Off to Adelaide with a Bee in my Bonnet

Off to Adelaide, roughly 500kms away. Set my friend, the trusty GPS, and headed off out of Broken Hill down the Barrier Highway. After my “off” I thought I had got the most challenging part of the day over and done with so I was feeling quite relaxed as I powered up the highway. Remembering the camera in my pocket I pulled over to get it out. Motoring down the highway taking a movie or two a couple of road trains came toward me on the other side of the road. I must have looked a bit silly as I travelled along with my left hand in the air. Then it happened.

With one hand in the air, and the wind screen lowered a little more than it should have been, taking a little more air than usual over the top of the screen and into my helmet. I was trying to take a movie after all and didn’t want half a frame full of windscreen. I had the visor up and saw it coming in a blink of an eye.Bike (front view) Bang, somehow the “thing” caught me just under my eye. Well, that hurt a bit, I thought, but worth it for the movie I was making. My first movie on a motorbike after all.  I’d had an “off” so I could take a little more pain. Then wow! Right on the left side of my temple what a sting. I had some idea of what the “thing” was! Now I had some pain to talk about. In fact I started talking to myself using a few words that I had to apologise to the Lord for afterwards. He knows the number of hairs on our head and when a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10) so I knew that he knew what I’d said.
I dropped the camera. Luckily I had remembered to put the strap around my wrist. Hand back on the grip, I whacked the brake on, clutch in. What a stop. 4-pot brake callipers digging into the twin disks. The bike pulled up so hard the telly-leaver fully compressed. I almost forgot to put my feet down as I pulled the helmet off as fast as I could. There the little blighter was, imbedded in the lining. Quite a small bee, but boy it gave me a punch. It was very sore for the rest of the day.

I took some consolation in the fact that once the bee had discharged its venom it would die. It certainly deserved to. I gave it a real flick out of the helmet. Boy that stung.

The next stop was Olary and I was determined to have a bit of a treat of some sort there. Even if it was just coffee. Olary appeared over the horizon. On the left was the Mobil station with a diner attached. On the right was a beautiful pub that was closed and had a “For Sale” sign on it. I fuelled up the bike then pushed it over into the shade by the loos. The diner was just great. For about $12 I had a great feed of my favourite cholesterol building tucker. Bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, and baked beans together with what the lady said was a bottomless cup of coffee. She was right the cup was a real trucker’s cup and it was difficult to see the bottom. It was like a mini bucket. After dropping the bike and being attacked by a wild kamikaze bee this was certainly the opiate I needed to thicken my blood again.

The cholesterol building brunch made me feel great. Always does. I had a little more time on my hands for this leg of the trip so I had stroll around the pub over the road.Outback scenery Having an interest in property investment I wondered what they wanted for a beautiful pub in the middle of no-where. After some research I found out later that the owner wanted $250K for the business and associated property. It wouldn’t be a bad buy at $175K I thought but you could be buying your own prison sentence. A building of this quality somehow transported into Adelaide would sell for $500K on its own. Now there’s a thought!

Olary had a rugged sense of beauty. Very quiet as I panned through a video of the place on my little camera. All you could hear were the birds chirping away interrupted only by a couple yelling at each other through the loo walls in reference to there being no paper.

Time to move on. The next stop was Yunta. Well only to say that I stopped there. Had a drink of water and headed off again. A sign said the population was 60. I could only guess that that was when a bus load of tourists stopped for a drink of water like I did. Two bus loads would double the number. I wondered whether the town’s infrastructure could cope with such an increase in population all of a sudden. I saw no one there. Bike sounded good roaring off again. Jacket undone and wind in the arm-pits. Great feeling in the 39c heat.

I had plenty of time that day and stopped in all the little towns to get another fridge-magnet. The next town was Hallett. Bought a coke there as well as the fridge magnet and sat down on a bench outside underneath the shop veranda.
There was a bloke there waiting for someone or something. Young chap, probably mid twenties. He was sitting on the footpath with his back against the shop wall.

There was plenty of space on the bench for him to sit on, how come he wasn’t using the bench? Funny how these things bug you. What did he know that I didn’t, I thought to myself. May be he had just been chased off it by a snake or something. Hotel in small town
After I sat down he asked “is that a coke?”
Well the can had Coke written all over it. I kind of wondered where this bloke had been all his life.
“Yep” I replied. I asked him where he was headed.
He replied “I’m just following the stars”.
Now I was really wondering where he had come from, maybe another planet. 
He asked “you goin south?”
I said “yep” not really wanting to engage in conversation at all.
He said, “If you go way south you get to Adelaide, that’s a big town, you can get lost in there, horrible place” he said.
Well, I thought, Adelaide is a matter of two hours or so away. I wonder if this bloke has really been there.
I asked “you been there mate?”
He replied, “Yeah, once.” long pause – real long pause – thought conversation had been disengaged – great! I thought. 
“Yeah”, he said,
“I was hitch-hiking and fell asleep in the blokes cab. The ‘F..g’ bloke never woke me up, just took me there. Didn’t wana to go to Adelaide I wanned to go to Tanunda for a job”.
“That’s no good mate” I said.
“Did you get the job mate?”.
“No” the bloke said.”The ‘f..g’ farmer gave it someone else!”
“That’s no good mate” I said.
“Yeah” he said, “It took me another four days to get out’a Adelaide to get to the faarrma’s place. Hate Adelaide!” he said. “I’ll never go there again. Place stinks anyway. Had to sleep in a park near some drunks. Don’t go there, you’ll get beaten up and robbed”.

I knew that the first Aussies were hand-picked criminals from England, but I thought that by now they’d all be dead. This bloke must have been locked in a time-wharp. Because of him I nearly walked back into the shop for a little Bourbon to go with the Coke. No! I said to myself, have to keep my wits about me. Particularly now that I had had first-hand knowledge of the place where I’d be staying a few days. I almost ran to the bike, just in case he was still there and wanted a dub somewhere.
The next town was Burra. They had an information centre there. I went in and purchased the obligatory fridge magnet. I had to wait a while to be served, but enjoyed the air-conditioning whilst there. I had a mild panic when I went to find the bike key though. Wasn’t in the helmet, wasn’t in the dozen or so pockets in the jacket. No point in panicking, it’s just that BMW bike keys are all one of a kind. They only fit that particular bike. No hot-wiring or crash-starting this one.

I remembered that I had taken my helmet off on the seat outside. Some places don’t like bikies wandering into their shops or offices with helmets on. Banks in particular. You wouldn’t believe it, after 20 minutes the key was still there on the seat. I had put it down to take my helmet off. Stupid thicko I thought. What a fool. I was determined not to let that happen again. From then on I adopted a special routine after parking up. Key in the top left pocket, helmet off. Then, double-check, key, cell-phone, wallet and passport. Then jacket off if need be.

Down through Hanson. You could travel the length of Hanson in one breath. Five breaths for Manoora. Chop down a gear or two. 135, 120, 90 down to the speed limit for the town, in at 70, back out at 100. Another town done. Old caravans and carsNo fridge magnets here, may be no fridges either?! Who knows, I didn’t care. Time to head into Adelaide.
There were some reasonably strong cross-winds coming through now. Quite distracting as I tried to keep a straight line. Not only that, the road was no longer dead-straight. Quite bendy in fact. Kept heading south, Saddleworth, Riverton, Tarlee. The towns were coming up thick and fast. There were quite a few very wide combine harvester machines to pass here and there. Big machines that took the whole width of the lane. In fact a lane and a half. They somehow managed to pull the machine over to the left on the approach of another vehicle. Shame they didn’t think about the motorist coming up behind. They were certainly tricky to pass as you were never sure of what was up ahead until you had pulled right out to halfway in the opposite lane.

The road was getting more congested. In fact it had now become a four lanner with a grass strip down the middle. Typical of the outskirts of a city, roads leading off to what was once farmland. These now led to lifestyle blocks and the odd farm just hanging out there for no other reason than it had been in the family since the first convicts were able to buy land. Funny how some farmers feel the need to hold onto land just because they are third and sometimes fourth generation owners. In most cases they would be better off carving it up for lifestyle blocks still grazing it while they sell.

Now it was time for all fingers on the brake lever. I had grown in the habit of riding with two fingers resting on the lever just in case another lizard sprang onto the road, or worse a kangaroo. The brakes are interlinked so with the ABS there is a reasonable chance of pulling up quickly. The traffic got thicker, traffic lights loomed up. The GPS took me direct to the heart of the city. I wasn’t sure I particularly wanted to stay in the city, not after the advice given to me in Hallett, so I cruised further south thinking I should come across the ocean sooner or later. There it was, the beach, a surf club the smell of the salt air. It somehow seemed familiar as the sights and smells reminded me of home. Kind of felt safe even though I’d never been there before. Time to find a motel and a secure place to park the bike up until next time.

Next time, next ride – Adelaide to Darwin.