Three Years on the Road
Brett Davis

103. Going Home

When I had come through Port Lincoln in 1975 I had visited a private "national park" called Whaler's Way, situated about forty kilometres south-west of the city. A brochure that Karen and I picked up showed that it was still going strong. I talked Karen into a visit, just for old time's sake. We paid a fifteen dollar entry fee and a three dollar key deposit prior to leaving town.

Down the road a ways we stopped for morning tea at an historic site called Flinders Well. Matthew Flinders had passed this way in 1802, a few days after losing eight men in heavy seas when they were trying to locate some fresh water. He had found a soak at this location and dug a well. We found it a good spot to replenish our fluid supplies also.

Cape Wiles at Whaler's Way

At Whaler's Way we drove through the boom gate and commenced our tour, visiting a number of places with imaginative names based around the Whaler theme. Whale Chaser Crevasse, Booby Gannet Crevasse, Humpback Whale Blowhole and Sperm Whale Cliff were okay, but not worth a photo, but some other spots were truly spectacular. At Cape Wiles we looked down on a close offshore island and a semi-detached sea-stack where dozens of fur seals gambolled in the water or basked and barked on shore. A little further around at Black's Lookout, the view of the cliffs of the Cape was amazing, even for cliffed-out people like us. Theakstone's Crevasse was worth the price of admission alone, a long narrow slice into the rock platform which apparently goes for another thirty metres under the ground as well. Cape Carnot was spectacular too, with spray rocketing skywards when the moderate swell hit the rocks of the cape.

Theakstone's Crevasse

All of these attractions pale into insignificance, however, when compared to another of Whaler's Way's features, a cave just to the north of Cape Carnot. A sign directed us to "Overhangs 300 metres, Cave 700 metres" and we obediently followed the track down to a ledge along the water's edge. We passed a couple of overhangs on our way along the coast, eventually reaching a large cave. I led out across a short, rocky traverse to the mouth of the cave but Karen baulked at the crossing.

"What's wrong?" I called out.
"I can see everything from here," Karen yelled back.
I walked ten metres into the cave and turned back to Karen. "I think you should see this!"

Karen at the cave entrance

Karen made her way gingerly over the rocks and into the cave to join me. We could not believe how beautiful it was. The roof was supported by three columns on one side and a single, larger column on the other. It angled down to a shallow pool, forming a kind of grotto before re-emerging into daylight on a rock shelf just above the waves. Light filtered into the cave and reflected off the water, subtly colouring everything in shades of green, blue and mauve. It was a magical place.

The cave at Cape Carnot

Our Brits-Australia 4WD

We drove back towards Port Lincoln and turned off to Lincoln National Park to camp for the night at Spalding Cove, but we did not have time for any walks and have no idea what the park is really like. Next morning, as we were leaving, a suicidal rabbit bolted out of the scrub at the side of the road and crash tackled one of our front wheels. That is one feral animal that the national park no longer has to worry about. We returned our Whaler's Way key and drove to a lookout above the town before heading up the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula. Tumby Bay, Port Neil, Arno and Cowell all came and went. The overcast day turned into rain, consistent by the time we reached Whyalla. We lunched in a shelter atop Hummock Hill, overlooking the port, the town, and land in the distance across Spencer Gulf. Whyalla is a lot like Port Hedland - brown.

Our lunch spot in Whyalla

By nightfall we had reached Crystal Brook, just beyond Port Pirie. It was raining when we arrived, it rained all night, and it was still raining the next morning when we left, our tent saturated despite a futile effort to dry it out under a shelter prior to leaving.

Drying the tent in Crystal Brook

A few hours after leaving Crystal Brook we arrived in Adelaide.I dropped Karen at the bus terminal, along with the bikes and all of our gear. I drove out to the Brits-Australia office near the airport, stopping along the way to clean up the camper and fill one tank with petrol. The inspection and paperwork at the office seemed to take forever, and I began to worry that I would not make it back into the city in time to catch the bus, so I phoned for a taxi. Eventually the camper was approved, the forms filled out and the deposits returned, everything being finalised just as the taxi arrived. I jumped in and soon arrived at the bus station with about half an hour to spare.

Karen immediately told me that there was a chance we could not take the bikes on the bus. She had explained our situation to the driver. He was sympathetic to our cause but bound by bus company rules which state that bicycles are packed last, so Karen complained to the girl on the desk about the treatment we were receiving. Receiving no joy there, Karen had bumped the complaint right on up to the terminal manager, even suggesting to him that they take our bikes and leave the mail behind!

With about five minutes to go before the scheduled departure time, the bus driver gave me the nod and got me to start packing the bikes into a small nook he had been saving. Mel fitted in okay but Elle is a lot taller and proved difficult. I frantically grabbed a spanner out of my toolkit and loosened the seat, pushing it down to the crossbar, but when I tried to load it there was still not enough room. The driver suggested we leave the bike behind and it could be loaded onto the next bus.

"No way, buster," I thought. "Could you please give me one more minute?" I said.

I quickly removed the pedals and pulled the seat out of the frame completely. Elle cleared the ceiling of the luggage compartment by about an inch. I pushed her into position, piled all of our gear between and around both the bikes, threw the pedals and the seat on top and quickly climbed into the bus. It left about thirty seconds later. As I settled into my seat, hands filthy, dripping sweat due to hard work as well as nerves, I turned to Karen.

"If stress causes heart attacks" I said, "then I might be about to have one right now ..."

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