Wednesday, January 18, 2023


We were up at dawn next day so we could get on the road before it got too hot, but John noticed one of the tires had a slow leak. Matt fixed it in fifteen minutes, finding a screw that had imbedded itself in the tire. 

Rob and co had left even earlier, as they had an extra three hours to travel, and we'd said our goodbyes the night before. There were hugs for Sam and Matt, and thanks for everything and then we were off.

The first 100 k was the dirt road and it was very windy and plenty bumpy over numerous creek crossings and soon the girls started saying they felt sick. Sure enough, they all succumbed  after half an hour, making the stress level in the car rocket up. I texted Elisa and she said Logan and Eddie had been sick too. Perhaps the early start and hitting the dirt road first up was rough on them but we were not happy travellers! Fortuneatly they hadn't had anything to eat as we intended to stop along the highway for breakfast, so it wasn't as unpleasant as it could have been.

Once we got onto the bitumen the symptoms subsided and they all started complaining about being hungry, good grief. We stopped in Hawker for a drink and some crackers we had in the car, I didn't want to risk giving them anything else to eat. 

We got home about 2.30 and everyone was relieved to get out of the car. 

Then we had to unpack and wash sicky things and sort out everything. What a day....

The night before Matt and I had been cleaning up in the kitchen, when I asked "Have you enjoyed having your family up here?" and he said "It's been great!" Then he added with a big grin "But it will be good when you've all gone home!" Yes, it's nice when life gets back to 'normal'. 


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Boxing day

On Boxing day Matt wanted to take us on the Ridgetop tour, but my back couldn't stand four hours of bouncing around in the 4wd. To compromise, at 8 am he and I set off for Coulthard's lookout, which is the first half hour of the track. I still thought it was pretty rough, but Matt said it had been graded since the rains, and it was good going. I did a lot of hanging on and gripping the phone tightly as I tried to take photos; if I'd lost it out the window it would have been smashed on the rocks, or fallen hundreds of feet down the slopes. 

Matt was driving a Land Cruiser, and he's fallen in love with these vehicles, they can go places that look utterly impassable.

We kept climbing higher and higher, and I ran out of adjectives to describe the views, amazing, stunning, incredible, awesome...

The track twisted and turned and climbed and climbed until we reached the lookout, which Matt really wanted me to see. Yes, for the views, but also because one of his jobs had been to completely replace all the wood on the structure, which had rotted and was becoming unsafe. 

He'd had to make the  trip to Adelaide, 630 miles each way, dragging a big trailer, to buy the wood and fixtures, the stain and paint and take it all back.

Then when he started the work he had to drive up here every day with the wood and all his tools until the job was done. He's so proud of it, and I think he did a fantastic job.

The view wasn't bad either!

I forget what this hill was called, but if the photo is enlarged you can see a pale strip running across the horizon. That is Lake Frome, an enormous inland salt lake. 

The scale of this country is hard to take on board, and I wonder at the reactions of overseas tourists who come out here.What do they make of such harsh conditions and the remoteness of the area?

When we were driving up to Arkaroola Lily lamented that she'd left her purse behind. We explained that it didn't matter, because there were no shops anyway. All three girls said "No shops?!' in astonished tones. I suppose shopping is a part of the culture now, more's the pity.

Keryn and I and our brother Greg made quite a few trips to the northern Flinders area when we were in our teens and there was a school camp to Arkaroola when we were 16 or so. How the teachers managed thirty teenagers in a bus on the dreadful roads, setting up tents every night, feeding us all, making it such a fantastic experience I'll never know. They were either brave, or foolhardy. I'd taken the boys to a camp at Angorichina when they were younger, and neice Seonaid worked at Parachilna so we knew what the area was like, but some people must find the country a bit of a shock to the system.  I kept replying to the kids complaints (bull ants, heat, dust, insects etc etc ) ...You're in the Outback now!!

And this was a good season, with lots of rain, when there's drought it's even harsher.

We bumped back down the track and then Matt turned around and took Rob, John and Logan on the whole ridgetop tour. He really does love driving and he's learning all the information so that he can become one of the regular tour guide/drivers.

For the rest of us there was swimming and reading and later in the aftrnoon (fortunately after everyone had come back) there was a thunderstorm and rain which cooled us down a bit.

One last meal of Christmas leftovers and then an evening swim at sunset. Perfect.


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Christmas day

This is taking longer than I thought to document, life gets in the way of blogging sometimes.

Christmas morning showed that Santa had indeed found us, and excitement ensued. Rob and Elisa don't wrap most of their presents, preferring a santa sack for each child so there didn't seem to be much under the tree. And our gifts were chosen with the space limitations of the car in mind, so no bikes or big items.

Still, there was certainly enough for everyone to be happy with, including this little pile of fat quarters for me, a gift from Rob. Elisa said he took ages to pick them out at Spotlight, and he did a pretty good job. At least four of them are going straight into a project I'm cutting for, so he chose well.

As an aside, there were two of these patchwork chairs in the lounge area, and the fabric is actually pieces sewn together, not printed. I loved them, and they were surprisingly comfortable too.

Sam had set a beautiful Christmas table for us, including Christmas crackers and we had a combination of hot and cold meats, roast vegies, salads and various treats. Followed of course by pavlova and cheesecake....

After lunch we watched movies and everyone collapsed and chilled out.  There was a late afternoon swim for those who felt like it, but I was content to read my book and  have some quiet time.

It was certainly a christmas day with a difference.


Friday, January 06, 2023

Christmas Eve

 The next day was Christmas Eve, and we just hung out with each other instead of doing any sight seeing.The kids first thought in the morning was the pool and by 9 they were splashing around and shrieking with laughter.We let them stay in longer because they were wearing long sleeve rashies and we were pretty certain the sunscreen was working well. Hats were added to the pool clothes, and they stayed in for hours and hours. The adults certainly tired of it before the kids did.

There were some blow up ride on things but by far the most sought after aids were two black innertubes and there was much competion over whose turn it was to drift around in them. The twins absolutely loved lazily skimming around the  shallow end of the pool in them, but pool noodles came in handy too. 

 Matt had asked what we wanted for lunch and suggested a barbeque. He disappeared and a bit later the work ute rolled up with trestle tables and chairs, tableclothes and cutlery and he set it all up in the welcome shade of a large gumtree. He  fired up a huge barbeque and got the meat cooking and his friend Sam in the kitchen whipped up salads and great trays of cut up fruit for dessert. Twenty of us sat down in the fresh air to a lunch that seemed to have materialised out of nowhere.

After lunch was some quiet time and a movie for the kids, while I made two cheeecakes in the  kitchen and a few nibbles for the next day. Matt made pizza dough, and filled up seven huge trays with varied toppings and cooked them in the two big gas ovens. Two were loaded with jalepenos, just the way we liked them, and I was hoping no-one else would eat them so there would be left-overs for breakfast. But I suppose feeding twenty people  meant that was unlikely anyway.

After tea we played charades, visited the wallabies, and then everyone was ready for bed. The kids were a little worried that Santa wouldn't know we were in Arkaroola, but we assured them that their 'elf on the shelf' would have told him. Christmas day tomorrow!


Monday, January 02, 2023

More adventuring

That night after a delicious meal of burgers we followed Matt down to feed the yellow footed rock wallabies. They are wild but enjoy some of their special food each evening as a supplement.

Matt tipped some food onto this rock platform, and after five minutes the wallabies started coming shyly in.

The kids were deighted to see these pretty little animals at such close range; eventually there were about seven of them feeding on the rocks.

Each family had a seperate house to stay in, so we spent a comfortable night after our adventures on the road, and next morning set off for the pool.

It was hard to get the kids out of the pool after one and a half hours, but the sun was too hot. They were slathered in sunscreen but we didn't want to take the chance of them getting burnt.

After lunch we set off on a 4wd tour to The Pinnacles, massive outcrops of rocks that were very impressive.
Dolly had come along for the ride too, and loved the attention the kids lavished on her.

Next stop was the old copper smelter, an enterprise that failed to make anyone's fortune. The land is so inhospitable that it was hard to imagine how people survived out here. Eventually they walked off and abandoned the workings.

Next stop was  Nooldoonooldoona waterhole, a bit of a walk and a climb before we got to the actual water. It was amazing and the kids loved scrambling over the huge rocks. 

To put this in perspective, note the tiny spec of yellow which is Rob in his hi-vis shirt.

I didn't climb down the last bit as my back was complaining mightily by this stage, and I didn't know if I'd get back up again. There was very little water there, despite the recent rains, but it was still a beautiful setting.
I just couldn't get over the scale of some of the rocks

- all the kids loved climbing this one and posed at the top for a photo.

 By the time we got back to the cars we were all ready for some quiet time and a bit of a rest.The little girls had kept up so well over the rough terrain, but energy was flagging and they needed to cool down before we assembled again in the dining room for another great meal and conversation.


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