At a BBQ with friends recently, the conversation turned to what had prompted people to live in this part of the world. Most telling their stories were born and bred in WA, so had always known about the uniqueness of the Capes region, however our story was a little different.
As a 25 year old, living in Sydney, with three years secondary teaching under my belt, I had itchy feet and was keen to do a lap around the country with Viv. We made the decision only six months before leaving, with no savings, because at that stage life was all about spending money and having fun. So before leaving we had four jobs on the go to finance the trip. Full time teaching, early morning office cleaning, weekend nights as an usher at a cinema and weekend days painting houses. Like most Aussie travellers I was keen to drive the Nullarbor, but after flogging ourselves with work, Viv convinced me to put the car ( check out the HZ V8 Holden in the attached photo ) on the Indian Pacific to Perth, book a sleeper carriage and do it in comfort with day stops in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Once I got over my initial ambivalence about going by train, things improved remarkably. Left Sydney on the first night and straight into the club bar for drinks of course, meeting a wonderful array of people. Some were doing it tough and sitting all the way to Perth, so we felt just a little guilty heading off to the sleeper carriage late in the evening. Many people on this train had booked years in advance, with the America’s Cup in Perth being on their bucket list, though not a priority for us.
With a cruisy day in Melbourne it was back on the train next night, dining car for dinner, reacquaint in the club bar, then off to bed on the way to Adelaide. Very, very relaxing I had to admit. With no casinos in Sydney back in those days I was keen to hit the Adelaide casino to quench my appetite for ‘blackjack’. At 730 in the morning and dressed in casual travelling gear with thongs, I was refused admittance. Nothing a quick trip to Vinnies at 9am couldn’t fix though, all kitted out for $5 and the same security guard had to laugh when he now admitted me probably looking worse than I did earlier. With limited time, the croupier busted over ten times in a row, I increased the bet each time, and we left $400 richer, a significant amount back in 1987. As we headed across the Nullarbor later that night word was out that the America’s Cup could finish early and sure enough it was all over the next day, 4-nil to the Yanks and we hadn’t even reached Kalgoorlie. Still it was cause to celebrate, even if it was a loss, but by the time the train rolled into Kal the club bar had been drunk out, so some of us caught a taxi to the nearest hotel to restock for the home straight. It was all over bar the shouting in Freo by the time we arrived, but Margs was certainly going off as the overseas tourists all headed south. So the big plan to drive around Australia turned into a train trip, a 300km drive south and that was the end of that, but the start of something else!