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The Chase part 1. Or The Next Northern Adventure part 8

So I said somewhere in the middle of the last blog that the kids and I hotfooted it out of Yulara to chase Kirsten. Said our goodbyes to the others at the Kings Canyon turn off and that we got to Erldunda, the t-intersection, where left is the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs and right is to Adelaide. And I also said that we had dramas, didn’t I? Well, we did! (You could probably cue the “Benny Hill” theme music right about now!!)

As Erldunda is coming into sight, and you have to remember that it is about 3 in the afternoon, and we are tired, stressed from the worry, and in a bit of a hurry to get to Alice Springs, where Kirsten has headed. We have also been out of any type of contact with the outside world for about 5 hours, so a little anxious to find out what the latest is with Kirsten and how she is, because the last time we saw her, like I have said, she was extremely ill.

Now Erldunda is a big Shell servo with a caravan park, and whilst it might seem a little strange to you people who don’t care where your fuel comes from, I feel a little comfortable seeing a Shell servo! Kind of a little piece of familiarity in my funny little world! You all feel it somewhere when you are away from home, don’t deny it!

As we roll into Erldunda it is peculiar to see that there are literally tens of campers and caravans and buses here. I comment to the kids how a lot of people must be staying at Erldunda tonight, and we weave our way around to the road train diesel bowser only to find the sign that says “No Deisel” (their spelling not mine!) oh crap! This is now panic stations! When I explain to the attendant my situation, he just shrugs and says that the next diesel truck is due at 4pm. It is now 10 past 3.

See? Their spelling!

It’s a bit hard to make out, but there’s LOTS of vehicles there!

I ring Alice Springs hospital, where the emergency nurse looking after Kirsten informs me that they are probably going to airlift her to Adelaide, because they cannot deal with her situation adequately either! She tells me to maybe wait it out at Erldunda for the night and ring in the morning for further details. What do we do? Josh gets on the blower to Kulgera, the next southern fuel stop from Erldunda, where I ‘might’ be able to make, but they inform him that they have none either! In fact there is no diesel from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy

How ironic a situation is this? You all know I work for Shell and you all know I work in the refinery, but guess what I make and guess what I can’t get any of? Yep, DIESEL!!! This is a cracker! Even the kids can see the funny side of this one and we have a bit of a chuckle about it. To the point I message one of my workmates and tell him to SMS me some diesel! What could we do besides sit back and ponder how funny this is.

Now I’m a big fan of truck drivers up around these parts. They are courteous, friendly and always willing to let you pass them in their massive road trains so they don’t hold you up. It’s a shame some travellers don’t show them the same courteousness. As we are waiting for the diesel truck, a road train with gas tankers on the back pulls up out the front of Erldunda. I don’t know if he did this deliberately, needed to go to the toilet, or just for a stir because of all the people, but you could hear the collective sigh of relief from everyone who thought this was the diesel truck! Then, as he drove off, the collective disappointment from all as he left! It appealed to my sense of humour! Call it petrochemical humour or whatever, I thought it was funny. I reckon the truckie did too! Least, I hope so!

In the mean time, the manager at Erldunda servo comes over to me and asks me to explain what’s going on as he had heard me in the servo talking to the attendant, and is totally sympathetic to our cause, but as he explains, and as I totally understand, there’s nothing he can do.

But do you know what? And this IS country hospitality, the manager comes and finds me again and says his plan is to get me in second for fuel. This is awesome! So as the truck is unloading I’m waiting in line as a bus gets filled then I’m in. But guess what? The bloody pump has now stopped working! He’s as disappointed as we are and apologises, and I’m cool because at least he’s had a go. So we have to wait our turn now, which is ok too. Then as luck may have it, the pumps a goer again. In we go and as we’re fuelling up, the managers telling me how their pipes are cracking because of the cold and the diesels not made for it. We have a short discussion on how he can prevent this with diesel made for colder climates and then we are off to Alice.

In the mean time I have rung my sister in law who has got onto a caravan park in Alice, which just happens to be the same one we stayed in earlier, and they have an emergency site just for things like this, because do you know what? It is the Alice Springs show and the whole damn town is chocker block! Typical, why cant we have something happen when its quiet, or when everyone is out of town at a rodeo, or whatever it is they do out of town in places like this! No! we have to make it as awkward as we can!

So we get to the caravan park, and the ladies are really helpful and tell us that the sight is ours for the taking and that if needed we can leave the van there as long as we want. This is awesome news and then they proceed to tell me how it must be that time of the year for this type of thing because they had a lady with similar problems stay at the park the week before! This brings a smile to my face as I explain to them that it is, in fact, the same lady!

Off to the hospital we head to see Kirsten who is just being tucked in for the night before being flown out again first thing in the morning to Adelaide. Now she is put into a room next to a little old IP lady, (refer here for meaning of IP!) this means nothing in the big scheme of things that are happening and I mean no disrespect it was just an observation that would later prove quite funny to us! You’ll have to wait for that in another blog, and I know they are coming a bit slower than the trip but I’ve been a little busy!

Next the kids and I head to the Todd Hotel for some tea, before starting the long journey south in the morning to meet up with Kirsten in Adelaide.

Now I failed to mention in other blogs exactly what the show was we watched being taped in Coober Pedy because we were sworn to secrecy! Now it’s on telly I can reveal that in fact we will be in the audience of the show called “I Will Survive!” That’s right, yep, we are going to be stars! Alright, well maybe not us, but we will be in it when the show hits Coober Pedy, so keep an eye out for us. I think I put some photos up in an earlier blog (refer here ), and also mentioned about Jason Donovan (and here ). Read back, it was funny at the time.

What I failed to mention was that we missed out on the photo opportunity of a life time leaving Alice Springs the first time we were there. Now I’ve never seen the Ghan in the two trips we have done north and was spewing that we didn’t see it! But, when we were leaving Alice Springs to head to Yulara we thought it was strange that we were the only car on the road, or so it seemed. And as we rounded the roundabaout, (because that’s what you do, round roundabouts!), out of Alice, we were confronted with the Ghan train AND the Priscilla bus coming straight at us as they were filming! And wouldn’t you know it, what packs it in right on the money shot? Every flippin’ camera in the car, that’s what! So we missed out on the shot of a lifetime, but we did get to see the Ghan, and I reckon if you watch the episode closely you might just make out a little black 4WD with a caravan on the back, because we were the only car on the road, and the police that saw us were scratching their heads as to how we did it! Come to think of it, so am I! Still!

Now the kids and I are heading south towards Adelaide and still have a little adventure to play out that will be the subject of a later blog and wouldn’t have happened had Kirsten not been in hospital in Coober Pedy, so stay tuned.

Why didn’t I head straight to Adelaide I can hear you asking! Well, because we wanted to make sure Kirsten was ok, and sometimes, and I imagine it is amplified when you are further away, that family reassurance is important when you are so sick, and it only adds an extra 400 clicks round trip. And why didn’t we stay at Erldunda? Because there were absolutely no camping sites anywhere! Powered or unpowered!



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