Australia

December 16 - 31, 2014

 

December 16, 2014

We left Kings Creek station and headed for Uluru, or rather the nearby resort complex of Yulara. The road was empty of road-kill and empty also of animals such as horses, cattle or camels. When we arrived at the caravan park it was already hot, well into the 100’s F. The park was near empty and we stood in the shade at the park traditional dancersentrance for a large, air-conditioned shuttle bus, to whisk us over to the main resort complex. We had been handed a flyer offering free daily activities and one of these was “cultural dancers” in the main “town square” (actually a grassy area sandwiched between resort hotels, restaurants, galleries and the like). I didn’t really believe that the dancers would perform at the current temperatures but indeed they did. There were five “aboriginal” dancers, their faces and bodies painted with white stripes and one of the five dancers looked aboriginal. A second dancer might have been aboriginal and the other three looked very definitely Caucasian. Nevertheless, they sang, chanted and danced with gusto, in fact it was one of the better “traditional” dances I have ever seen.

We ate supper at a hotel expecting to get a call that the “Sunset camel ride” we had booked had been cancelled. The overt reason were the multiple pods of rain coupled with lightning strikes that were visible all around us. The shuttle bus picked us up as scheduled and we were driven to a nearby camel farm where we mounted our steeds. This is a one hour tour that winds up, around and over some sand hills, providing spectacular sunset views of Ayers Rock. We left everything that we owned, that might be damaged by rain, at camel headquarters and headed out expecting to be soaked. The camel ride was just as much fun as we remembered from our previous visit, 8 years ago, the camels providing a sure footed, swaying motion as they ambled along. The rock glowed in the setting sun surrounded by dramatic storm clouds. When the first flash of lightning occurred, I began to count seconds until the peal of thunder. Five miles away; OK, not to worry. The next flash was two miles away and the guides began to look worried. The head guide warned his colleagues to prepare to get the camels to sit and have us dismount and sit on the sand next to the camels. I was even more aware of how high you sit on the back of a camel, your head around ten feet above the ground. The head guide ordered “no stopping” on the highest crest to take sunset pictures and as he spoke the next flash calculated out as four miles. Better. As we headed back to the farm, our guide kept up a long rambling dissertation of the racing camel, “Lazy Daisy”, about the punters who had made fortunes betting on her and how her talents were discovered. His breezy efforts to distract and reassure the tourists only made things worse for a couple of sailors who are perhaps more aware of lightning danger. It was with great relief that we arrived back at the yard and although many stood around taking pictures of the camels, I did my watching from under the eaves of a tin shed. Definitely an exciting and memorable ride.

camelcamelcamel saddlecamel

Later that evening we encountered a group of fellow travellers who were bemoaning the wait for the shuttle bus, advertised at 15 minutes. I stated that this was only in the “dry season” ( it was still raining). The gentleman I was speaking to laughed and translated what I had said before turning back to me and asking, “Do you know what language I am speaking?”. I answered “Hebrew” and he responded, “How can you know that? I speak it with a Spanish accent!” We explained that we had visited Israel and of course the people we were visiting with were from Northern Israel. They were a lively group to talk to and we wish we could have continued the conversation, which was interrupted of course by the arrival of the bus.

December 17, 2014

It was 4:00 a.m. when the alarm went off and I burrowed deeper under the covers. We were supposed to bound out of bed at this time to make it over to Ayers Rock for sunrise and to see if the trail from the base to summit was open for tourists. Annette looked out of the window, opened the door and stepped out of the bus. It had rained heavily overnight and was still sprinkling, the skies grey, overcast and forbidding. She went back to the bed that I had never left.

Later that morning, we rode the shuttle bus over to the main resort complex to attend a workshop on spear and boomerang throwing. The spear throwers all sucked and any kangaroo further away than about six feet would have been perfectly safe. The boomerangs were better and whizzed around the sky, getting stuck in trees and making everyone duck or scramble for cover. These were plywood “training” boomerangs but it was easy to see how a “real” boomerang would be lethal if you could actually hit what you aimed at - without Hollywood’s assistance of course.

spear throwersthe correct holdAnnette throws

We next attended a talk on aboriginal hunting weapons and this speaker really seemed to know his subject. He showed us a hunting spear, spear thrower or “Woomera”, talked about their manufacture and then showed us hunting boomerangs. He peppered his talk with descriptions of where to strike a kangaroo or emu with a spear and in graphic detail, how the disabled animal was tracked and dispatched. There was only one other couple listening to his talk and the lady looked like she was a founding member of PETA and about to faint. This only got better when he explained how the boomerang was used as a club to break the neck of a wounded kangaroo or hurled at emus to disable them by breaking the legs. The couple got up and left.

The boomerangs he showed us were “non-returning” working boomerangs, as were most of these weapons. When Annette asked him if he had ever hunted with a spear, he admitted that he did hunt but only with a gun. He said that he was allowed to use a boomerang when he was a child, presumably because in most societies, a kid with a throwing stick is considered safer than a kid with a gun.

There was another workshop on didgeridoo playing but we were warned that the aboriginals had a taboo on women playing the instrument (another example of their egalitarian society). The reason given was that the pitch of the instrument would harm the reproductive organs of a woman. Annette said that at 63 years old, she was willing to take the chance but no dice, just the guys. I can make a farting noise with a didgeridoo but the real players in our family are Annette, daughter Marian and son Matthew, who are all didgeridoo talented. We moved on.

Showing how it's donehamming it up

In late afternoon we watched a play at the Mani-Mani cultural theatre. The play lasted about an hour, performed by two “actors” with video and soundtrack accompaniment. Its redeeming factor was that it was performed in an air-conditioned building. The theme of the play was a creation story and perhaps makes as much sense as other creation stories, involving apples and snakes for example and is described in the literature as a “tale of love, jealousy and greed”. Just about describes any TV soap opera.

December 18, 2014

Last night was more rain and when we headed over to the Ayers Rock park, streams of water were running down its face. The stark red of the rock had black, water wet streaks, at what appeared to us to be the strangest angles but the water knew better and followed the shortest meridian. Where water had accumulated above, the silver of waterfalls coursed down the walls. Predictably the hike from the base to the “sacred” summit was “closed” and we didn’t even bother to enquire as to why. We parked the bus and hiked the trail around the base, heading into Kantju Gorge. As we approached the base of the rock, we could hear aboriginal music playing, the dirge of the didgeridoo accompanied by the rhythmic clicking of sticks. The music became even louder when we stopped at a ground level cave and in the absence of the musicians, I looked up to the cave roof to find the location of the speakers. There were none. We then realized that the small frogs in the recently made pool were using the rare occurrence of rain to “get it on”. The wall of the cave acted like an acoustic mirror and amplified the sound out of all proportion to the size of its tiny creators. We waited patiently until we located the musicians and found that the frogs were making both sounds, the didgeridoo sound as well as the rhythmic clicking sound. Simply amazing.

Ayer's rock with waterfallsAyer's rock with waterfallscave of the didge musicAyer's Rock with waterfallsAyer's rock with waterfallsAyer's Rock with waterfalls

We continued our walk around the base of Ayers rock and arrived at a sign that warned us not to take photographs of a “sacred” location. About twenty five yards further on another sign indicating the far boundary of the “no picture” area. Now what exactly was the problem of having some photons impinge on a sliver of germanium? It’s OK to look but not to take a picture!

Ayers rock was “discovered” in 1872 by surveyors for the overland telegraph line. The area is devoid of water, except for the month or so of wet season, when it was possible for aboriginal hunters to visit. Grazing, drought and “conflict” drove the aborigines completely out of the area for the next forty years or so. Around 1936, the first tourists arrived overland but it was not until a well had been drilled around 1970 that it was possible for the aborigines to establish a community here. Since the aborigines had never had a permanent settlement here until 1970, had no written records and depended for their history upon handed down tales and furthermore the continuity of these tales had been disrupted by three or more generations by “conflict”, just who the hell determined that all this stuff was “sacred and taboo”? You just have to think that there is some bureaucratic “Tickle Tree” hugger in Canberra who dreams this bullshit up.

Mount Olgatop of the trailFinchesMount OlgaMount OlgaMount Olga

Our next destination was the Kata Tjuta outcrops (Mount Olga), some 25 miles to the west of Uluru (Ayers Rock). The entrance to the access road bore a huge sign warning that the “Valley of the Winds” hike was closed. We ignored this and pressed on finding no such warning at the trailhead itself. The Kata Tjuta outcrops are not as monolithic as Uluru, yet are the same geologic formation. The rock is brick red in color, weathered into fantastic curves and arches and unlike Uluru, has vegetation growing in the long cracks. We hiked along the western face of the outcrops until a trail headed into a canyon between the rocks. Here was a large sign with green LED’s indicating that the trail was open. This “Valley of the Winds” was windless but the previous night’s rain had cooled everything down. On the east side of the valley, the trail “Tee’d” into a loop hike and we chose the southern route that led into a series of deep canyons before emerging at a high overlook with central Australia stretching out at our feet. The sky blue with fair weather cirrus decorating the view. At times like this we feel so privileged and humbled. What a beautiful country.

December 19, 2014

We decided that Alice Springs would likely provide a more lively Christmas than say, Woomera, thus we abandoned Yulara and headed back north to Alice Springs. The drive was pleasant if uneventful and in mid-afternoon, we pulled into the “G’Day Mate” caravan park where we intend to roost for the next week.

Annette had purchased some DVD’s from an obscure roadhouse and one of them was “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for which she paid the princely sum of AU$2 for a “new” version. The movie was such a surprise that I had to “Google” it this morning and it was not easy to find. In today’s PC world, Mark Twain is no longer persona grata because the period he wrote about in ante bellum America, we must pretend never happened. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are no longer read by school children in the USA and in fact there are continuing efforts to ban the novels. I have seen several movie versions of Tom Sawyer but never before seen a movie version of Huckleberry Finn. This rendering is unique in that is the only movie made that covers every episode of the original novel. It was first released in 1986 on PBS’ American Playhouse and ran a boggling 240 minutes. Well acted and well worth the two bucks.

December 20 through December 25, 2014

‘Twas the week before Christmas and we planned to spend it in Alice Springs. We have been preparing for our “final” month of visiting Australia and this means getting the bus ready to sell. I washed the dead bugs and mud from one half of the bus on Saturday and then ran out of energy. The other half of the bus got washed on Sunday morning and since Outback Australia is pretty much dead on a week-end, for the balance of the day, we just lazed around reading books and watching movies.

Monday was “work” day and we tore into action. We had the “couch” seat cushion repaired by having its “deep button” sewn back on – this is easy if you own a needle that is 10 inches long – and we finished up a couple of minor cosmetic repairs to the bus before treating ourselves to lunch at McDonalds. The “Quarter-pounder with cheese” tasted pretty much like a USA version of the famed “Quarter-pounder with cheese” and represents the first McDonalds product we have eaten in OZ since 2013. (We have to re-enter American cuisine gradually, so as to avoid calorie shock) The McDonalds in question was in “downtown” Alice Springs and although the establishment itself is easy to find, parking is not. We have parked in all sorts of spaces sized for automobiles and usually the bus “overhangs” by a couple of feet into the adjacent space. Although we could always drive further out to find less regulated parking, we are hauling cases of beer and drinking water and the Alice Springs shopping carts have automatic locking wheels if you try to take them down the block. We tested this and the system really works – the Cole’s grocery store employee was not as fascinated as we were however. Fortunately the bus was parked on the opposite side of the road and within easy schlepping and jay-walking range.

Monday afternoon was spent in its entirety at a tire specialist getting the front wheels spin-balanced and a front end alignment. We had tried several times in the past to get this done and on each occasion we were told, “Yes we do that but buses are worked on at our xxxx facility” – generally in the next time zone. The wife of the tire company proprietor had a 13 (?) year old visiting for the holiday and he and Annette entertained each other by sharing their favorite U-Tube videos of exploding fruit targets that were the victim of either explosives or ultra-high powered rifles. He was a cute grandson substitute and might have been surprised at our politically incorrect enthusiasm for blowing things up (We are after all, Americans and Mythbusters is going into its 13th season).

The following morning we were back at the upholstery shop and the driver’s seat was expertly repaired. It had simply being showing the signs of its 17 years age with small cracks and tears in the sidewalls of the seat cushion. We were on a roll now and I was inspired to wire brush the exterior mirror brackets and paint them with phosphoric acid to kill any rust stains they were developing. I planned to repaint them with black paint on the morrow!

It rained all night and all of the next day, Christmas Eve. No painting today! We had plenty of books to read and movies to watch and our shopping had been completed. Parked next to us was a family with three children, two boys 5 and 9 years old and a girl of 9 months. Annette donated her strings of battery operated Christmas lights to what she considered a greater cause. She then emptied her stash of kid’s toys, pipe cleaners, water balloons, magnifying glasses, stickers, plus battery operated “Rudolph” flashing noses. She also gave them a potato gun and a fly-swatter gun. The parents are Danish / Australian and have an eco-home / earth / tree business (couldn’t find their web-site) so she asked for permission before she armed their male offspring.

Christmas morning arrived and we awoke to see the three happy children, sitting with their parents on a blanket spread over the still damp grass and opening their presents. This was absolutely delightful and a welcome reminder of one of the true joys of Christmas. One of the other park neighbors had loaned the family a small Christmas tree and the boys had decorated this tree with paper chains. The original Christmas story was of a young family that arrived in town to find that all the hotel space was taken. Of course the government at the time had demanded a census and with typical bureaucratic arrogance, had demanded that everyone return to their place of birth to be counted, without regard to available accommodation. The woman was pregnant and the couple were bailed out of their predicament by the generosity of private enterprise, when they were offered the use of the inn’s stable. They too had to make do and used one of the mangers for a bassinet.

Christmas morningChristmas lunchChristmas lunchChristmas sky

We had been invited to join three other couples for a shared Christmas “lunch” and for me, this was a delightful step back in time as we began our meal by “pulling” Christmas crackers. (For American readers, these are gaudily decorated paper cylinders, like giant candy wrappers, that contain a small explosive device to make it “crack” when pulled and traditionally contained a paper hat, a toy and a slip of paper with a joke or fortune.) We had just finished our main course and were into the Christmas puddings when the “next door” children stopped by to visit. Annette was delighted to see that both boys were still sporting their potato and fly swatter guns she had given them on Christmas Eve.

December 26, 2014

We abandoned Alice Springs today and as we blearily looked out of the bus window, it was overcast but not raining and the kids next door were still playing with the toy guns that Annette had given them for Christmas.

Our drive lay south and despite the rain, the land looked dry and flat all the way until the border with South Australia. No wildlife to be seen and no road-kill. We stopped at the dry bed of the Finke River and read a fading sign for tourists that claimed that the Finke is one of the oldest rivers on planet earth, a fact that Wikipedia disputes. What is more factual is that it meanders from the MacDonnell Ranges in the northwest, across the flat plains of the Simpson Desert we were currently crossing and rarely contains water. When it does get water, the water either evaporates or soaks into the ground to recharge the aquifer of the “Great Artesian Basin”. Beyond the border crossing, we had low hills and gently rolling slopes. We crossed into South Australia and stopped on the side of the highway so that Annette could search for “Gibber Stones”, the name “Gibber” deriving from an aboriginal language and meaning “stone”. These “stones” form a “desert pavement” - that is they are found packed tightly together on plains, particularly on alluvial fans. The surface of the stones often looks varnished and these are the stones Annette sought. The darkest stones were almost black, and obviously have a heavy iron content since they are attracted by a magnet.

Gibber stonesGibber stonesDesert survivorGibber stop

It was late afternoon when we stopped for the night at the Marla Roadhouse. The caravan park was deserted when we pulled in and the roadhouse seems to derive its business from a nearby aboriginal community. We ordered beer, chicken fried steaks and watched an episode of M.A.S.H. on the bar television. The beer was OK.

December 27, 2014

Last evening, another bus had pulled into the caravan park and this morning I walked over to talk to J.C. He was returning to Melbourne from a motorcycle rally to memorialize a fellow rider who had ridden his Harley Davidson at nighttime into a camel. The road-trains we see are often heavily armored with massive bars protecting the truck body and some even have heavy metal screens behind the windshield, inside the cab at the driver’s face level. Many areas of Outback Australia are simply hazardous to drive at night.

We headed south again with Annette continuing to gibber on about more Gibber stones. Have you any idea how many stones there are in Australia? Anyway, she wanted Ron Marks memorialmore so I pulled to the side of the road and parked the bus at a random, empty spot of highway some 90 kms north of Coober Pedy. Annette wandered around on the “Gibber Field”, looking for the perfect stone and I yelled at her to leave the brown wiggly things alone. I then noticed that on the opposite side of the highway and set back slightly from the road, was a post bearing a sign and attached to this some fading flowers. It didn’t quite look like other roadside memorials of traffic accidents thus I wandered over to check it out. The sign had raised welded letters on a heavy steel plate and the letters had been painted in black paint to raise their contrast. The sign stated that upon this spot, Ron Marks had been murdered on 16-9-93.

I had to search this later on the internet but Ron Marks was a 42 year old man, driving northbound to Alice Springs. Unfortunately for Ron there was Dale Harris a 23 year old man, also driving northbound, who fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked his car. He and his girlfriend were not badly injured and the girlfriend got a lift back to Coober Pedy, leaving Harris beside his wrecked vehicle smoking marijuana. Several hours went by but when “Good Samaritan” Ron Marks stopped by to help and to offer water and some oranges, for his efforts he was stabbed to death by Harris, who then hid the body in a culvert, stole the dead man’s clothes and car and drove to Coober Pedy, still covered in blood. What actually happened will never be known because Harris told multiple rambling lies and on appeal, he was acquitted of murder and convicted only of manslaughter. He should have been released from prison around 2003 but the internet does not provide this detail.

I wandered back to where Annette was still picking up stones and pointed out to her an unusual stone shaped like a spear point. She was so happy with this discovery and notes that it has been knapped on both edges to sharpen it. The aborigines supposedly favored spears rather than bows and arrows, as the Australian game animals were larger and with thicker, more arrow resistant skins than their neighbors to the north.

Coober Pedy mine tailingsThe road to our south continued as desert with gently rolling slopes until in the distance we saw a line of pale colored dunes. As we crested the rise we saw that these were not dunes but tailings from the opal fields on the north side of Coober Pedy. For the next twenty miles, the earth was torn up just about all the way into town. Here on the north side, we found the town water company where you can not only buy volume drinking water but in strange proximity, empty your cassette toilet with a payment of 20 cents to use the rinse water!

That evening we ate a very nice meal at Umberto’s restaurant at the Desert Cave Hotel. No M.A.S.H. reruns to entertain us but the meal did not disappoint.

December 28, 2014

We spent the day in Coober Pedy, a town that is usually dead during the tourist “off” season and positively lifeless on a Sunday. We caught up on the laundry, checked our flight status in anticipation of our departure next month and finally got around to painting the exterior mirror brackets on the bus. The next big job (partially completed) was to sort through the contents of the bus, dividing everything into “stays with bus”, “give away” and “returns to Texas” piles. This has been our home for nine months and it is amazing what you can accumulate in that time. Annette discovered a trove of wild bird seed so the caravan park pigeons were fed that afternoon. She still retained enough bird seed and cat food to take us through our trip to Tasmania, so not to worry.

December 29, 2014

This morning we shopped Coober Pedy for opals. Annette had very specific items in mind and we went from store to store until she finally found what she wanted. During the shopping expedition, we met Peter and Helen from our Alice Springs Christmas luncheon. Helen was looking for an opal ring and I helpfully suggested that opals were too soft a stone for a ring and easily damaged. Diamonds would be a better choice.

landed in Coober PedyNeeded the toilet

In the parking lot of one store was the crashed spacecraft from the movie “Pitch Black” released in 2000. The spacecraft had landed on an unexplored planet and one of the survivors, a prison convict played by Vin Diesel, manages to save everyone. I haven’t seen the movie and its reviews suck, so I’m not likely to, either. The movie take outs show the standard “scowling, prison-inmate, thug” character and I can see that for free, just about anywhere in the USA, I don’t need to pay for the privilege.

We left around noon and drove south towards Woomera. The land a flat and treeless desert, gentle slopes and then dried lake beds forming salt pans. The landscape is never boring in that what is treeless sand switches to dense bushes and then grass with scattered shade trees. We cannot see the reason for the abrupt change in landscape. The soil looks pretty much the same. Bushfires? Grazing? Fault line changes in the water table? There was virtually no road kill and no “live” sightings until we approached the Woomera turnoff when we spotted a couple of emus, grazing along the roadside.

GlendamboWoomera emusWoomera shopping centerMuseum still closed

We stopped at Woomera caravan park for the night and walked through the town to eat dinner at the hotel. We experienced the same eerie feeling as before as we walked past the deserted homes. A “ghost-town” would have scattered debris, boarded up windows, abandoned and rusting vehicles. Woomera has none of these and the homes are neat and tidy, the streets clean, the sidewalks in good condition. We walked through the town counting the homes with overt signs of life. One house had the exact same laundry on the drying line as when we visited a couple of months ago although Annette disputes this assertion. Perhaps one in eight homes are occupied but there are also many home sites that have the remains of a concrete driveway and utilities but nothing else. The town theatre windows had no posters advertising coming attractions and on an early week-day evening, the grocery store had an empty parking lot, not even a security truck. However, there was life to be found at the sole hotel and in this oasis of human activity, we found a reasonable meal.

December 30, 2014

This morning when I awoke, the bus interior was chilly. Annette was still asleep so I turned on the bus heater and headed for the loo. The morning peace was shattered by the smoke detector going off and I struggled to extract myself from the head and turn the gosh darned thing off. It has obviously been a while since we ran the heater but by now, all of the accumulated “fuzz” had been burned off the heater elements and furthermore Annette was wide awake.

We headed out into a cool, clear, sunny and low humidity day, the road ahead, arrow straight across tree-less empty plains. We spotted three live emus near the roadside plus a half dozen recently killed kangaroos but nothing else moved. Further south the land was more rolling and the trees reappeared, growing right up the the highway and providing ample hiding spots for large suicidal fauna. Nothing dashed out at us and we left the the native wildlife un-slaughtered and the bus undented as we turned off the Stuart highway to the east.

Port PirieBBQ timeNo koalasparrotsheading for Tasmania

We stopped at Port Pirie but by now the wind was blowing strongly and promised an uncomfortable night in any beachfront caravan park, thus we continued on to a pleasant little park at Crystal Brook, camping amongst huge eucalyptus trees. A fellow camper told us that we would hear koalas in the trees tonight. This sounded exciting but we reasoned that we should be able to spot any koalas asleep in the trees. We had parked the bus and wandered along the dry riverbed behind the park and through the golf course across the highway. No koalas. Lots of birdlife including Mulga parrots and Red-rumped parrots, moderately rare this far west. Annette spoke with the caravan park manager and he confirmed that there were no koalas in this area. We knew that already!

December 31, 2014

New Years Eve and we need fireworks! Last night I had researched Adelaide and the “What’s on in Adelaide” web-site promised crowds of 30,000 plus, in the downtown area. There are no downtown caravan parks, the hotels fully booked and the prospect of fighting 30,000 others for a cab was not appealing. Further down the web-site were listings of celebrations in surrounding towns and I spotted one at the seaside resort of Victor Harbor. What made this option stand out was that there would be a special train “The Cockle Train” from the nearby resort of Goolwa, to and from the fireworks. I called the railway office and made reservations for the “special” and then called the caravan park in Goolwa. Here I reserved the last site available. This plan was coming together!

The Murray River winds behind a barrier island in its estuary before emptying into the southern ocean through a small gap. In the first elbow of the Murray lies the town of Goolwa (means “elbow” in an aboriginal dialect) and around 1837 was considered as a possible site for the State capital. The floods of the Murray and shifting “mouth” made this a “treacherous” location and although Goolwa was Australia’s first inland port, the first railway line was laid from nearby Port Elliot so that ocean going ships could transship their cargos to river boats at Goolwa and avoid the mouth of the Murray. Port Elliot was not a good shelter so the line was further extended to Victor Harbor. Once the railway lines had been laid across Australia’s interior, Goolwa’s importance as a Murray River port was diminished but today this was our destination.

When we arrived in the town, we immediately heard the whistle of a steam train. The line from Goolwa to Victor Harbor has been retained as a tourist attraction and a steam powered train is operated by volunteers. For private tours and when Australian “fire” codes do not permit the operation of a coal fired locomotive, an antique diesel is used.

New Year! New Year!

That evening we walked from the caravan park into town, a whole mile and chatted with new friends John and Jane as we waited for the “fireworks special” train at 8:30 p.m. The ride to Victor Harbor was perhaps 30 minutes and the antique cars rocked along the coast with the rocky shore and breaking waves just 50 yards away. The train terminated in a historical district with a tram museum and a carnival going full blast. Rides for the kids, food stalls, a band playing and surrounding pubs to provide needed respite from the no-alcohol zone. At 9:30 p.m. we were sitting on the beach for a fireworks display for the children. It was well done and Annette and I both felt that it was probably better than the midnight fireworks event for the adults. The New Year arrived with a bang and slightly shell-shocked, we rode the train back to Goolwa, where John and Jane had parked their car and gave us a lift back to the caravan park.That evening we walked from the caravan park into town, a whole mile and chatted with new friends John and Jane as we waited for the “fireworks special” train at 8:30 p.m. The ride to Victor Harbor was perhaps 30 minutes and the antique cars rocked along the coast with the rocky shore and breaking waves just 50 yards away. The train terminated in a historical district with a tram museum and a carnival going full blast. Rides for the kids, food stalls, a band playing and surrounding pubs to provide needed respite from the no-alcohol zone. At 9:30 p.m. we were sitting on the beach for a fireworks display for the children. It was well done and Annette and I both felt that it was probably better than the midnight fireworks event for the adults. The New Year arrived with a bang and slightly shell-shocked, we rode the train back to Goolwa, where John and Jane had parked their car and gave us a lift back to the caravan park.