As you recall I was in South Australia happily ticking items off my Australia bucket list. There was just one item still outstanding: ride a motorcycle across Australia.
And if I liked it, I might do the same once I got back to Canada.
With the help of new friends in Willunga, I managed to buy a 1997 Honda Rebel 250cc on Gumtree, borrow some camping gear, acquire maps, and use a couple of bungy cords to strap a massive grey backpack to the rear gear rack of the bike.
“You’re going to camp in the bush?” asked one friend. “Aren’t you afraid of the poisonous spiders and snakes?”
“I’m Canadian,” I replied. “Where I live, it’s bears and cougars you’ve got to look out for.”
Over four weeks I rode the motorcycle on a 3250-kilometer loop. I went south to Kangaroo Island, then east on the Coorong, the Great Ocean Road, up to Melbourne, west to the Grampians, north along the Murray River, west to the Barossa, and then south back to Willunga.
Along the way I rode lovely roads, met friendly people, dropped the bike on a remote forestry road, came face-to-face with a large spider; and drank wine on a beach—frequently.
Ice? Check. Beer? Check. Chicken and sausages? Check. Barbie? Fire it up.
It’s Sunday evening and my hosts Jared and Ruth tell me they’ve invited some friends over for a barbeque. Naturally, we’ll need some ice in the Esky (portable cooler) to keep the Coopers (pale ale) frosty.
Jared preps the retro grill, Ruth marinates the chicken, I sweep the shed (covered patio area), Delilah wipes the kids’ table, and Tilly tunes her guitar.
There’ll be three little kids running around, three guitars jamming, one dad bongo-drumming, a backyard fire burning, stars twinkling, and me pushing twigs into the fire and quietly taking it all in.
“Based at the vintage and charming Aldinga Airfield, Adelaide Biplanes is all about delivering some of the most awesome flying experiences it’s possible to imagine. From the joy and sheer romance of a gentle Waco biplane flight at 1,000 feet, along the scenic Adelaide south coast, or a vintage Tiger Moth flight with a stunning sunset as your personal backdrop, to an extreme Great Lakes biplane open cockpit Aerobatic Flight that offers a totally unique, adrenalin-pumping experience, that literally puts all your senses on overload. To the ultimate buzz of actually learning to fly at the most motivating, challengingly-fun, inspiringly-easy going and singularly safe Flying School. At Adelaide Biplanes, we have a passion for pretty much everything there is to do with aeroplanes.”
I was grounded this time, but rumour has it Santa Claus has logged a flight plan with the tiny airport. Maybe I’ll bump into the big fella next time around.
Rangoon, Burma was home to a community of Goan families before WWII.
That included my father Leo Rodrigues and his cousin Aloysius D’Souza. They were born in Rangoon and were age six when the Japanese attacked the city a few weeks after they bombed Pearl Harbour.
Leo and Aloysius and their families had to flee Rangoon by rail, sea, and land. Our families arrived safely in Calcutta port and trickled back to Goa via Delhi and Bombay.
Two years ago I flew to Goa, India to work on my own book based on my Girl Gone Goa blog. I felt compelled to put it on pause because I wanted to edit a memoir that Aloysius had drafted. I couldn’t help but get caught up in his stories of community, music, food, farm life, and war.
Today I received word that Uncle will celebrate both the publishing of his book and his 83rd birthday in Goa this week.
I’m in Australia now and I feel like just one small ocean separates me from him. But a travel agent tells me a return flight from Adelaide would cost $1900.00 AUS and a visa would be impossible to obtain.
In South Australia, a stairway to heaven goes down, not up.
It starts from a road where you park your sand-carpeted hatchback. There’s a industrial-size tub of SPF50 sun lotion in the back with the towels. It’s got a pump so you can slap it on fast.
Faster than it takes to pull on your wetsuit. It’s thick neoprene rubber and if you’re lucky, you’ve got a buddy nearby who’ll pull the back zip for you. If she’s local, she’ll tell you how the surf looks before you even peer over the rail.
When you do, you see an expanse of blue with strips of white foam. They curl and break like slow-motion music. If you’re a surfer, that’s heaven.
Chillax is a wax that you dot on the top side of your surfboard. It’s designed to offend sharks. It’s organic.
According to Chillax’s Common Sense Surf Company Facebook page, Chillax Wax is “…heavily dosed with four organic essential oils and four strong spices.” I spoke to the inventor of the wax at the weekly Green Light Eco Market. He hinted that one of those essential spices is chili pepper.
There’s been some speculation on what the other ingredients might be. One wag offered, “Chili peppers and other strong spices? Isn’t that what you’d tenderize a piece of meat with…?”
Me, I’m just learning to surf so rest assured I’ll stay in shallower, less-shark-infested waters.
And I can’t help but think the wax looks like a creamy, custardy, and spicy crème brûlée.
The Chillax people hint that Version 2 of the wax will be even more repugnant to sharks:
“Chillax is an ongoing project of investigation and innovation; but with the help of consumers and supporters it will be made redundant by our second envisioned product – a shark repelling surf wax.
“This will be Chillax with a treated and olfactorily-tolerable Necromone, the scent of necrotic or rotting shark. This appalling stench makes sharks flee.”
Here’s a traveller’s tip if you stay in a place for a month or more: Get a library card.
It’s usually free. You can borrow guidebooks, novels, maps, and movies. You can pick up useful local knowledge like events calendars, newsletters, and volunteer opportunities.
And you can chat with friendly librarians like the lady at the Willunga branch of the Onkaparinga Public Library. She told me all I needed to earn my own library card was have my hosts Jared and Ruth write a letter. Ruth was kind enough to sign the letter I pushed in front of her this morning.
(Lucky for me neither Ruth nor the library staff noticed I spelled Onkaparinga incorrectly.)
The public library is a great place to pick up events calendars for the area you’re staying in.
Tilly is in Class 8 at the Waldorf School here in Willunga. It’s an unusual school, where 13-year-olds discuss personal journeys, portrayals of women in advertising, and 9/11 conspiracy theories.
I was pleased to join her and her family to the school’s end-of-year concert. According to Wikipedia, a Waldorf education’s “…overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.”
It also includes a high degree of musical competence. The event showcased everything from percussion poles to xylophones to classic guitar. A piece by the Senior Band, Kaze no Toorimichi, felt transcendent.
During the break I wandered the school grounds and got a sense of the Willunga Waldorf School’s radical building and grounds design.
From what I’ve seen so far, and having spent some time with Tilly over the last couple of weeks, I’m impressed—and just a bit jealous.
I wonder how my generation would have turned out if we could have received this kind of creative education?
The roads wind beautifully along picture-postcard coastlines, through vineyards, and between mountain ranges—how could I not?
The trouble is, I need a bike. It’s got to be small, light, ready to carry gear, and less than $2000 AUS.
A few people have suggested a Postie bike. Similar to my vintage-style Symba Honda Cub, the Australian Post’s delivery vehicle of choice is small (just 110cc) motorcycle that is nimble, easy to operate, and tough as all get out.
Today I caught sight of a Postie zipping in and out of drive ways on his specially-equipped Honda Super Cub CT110. I literally waved him down and then fairly grilled him on the particulars of his bike.
“…one of the most sustainable, lean and delicious meats that Australia produces. Kangaroo is a 100% natural lean meat that is sustainably and ethically sourced from the open ranges of Australia. Kangaroos are free-ranging animals, the range over extensive pastoral areas of Australia, graze on natural vegetation and are harvested in their own environment…”
The sweet-voiced song told the tale of a young man who met his first true love at a mysterious place called “Bondi Junction.”
I eventually discovered that Bondi Junction is a real place in faraway Australia. I wondered if I would ever go there.
I did. It’s a transit station east of Sydney. It’s a great place to find a direct bus to Bondi Beach. But, like poor Peter, it was not the place to find love.
The song did well for Peter, though. It was a Canadian’s break-out hit single nominated for several awards. He might have been influenced by three brothers he met when he was still in Australia—the brother Gibb. They’d go on to become the Bee Gees. He’d go on to direct a film that is rumoured to inspire the film American Pie.
Hey hi! Check out my newest stories—a bike adventure along a historic canal that runs 500 kilometres across the south of France. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s called Le Canal des Deux Mers—the canal of two seas.
I solo cycle-camped the Canal de Garonne, the Canal du Midi, a section of Mediterranean coastline including the Carmargue, and a bit of the Rhône River.
I drank wine, ate cassoulet, mingled with riverrains, joined some pagans, and slept with four Frenchmen on their canal boat—it’s a story.