed on the boxes.

The side effects of the Leukaemia Meds are so varied and unpredictable, that a boy scout would have no chance of dib dib dib, being prepared.

So I packed up Class A pain meds after a trip to the doctor for a prescription cos if that fucking hip / bone pain came back while we were in the middle of the desert, then I wanted to be able to manage. Yippee to the unopened box!

And then I had to MacGyver something in case my guts erupted 300 kilometres from a loo.  This is a common enough event at home and I just sigh and sleep and imagine that it's a good thing cos I might lose a few pounds as I run to and fro to the throne, but I was far less sanguine about 'an episode' on the road. So I packed up a couple of solid looking plastic bags, one of 'em was a dry clean bag I collected along the way and stole a flannel and bought an industrial pack of loo roll and spent time wondering if I sent Stevie into the desert he'd be snake safe while I opened the front and back doors of the car and perched in between for privacy and the wondered if my knees were up to the task of holding me up for long enough to finish up. How I honestly thought I was gonna manage the bag situation is still a mystery. We tried to buy a sturdy bucket in Alice Springs but failed. Oh Well.

Funny how times change. Most people go hunting for artwork or artifacts in Alice, and we went in search of a bucket. Oh Well.

Luckily enough for me and Stevie and any poor soul driving that stretch of road, I didn't have to stop and squat and squirt. Yippee again.

Oh sure there were days when I was less well and had to admit defeat mid afternoon for a snoring nanna nap, and I did occasionally fail in my duty of entertainment provider as I slipped into a ZZZZ off on the road- thankfully not while I was driving, and there was the odd headache and bit of nausea and the tired irrits came and went.

Stevie did remarkably well, so I reckon the most important bit of packing is to stuff in someone with the patience of a saint. He would have gone much harder without me, although perhaps he wouldn't have gone at all without me. In any case, I was pleased that he went on auto pilot and slowed and sped up depending on how I was.

A list of possibilities is also useful, although I reckon it's better to end with a list of things you HAVE seen or done rather than a list of what you missed.

I am very pleased that we have driven through the desert and seen stuff, but I am not sure that a driving holiday is really for me. However, there is so much packing and unpacking, in, out, shake it all about - every few days, that if you require some practice then this might just be the holiday for you.

What I will say is that I am pleased that Leukaemia was so well behaved, better in fact than many a screeching small child, or a demanding slobbering old person, so I reckon another adventure is not out of the question.

Yippee!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Adelaide Zoo

Giant Panda foetus.

We've been to Adelaide before and we really enjoy it. It's small and friendly and enough city like to be a bit exciting, but country town enough to mostly know where you are. It's comfortable, like an old pair of boots, but good looking boots cos it sure as shit is a pretty place.

So when you come back to a place you've already explored it's necessary to find other stuff to entertain yourself. 

So we trooped off to The Adelaide Zoo. It's only 2 bus stops away but as I'd had a little tired crying melt down yesterday we caught the bus and went for a wonderful wander. 

It's been a very long time since either of us have been to a Zoo. We meant to go to the Regent's Park Zoo last time we were in London and I remember we got very close, but then I was too buggered and we gave it a swerve.

We had a look at the map - not very specific and not always accurate as it turned out, and decided that if we had to pace ourselves - yeh that means put up with my shit, we had a few animals that were 'a must'

The Giant Pandas were there in all their glory, bloody fun looking fellas rolling and squidgey. I am not sure what perversity lead me to take the pic of the foetus but that's as close as I came to a photo of these guys. But I do have a good image in my head.

There was a fairly large enclosure for the monkeys - different types separated by a moat. And it was feeding time, and while they were flinging themselves from branch to branch with such aplomb and accuracy, I wondered how long between mouth and bum and kept a close eye on their little scratching fingers in case one of 'em decided to throw some warm shit at us like happened on 'The Project' last week. I sure didn't want to be that old grandma, with monkey shit dripping off her nose.

There were weird and wonderful creatures, and if I am honest most of them seemed pretty happy in their homes / cages. The lions maybe less so. It would have been impossible for them get up to even a slow canter before they ran into the wire fence and they did seem very lethargic. Maybe a larger enclosure and some Lithium might help.


These 2 girlies groomed each other for a while and then gave it up and the their mate in the next cage went for a little walk and then rubbed himself on a metal pole and went to sleep.




We saved the Giraffes til last cos that was my carrot to finish the trails. Giraffes are my favourite. I love the markings and the elegance.

How lovely.


And then we sat down for a snack and well a sit down really. We had a great view of the Hippos we had watched swimming when we came in. Did you know they are speedy fellas? The notice told us that. But the enclosure was just a pond and there was very little room and there were 2 of these great hulking things in there. I am surprised they don't rip each other apart. But I wasn't surprised that as we sat at the cafe, right on their door step, one of 'em popped out of the water and sprayed the longest foulest smelling shit in our direction. It was like someone had turned on a high pressure hose and baby shit yellow slop spurted everywhere. We were far enough away not to get any splatter on our treaties so all was well, but I couldn't help think that he'd done that on purpose.  

These hippos could really do with some more space, please. And the lions too please, and the tiger. 


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Coober Pedy


I have been saying for some long time now that I could quite possibly be just a tiny bit of an anarchist. I mean I don't like rules or rule makers or doing as I am told and every time the government makes up another bloody law telling me what I must or can't do I get a case of the screaming irrits, and if it wasn't against some more than likely small print law against hurting the feelings of machines, I might well chuck something heavy at the tellie when such news breaks.

But I reckon I have seen a bit of anarchy in action in Coober Pedy and so now I am not so sure.

As you drive in from the north, there are kilometres of conical slag heaps of different sizes and colours, just sitting there pert as a Madonna bra and twice as brazen. All this mining and never an attempt to 'make good'. I was surprised.

Except then it was explained that if anything is made good then the next fella or bird who pops in to try their luck, much like chucking rolls of cash at a roulette wheel it seems, well they might be digging a tunnel under the made good bit and the whole shooting match would collapse on their heads and clearly that would not be good. So all this random, perhaps not, but a number of miners told us that it was just  'crap shoot', digging and loads of secret tunnels going who knows where, we were pleased that the ground was rock cos otherwise if it was sand it could have collapsed beneath us as we yomped around. Yeh but for the rock, I reckon that the main street's footpath would have come with a weight warning cos it must be like honeycomb under there.

And the building is no different. There is a large Aboriginal settlement on the edge of town and these houses are your bog standard looking places, on stumps so I guess you can see the snakes coming, but most of the privately owned homes have been bored right into the rock. I am not sure if there is any control about the digging or the direction or the prerequisite number or height of power points, but like moles they go. The outside of the homes is mostly more than a little ordinary, cos of course in 65 degree heat in the summer, not much of a garden is possible, but inside anything is possible.

Stevie wanted to stay underground, so I dutifully found an apartment that fitted the bill and we went to check in. It was my first look see at undergroundness.

Stevie marched in along with the fella and they were chatting away and I got to the front door and my feet called a halt. It was tidy enough and didn't lack for space, but there was just no way I could get my feet to take my even close to the back of the place. It did go back a long long long fucking long way. In fact it went so far back that without lights on you couldn't see a marching band coming at ya. It was fucking DARK!

I could see from the outside that there were vent hole looking things that might have provided air, but what if  birds sat on all of 'em at the same time? NO AIR! What if a dust storm rolled in and covered 'em all up? NO AIR.  What if the owner turned out to be some crazy homicidal maniac who fancied the smell of rotting flesh so he covered all the vents with Gladwrap and locked us in there by bolting the front door closed. Yeh I was trying to calculate how long we'd last.

It's fair to say rationality flew right out of the nonexistent window and I freaked well and truly out and so we stayed at a very nice place called The Mud Hut - above ground with lots of windows and air - thank you very much - sorry Stevie.

We were there for 2 nights and had a good look around. I took my turn driving on the ruttity rut rut road and we looked at opal earrings.

I reckon the locals might have been very pleased to see that back of us cos for the first time in a long time, there was a blackout - town wide, and not just one night, but both nights we were there.

With luck like that it's a good thing we aren't miners.



Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Erldunda - maybe ErlDON"Ta


Here's me Erldudna Tellie

When I first arrived in London for what turned out to be a 7 year stay, not the usual Aussie 'nip in and have a quick look-see', I bought a somewhat suspect car from a guy literally on the side of the road, and used it to tour around a bit like a maniac, cos it did in fact go like a shower of shit, so long as I kept up the oil along with the petrol.

So one weekend I took off to the coast - Bournemouth about 200Ks away, and as my luck would have it, it turned out to be Gay Pride weekend and decent accommodation was hard to find, but I wanted to get out and get looking so I threw my bag into the very first available room, and without a backward glance I was out on the street dancing and drinking beers with gay men a plenty. It was a rainbow time.

However when I returned to put my head down and my danced out feet up, I was faced with looking in detail around the room. There were pubes matted around the shower cubicle and blood stains on the doona. At a rough guess I would say that the cleaner had had more than the day off, they may never have appeared at all.

So I did what I imagine we have all done at some point in our lives, and that is, with tweezery fingers I lifted the sheets and threw the pillow on the floor and lay fully clothed, flat out on the bed, arms crossed over my chest, corpse style, and did not move as I willed myself to sleep, and as soon as daylight hit the window ledge, I was up and outta there....oooooh YUKKY.

Well the Erldunda accommodation reminded me very much of Bournemouth.

Old didn't worry me, I'm not a youngster myself. Worn out didn't worry me cos I feel pretty worn out most of the time, but grubby, pest catching equipment in the loo, signs warning to close the doors so the snakes don't visit, whole walls that move when you plug in the kettle, well that was all pretty shit. Still we moved in and went for a look around. It doesn't take long.

When we got back to the room - no we were not changing for dinner - this was not the Queen Mary after all, we were gonna make a cuppa, and then some shitful noise started up.

Seems the people next door who thought it was acceptable to park up their truck and trailer right across where we might have liked to park, well they had turned on the ancient air conditioner, the machine for  which was hung right out side our window. The fucking noise instantly reminded us of TMR night works, so Steve went to see about a change of venue.

The girlie suggested that it would be OK cos they probably would turn the air con off at some point through the night.

I didn't think so and between us we and the manager we came upon a compromise which suited us all, or nearly us all.

I watched the ancient tellie, which could well have been the one some turd stole from me under the guise of taking it back to his workshop to fix, back in the early 90s, while Stevie threw himself through the shower. Bore water didn't appeal to me as I am already itchy enough with the meds and so I figured I would just add to the ambient stink and shower at Coober Pedy.

Happy Hour at the pub was indeed happy, so we downed a few beers and decided to brave the food. 2 specialties of the house burgers appeared and once we removed an entire bag of unwashed spinach and other lettuce, we looked into the face of slimy perhaps nuked from frozen, perhaps meat patties. I ate the bun and the chips, Stevie had another beer.

I don't know what the other options are if you are driving from Yulara to Adelaide, cos you almost have to stop here, but I reckon it is definitely necessary to lower your expectations. Just cos you are paying a reasonable sum, don't expect a reasonable room or anything close to fine dining.

We are at Coober Pedy, and it is already an olympic pole vault leap ahead or Elrdunda.

Monday, 10 April 2017

'On The Road Again' - Thanks Willie Nelson



We're on the road again today, and I reckon whilst it is not unpleasant, for me at least, cos I mostly sit back like ol' CleoP while Stevie does the driving, it is not the most exciting part of our holiday.

The ruttitty ruttitty between Hermannsburg and Yulara was a bit exciting and sometimes scarey, but mostly it's a bit boring, so the bush radio goes on and then we play how many of these words to this old song can you get right. As I sing very very badly this game is not Stevie's favourite, although the mistakes I make - which are numerous and ridiculous, can make him laugh til he cries and then we are back to a bit scarey on the road.

We are heading to Erldunda today and that's only a couple hundred Ks away but then we are in for some really biggies. More than 500 Ks to Coober Pedy and after a few days there more than 500Ks to Port Augusta.

So I will have to take my turn at the wheel on these 2 legs.

And that's ok, except that I am already worrying about the fucking ROAD TRAINS. I am not sure I have ever seen one, but the guide books all warn of the suckers.

Stevie will not want to be stuck behind one but I just don't fancy the idea of finding a bit of road empty enough to try to whip passed a 55 metre long juggernaut possibly needing to reach speeds of a million Ks per hour, on some skinny bit of road, while I wait for Mad Max to appear on the horizon. I can see settling in behind them and pulling into the next 'picnic zone' - read a bit of wider bitumen, or sometimes it is only a bit of steam rollered dirt, while Stevie takes over. In any case my driving will not be much of a relax for him.

But the car we have seems to be in pretty good order - we had to take the first one back cos it was a little bit fucked - yeh a technical term, making a screaming noise and chewing through petrol like a camel filling up to be a fire breathing dragon. The guy at the counter was not amused, but then he is not right up there on our list of 'wonderful people we have met this holiday' either. I asked Stevie just to make sure we have a spare tyre and guess what... it's one of those temporary things that are good for old grannies who just drive to church, or bingo or the male strip club, not people who are driving 1000s of Ks, but hopefully we wont be needing it anyway.

And off we gooooo!



 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Uluru.....Yippee!

Sure I could have opened with a pic of the Rock, but this is a a view of it no-one ever thought they'd see.

I am loath to admit but philistine that I am, I have often been heard to say, 'Ayer's Rock - Nah I don't want to go there, I've seen it on the tellie.' But now that we are here, I am very pleased we popped by.

There is lots to do and places to go and things to see and wonderful stuff to eat.

Yeh the flies are still driving us mad - I know, not a long road, and it is pretty fucking hot, but we have been out and about seeing stuff that I am so pleased to have had a look see at.

I think my favourite might have to be Kata Tjuta - The Olgas for us old folk. I just loved the roundness of the place and it is vast! And of course Uluru is pretty impressive. Lots of people I know wax lyrical about the spiritual nature of the place and I waited for something to hit me, but nah, that was just another family of flies.

But it doesn't matter to me that I am gonna leave this place, the same, non god fearing atheist who arrived here, cos the images themselves have been wedged into my memory and they are curious and beautiful and strange. There are bits of the rock that have been so oddly eroded, that it looks like some alien has dropped by and infected it with a flesh eating disease. There are caves and hollows and scratches and there was one really long bit that was like a finger lifting itself right up off the Rock. You could see daylight between the long skinny strip and the bulk beneath. How it stayed there I do not know, but it was bloody wonderful to see.

So by all means pop out here and have a look and there is a walk all the way around - 10 and a half Kms so not for me, but it looked pretty manageable, and there are shorter jaunts for those of you who don't want to carry enough water for a camel drinks party.

And then there is the controversial climbing over the top. The Aborigines who own the Rock don't want people climbing it. There are signs up asking you not to do it, that the place is of spiritual importance, and then there are whitey signs saying that it is dangerous, but still we saw a steady stream of folk, arses stuck to the ground - literally slip sliding down one side of it, one young bloke sat and cried fearful of going forward but knowing there was no way back. One fuckwit father with 2 young girls, not more than 4 or 5 attacked the end drop with such gusto I feared for the babies. They carried no water and sure enough he held their hands, but I had to go cos I couldn't watch him so thoroughly put those little lives in danger.

And so I am conflicted. The owners of the land have asked that people stay off the Rock. I don't think they are best pleased about all the usual yomping at the base of it either, but that is their compromise. In the early 80s when the government handed ownership back to the Aborigines, it was on the proviso that it was immediately leased back as National Park, and so National Park rules apply.

So instead of a spiritual awakening, I just feel a sadness. I wonder where the extraordinary amount of cash goes and I wonder where all the local Aborigines live and how they live. I rather thought this trip might provide some answers, but instead I just have more questions.

But that is a side bar, cos I have been really impressed. The place we are staying at is lovely and we have eaten fab food and seen beautiful art works of all kinds and visited places that now, when they are on the tellie, we can shout out, 'We've been there!' Surely we aren't the only ones who do this? It's an excellent game to play while watching suspect movies like Mission Impossible 1-Infinity.

AND Stevie took me on a Camel Ride. He didn't want to and when we got there, I wasn't at all sure my 2 metal knees were gonna bend far enough to even let me mount the fella - Psycho ours was called. But the girls shoveled me on without the need of a backhoe so that's a testament to the strength of these gals and off we trotted.

It was something! A bit uncomfortable if I am truly honest, but pretty fab too. The sunset was brilliant and the photos in my mind are better than on the camera. Getting on and off Psycho was a bit fraught and yeh I did swear - a lot. I am not G entertainment afterall. I am so pleased to have trooped through the desert on a camel.

When I was shoveled off I walked away like an old arthritic John Wayne, but today has dawned blue skies and straight legged. Yippee!

I really like this place.

Friday, 7 April 2017

King's Canyon

The balcony from the King's Canyon room.


Do you remember the old fairy tale about the Emperor's new clothes? The tailor for whatever perverse reason conned the Emperor into believing that NOTHING was the latest in fashion and after numerous fittings the fool was happy enough to trot on outside to see his minions wearing his new gear, but really he was bollocky naked. I am not sure how the story ended, but I like to think that there was someone like me who might have yelled out a rude comment perhaps about man-scaping his bits and so would have begun the Emperor's speedy fall into his carriage and a wrenching closed of the curtains as he realised that what he thought all along was indeed the truth and that he had been conned for great bags of wonga and the world had seen the size of his bits and laughed out loud. Oh SHIT.

Well that's sort of how I feel about King's Canyon.

It's about half way between Alice Springs and Uluru, so if you have a 300 odd Kilometre a day driving limit cos more than that is just too much, then you might look to stay here.

And it is plenty expensive!

And it sounds exclusive and luxurious, and altogether the beauty spot of the desert.

The big boast is the dinner under the stars - a many course degustation extravaganza, which promised Australiana by the bucket load, and an unbeatable table for 2. Yeh all in all I reckoned this sounded like the bees bollocks for Stevie's big birthday.

Our whole schedule had been balanced around fitting in this dinner.

The day before we left Alice, I got a call saying that the dinner was a no go - not enough punters. Well I'll be fucked. We were given the option of cancelling without any penalty, but that's pretty useless unless you fancy pulling up on the side of the road and bunking under the stars with the dingoes and snakes and stuff, cos most places are booked out well in advance. So we figured we'd stop by there anyway and for 2 nights no less!

The restaurant was pretty good to be honest, but that's about where it ended for me.

The visual highlight was supposed to be the walk around the rim of the canyon. No I am not gonna make any rimming comments.

But when we got there the scuttle was that the 'walk' was goat trekking up 560 'stairs' and then 4 hours of slogging away before somehow falling back to earth at the other end. Well I wondered about all that. And then it came with a warning that it was for experienced fit hikers.

Well I'll be fucked.

No dinner and no view for me. Stevie took off all in a flutter and was back in quick order cos the stairs were not stairs in his language, they were random arrangements of flattish rocks and he climbed a few and then looked down and didn't like what he saw, so he came back home, but not before he wandered along another dry creek bed.

It has not taken me too long to get to, 'If you've seen one dry creek bed, you've seen 'em all. A bit like AFC in Europe - another fucking church, well I'm up to AFDCB.

So we spent 2 days in this place where there is no wifi and not even any phone coverage. The reception on the tellie was pretty shit and the big noted spa bath with a view to the desert was far less spectacular than the brochure implied.

But the food at Carmichael's was good. Beef cheeks - slow cooked and bloody marvelous and porketta and veg and chicken and veg, both were fine. And the linen was excellent and there was a mattress topper so the bed was far more luxurious than the bloody hard as an Uluru in Alice.

We are not sorry to have called into King's Canyon, but I would advise unfit fatties to give it a big swerve. There sure as shit is not much to do there.

So far our tally on the road is 3 lizards, 3 dingoes, a dead horse - fucking huge! and some unidentified road kill, and more abandoned cars than enough.

We are not in Kansas anymore.