In the rain, I flew to Adelaide on the Wednesday (29th Nov) after the Gabba test. I was wet more or less through, and grateful for the pilot announcing that the weather in Adelaide was hot – 35 degrees or so. And we all enjoyed the cabin crew announcing, as we landed ‘if you’re home, welcome back, and if you’re here for the cricket, hope you enjoy the Aussie win’.
Less enjoyable was the queue at the gate to get cabin luggage weighed. Tigerair have a 7kg limit, and I knew I was over it. Luckily, I’d already paid the extra to go up to 12kg, so my 10.2 was just pleasing. Down from the 11.5 before my Singapore flight, surely I can get down to 7 by the time I fly to NZ? If not, there are some clothes which may not make the trip. The rumour in the queue from frequent flyers is that Tigerair actually give you 3kg grace, which I suppose allows for the ‘right, watch me while I wear everything I can’ factor and seems sensible, but I didn’t hear that from a member of staff.
On the plane the tall man next to me had his laptop out and I glanced across – cricket stats, word open on an article, Guardian website… hmm, clearly a journalist, possibly an OBOer? I kept sneaking a look as he worked, then eventually realised that it would tell me his name when he opened the case after takeoff. Not only was he an OBOer, but he was the OBOer I’d written to and from whom I’d got my first mention on the coverage. I introduced myself when he returned (from writing a piece with Geoff Lemon, it turned out) and wasn’t working any more chatted at the end and swapped numbers, though it’s unlikely I’ll get to the pub in Adelaide, for reasons that will become clear.
I landed at 5pm and the sky was cloudy. Walking out of the airport, the air-conditioning holds on to you for a while, such that I was just thinking ‘so where’s this temp…’ when it finally hit me, half way across the concourse. No sun, early evening, a big dry heat, cor, that’s different. I found my Adelaide metrocard still had a balance, rode the bus to the city centre, wandered to the railway station, found the rail replacement service (don’t worry if you’re coming to Adelaide later and heading North – work finished on the 5th December) and hopped off at Elizabeth.
Now. I’d looked on the map when booking an AirBnB, and spotted several stations nearish. A bit of a walk, but I can walk or run a distance, and a combination of run and train would give me a choice of parkruns. I also checked for local buses and figured Elizabeth was a good choice – the 900 bus would take me to the end of a long road, and I could walk the rest.
I realised my mistake immediately. Yes, there’s a bus, but it is one a day, and that’s in the morning (with another one doing the return, guess it’s based around a school/working day). It was around 7 by now, and I didn’t really fancy waiting 12 hours. Google maps had told me the timing – yes, sure, hop on the train in the evening, then the bus in the morning – but I’d only looked at the route, planning my walk.
Other stations were nearer, but I also wasn’t going to wait for the occasional train – they go every half hour till 8, but I hadn’t checked that then. So, off on a walk, then. I did check the Uber app – downloaded but not yet used – but figured I would go till the fare was under $10.
As you can see from the map, there are a couple of stations further North, Womma and Broadmeadows. The latter is the best, from there I could have intersected with the route I took and cut it down to 4km. Further North is another station which goes over the freeway North of MacDonald Park.
“We call that 10k”
I didn’t take any of those. A beautiful sunset hit as I took the first left turn. By the time I was halfway along the long Womma Road, it was getting dark. As dogs barked and I ran out of pavement, I wondered about snakes. It was at roughly this time that I started jogging, glad to know and motivated by the weight of my bag. Finally, I reached the roundabout, spotting a sign that said ‘No pedestrians or cyclists beyond this point’. A bit shaken by now, I turned onto the Stuart o’Grady bikeway which presented itself to my right. And that’s why I get to the roundabout and then head along, back on myself. It was pleasant, though, with dim blue lights just above head height (to assure you you’re on the tarmac, without distracting drivers on the freeway), a lovely tarmac surface and no more worries about snakes. Any minute now, I thought, there’ll be a bridge. Or an underpass.
There wasn’t, though. That’s why I take a sudden left – there was a clear gap in the fence, and the freeway wasn’t that busy. I crossed in the dark, figuring I’d climb a fence if I had to, but there’s a hole in the fence. I reached my hosts at 9.15, just as they were starting to worry. Luckily, I have found the most hospitable AirBnB in South Australia. They had waited till about 8, then decided they had better eat without me, but food was waiting. I settled in to a reclining chair as Penny started one of several stories of her and Brian’s life. I was sweaty, but they didn’t mind, and I was so pleased to be in and fed that I relaxed into conversation. They were suitably impressed with my walk – Google says 8.9km from Elizabeth, but ‘we call that 10k’, and I probably did a bit more than that.
They are a fascinating pair. Both ‘£10 Poms’ who came over when migration was at a high point, and have been here ever since, married for 40 years. They currently run the Adelaide Pigeon club, but have also run a couple of plant nurseries, which started when they visited one to stock the shop they’d just rented and ended up buying it, a post round each (which here seems like an individual franchise, in which you sort and deliver everything for your area), a couple of land-trains for rent, along with successful pigeon breeding and 15 years as a seamstress. They have some stories. And if you stay here, you will hear them all.
I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, but it didn’t matter. Nothing I had to do, so I did little more than run or walk to the nearest town, Angle Vale over the next couple of days.
The next day dawned warm and sunny, but the weather soon turned; rain in the afternoon settled in, and everything cooled right down and clouded over, becoming just like an ordinary English summer, right in time for the cricket.