Wine & Whinge

Grapes from a South Australian Vineyard

With several famous wine regions (the Barossa, Coonawarra & McLaren Vale, to name a few – all three of which we visited), no trip to South Australia is complete without stopping by a few wineries. One of my favorites was Penny’s Hill, where we decided to indulge in a bottle of sparkling shiraz – so good. Now while I enjoy the occasional glass of wine I’m hardly a connoisseur, so when it came time to choose what we wanted to sample Adam & Heather made most of our selections. I tried to appreciate the fruity, chocolatey and/or nutty qualities our hosts described, but my main concern was simply to try to figure out what types of wines I enjoy most. I used to think I preferred merlots & cabernets above all else, but the more wines I’ve tasted the more I’m starting to realize that I actually prefer the lighter white wines over the heavier reds – probably because the reds tend to make me blush after a couple of sips & by the time I’ve had half a glass I’m already feeling sleepy. 0:-) Also, I now know that I absolutely LOVE anything sparking (no matter the type, or so it seems) – chardonnays, rieslings & of course the sparkling shiraz I mentioned above. Not at all what I would have expected since I can’t stand Champagne – but maybe that’s a different thing entirely? I guess I still have a lot to learn before I earn the title of sommelier.

My pizza from Bremerton Winery - Red onion with chili chutney & brie; Just don't ask me what type of wine to pair with it!

So . . . right about now you must be thinking we really lived it up in South Australia, wining & dining our way through the state – well, not so fast. Don’t forget that we’re camping. Enter mosquitos (affectionately known here as “mozzies”); crickets; flies & then still more crickets, but this time they can jump as high as your knees. Now imagine these jumping crickets (dozens of them) in your toilet stall, where your vulnerable position suddenly enables the little critters to jump as high as – well, you get the picture.

And thus begins my first lesson in how to “wee in the bush.”

Something I’ve learned about myself on this trip – if there’s no toilet nearby, I can (& will) “hold it” assuming there’s a reasonable chance of finding a toilet in the near future . . . On the other hand, if that toilet is infested with jumping crickets, well, now you know where to find me. It’s time to turn that wine into whine, or as they say in Australia, whinge.

What to do when nature calls in the middle of the Outback?!

Now I know this must seem a bit odd – why does a 31-year-old need a lesson on how to wee in the bush? But it’s not as easy as it sounds, at least not for me! 😦 (See – whinging already & I’m only just beginning my story.) So I enlisted the help of my more experienced friend, Heather, to try to explain how I should position myself so as to ensure I actually did wee in the bush (as opposed to weeing on my pants, my legs, my sneakers, etc., etc.) Surprisingly my first stab at it wasn’t too bad, but I told myself I wouldn’t make a habit of it – after all, why push my luck? Unfortunately fate would ensure I had one more chance to wee in the bush during the course of our two month camping trip & this time it would not go quite so smoothly: I forgot the most basic rule (what, you didn’t know there were rules?), which is to spread your feet out to the sides, not to the front. Silly me.

Why is this so important, you ask? Well, as a result of my rookie mistake I had very little space in which to maneuver without running the risk of toppling over. I’m still not sure how I summoned the bladder control, but somehow in my urgent state I managed to stop & start several times as I tried to reposition myself according to the wind. I can still see the ants below me running for their lives, scurrying in every direction to avoid my stream . . . oh, the memories!

After what seemed like forever, my bladder was finally empty; Ah, sweet relief. Next it was Heather’s turn & I was convinced she would have just as much difficulty as I had – surely it was the wind that was the problem, not me! Well, doesn’t Little Miss Girl Scout of the Year prance out of the bush looking ever so triumphant: “I even found a twig to hold the toilet paper,” she says. Really, Heather? So this is what it must be like to go on holiday in the Outback with Martha Stewart. I always wondered.

What are friends for?

All this drama & I haven’t even mentioned the plague of locusts (flying crickets!!) that rained upon our windscreen (Aussie term for windshield) somewhere over South Australia. One half-dead one even managed to weasel his way into the back of the van, right where I was sitting of course (why is it that they always seem to know where to find me?) Lucky for me when I screamed & squealed Adam pulled over & Heather quickly hopped out & came to my rescue (love you, girl!) I also haven’t yet mentioned the mice that made their home in our van & feasted upon our precious food, leaving us at wit’s end. By this point we’d pretty much all had enough. The whinging had become a regular event & one of us would often cry out (while swatting away at some type of pest, of course): “I’m DONE!”

Then decision time came. We had already spent two weeks in Tasmania, we had driven the Great Ocean Road & visited part of South Australia; the road ahead seemed so far – should we turn back now or forge on to Western Australia?

Still So Far to Go . . . Distances (in kilometers, of course!) from Eucla, Western Australia (just over the border from South Australia) to various points in Oz. Our ultimate destination would be Perth.

None of us could really form a strong opinion at first, but after sleeping on it the three of us agreed that we had to go all the way. Heather & I had never been to WA & it has been one of her goals to see all eight Australian states & territories. As of this writing I’ve already been to five: New South Wales (on my first trip to Australia to visit Heather in September/October 2010), Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia & Western Australia & I now hope to reach that same goal before my year is up: only the Northern Territory (which I’ll see next week!), Queensland & the Australian Capital Territory to go!

As I prepare for my upcoming tour from Adelaide to Alice Springs (April 15-21; yes, I know I’m very behind on my blog!), I’ve added insect repellant to my shopping list & tried not to think too much about all the horrible creatures that thrive in the Outback. Or about the fact that I will no longer have a tent for shelter since Aussies have this crazy tradition of sleeping in a swag under the stars. Yeah, they add the “under the stars” crap to try to distract you from the fact that sleeping out in the open makes you completely vulnerable to all of the above-mentioned horrible creatures (& many more even more horrible creatures that I don’t even want to mention) . . . yeah, let’s just not even think about that. 😉

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24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. camille
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 12:43:02

    I guess you really DO learn something new every day! Thank goodness for Martha Stewart of the Outback (aka – Heather) – love the term! What an adventurer – after all that are you’re still going to explore more in the Northern Territory of the Outback. Good luck with that – remember all you’ve learned – and the toilet paper! Love Mom

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 12, 2011 @ 08:08:00

      I’m hoping the tour company provides the toilet paper, but we’ll see about that! Actually, I really hope there are plenty of toilets along the way & my days of weeing in the bush are over. 😉

      Reply

  2. Bill Rudd
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 13:17:23

    Ahhh. The trials and tribulations of being a Girl Scout down under. Thanks for a great post Nicole. Keep me entertained throughout! Heather is a great friend, isn’t she? She loves having you there. Cheers!

    Reply

  3. Linda
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 13:40:57

    Nicole, I laughed until I had tears…Great blog, I loved it!!! I so enjoyed how you described your ‘weeing’ sessions.

    Reply

  4. Rebecca
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 21:48:50

    I did that same tour a few years back, totally awesome!!! I loved sleeping outside and swags are totally comfortable. My group bunched together at night and then complained about the snorers later, while I took my swag as far away from everyone as possible and had awesome nights.

    Don’t forget your hat with fly screen! Saved me from doing the “Aussie wave” for 7 days straight. You’ll look like a nerd. Get used to it.

    Don’t let the dingos scare you! Unless you have food, they are harmless.

    Have a great time!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 12, 2011 @ 08:14:08

      Hat with fly screen! – I hadn’t heard of that yet – I guess I have more shopping to do! I know what you mean about the Aussie wave – we definitely had some of those experiences where the bugs just would not leave us alone, even for a minute.

      Reply

  5. Aunt Penny
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 22:44:39

    Niki, this blog of yours is hilarious. Too funny!!! The price you have to pay for traveling on a budget.

    Reply

  6. Auntie Marilyn
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 23:29:16

    You had me laughing so hard I had to ude the facilities, I at least have facilities LOL

    Reply

  7. Uncle Terry & his wife
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 00:50:37

    As I am a visual person, I still can’t get past the “knee high jumping crickets” in the toilet stall. I’d “wee” in the bushes ALL the time. So Niki, you really spread your legs FORWARD instead of SIDEWAYS? An easy way to remember which way to squat, and I don’t tell this to just anyone, is the SAME way that you “wee” on any toilet. Imagine going on the toilet and putting one foot in front of the other. You just can’t. So, see? Easy. But, I must admit, I had a chuckle thinking about you practicing your kegels while you figured out the right position.
    Now, my advice for sleeping under the stars……….thick underpants! Good luck and have fun!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 12, 2011 @ 08:31:10

      Hahaha, I thought you would enjoy this post! Thanks for the advice, I’ll have to remember that for next time – aren’t you just so smart?! 😉

      Reply

  8. James Cole - Australian Landscape Photography
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 02:01:46

    Funny blog Nicole.
    Make sure you get the Tropical Strength roll-on Aeroguard insect repellant. I found this to be the strongest and kept all the bugs at a distant.

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 12, 2011 @ 08:34:40

      Oh goodness, I’m getting more & more nervous about the insects & dingoes & all the other beasts I’ll probably encounter on my tour – YIKES! 😦 I will definitely look for the Aeroguard – thanks for the tip!

      Reply

  9. Heather
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 07:55:50

    Nicole, you cracked me up so much in this post. Like everyone said, I nearly wet myself.

    I can’t believe it, but tonight is probably the last night Adam and I have on the road. Want to get PH back to Sydney before we have more dramas.

    Rock the outback!!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 12, 2011 @ 08:37:07

      Hey Heather! (or should I say Martha? – LOL)

      I couldn’t have survived camping without you! Don’t know what I’m going to do now that you’ll be leaving Oz soon. 😦 Safe travels back to Sydney & eventually back home. Please, no more dramas with Paul Heinz!!

      Reply

  10. Margaret
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 16:45:42

    Niki, I love following your adventures through your blog, and this entry in particular had me laughing out loud. (Which attracted some strange looks from the other people in line nearby.) It sounds like an amazing experience and I can’t wait for your next post!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      Apr 13, 2011 @ 08:27:51

      Thanks Margaret! I know what you mean – I was cracking myself up as I was writing it & I think the people around me in the hostel were wondering what I was up to! 0:-)

      Reply

  11. Tom Beall-Schwab
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 03:49:44

    Hey Niki, I’m glad you’re having a blast seeing Australia, like your mom says, don’t forget the toilet paper!

    Reply

  12. Matt
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 19:06:28

    Hey Niki,

    Erin and I were dying reading this lol. Love you, glad you’re having lots of adventures

    Reply

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WA = Western Australia; NT = Northern Territory; SA = South Australia; QLD = Queensland; NSW = New South Wales; ACT = Australian Capital Territory; VIC = Victoria; TAS = Tasmania

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