These blog entries are necessarily brief. Needing to see Australia, to eat and shower and, most of all, sleep, I battle to find the time to write. So I scrawl notes in the notebook I keep in the car and document everything obsessively with my phone – which is useless as a phone here, because it is locked, and which I use only as a camera.
We are driving from Melbourne to Adelaide, a two day trip through the Australia that most visitors don’t see. Yesterday I spent the journey along the Great Ocean Road angry about so many things, most of them to do with my ex-husband, though mainly I am angry with myself, not him, because he couldn’t help who he was, and I should have known better than to say yes.
Today I am calm. I sit in the car while my friend Chris aimed it at the road ahead and let the landscape wash over me. Rain sea windfarm grass trees impossibly blue crater lake
sheep vineyards vineyards sheep sheep sheep emu sheep Angus beef cattle (South Australia’s finest). Pelicans and strange brassy water that stretches on and on and on: the Coorong, where the Murray meets the sea.
The music plays: Tears for Fears, then metal, then more metal, then The Orb. I like The Orb best; its strangeness seems eminently suited to this vast, strangely familiar place. Lulled by the rocking movement of the car, I drift off to the sleep that eludes me at night. When I wake, Chris tells me we have done over 1000 km in it.
Every now and then we stop. A giant lobster looms out of the grey in a town called Kingston where men have stickers on their boats: “Fish fear me, Women want me…”
I take one look at him and decide: I do not want him.
South Australia is almost impossibly flat. Place names make references to Mount this or that, but there is surely no spot elevated enough to merit the moniker.
I keep wanting to find references to the South African landscape, to steady myself. This looks like the Garden Route, I think, and that part near Portland like the dense bush near Port Elizabeth, and this is possibly like the West Coast, although I can’t be sure because I’ve never been to the West Coast.
Finally we reach Adelaide, where Sir Donald Bradman is buried and JM Coetzee lives. It is steep and hilly in the setting sun; as we enter the city I see signs for The Colonial, a Sikh centre, an Adult Erotica store (entrance to the front and rear), a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. The streets are long and orderly and calm. Paradise on earth, Coetzee described it. Perhaps, with a couple of days here, I will begin understand why.