Hi there,

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Hanging with my bro!

Adelaide (South Australia)
Distance Travelled:
437 Km


Waking up in the motel, after a good night’s sleep (especially in a comfy bed that we hadn't constructed ourselves in the middle of the night), was brilliant! The van was still in disarray, but check out wasn’t until 10:00 – so we had time to move a few things around and check that we hadn’t left anything behind at home in our rush. Unfortunately, a quick check of the inventory revealed that one of Nat’s bags hadn’t made it into the van. On the up side, most of her clothes had been stuffed into an assortment of bags – but her swimming gear was nowhere to be found. After a moment of panic, we resigned ourselves to the fact that a shopping trip would be on the agenda over the next few days. As we repacked the van, it was also clear that a good few hours would also need to be devoted to sorting it out before we could really consider ourselves ready to face the harsh interior of this massive continent.

Luckily, our first major port of call would be at the home of my brother (Gareth) and partner (Rosie). At least we knew this would be a calm port; a welcome place in an otherwise frantic storm that had been tossing us back and forth for the past few days. We just had to get there first.

So, leaving the motel (a little less bedraggled than we had arrived), we dropped our car off at Nat’s sister’s house (Linda) – and left the boot filled with all the things we had packed in our rush, but didn’t actually need.

Now, we were off!

It was a beautiful day -  lovely, warm and clear. The car was towing the camper van like a champ, and there were even times that you could forget there was a huge hunk of trailer bumbling long behind you (although, it took me at least half an hour to realise that the thing in the rear-view mirror wasn’t some jerk tailgating me).

Feeling peckish, we stopped off for a quick picnic in a small town called Kaniva. We called into the local IGA and stocked up on some ham and cheese to slap into a bun, as well as a bunch of fruit to keep us going for the next few days. Now, this may seem like a pretty mundane detail to put in this blog, but it soon featured in another life lesson that we quickly had to learn.

You see, the thing about Australia is that there are lots and lots of rules… and many of these rules can be quite different from State to State (or territory). In fact, going interstate can sometimes feel a little like you’re crossing into a different country. Not least of which are those laws pertaining to quarantined goods. New Zealand, for instance, has some pretty intense biosecurity laws (and fair enough, it’s a lovely place – who needs a dose of Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) decimating your bees, or German wasps (Vespula germanica) landing head first in your martini on a lovely summer’s evening?). Now that’s all well and good for a smallish island hanging out in the bottom of the South Pacific, but for a land mass that is connected to its neighbours by little more than a white dotted line on the road – closing the borders to invading hordes of bugs takes real gumption! South Australia, I have come to believe, likes to consider itself an island all of its own. Not even a humble insect can casually drop by without approval. Especially if that bug happens to be enemy number one, the dreaded fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni).

In retrospect, it was silly of us not to have fired up the old computer and googled “fruit fly AND South Australia” (using a proper Boolean searches, of course).  But, with the chaos of the weeks preceding our trip, it must have kinda slipped our mind...

…but not having had the forethought to conduct the aforementioned Google search, 20 minutes after leaving the sleepy hamlet of Kaniva, we found ourselves at the border; facing massive signs advising that our children could be taken from us and our finger tips broken if we were found to be carrying any fruit, vegetable, or plant material within our car or camp trailer (although thankfully in our bellies seemed to be OK).

The Dreaded South Australian Quarantine

Egads, we thought, that’s a bit of a pickle…

And so the next few minutes were spent forcing slightly unripe bananas and very juicy apples down our throats. To be honest, I think I took one for the team on that occasion, as my bowels have never seen so much fruit at one time before.

Oh, so much fruit...

And so after entering a food eating contest with only one contestant, we wended our way serenely towards Adelaide. “I’d better just give Gareth a quick text message to let him know we’re on our way” I thought. “You said you were arriving on Sunday” came the reply… followed by a great deal of  texting silence…

I now realise that this texting silence was probably because I’d stuffed up and had given him the wrong date – meaning that he and Rosie were likely experiencing their our house tidying panic, as we were turning up a day earlier than expected. To be fair, I had originally told Gareth the right date (he even had it on the calendar on the wall),  but in follow up texts (as my mind began dribbling from my ears) this morphed from Saturday into Sunday.

So, with the casting of one text message, their lovely leisurely Saturday morning was rent asunder, and we (somewhat ironically, given the goings on of days just previously) became the invading mobs from the south – come to wreak havoc on their tranquil patch of Adelaide.

Never one to be phased by such things, Gareth and Rosie took it all in their stride – and everything was spick and span by the time was chugged into their driveway a few hours later. There was even nibbles, drinks and dinner waiting – how awesome are they!

The next two days were spent stealing a few hours here and there to make good on our promise to finally sort out the camper van once and for all. This was interspersed with the boys playing with their new bestest friend in the whole entire world, namely Cooper the dog. On one trip to the beach, Nat even managed to pop into the shops and replaced the missing swimming gear that didn’t quite make it into the van; before ending the day with ice creams on the foreshore. This was all topped off with an epic game of Jenga, the likes of which will likely never been seen again (seriously, it was a massive teetering stack by the end!). And sadly, it was time to say goodbye to our lovely, quiet waystation – and move onwards into the unknown…

Four boys and their best doggy friend in the whole universe!

With the camp trailer stocked full of water (nicked obligingly from Gareth and Rosie), food and assorted goodies to keep us going, we eventually left the warm embrace of the familiar and headed out to trails unknown. Hitching our travelling home onto our car once more, we drove gingerly out of the driveway and onwards down the road. It was awesome to see Gareth and Rosie, and catch up on their lives for a few days. It was also very cool to be able to skype our folks while their two sons were together in the same place once again – if only for a short time.

A photo for mum and dad's fridge!

Onwards we drove, onwards towards the sunset. Onwards away from Adelaide and towards Port Augusta just over 400km ‘down the road’. On the way, I also received my first lesson in paying attention to the mundane moments in life. Driving into Port Augusta as the sun went down was pure magic. I must admit, even the kids stopped fighting for a few moments to watch the sunset through the car window, as the plains rolling away from us were bathed in a soft pink hue.

Ahhh, the joy of the open road.

Bye ‘d bye,



  1. Somewhat surprised to see that Gareth is taller than you......

    1. Nah, it’s my enduring belief that he's just got much better posture...

      Next time we're passing through Adelaide, I'll have to take a photo standing back-to-back; if only to quell this dirty little rumour!