Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hot things not seen in the Riverland

This is my last piece on our holiday in the Riverland, cross my heart and hope to eat a big pumpkin stuffed with broad beans and spam.

As discussed in my two previous posts - and - the weather ensured that we three plus dog had as little desire or energy humanly possible to see or do anything that wasn't related to swimming, drinking, resting and fanning ourselves.

Sadly there were a few things that I would have liked to have done or visited if the mercury had not risen to 44C plus on every single bloody day we were there. Banrock Station winery, for instance. Whilst yes, we had technically visited, the 'wetlands walks' were entirely out of my six year old's reach and we had to take her back to the wine tasting building to recuperate. Hence, any birdlife, animal species or fascinating wetlands were only seen via a shimmering heat haze viewed through a dusty winery window. The thought of tasting any warm red wine on a blistering day was out of the question, but I would have sold my left arse cheek for a bucket of ice. Annoyingly the lady behind the counter studiously ignored Love Chunks and myself despite our being accompanied by a heat-stressed, red-faced, weeping child who couldn't hold her own head up. A future visit might involve a hearty walk on a winter's day through the wetlands and the insertion of an empty sparkling shiraz bottle up a certain cellar door person's rectum.....

In addition, we also managed to visit the Barmera drive-in to give Sapphire the experience of seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire outdoors accompanied by the non-dolby, un-surround sound of our car's tinny FM radio. I suspect however that the night was somewhat diminished by eating popcorn cooler than the canteen that made it and sharing a kitkat that oozed out of its packet directly on to the ground as soon as it was opened. The wretched blowflies hadn't retired to their maggoty beds as would be expected by 9pm, but instead buzzed around us, smug in their knowledge that our car was still too hot to sit cooped up in for three hours. Maybe one day we'll see another movie on a balmy night without insect guests and with foods at the normal temperatures.

Perhaps too, Monash Adventure Playground will revert to the life threatening and thrilling experience that I as a child knew it. On our visit it was no more exciting than a large council playground with BBQ facilities. Where was the death defying spinning/rolling funnel thingy? The clattery metal rollercoaster, the collar bone-crunching flying fox? What about those huge giraffes - one that my Dad put my Mum on and left her there stranded, laughing and rocking away for what seemed like hours - that was worth the (free) entrance fee alone! Where was the coccyx-cracking bumpy slide and those death defying swing ropes? The rust, for added drama and visual stimulation?

The signs near the wooden maze (which looked more like a collection of reject backyard fence sheets to me) told us that the welded metal creations of the 1970s were taken down in 1992 due to concerns about legal action and public liability threats. What a damn shame - our daughter will miss out on the varied and humorous opportunities to see some other kids knock their teeth out on the gigantic see saws or fall off the dizzying loops of the slippery dip.

Despite my rants, there were lots of things that we didn't even get a chance to visit, let alone criticise. I'm sure that 'Rocky's Country Music Hall of Fame' was lamenting our non-attendance. Hell, if anything's going to get me knocking on their door, then a display of concrete guitars with handprints of Aussie country music entertainers is it. Not to mention the nearby township of Cobdogla. Sounds more like a euphemism for a man's goolies, doesn't it: "Poor chap, he was hit straight in the cobdoglas." Said place is host to the sensational sounding 'Cobdogla Irrigation and Steam Museum', which apparently boasts the only working Humphrey pump in the world. Wow, let's breathe in deeply for a second to take all that in. A museum of irrigation? A Humphrey pump?? I knew that H.B. Bear had been made redundant by Channel nine, but to stoop as low as this....? It's very sad.

How is this for shocking - we couldn't find the Big Orange. That's right, the Big Orange. It was not mentioned in any of the brochures about the region from the Tourism Office and there was only one sun-scorched sign that had been bent in half. Where the hell was it? I recall last visiting it with my family in about 1979, and commented that it really should have been called 'The Big Pink' because the sun had faded the orange paint so markedly. Although perhaps with the benefit of more adult reflection now, that name may have attracted a rather different kind of tourist entirely.

And finally, the Pelican Point nudist camp on the other side of Lake Bonney was also overlooked by us. Even though it was indeed made an attractive proposition by the photo of the sixty-something owner standing starkers near the entrance sign, we gave it a miss. It was hard enough slapping on enough Factor 30+ sunscreen on our backs without having to worry about the front of our bums as well.


Anonymous said...

I've just read your articles on your visit to the Riverland. Being a former Riverlander and also descendant of the Brand family I must say I'm quite disappointed and doubt that I would be the only 'Brand' insulted by your comments. You should be proud of you heritage in the Riverland. I have just moved to Darwin and have to say the heat in the Riverland is nothing compared to what we have up here. If that doesn't suit those city Yuppies who cant live without an air con, thats fine. Dont come back. With that kind of attitude I dont think anyone would really give a crap.

Kath Lockett said...

Great to see that you 'get' humour, irony and love shown via self-deprecation - obviously you're on the 'fun side' of the Brand family....