Last night we headed north of Adelaide with good friends Peter and Michele to begin our trip to the Southern Flinders Ranges — or as Peter coined it, the “2012 Cusp of the Outback Tour.” Our first stop was Quorn so that we could do the 7 a.m. breakfast tour at the Pichi Richi Camel farm. We’d all be looking forward to this for weeks, an hour-long camel ride the first thing in the morning followed by breakfast over an open fire, complete with damper and billy tea. So we woke with great anticipation this morning. I wandered around town in the breaking light this morning taking photos while June was getting ready and then at 6:30 am we met Peter and Michele at the car and headed off to the camel farm. En route we came across a gate closed across the track, and knowing the rules of the outback, I got out to open the gate, let Peter through, and then closed it again behind us. We arrived at the camel farm at the appointed time of 6:45 am and there were no other cars around. “You beaut — we might have this tour to ourselves,” we said to ourselves. The office was open so we wandered in — and it looked pretty rough. Stuff was piled up all over the desk and it looked like the computer there hadn’t been used anytime recently. Peter then drew my attention to the brochure rack — the leaflets in the holders were all sagging over and there cobwebs everywhere. Evidently a no-frills operation.7 a.m. came and there was still no sign of anyone. We milled around inside and outside of the office wondering what to do now. Then we heard the raised voice of a woman barking indiscernible instructions to someone. I said to Peter, “Uh oh, our camel driver might not be in a good mood when he gets here!” More minutes pass and still no-one shows. By this stage we were all outside wondering “now what?”, when a woman appears in the garden next the office watering the plants. She was clearly surprised to see us – “Can I help you?” We told we were there for the camel tour, to which she asked “Which one?” Since we were there at 7 a.m., I would have thought that was obvious, but Peter said “the breakfast tour.” She then apologized and explained that husband thought yesterday’s tour was the last one, so he headed to Alice Springs last night for a few days to get more camels. Peter said he had a confirmation email for the tour in the car, which the woman said she didn’t doubt, but as there was no-one around who give the tour and we were only in Quorn today, we were at a stalemate. So with great disappointment, we climbed back into the car and headed back to Quorn to have breakfast at the Austral Hotel, where we were staying. (Which was an experience in itself. Breakfast was a toast-and-cereal help-yourself deal in a backroom off the kitchen, and all of the milk, juice, jams etc were all in their original bottles and jars inside a regular domestic refrigerator — it was like being at someone’s house.) But I digress. On the way back from the camel farm we went back through the same gate, and with the warm morning sun shining I quickly grabbed this first shot of the red dirt country (and a partial self portrait as it turns out!).
Wednesday, November 7