July 20, 2009
The Postie Challenge - Part Three
I got up early with Nikka and we raced back to the ruins to explore the old railway. It was a couple of kms away so we had to be snappy with our exploration. We got back to camp about 8.30am and we were worrying that we may have held up the group. We needn't have worried. Infact the vehicles didn't end up leaving Farina till 10.30am. We were rather ticked off as we could have spent more time along the railway.
Some of the riders left an hour earlier so we were rather confused about the delay. Hubby decided to drive the next leg, so this gave Mitch the opportunity to ride with the postie group. I crossed my fingers he'd be okay because he was out of our sight and pretty much on his own.
We arrived at Marree and found the posties at the pub. Gee that makes for a change. Haha. Mitch was fine and well and in one piece. He enjoyed himself and wanted to ride some more, so Hubby allowed him the next leg as well.
I had ten minutes to have a quick look around Marree. It seemed to be one of the major stops along the old Ghan rail line which had ceased to operate long ago. My goodness. This was supposed to be a major town! I read in it's hey day the population reached 600, but today it was less than one hundred. Really. From what I could see I wouldn't have thought even 10 people lived here, but there you go.
This was an interesting memorial hut, dedicated to the 60 Afghan cameleer families who once called Marree home.
We continued on down the dusty, dirt road on our way to Lake Eyre. By the end of the day we would all be in Lake Eyre. At least that was the plan!
Another distraction. Phil, the organiser of the trip pulled over a driver and asked him to race around the sand and dirt beside the road so that he could film it. We all stopped and watched as this rather skilled driver fanged around causing great waves of sand, dust and dirt to literally block out the view of his vehicle. It was funny and rather entertaining; just don't get too close to the action Nikka. Surely there are some limits to taking a photo. She was braver than me.
On the other side of the road some the bikers lined up for Phil to scan them with his video.
Back on board and we drove to our next stop which was called "The Bubbler". As we approached it appeared to be as close as we would get to an oasis in this unforgiving landscape. The water was salty but "freshish". It was drinkable hence the name The Bubbler. The place contained the nicest greenery we had seen.
Riders took the opportunity to fuel up as the next leg was going to be rather long. Destination; William Creek. Last stop before Lake Eyre.
The landscape was changing all the time. It was looking particularly sandy, salty and dry.
Oh know. Rider down. There is a crowd gathered on the road. I jump out to see if it's my son. Relief it's not and relief that the young man is okay despite his leg being wedged in the bike. Mitch saw the whole thing as he was infront of him. A little birdie tells me there was some skylarking going on with riders trying to turn off each other's kill-switch. I guess boys will be boys.
Back on the road again.
We arrived at arguably Australia's smallest town; William Creek. Finally. There was a problem. It was windy and blowing a gale. We were one of the last to arrive. It was about 5pm. It would take an hour and a half to get to Lake Eyre making it dark to set up camp. Worse still, we were informed by locals the road had recently been graded making for awful corregations and bulldust holes along the way. That very day a four wheel drive had rolled and they advised us to not head out at this hour. Most of the group had gone. A couple of vehicles decided to stay the night. Phil and the main leaders waited at the last before everyone had made their decision what to do.
Hubby was in such a quandary. I felt like we had burdened him because he wouldn't have hesitated for a moment to go if it wasn't for us. We booked two cabins and at the same time ordered our meals for the night. That's it, we shall head out early in the morning.
No sooner did Hubby ride down to Phil and co. he was back again. Phil was leaving in five minutes in the vehicle. With current conditions he chose to drive instead of ride out there. Hubby asked if it would be okay if he rode out infront of them. Phil said okay and "hurry up"! Hubby raced back to get the swag, some food, fuelled up and reconciled with us that he simply had to give it a go to get out there with the others. We hastily farewelled him; he left it up to us to make the decision in the morning whether we would come out or not. Either way we would catch him along the road or back at William Creek. Off went Hubby to Lake Eyre. Without us.
At least we had hot showers to look forward to tonight; and a cooked meal. Still; things felt strange or somehow wrong.
The watering hole was rather small and crowded. We admired all the hats, dollar notes and unique articles that were pinned to the ceiling. Nikka brought my attention to a bra pinned up there. I'll bet this place has some stories to tell.
The waiter took us to our table in the dining room at the back of the pub and it was really nice. Huge, chunky wooden tables and walls made out of old railway sleepers. Fascinating. Our table seating was for five. We were amused as she placed down Hubby's plate and no Hubby there to eat it. I wonder what she must have thought. We offered no explanation. The good news is, after eating their meals, Mitch and Dee went halves and polished off Hubby's dinner. The food was really good actually, but very expensive. I'm guessing it costs a lot to get food out here, so hence the expense.
The talk at the table centred around "what to do" the next day. Not getting out there as planned had really set us back. We had two massive days driving ahead of us to get back home, possibly three days.
We all agreed in the end; how could we come this far and not complete the challenge. It was unfinished. And how unsatisfying would that feel? It was essential that we head out as early as we could, but we needed some light as Dee's headlight was not working. Back we went to the cabin, for that lovely hot shower and hopefully a good sleep.
You must be KIDDING!!! The water pump had busted and we literally had no water that night. Our long anticipated hot shower remained exactly that. To be anticipated.
I was getting angry. What the hell? Why did we take so long to wait at Farina today? Why the extra couple of stops? All these things contributed to us getting here so late. Lots of "what if's". But that is futile. What's done is done. I try to get some sleep as I cross my fingers Hubby made it without any dramas.
With a bitter taste in my mouth at this moment, I think something sweet is rather called for. I feel like something quick and easy and cakey. With all the oranges we have currently the flavour of the cake has been decided. I pull out a mini muffin tin ensuring the little cakes will bake quickly. Oven on and tin greased the rest is easy.
Tangy Orange Cakettes.
1/2 cup sugar
rind or one orange
3/4 cup of self raising flour
1/4 cup milk; extra if needed
1 heaped tablespoon marmalade
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Using hand held electric beaters, mix together the butter, sugar and orange rind. Beat till pale and smooth. Add egg; mix till well combined. Add sifted flour and the milk. Fold through with a spatula then mix for a minute with the beaters.
Spoon into a mini muffin tray; I needed two because this quantity made 16.
Bake in a preheated oven for 10 - 12 minutes. Take out when baked; place onto a rack.
Spoon some of the hot syrup over each cake. I made the syrup when the cakes were baking. It's so easy; simply put the orange marmalade and orange juice into a small saucepan. Heat gently; stir; simmer for a couple of minutes. Keep hot. It is very tangy and not too sweet. If you prefer a sweeter syrup then add a teaspoon of sugar with the marmalade and juice before simmering.
I didn't have the patience to beat some cream so I ate mine with pouring cream. Warm, moist, tangy and comforting.
Yummo. I feel better now.
END OF PART THREE.