Home for the holidays


Days since departure: 56

Km travelled: 8204 in the Jeep, then rescue.

WINS: 

  • Drank a lot of good wine with a lot of very cool people in Adelaide, and got to hang out with my nephew (aka cousin once removed?) Miles the Truck Hero
  • Found Buzti a new home with Steve the mechanic
  • The Giant Koala tourist shop has re-opened. Actually I don’t know if that gets to be a win. More a curiosity?

LOSSES

  • Turns out Horsham has a new airforce… Made entirely of mosquitos which are plotting to kill me
  • Obviously the death of Buzti has brought a preemptive end to the road trip part of the tour

So. If you’ve been playing along at home you will know my beloved Jeep Buzti Laroo was sold to a wrecker in Adelaide and I am now sans vehicle.

Which means this is no longer a blog about a girl on a road trip. It’s now a blog about a girl who is currently staying with her parents because she has no car.

The latter is somewhat less interesting and the bits that are interesting can’t really be written about without causing some potential conflict within the family unit so I had to do a bit of soul searching on whether to continue writing.

I have come to the conclusion that I will, because I’m still touring around. I have little to write about Adelaide as staying with family and friends is more an experience for me and not something I wish to write about, but now I’m in my home town pretending to be a tourist.

And it’s brilliant.

So, should you find yourself stranded in the Wimmera with access to a small two-door red BMW (the penchant for unusual two-door cars is apparently genetic, if my mother’s vehicle is anything to go by) here are some things to do:

1. Leave an offering for our local God, the Giant Koala.


Not unlike the Sphinx things in never ending story, the Giant Koala has LAZER EYES and will burn you to an untimely gory death and then dance around your remains if you do not humbly approach and make some sort of offering.


I offered it this small mark of respect in the form of a haiku:

Big things like you, Koala

Are many and strange

 The galah was more lame, though

The eyes did glow red at first, but upon mentioning the lameness of the Giant Galah in Kimba, the Koala let us pass. It was a close thing though. I’m told offerings of cassette tapes (particularly Creedance Clearwater Revival), cat food and interpretive dance will ensure safe passage.

Oh, this is the Galah. I don’t know if it also demands offerings from its locals like the Koala does, but it watched me pass without reaction:


2. J-Ward and Aradale in Ararat.


So J-Ward was a prison for the criminally insane in Victoria for more than 100 years. And for more than 100 years, it was a ‘temporary measure’ which consecutive Governments condemned as inhumane but never actually got around to closing.

It is a part of the Aradale Mental Asylum (as it was) but is not in the same geographical complex: J-Ward was built during the gold rush as an actual normal prison, but the gold rush petered out before they had enough prisoners to fill it. Hence it was only ever half finished and it became a home for the criminally insane.

Well, *possibly* criminally insane because a few punters refused to be tested for sanity because if they were found sane, they would have been tried and then put to death for the crimes they committed. Loophole.


It was an interesting two-hour tour and reflection on the totally screwed up things that people have done to each other over the centuries…

…and how little treatment there actually was for mental health conditions (and in some cases, continues to be)


I particularly wanted to do this tour as I had listened to a Radio National podcast about a guy called Dr John Cade who discovered Lithium could be used as a mood stabiliser, subsequently changing psychiatry forever. Dr Cade was born in Horsham, and has the same birth date as my mother. I dig his style. I don’t know if he ever lived or worked at Aradale or J-Ward, but his influence definitely changed the lives of many patients (they called them inmates) there.


Aradale also offers a ghost tour and I might go on it, haven’t decided yet. Given it’s Halloween this weekend both tours (they do Friday and Saturday) are booked out with only one spot left so I should decide soon I guess.

3. Catch up with Brigitte Koch (née Muir) the first Australian to complete the seven peaks on seven continents and first Australian woman to climb Everest.


Well, OK, disclaimer: I went to Nepal in 2011 with Brigitte and we became good friends and have stayed in touch since, so it’s probably not something most people can do: just turn up and demand coffee, which is what I did.

However Brigitte lives in Natimuk near the foot of Australia’s climbing Mecca, Mount Arapiles. The street Brigitte lives on is a bit of a climbers row – everyone there is a rock climber of some description. Some work as climbing guides and will help you get out and up the mountain safely. It’s spectacular.

Her home is full of hints about her amazing history at the forefront of the global climbing community. More recently Brigitte has worked in community development in her beloved Lura in Nepal and has been putting together a documentary. 

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Hi Peta. So sorry to hear about your little car. Dare I ask, what’s happened to the trailer? And what’s Zeus up to? Cheers. Diane

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