With acknowledgements to Dorothy and a witch … “We’re not in Tassie anymore Toto”… “I’m melting…meeeeellllting!”. We began our road trip to South Australia and these two travellers from cool and temperate Tasmania found themselves very much in the oven!
After an early Christmas with family, we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania in the car, for the crossing to the Big Island. This was going to be the first time we’d left Tassie since the world changed. We got back from our last cycling trip in October 2019 before the world changed a couple of months later and we haven’t left since. We had to remind ourselves how to travel. How to pack. To remind ourselves that we we weren’t leaving the country and didn’t have to pack as if we were. No, we don’t have to take that, don’t panic, there’ll be a Woolworths! It was actually easier to pack paniers for the bike than packing for a car trip. We had to get our travelling muscle memory back. We were a bit excited, but a bit apprehensive at the same time, to be heading into the wide world again, if only on Australian shores. So, armed with a supply of masks and RATS, we braced ourselves and set off to travel beyond our little island’s borders.
After a very smooth, but still sleepless crossing, we rolled off the boat on Christmas Eve, the fourth last car, after being stowed in the furthest corner in the bowels of the hull and facing backwards. After some tight manoeuvres and a u-turn in a space that really wasn’t designed for any turning of any alphabetical variety, we rolled off onto dry land and hit the road. The plan was to roll off and for me to do the Geelong Parkrun, but we missed that, so choofed off in the direction of South Australia. The plan was to just get as far as we could, to get as close to Adelaide as we could, to reach our planned stop on Christmas Day.
A brief elevenses in a nice park in Skipton and on we went along very quiet country roads, with hardly another car on the road. Very nice and easy. Six hours later we chose Tailem Bend as our pitstop for the day. A pit stop quite literally with a hotel at a car racing circuit and a room that overlooked pit lane and the “paddock.” It was hot and we scurried into the hotel and the cool respite of the interior and called it a day.
Christmas Day dawned with another cloudless sky and we knew we were in for a hot one. A 33C type of hot one. We checked out with the sole lady at the reception desk.
“Thank you for working on Christmas Day,” I said, “I hope you get to have a nice day.”
“My husband’s bringing me in a platter at lunch time, so I’m not here completely on my own.” she replied.
“Lovely,” I said, “enjoy your day after your work day.”
“Thank you,” she smiled, “Merry Christmas” and with with that, we were on our way. After a six hour drive yesterday, we only had a short drive left to reach our destination, so could take our time.
A stop at Laratinga Wetlands for elevenses, broke up the trip and we found a shady spot under a tree to try and escape the blaze of the sun and the oven it was creating and settled in for a snack. Our friends the Bauer family who we met in Germany on our last bike trip had sent us a lovely Christmas parcel that included some vegan chocolate, so we celebrated Christmas Day with some delicious German choccy, under a gum tree.
“I’m not sure about this one,” Steve said after he’d eaten half of his chocolate, “I’m not sure what’s on the bottom.”
I looked at the chocolate. I looked at Steve, I looked at the chocolate and looked back at Steve, somewhat disbelieving.
“It’s cardboard,” I said.
“No it’s not, it’s something baked in,” came the emphatic reply.
“It’s cardboard!” I assured him, peeling it away from the chocolate.
“It isn’t,” he said, quite stridently.
I reached for the chocolate and began to peel the cardboard disc that the slightly melted chocolate was sitting on and had stuck to. I peeled the cardboard off the chocolate – the cardboard that had at least three bites out if it! “It’s cardboard,” I repeated with a ‘do you believe me now’ tone, holding up the white, no longer circular disc, with bite shaped pieces missing around the edges.
“That’s probably why it tasted like cardboard,” he finally said, without so much as a blink.
I started to titter, then chuckle, then snorted a bit to try and hold in a full-on laugh. Steve just looked at me, as if nothing had happened, with a ‘Whaaat? Nothing to see here’ expression. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and just laughed. The Big Fella had just eaten half a piece of cardboard and clearly thought nothing of it! I ask you…cardboard! Clearly with his discerning palate he won’t be taking any calls from Epicure magazine any time soon, head hunting him for his food reviews!
After our elevenses, with some unexpected roughage included, we hit the road again and tootled into Hahndorf. Hahndorf is the oldest German town in Australia and has some German businesses, flies the German flag in the street and is a nice little town that was absolutely thrumming with people
After a pleasant stroll up the main street, we found a shady spot under a tree in a park for a quick lunch and then headed off for the last leg of our journey into Adelaide. We arrived at our pit stop hotel in Port Adelaide and settled in before an early night. Tomorrow is a 3am start for me, to be ready for a 6am marathon. That’s the main reason for us being here. Me, doing another marathon. I’ve decided I’d like to try and do a marathon in every state while I can and after three in Tasmania and three in Melbourne, this was a chance to tick off another state, with a Boxing Day 42.2km run. It was 33C today and tomorrow is going to be 37C, reaching 30C by 10:00am. I’ve never run in real heat, let alone run a marathon in heat like that. I’m a bit scared. Quite a bit scared actually.
Boxing Day. Marathon Day. Already 19C at 3am. It was going to be so hot, I had to run in shorts. I never run in shorts. I don’t show my legs at any time for fear of scaring small children and wildlife, but today, needs must. We drove the few minutes to Semaphore for the start, pinned on my race number aaaand…we’re off.! As I plodded off into the dim light, suddenly a fox ran across the path right in front of me. I’ve never seen a fox before. It was gorgeous. Beautiful. I had a smile to start the day, a day I knew was going to be something of a sufferfest.
The plan was just to take it easy, run slow, keep my heart rate down and just get to the end safely. This was my third marathon in four months and I was stoked to have been able to do that, so I wasn’t running for time, I wasn’t fussed at all about pace and time, I just wanted to finish without collapsing in a melting blob on the path. The course was along a walking and cycling path beside the beach, with four loops of a 10km out and back. Off I went one way, turned and came back the other way. As I passed other runners we all gave each other a cheerful, encouraging smile or “good job”, “looking good” “great running”, a thumbs up or a hand slap, as we settled in for the long haul. It was nice to run beside the beach, just keeping it easy and slow. I passed Steve about every 5km or so as we looped back around and he could hand me a top up for my drink bottles if I needed it.
Then the sun came up. It really heated up. The best bit was, with the path being beside the beach, there were those beach showers every so often along the path, the ones people use to wash sand off their feet or stand under, after coming up from the beach. There were also drink fountain bubblers along the path. I started stopping at the drink fountains and soaking my face and head to cool off. Aaaah, that felt so much better. Plod on. That sun was really starting to talk now and by about 36km I was feeling it, starting to feel a bit nauseous and not feeling like drinking anything. Six kilometres to go. I decided to play it safe and take a short walk break, to try and get the stomach to settle and cool down. There’s a drinking fountain…soak and drench myself as much as I can and set off…5km to go…keep going tired legs…passing other runners and the cheery smiles have been replaced by weary faces, with limp waves and resigned smiles that say, ‘I know what you’re feeling because I’m feeling it too’…4km to go…stop and get another drink bottle from Steve.
“It’s feeling really hard now,” I said, “feeling a bit sick.”
“Four K to go,” he told me encouragingly.
Yep… plough on…another drink fountain thank goodness…stop and drench…plod on…3km to go and a beach shower..aaaah, lovely soaking on the head…keep going…2km to go, just count ‘em down…another drink fountain…you little beaudy…drench and soak in lovely cold water and…keep going…1 km to go…nearly there…so darn hot…there are the flags…there’s the finish line…I can see it…aaaaaand…DONE! Phew! Now…straight down to the beach and into that water thank you very much, for a proper cooling soak. Lovely jubly!
I survived. I finished in 4 hours and 2 minutes. Not my fastest marathon, but not my slowest either and I hadn’t looked at the time on my watch once through the whole run. I really didn’t care. I just wanted to have some fun, running in a different place and ticking off another state for my marathon challenge. I wasn’t expecting to do it in a heat wave, but got it done and didn’t collapse into a melting blob, needing to be scraped off the path like a piece of discarded chewing gum. Happy with that.
Back to the hotel room, a little rest, shower and food and then we headed out for Steve to have his moment…Boxing Day sale at a golf shop! A new golf bag and a cap later and we both had an achievement for the day! Stepping out of the car though was the closest I’ve felt to steppjng into an oven. Un-be-lee-vable! This is an oven! Tassie is nothing more than a sightly luke warm piece of toast that’s been sitting in the toast rack too long, compared to this! There’s a reason why the exact same appliance on the wall over here is called an air conditioner and in Tassie it’s called a heat pump! We don’t do scorchers like this and we ‘aint used to it! Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter.
Well, that concludes the reason for us being here in the first place and now we have a couple of weeks to road-trip our way around wherever we want to go, before making our way back to Geelong and the ferry. There are floods in South Australia at the moment, so there are areas we have to dodge, so we’ll be free styling. Wherever we go, it will involve golf courses for Steve, with me just going along for the walk. Hopefully we’ll discover some new places to explore and see some more of our own country. Places to go and things to see, whatever that happens to be.
Just pass me that pastry brush…I reckon I could puff up quite nicely with a flaky golden crust in our great Australian oven. Gravy anyone!?