Willow is a tolerant cat and she’ll forgive us for most things. She’ll forgive us if we have to move her out of the way to get something. She’ll forgive us if my guitar playing interrupts her morning naps. And she’ll forgive our bumpy drives on long gravel roads.
But as we found ourselves in the outback after 5 weeks on the Eyre Peninsula, we realised there is one thing Willow will not tolerate!
Our time on the Eyre Peninsula was everything we dreamt it to be. Swimming with dolphins and stingrays, snorkelling in the cool water and watching the fishies, and many a beach sunset. We also said hi to legendary travelling cat Trim in Port Lincoln.
In Coffin Bay we even got to meet the town emus. How strange it was to see these usually shy creatures take up residence in the streets. Though to be fair, they were there long before the humans built those streets.
The Eyre Peninsula is renowned for its fresh seafood. In Port Lincoln we picked up some fish to cook in our little van kitchen. Lightly floured, cooked in butter and served with homemade coleslaw, it was a delicious treat.
Willow keenly observed the cooking process, and excitedly ate up the pieces both raw and cooked that we gave her. Although, as you can imagine, she still wanted more!
The West coast was an absolute delight with beach after beach of stunning coastline to explore. We took the journey North as slow as possible, spending many, many days at each campsite. Willow enjoyed her little walks around the van but could mostly be found sat upon the dashboard on her blanket. There she enjoyed the sun streaming in, especially on days where it was a little chilly outside.
We left the coast at Streaky Bay to head back Eastwards where we spent a few days at the fascinating Pildappa Rocks with its beautiful wave formations.
We enjoyed walking around the rock and even spotted some geraniums that were planted by some children back in 1938.
However, I found the less frequented Tcharkuldu Rock nearby far more interesting. There we found a lovely little campsite to park the van for a week and I would love to share with you all the photos I took but unfortunately the unimaginable happened. The horror, my biggest fear. Van gastro.
I was unexpectedly and inexplicably taken by a mysterious illness that had me running to the drop toilet every few hours. I will spare you the gruesome details, but after a week of affliction, the worst of it passed and I was able to get back on the road, albeit, a few kilos lighter.
Fortunately Steph was spared, though she will be forever haunted by my groans. The only photo I took during that week was this beautiful rainbow over the rocks.
With Steph working from home (van?) a few days each week, Willow had to contend with the crushing reality that she is not always the centre of the universe. Despite the grand and frequent displays of affection she receives throughout the day it still was not enough to satiate her heart. She soon realised that the root of all her problems lied in the existence of the laptop, or more to the point, Steph’s usage of it.
This she simply would not tolerate so quite figuratively made every effort to put herself between Steph and the source of her woes. Despite Steph’s attempts to place Willow on all manner of comfy spots around the van Willow endeavoured to find herself right back where she started.
This dance would continue for 20 minutes or so until Willow, sure that this was a war to be won after a short break, found herself curled up asleep on Steph’s lap for the rest of the afternoon.
In the town of Kimba we got to see the Big Galah. Now, I couldn’t find any info on when or why the big galah came to be, but hear me out on this one for I have a theory.
The Big Galah is an intricately decorated and beautiful 8-metre-tall bird sculpture that stands outside a gift shop on the Eyre Highway. Well worth a visit and well worth a photo.
Now, down the road there so lies the ‘Halfway Across Australia’ sign where we also took a photo. Here is where I have a problem. Kimba is in no way measurably halfway across Australia by road or as the crow flies. If you check the map halfway by road lies in the town of Wirulla, 220km Westbound, and by crow lies in the Great Australian Bight.
So here is my theory. Whoever decided Kimba was halfway across Australia shall not be forgotten for they have erected a statue in his honour, a massive effing galah!
A few days later we had completed our circuit around the Eyre Peninsula after 5 amazing weeks. It was now time to replenish our supplies in preparation for the next leg of our trip. We stocked up on canned goods, fresh produce, and all manner of snacks for the journey ahead.
As we were filling our water tank at the Whyalla showgrounds the most horrible thing happened. Steph had Willow outside as she sniffed around at the grass and buildings. Along side us pulled up a large camper bus and out popped a grotty looking man and his stinking dog. The man spotted Willow and assured us that his dog would never hurt a cat, which was of little comfort to us.
Though the man seemed to just want a chat, the unease crept through us as we watched his dog eye off Willow. As we stood there politely hoping he would make his point or just leave, the mutt leapt forward and took sprint at our poor little cat. Before I could think, I flew as hard as I could to put myself in between the hound and my beloved, and there and then the silly dog realised I meant business. I chased it behind their stupid bus as I waved the clueless owner to get out of our faces.
Now I’ll tell you that Willow was a little rattled but was over the ordeal well before Steph and I were, and I spent most of the afternoon thinking of all the words I ought to have said to that stupid man with his stupid dog in his stupid bus.
We now have zero tolerance policy regarding dogs around Willow. Restrain your dog or I will!
So this was it. The van was stocked, our fuel tank full, and us adventurers ready. Beside the road the earth reddened as we started our drive up the Stuart Highway.
Together, the three of us, into the outback.