David was late learning to drive. He got his licence in 1987 and soon after that we bought our first car. It was a Holden Camira, about five years old. We looked forward to being able to do some drives in the country.
One of the first places we wanted to visit was the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. David had been there previously with family and on a trip by himself. The closest I had come was seeing them in the distance from Quorn or Port Augusta. Our trip was planned as a weekend camping trip. We took along our two dogs Tammy and Nicki and a small blue tent.
It might have been on that trip that we started a tradition of playing “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads at the start of a journey. The first hour of our trip was spent getting out of the suburbs but after that towns became scarcer and as we got further north it was drier and we saw ruins of long abandoned buildings.
Our destination was the Angorichna village where David had stayed on family holidays as a teenager. They had stayed in a cabin but our accommodation was much more modest. David was a Scout Leader at the time so I left it to him to secure the tent and just held things when I was asked to.
It wasn’t the most comfortable experience to be honest. It was very windy which made sitting outside the tent rather uncomfortable. The dogs were also not sure of their surroundings. I was afraid to let them off their leads in case they strayed away from us. Nicki did not like it at all and David spent most of the night nursing her I think. At some point that night the tent collapsed on top of us so obviously it was either windier than we had thought or the Scout Leader did something wrong. However, we sorted it out enough to go back to sleep and the next night we had no trouble with it.
We did a bit of exploring around the campsite on foot and also driving around the area having our first experience of driving through a ford (very, very slowly)
We visited Beltana where I wandered around the old cemetery reading the gravestones. There was a particularly sad one of a whole family who died.
Although I would not like to live in such a hot, harsh environment the Flinders Ranges are very beautiful.
We also visited Leigh Creek where there was an open cut coal mine and stopped at Lyndhurst where the bitumen main road ended. Another 80km would have taken us to Marree, a famous old railway town but we thought better of going that far.
We did have one scary experience on our trip. Most of the roads in the area were unsealed back then. I don’t know about now. David drove carefully but at some point he lost control, maybe we ran over some “kitty litter” and the car tilted over so for a few metres we were on two wheels. We came down with a thump but apart from being scared out of our wits we were OK. On further examination the car was found to have a flat tyre. A passing motorist stopped to help us and we ended up getting a tow and a ride back to Angorichna. We had to wait till the next day but we got another tyre and nothing worse happened. We didn’t mention this incident to our parents when we got home however.
Finally it was time to come home and after three days of not seeing a traffic light it felt very odd to drive through North Adelaide and back into the city again. I think we both felt like turning around and going back. We had enjoyed the solitude so much.
I have never been back to the Flinders Ranges and maybe I never will but I will never forget that trip.
Memorable isn’t always the most fun. Our most FUN trip was our honeymoon in Ireland. Aside from the insane drivers, it really was a wonderful vacation, everything a honeymoon is supposed to be.
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Despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements I did enjoy that trip. We were young, in our early thirties so a bit of discomfort didn’t bother us that much.