The picture window at the foot of my bed framed the pale dawn. There is not a cloud in the sky–just the morning star hanging above the horizon.
Up with that lovely dawn, put the last few items in my bag, and said farewell to Nikki and Richard, who were also up. Then I headed toward the bus stop, to catch the 6:40 bus to Adelaide.
I was greeted by a cheerful bus driver (have yet to find another kind here), and we headed down the Barossa Valley and back toward the city. Once we reached Adelaide, I hiked over to Thrifty Car Rental. Apparently, the travel company through whom I’d made my reservations apparently forgot to pass the information along to Thrifty. This resulted in a good bit of confusion, but the folks at Thrifty were eager to make things work out. I did have to put the rental on my credit card, even though I’d prepaid it, but they said they’d reverse the charges as soon as they’d straightened things out. (And I’m happy to say that did happen.) But fortunately, they had a car available. That could have been a far bigger problem than a bit of confusion over payment. And happy turn of events–the car has a tape player, so I get to try out the new Ted Egan tapes I’d bought in Alice Springs. Good-oh.
By 9:00 a.m., I was on the road, heading out of Adelaide. The Mount Barker Road wound up around the Devil’s Elbow (the sharpest in a series of sharp hairpin turns ascending the mountain). It was a long, winding, windy ascent, but was endlessly beautiful. After Eagle on the Hill, the road leveled out and began to slowly descend through rolling farmland. At Tailem Bend, Highway 1 turned south, but I continued on eastward, turning a while later onto Highway 8.
I was 2-1/2 hours out of Adelaide when I reached Coonalpyn, where I stopped for lunch. I found a place that had meat pies for sale, and since I haven’t had one yet on this trip, I figured that was the perfect thing to eat. Then back to the road. Rolling farmland alternated with beautiful mallee scrub as I continued on, through Tintinara, Keith, Bordertown, and across the border into Victoria.
By 1:30, I’d reached Nhill, and I turned south on a narrow, nearly deserted road heading for Little Desert National Park.
Mallee, yellow gums, wattles, and broom trees closed in around me. The park is not heavily visited, and hence is only barely signposted. However, Nikki and Richard had given me an excellent map, so I found the spot I wanted with minimal panic and only a smidge of backtracking.