Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eyre apparent

Day 7

- of a road trip in honour of Australia Day, 2015.

Cosy in our neat little self-contrained cabin, we start the day with coffee and Bruce's chilli scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, the Internet remains a nightmare. We struggle uselessly trying to download the papers or get the mail and then give up, packing the car, filling up with petrol at the Elliston Liberty station and hitting the open road again.

The roads are fabulous. The countryside is divine. We've learned a lot about the history of the area and how the landscape is haunted by tales of the lonely graves and Ellen Liston's stories.

Having read Gail Wiseman's Bringing the Stones, our imaginations are lured out into the miles of sandy, rocky coastal no man's land. Pioneers traversed it on horse or foot. It is beautiful, but harsh and arid. And yet, intrepid settlers built houses and fences and employed itinerant shepherds who dwelt way out there for years on end in crude huts. Relationships with the Aboriginal people of the area were often tense and violent. Ellen Liston wrote vividly on the issue in her short stories of the 1800s when she was a governess way out there in the rugged wilderness.

We asked for directions to find a famous murder spot of John Hamp ..but we fail to find it.

What we do find on the road north is the Woolshed Cave. I was prompted to take the detour by a road sign which had the added word "spectacular". Down dirt side roads we bumped to discover one of the most breathtakingly beautiful of natural phenomena I have ever sighted. Another brilliant council engineering job of providing easy stairs made it comfortable to descend the dangerous cliffs to get close to this magnificent, marvellous interplay of rock and sea, the thing of dreams. And we walked upon huge flat rocks which seem to have melted onto each other in soft folds. There was a channel of incoming water, rich green with sandy base and weedy sides,softly ebbing to and fro with the tidal flow. Huge fish darted in the pristine water beside the wafting green fringes. This lovely inlet through deep cuts of rock, leads into a big, dangerous-looking cave. One does not venture too close but looks from a safe vantage point.

Back on the road. Next stop, Venus Bay. We poke around and pee in yet another impeccable public loo.

Then we're heading to Port Kenny for lunch on our way. Who recommended that? Was it a joke? Oh, my. Port Kenny stank, stank, stank of putrid septic whiff. Sad, dead, ugly, smelly. Pub sad and for sale. Ordinary people ordering schnitzels. We walk around inside looking at the sad menu, feeling extremely deterred. Can't face anything here. Ugh.

Drive on hungrily to our destination for the night, the lovely Streaky Bay. The most appealing lunch place looking towards the sea was closed. We settled on a yuppified old corner building called the FunktionCentre. It is rather cute-looking in a self-consciously rustic way but, sadly, extremely overpriced considering the mean portion of whiting and chips I was served on my ongoing seafood pilgrimage. The twee menu board presentation indicated it came with salad but it did not. When I asked, I was told there was an extra charge for salad. The coffee was nice - but the overall impression was irking.

Next, oh no. Our start in Streaky Bay is not great. The seaside motel I have booked is not only not on the seaside, it is at the back of the old pub. It is a very run-down old and cheap-looking motel, the sort of place one goes to commit suicide. This can't be right. I ask for a key to check out the room and retreat in horror. Renovated? Not. Cramped, dark, musty...

I simply cannot sabotage the experience of a nice place like Streaky Bay by staying in a dump. I have made a terrible mistake. The two Streaky Bay motels have almost identical names. This is the wrong one. I want the Streaky Bay Motel and Villas. I phone the rival motel which is lovely and am oh, so relieved to secure a villa for the night. Phew. In an attack of cowardice, I send B in to deal with cancellation. He gets very angry when they charge half the rate for the cancellation.

The Streaky Bay Motel and Villas is just divine. I am in love. It truly is the most aesthetic and civilised place with its groomed gravel and its giant cactus with a Buddha at its base. Various yuccas and cacti adorn the gardens along with Oriental sculptures. Neat brick paths guide one to the laundry, pool, and barbecue area which also features a pizza oven. And there is a trampoline and a solo tennis pole, plus soccer table and pinball machine in the pool area. Heaps to do for the young. The pool is superior, in its own elegant house, heated, with a shower at its side and a spa in the corner.

The villas are tasteful and well appointed - right down to the surprise gift of Drumstick icecreams awaiting in the freezer compartment. Our villa is two-bedroom and airy. B is happy it has a kitchen. We set the chilli plant in the sunshine on the porch and head out to shop for a spag dinner at the Foodland. Oh, and to stock up on Pimms.

Then we take long tourist trail coast drive to see magic beach - Back Beach. It is sublime. Then another long dirt road drive to find blowhole. It said 14 kms on sign...21 km down and we still had not found it. We turn back, sick of rattling along unsealed roads. B cooks his famous bolognaise using copious chillies from plant.

I have a heavenly swim all alone in the gorgeous indoor motel pool and bask awhile in the afternoon sunshine. Bliss.

The only downside to this lovely haven was the Internet. Yes, more Internet struggles. Nomadnet is the system they use here but somehow it is just not working. We call its help line. They couldn't be nicer and help by giving us a free 300mg. Thrilled. At last one can catch up. But when Betty Snowden's pix for my dad's biography have come thru twice, the limit is reached and one is cut off. Disappointed.

Make the most of things. Lovely dinner. We watch the Tracks movie and The Life Aquatic.

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