Update June 2008
Julie returned much later that evening, Graham was comfortable but had to stay at the hospital to have a further operation on his tongue. We had planned to travel on the next morning & we decided to stick to our plan as we could do nothing useful for G&J & didn’t want them to have the additional burden of house guests. We headed for Adelaide.
It was the weekend of Anita’s birthday, her third on the road. Birthdays are a strange challenge after our years of traveling - we eat out on a very regular basis, we stay in hotels, motels & campsites as weather/tiredness dictates & we no longer want or need many things, (in fact too much stuff is the curse & the stress for almost every traveler we meet - except Grant & Jules!). So a night in a hotel & a meal out is no treat!
A night out on the beer still has it’s appeal though, so we picked the nearest campsite to the centre . As luck would have it they had a heritage listed 18th Century house converted into suites on the camp grounds at reasonable rates! Anita loves the old Victoriana stuff so she was well happy! The bus very handily stopped at the camp entrance so we jumped on & hit the town for a Friday night. A huge amount of walking revealed a few mediocre bars & a Belgian bar where we got a £10 pint of beer! Even worse Anita’s was 2.5%, enough to make any Belgian hurl it at the bar in disgust. First impressions of Adelaide nightlife were similar to Melbourne, oh dear.
Not to be defeated I got on an internet trawl, in between pampering Anita with her favourite salmon & scrambled egg breakfast, & tracked down a few other possible's for the next night. The lazy day meant our shopping time was limited (just cos we don’t want stuff doesn’t stop that age old female passion of window shopping) so we found a pub! This time our choices were better, 3 pubs with live bands on & a faux ‘English pub’ (about as English as Vegemite) that served real pints of James Squire Amber - the best Aussie beer we’ve found that’s available more than 50 feet from the brewery. At some point we grabbed some food & to my surprise Anita opted for a kebab as well, her food tastes get more adventurous by the day! Her verdict - she could never get drunk enough to make it nice.
We finished the night in a proper grungy rock pub called the Crown & Anchor to see a band called the Dairy Brothers, a very entertaining foursome who rocked out their own music. Such classics as “We are the ancestors of the future generation of rock” & “My neighbourhood (has been overrun by baboons)” kept us entertained Tenacious D style.
Funnily enough Sunday was a slow start! We grudgingly left our period suite & returned to our tent on the ground, within view of ‘our’ room -arrgh! We got ourselves into town once again, tis time for the Sunday market (that window shopping obsession doesn’t even need windows) & a gentler Sunday lunchtime gig by a twosome called Goyim. Unsurprisingly they did European Gipsy music, unfortunately we were the entire audience, apart from 2 oiks who appeared briefly to talk loudly over them. It was undeserved as they were actually pretty good. They soldiered on for a reasonable time, then sat down with us for a good chat, very pleasant. We had to break away as we wanted to see some more of Adelaide before we got moving North to better weather. Some cultural stuff concluded our time there with a visit to the immigration museum & a film at the Nova retro cinema. The film was Moliere, a French film at it’s best, A small budget, a plot, comedy, drama, romance, pathos & good character development - all the things Hollywood has forgotten! All worth the effort of the subtitles, if you like that sort of thing. If you think gangsta movies are entertainment this is not the film for you.
Our next stop was Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills, a range of very pleasant green hills thronging with great riding roads & vineyards 50 km & a million miles from the city. In Birdwood is the National Motor Museum, where we were headed on the ill fated day Graham’s tongue exploded. When we stopped to get the ice creams the shop owner introduced himself as a fellow bike nut & Ulyssian. He told us he had a B&B in the town called the Ace Cafe. We found it with ease (Birdwood has about 3 roads in total) & pulled in. We almost gave up as there was no reply, as we turned to go a very ill looking person appeared at the door. This turned out to be Carol, the wife of Mash the shop man, who appeared shortly after. Carol was really ill with flu but they still made us welcome & we decided to treat ourselves to a night in their en-suite, oooh I LOVE indoor plumbing! As they are fellow bikers a plan was soon devised to leave our bikes & riding gear with them the next day while we saw the museum. That was the original idea. Mash & Carol (M&C) soon changed that after they’d had a chance to get to know us a while, they were desperate for help as all their shop staff were also out with the flu & offered us the chance to help out short term. We let them think it over while we checked out the museum, including a traveler motorcycle that took aluminium construction to a level that left our boxes standing. There was also a ‘ute’ you could only find in Oz.
The ute is quintessentially Aussie - a utility vehicle (pick up truck) that ranges from the most used & abused outback Toyota pick-up to monstrous V8 engine Holdens & Fords with low profile tyres, spoiler kits, chrome accessories , turbo's & every glittery add on you can think of (about as useful in the outback as a chocolate hairdryer!) The museum had the ultimate ute - a Bentley! Yes, someone bought s Bentley for about the cost of a South American country then chopped the back off & stuck a pick up body on it! Admittedly a very nice pick up body with wood inlay n stuff, but even so...
Returning to the Ace Cafe we all agreed to helping M&C out, so we got an early night in as we needed to start at 6.00am! THAT’S A 5AM START PEOPLE! Why, oh why, oh why, do people think they need to read about the latest pederasts, murderers & disasters at that time of morning??? Weirdos! It wasn’t even light at that time - you can’t call that morning, it’s bloody night time!
We threw ourselves into the baffling & perplexing world of staffing a local shop in a small community, so of course everyone wanted something odd that we didn’t know if they had, or picked the item that didn’t register with the bar code reader, or asked for something incomprehensible that turned out to be slang for something they’d been buying for the last 75 years & “the old people KNEW what I want!” By 3pm we were knackered & well glad when Mash took over the afternoon shift. The only problem was Anita’s final birthday treat was in Adelaide that night, a concert by Sebastian Bach (ex lead singer of Skid Row) [80’s rock band]. As we’d agreed to help in the shop I’d decided to stay sober & ride back after the gig. Adelaide has a surprisingly large rock scene and although the venue was not massive it was full of black denim, leather & spandex. Ooh it took us back to our youth! Anita reckoned it was great, I didn’t rate Skid Row the 1st time round so to me he was an arrogant, self obsessed Californian name dropper.
Even more surprisingly after the show Anita decided to step out of her comfort zone & join me for a late night kebab, or Yiros as they mainly are here (same ingredients but in a wrap). Her verdict? She will never be drunk enough to think it tastes good! We arrived backin Birdwood in the early hours of the morning, then set off to the shop in the early hours of the morning, ughhhhh. It was a long, looong day. Funnily enough we went to bed very early that evening!
The next day a friend of M&C called David, or ‘Cookie’, gave us a special tour round his small boutique vineyard & a great insight into the life of a wine producer, accompanied by one of his sheep who liked to walk the site with people! On the evening we were meeting M&C at the local pub for dinner & an overdue chance to socialise. We first visited the wine & cheese shop next door run by Wendy, Cookies wife. He’d been too busy to sit down with us during the day so Wendy happily introduced us to ‘tasters’ of their wine. After several glasses of these tasters David arrived so we had some more tasters, then Carol arrived, so we had more! I can vouch that Coobara wines taste really nice & they don’t give you a hangover, apparently cos they use minimal sulphur. Wendy also had the best tasting Parmesan we’ve ever tasted, so now we’ve got popcorn AND Parmesan withdrawal symptoms. We finally moved to the pub for a typical Aussie pub meal & drinks, apart from the AJS 7R classic Isle of Man racer in the foyer that is, I said it was a petrolhead town!