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Spontaneous travel

I’ve been on hol­i­day for most of the last week. One of my broth­ers in Adelaide was get­ting mar­ried in a beach-front cere­mony in the small town of Port Rickaby, a few hours drive west of Adelaide. I took some extra time off work, because I wanted a hol­i­day, and wound up spend­ing a couple of days in Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is a very very strange place, and well worth a visit. The opal industry is fas­cin­at­ing. I might write some more about Coober Pedy, not just because I like say­ing Coober Pedy. But the point of this post is a very brief rant about spon­tan­eous traveling.

I flew out of Sydney on Tues­day even­ing. On Tues­day morn­ing I real­ised I should prob­ably think of some­thing to do with my hire car and my three bliss­ful days of noth­ing before I had to be at Rickaby, so spent some time with google maps. Even­tu­ally picked Coober Pedy because:

  • I’d never really been to cent­ral Aus­tralia before. Seen some bits of desert while tool­ing around in WA, but not true outback.
  • My vague recol­lec­tion was that it was a pretty inter­est­ing place.
  • I like say­ing Coober Pedy.
  • It was about as far away from any­where I’ve been before, that I could reas­on­ably get to in the time I had.

I tried explain­ing this to a bloke I met in the pub in Coober Pedy. He was abso­lutely amazed, and couldn’t quite com­pre­hend that some­body would just, on the spur of the moment, get in a car and spend ten hours driv­ing to Coober Pedy, just because.

Last year I went to Cowra because on a Fri­day morn­ing I thought “hrmn, I want to go some­where this week­end, where should I go?”, and pick­ing Cowra because I hadn’t traveled West of Sydney much, and Cowra seemed about as far as I could reas­on­ably drive on a Fri­day night. I got there and had a con­ver­sa­tion with a bloke in a pub that went some­thing like:
“So if you’re from Sydney, what are you doing out here? Work?“
”*shrug* Just hav­ing a look around. Wanted to get out of town for a week­end, and wound up here.“
”…bull­shit.“
Incid­ent­ally, the Japan­ese garden at Cowra is the largest in the south­ern hemi­sphere, and abso­lutely amazing.

By the time I’d got­ten to Taralga six months ago, I’d given up and just told people that I was on my way to Yass but had to go via Bathurst because *mumble*mumble*. That seemed like a much more real­istic explan­a­tion than want­ing to see more of inland NSW (and telling them I’d taken a two-door hatch along Wombeyan Caves Road would have prob­ably been pretty damn embarrassing).

What’s the big deal? Do people not just travel for the hell of it any more? Maybe they think it only counts if you’re going over­seas? Have we for­got­ten how much of the new and excit­ing is sit­ting right at our door­step (and if not there, def­in­itely a two hour flight and ten hour drive from it)? Maybe small town inhab­it­ants just don’t believe their par­tic­u­lar small town is worth vis­it­ing (I know I still think this about Yass).

When was the last time you threw the fig­ur­at­ive dart at a map?

Can I fit the words “Coober Pedy” in to this post one more time?