Kim M Horwood
"You Went Beach Driving Again??"
Firstly, refer to blog 28-September-2020 to understand why ‘concerned-ex-co-worker-and-friend’ asked, ‘You went beach driving again??’
Secondly, we went beach driving again.
This time, dear old Migaloo the Pajero had been replaced by an LDV, which is weirdly the initials of my siblings. Potentially a bad omen, especially if I don’t want a car I’m constantly bickering with.
Migaloo has retired to a hippy commune in Coolum, where she now attends interpretive joyride classes, brake drumming workshops, and open-mic emission nights, purging how she was wronged, in clouds of poetic black smoke.
For Father’s Day this year, Mr Ed was gifted the Fraser Island uniform – long-sleeved BCF fishing shirts, with ‘Barramundi’ and ‘Savage Gear’ in bold across his belly. If you don’t know, one of the ‘Savage Gear’ slogans is, for those who dare to catch bigger fish. A dare is a dare, and Mr Ed was officially dared. I think there should be BCF shirts with slogans like, for those who dare to cook every night, or for those who dare to rub her feet.
Perhaps that’s a campaign you could think about Mr BCF?
Although it had been a whole year since our feet touched the sands of K’gari, it was still beautiful, wild, and terrifying. During those twelve months, it had also been devastated by bush fires and returned to its traditional name.
It wasn’t just K’gari that had seen change. Mr Ed and I had had some monumental lifestyle changes. Even bigger than when we bought the new bed with inbuilt reading lights last year, and bigger still than the year we bought the recliner chair, then I broke my ankle, so I bags-ed it.
Since our last epic adventure, we’d bought a tent, a portable fridge, and a new four-be; I’d changed employers after 126 years of service (well, maybe not quite that long); and Mr Ed had a few teensy medical issues. He had a teensy heart attack, which stopped his teensy kidneys from working, so he started a teensy spot of dialysis. Dialysis is like a water filter, only it filters blood, but not like an Instagram filter which would only give him twinkly stars or bunny ears.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as ‘holiday dialysis’. The Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital didn’t want to believe it existed either. No, the RBWH thinks holiday dialysis is mythical, like a unicorn. They had so little belief in holiday dialysis, that instead of faxing the application Mr Ed spent 3 days and 276 swear words to complete; they lost it. (Please Note: All swear words were muttered and did not appear in the application.)
Luckily, the lovely Bundaberg Hospital had enormous faith in unicorns and could fit him in at short notice!
Bundy Hospital was filled with ‘Florence Nightingales’, and greeted Mr Ed with a warm meal, warm blanky, and warm hearts. If Bundy were the 90s show ‘Let the Blood Run Free’, it would be filled with sweet Nurse Effie’s and ever-competent, Nurse Pam’s. But RBWH is filled with Matron Dorothy’s, who are a bit evil and a tad spiteful due to their enlarged Hate Cortex manifested by Qld Health, and not really their fault. If Bundy were closer to Bris-Vegas, Mr Ed would go there for dialysis all the time! Afterall, Mr Ed might be a unicorn to some, but he does exist.
K’gari greeted us much the same as Bundy – warm sand, warm sun, and warm spirit. K’gari does that – it opens its arms and welcomes you, like a spider welcomes a fly. If you make it out alive, you risk falling victim to her beauty and charm, developing an emotional bond that leaves you incapable of escaping her punishment.
Speaking of spiders, they are still there in their hairy hundreds, lurking under tents, tables, and toilets, waiting intently to get their tentacles on me. I was a big girl this time – I used the wee-bucket in my tent more often, so I didn’t have to visit their toilet lair. Don’t judge me.
Despite going in pairs to the showers so my sister could save me, I came across a hairy one behind my shower door one night. I whacked it so hard with my thong, the cubicle walls shuddered all the way to the iron roof. It was either him or me, and I was making sure that 10cent-demon was not about to morph into a small car before my eyes. Sorry Mother Nature, but I left my copy of the Spiderwick Chronicles at home and had zero instructions on how to manage beasts. With Arthur Spiderwick’s voice in my head saying, ‘there are fantastical creatures living among us’, another voice was nagging at me, ‘IT’S MAMA IS WATCHING YOU’. Well, my Mama told me to name that voice and tell her to shut up.
‘Shut ya gob Darlene! I’m fighting an arachno-apocalypse here!’
My showers were conducted at lightning speed because I had to keep one eye open, so hair-washing was out. Day 3 I had barbed-wire bristles, the consistency of straw fairy-floss – a condition my sister called, ‘island-hair’. She also had symptoms. Despite having washed, blow-dried, and straightened the day before we left, K’gari had its own agenda and hair-death was imminent.
Our quick-trip from K’gari to Bundaberg was not the “Driving-Miss-Daisy” I thought it would be. An hour into our journey to the barge, Mr Ed pulled over so I could take a sand-wee and we got stuck deep in soft sand. I flagged down a couple in a trusty old Hilux. The old guy frowned at our back wheels that were in sand up to the wheel nuts, and asked, ‘Is it in four-wheel-drive mate?’ Which is when Mr Ed realised he’d put it into two-wheel drive on the hard sand, so the LDV would stop beeping when he hit 80km/hour.
‘Yeh,’ the old guy scoffed, ‘these new cars, they’ve got these push-buttons.’
‘Thanks mate,’ Mr Ed raised his hand and grinned. In a moment of blind idiocy, we had become those people, the clueless amateurs, the ones we sometimes complained about.
By the time we made it to Maryborough, Mr Ed had forgotten the embarrassment of ‘is it in four-wheel-drive mate?’ and was so engrossed in sharing all the Maryborough ‘trivia’ in his brain, which turned out to be quite a lot, that he missed the turn.
Never fear, I had Google maps!
But Google maps sent us down an eerily deserted dirt road – the perfect place for a serial killer to dump our bodies. We were expecting to be ambushed by bushrangers in metal masks brandishing flintlock muskets.
While Mr Ed celebrated making it out of ‘Wolf Creek’ alive by having his blood cleaned in Bundy, I spent the afternoon polluting mine.
I found the Kalki Moon Gin distillery. Okay, maybe I didn’t just ‘find’ Kalki Moon, I might have put it into Google maps. After tastings at the bar, I bought three cartons of Gin Gin Mule (not all for me) and a bottle of Pink Gin Liqueur; then I was ready to hit Sugarland Shoppingtown, which sounds like an alias for Willy Wonka’s factory, but it had everything I needed – K-Mart and coffee.
Fortunately, I had a unicorn who needed holiday dialysis, so staying in a Bundy motel overnight, was like a health spa for my hair. As a big sister, it was my civic duty to send photos of me blow-drying my hair so she would remember what a hairdryer looked like.
Kalki Moon Gin wasn’t my only holiday ‘find’.
Back on K’gari, Mr Ed was fishing the shores of Waddy Point, when I found what I thought were jelly-fish balls. Yes, I did think an atrocity had taken place, and a whole smack of jellyfish had been ‘fixed’.
It turned out, no jellyfish had lost their gonads – which is an actual for-real word when researching jellyfish baby-making.
They were the eggs of the Pomatomus saltatrix. No, it’s not a Harry Potter spell. It’s what the ‘Savage Gear’ guys and gals come to fish.
All tailor found north of Sydney, migrate along the east coast of Australia each year, to spawn in the waters off K’gari, near Indian Head and Waddy Point. I rescued some of the tailor eggs from the shore and returned them to the ocean, along with a Harry Potter spell I made up: Pomatomus saltatrix, expelliarmus protectus, a wish that the little tikes be protected from Savage Gear.
The day before our holiday ended, we were determined to conquer Ngkala Rocks, considering the track up and over those coffee rocks, is what stole the soul of Migaloo our Pajero last year. Ngkala was still a rock-throwing sand-beast, who ate 4WD’s for breakfast. But our new LDV T60 Pro stroked Ngkala’s ego and danced over its terrain with grace.
Before we knew it, we had entered the exosphere of Sandy Cape.
Sandy Cape is like the highlands of the moon, with mountainous dunes, a serene landscape of moon-rock oceans replaced by oceans of emerald-green. It was like an eraser tool replaced hills of vegetation with white sand, turning them into dunes.
In the smaller hills, my sister and I went for a sand-wee with our dingo-stick for protection. I joked about wielding it like a ninja, so the dingoes didn’t dare take us on, which clearly worked because 10 minutes later, Mr and Mrs Dingo appeared in our sand dune wee spot. Mrs Dingo may have had pups and was looking for food, way too close to our beach spot. My Dad became ‘Dingo Whisperer’ and gently directed her away from his own pups.
After saying our good-byes to Sandy Cape, our re-entry into K’gari’s orbit was a little scarier than the dingoes. My Captain (Mr Ed) had his instructions: Put the Starship Enterprise (aka. LDV) into 4-Low, drop your tyres to 10 psi, put her into first gear, switch off anti-slip, take it wide, hold her steady, then at the second turn, drive it like you stole it.
The first turn at the s-bend, the Captain took it wide, too wide. By the time the Starship Enterprise had entered the next turn, he was yelling, ‘I can’t hold her, she’s breaking up, SHE’S BREAKING UP!’
Of course, she wasn’t breaking up.
The LDV was just stuck. Up to the sidesteps. In soft sand.
So much sand, I had to push it from my door to get out. We radio-messaged the Star Crew, who went to work digging, max-traxing, and digging, before being hooked up and skull-dragged out by Uncle Neal’s Hilux.
The LDV had survived Ngkala Rocks; we made it out alive, a tad smarter and hopefully less afraid. As a bonus, I learnt some new swear words from Mr Ed.
Even though we’re grown-up now, earlier that day my sister dug the sand out from under the leg of my new folding chair, like we were still 12.
“I’m getting too old for your pranks,” I told her, “I could have broken a hip!” Mid-rant, she took a very unflattering photo of me and is now blackmailing me with it, so I have to be nice to her.
Some things never change.
But that’s the thing.
Of all the changes in our world, it’s the things that don’t change, that we treasure the most. Like siblings, sand, and tailor eggs... and the annual trip to K’gari.
[Huge thanks to Bundaberg Hospital, Golden Palms Motor Inn (aka, Health Spa for my hair), Kalki Moon Gin, and the traditional owners of K'gari, the Butchulla people, for sharing their island paradise.]