Flirt with a biplane pilot

Coffee milkshake at Adelaide Biplanes museum near Aldinga, South Australia.

I imagined that if I arrived at the Adelaide Biplanes aerodrome on a bicycle in a breezy summer dress, I could flirt with a pilot and sweet-talk my way into his cockpit.

That didn’t quite happen. I did cycle a few kilometres from McLaren Vale to the airfield and museum, and I did scan my radar for pilots, but the place was quiet and none were to be found.

Instead, I ordered a thick coffee milkshake and watched a small plane practice taking off and landing from the comfort of the airfield’s vintage-themed café.

Says the Adelaide Biplanes website,

“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.

Cafe and museum at the Adelaide Biplanes airport near Aldinga, South Australia.
Cafe and museum at the Adelaide Biplanes airport near Aldinga, South Australia.

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Miss a Burmese-Goan memoir

Cover of Homeward Bound, a memoir by Aloysius D'Souza.

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.

Publisher Frederick Noronha of Goa 1556 tells me I’ll receive a copy of the book shortly.

But I feel sad I can’t be there with my talented, story-teller uncle.

My great grandfather Sylvestre D'Souza left his family in Goa to join the gold rush in western Canada.
My great grandfather Sylvestre D’Souza left his family in Goa to join the gold rush in western Canada. Aloysius’s book describes how Sylvestre remained in Canada for many years, leaving his wife to care for their three children Anju (Aloysius’s father), Bemvinda (my grandmother), and Gerry on her own following WW1.

Sleep in a swag

Swag bedroll with a sleeping bag inside, inside a tent in Wirrina, Australia.

The temperature went down to 8 degrees Celsius for my first night of camping in Australia at Wirrina Cove Holiday Park, south of Adelaide.

Luckily, I got to sleep inside a real live swag.

A swag is a canvas bedroll. It’s heavy and waxed and includes both a zip-over mosquito net and a cover. Ropes at either end allow you to tie it to a tree, or like a bivouac sack or camping hammock.

Or you could make like a jolly swagman and pitch it under the shade of a coolibah tree.

Sleep inside a swag.

Find love at Bondi Junction

1973 B&W photo of Bondi Junction train station ticket turnstiles in Sydney, Austraila.

I was twelve years old when Peter Foldy’s 1973 song Bondi Junction played on my white plastic radio in my pink-and-lavender bedroom in Guelph, Ontario.

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.

√ Catch a bus at Bondi Junction.

χ  Find love at Bondi Junction.

NEW BLOG: Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers

Ulrike's bicycle on a dirt path next to the Canal du Midi, France.

Go to Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers

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.

To join the ride go to the Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers photo-travelogue. And if you’re keen, listen to a conversation about my journey on the Adventure Bike Touring Why I Bike podcast (45 minutes).

See you there!

Ulrike