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Blog 145 Cuigena (Wirulla) to Kimba

21st February


I packed my tent and was on the road as dawn unfolded into day. There were ghost towns on route; places with single figure populations living in shacks in the shadow of giant wheat silos no longer being used. In Poochera, next to Dusty's Art Gallery and in the misuse of the word, 'prime land' was advertised for sale opposite the disused railway track. There was a hotel and caravan park but chances were the cooking and serving from the few homesteads would be rushed and unloved. I rode onto Minnipa where the little white Corella bird chattered along the bird telegraph that I was on my way. It was a pretty little town with clean toilets around from where the general store and post office was located on the main street. A small vibrant green lawn enclosed a children's play area and by 9am any slight chill in the air was replaced by the shimmer of air as if fanned by bellows from a very hot oven. From around noon my body starts to cook from the outside and only by consuming at least 8 litres of fluid do my internal organs not actually roast. It was still early and Kimba was still 172kms away.


The town store did breakfast wraps and coffee and whilst I charged my battery completed another blog. It was a one woman operation who also ran the post counter when she wasn’t cooking and serving from the kitchen. 


Bit of Information - Gawker Ranges

The traditional owners of the Gawler Ranges are the Barngarla, Kokatha and Wirangu peoples, who have inhabited the area for at least 30,000 years and are now known collectively as the Gawler Ranges Aboriginal People. These Aboriginal peoples maintained and used rock holes in the granite rock formations as a water source. The ranges themselves were named by Edward John Eyre after the Governor of South Australia, George Gawler in 1839. This was on one of Eyre's earlier expeditions before his famous crossing of the Nullarbor Plain further west. It was on this expedition that Edward John Eyre made the first recorded sighting of South Australia's floral emblem, the Sturt desert pea, in 1839 during an early exploration of the region.


Through the window of the store there was a nicely lawned area and behind the building more lawn leading to the town’s conveniences where I washed my one tea shirt and my single pair of socks.


Further down the road I popped into one of my favourite eateries which I do whenever I pass, the Widunna Bakery. It's next door to the Foodary and opposite the council run public conveniences; so cake, coffee, wash, shave, muesli bars, sun cream, hand towel and off I go again. It's a simple life being on the road; you just need to know where to go and when to be there. It's difficult to judge the reason for travel but time and the spaces inbetween the movements makes it clearer and something I'll expand.


Riding from town to town usually means my life is at risk every 5 minutes. I have learnt to know how close a truck is by the sudden sound and close rush of forward air. The atmospheric disturbance of air in front of the cab is what saves my life 12 times an hour.


Trucks Overtaking


Main Streets of small South Australian towns are not too dissimilar to those on the wheat belt in the west. They are small, scattered, homely and all community run, possessing just enough of the essential services to make them liveable - and in the case of Wudinna with its meat store and agricultural stores, John Deere showrooms, post offices, aforesaid bakery, telecommunications office, pubs and motels to create a feeling of society. Nice wide walkable streets accommodates enough space where everyone knows everyone's business and passing trade is welcomed hugely. Now I have to ride the final 100kms to Kimba.


Had a break at the Golders Line while I dry out my sleeping bag. The temperature had risen to 41c, consequently the wind had turned from the south to a westerly so pushing me across the Eyre Peninsula. The stop in Wudinna had raised my spirits and whilst I still felt like a ghost in a tune of my own making, the dull ache of so many similar miles is only briefly soothed by other characters wanting to play in my game….”ooh, you’ll burn that cake off in no time dear,” or “did you want sugar in your latte?”It was a conversation of sorts.


Getting to know Australia was in part to do with the cake makers and barista’s in small country towns that take a long time to travel to, but it’s only a fraction of the story. Don Wilson in his book ‘The Bush’ talks about the relationship farmers have with wildlife but in their gardens and how 'they talked to them, treated them in the garden as companions and friends; saw in them, possibly, intimations of grace. Their sweet and friendly calls, their balletic nectar-sipping sensuality, their brilliance were hints of another, dreamed-about dimension. I think it was the women’s greatest pleasure to make their gardens borders between those two worlds'.


An equally interesting comment about Australia however random is Bill Bryson in his book, Down Under when he writes, "In 1959–60, Australia was the third wealthiest country on the planet – I hadn’t realised this – exceeded only by the United States and Canada. But what was particularly interesting was how modest were the components of material well-being back then. With admiration bordering on amazement, Ms MacKenzie notes that by the end of the 1950s three-quarters of city dwellers in Australia had a refrigerator and almost half had a washing machine (there wasn’t yet enough electricity in most rural areas to run big appliances, so they didn’t count). Nearly every home in the nation, she went on, had ‘at least one radio’ – gosh!"


And in Australians I perceive a friendliness bordering on the familiar when it suddenly occurs to me I’d been here before; to that bakery, to this conveniences, down the 568kms route from Cooper Pedy to Wudinna where I bought milk from that very same shop. To think ....


Memory is an amazing thing when it’s defective and it is in everyone. 75% of identity parades exposing the criminal are proven to be inaccurate and the deterioration of a memorable thought greys out from the realism of colour minutes after it’s been replaced by another. Hence these blogs which are for no one's convenience but my own whether they get read or not, except in revision they might ...


57kms before Kimba a young German couple stopped to give me water. They were on their way to Perth and go home only for holidays. “Break the system,” he said and I know what he meant and I had been doing that al my travelling life, I mean, if everyone did what I do we wouldn't have a system in place to break.


Map of the Day


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