HRH, on reading Wednesday’s post says, “You forgot to add that we saw a flood.”
He means a swollen river an hour before Moree. Due to heavy rain in Queensland this past ten days, low lying areas to the south of the state have also been affected.
“You also forgot to add that we saw a bush fire,” he says with the look that suggests I’ve been criminally negligent.
By that he means several patches of bush with blackened soil, I suspect due to “controlled burning”, a technique used, ironically, to prevent bush fires by burning off ground-level foliage.
Well, this is life with a Monarch for you. Good for him, I don’t aspire to being royal.
I awake with a glue ball in the back of my throat; the result of phlegm pooling there from the night before. I promptly cough out the offending blob onto a tissue and shove it under HRH’s nose. “See, I need antibiotics,” I say to him. “My GP says that if I’ve had this for more than 2 weeks, I need antibiotics.”
“Harrumph,” he says in response and starts loading up the car. Typical surgeon.
I make the 3 of us a hot drink each from the many sachets I brought out of our now-empty apartment in Brisbane, down another Aerius D and blow another hundred nose wontons. When I’m done, I pile into the waiting car beside an anxious HRH.
“Have you programmed Tom Tom?”
Just 2 days ago he didn’t trust the thing. Now programming it takes priority over all else. I dare say Tom Tom, the car GPS we bought in Sunnybank, has spared us many a “Where are you leading me to?” argument; without a doubt the best thing ever to happen to our marriage since Amanda.
Today we head for Port Augusta, another of HRH’s “short drives.” It’s 4 hours from where we are in Broken Hill. The road West, beyond Broken Hill, is very straight, almost devoid of cars, so HRH has the car on cruise-control for most of the time. My job as his trusty co-pilot is to change the playing list on our sound system every so often and maintain the flow of conversation so as to keep HRH focused throughout the drive, because God knows, other than the two flocks of crazy emus crossing the road, there isn’t much in the way of wild animals to look at.
“But this could pass off for Africa, couldn’t it?” says HRH.
“Yes,” I sagely agree. “We just need to import a couple of rhinos, tigers and lions.”
An hour into our drive, we pass a runaway cow munching grass at the side of the road.
“Run cow, run,” I urge it, as our car zooms past. “If they catch you, you’ll get turned into steak.”
His cow companions must be sitting under a tree on a paddock somewhere nearby.
HRH stops in Petersborough, South Australia, 2.5 hours since taking off from Broken Hill. It’s another sleepy country town with a couple of pub cum hotels along the main street. According to the woman serving us our meals, the main employer around here, since the closing of the Petersborough train station, is an abattoir. Being the wise-ass that I am, and perhaps not registering her comment about the abattoir, I order grilled Garfish with a side of boiled vegetables. The vegetables are fine but the Garfish is drier than the wood serving as our table.
We clamber back in the car after lunch and continue our drive to Port Augusta. We arrive by 5 pm; Port Augusta is as bright and hot as if it were still midday. HRH splurged on an air-conditioned, river-view room at the Majestic Oasis Hotel, so we have all the comforts of home, some 2000 km from where we started.
We have take-away pretend-Chinese noodles from a shop on Commercial Road. To boost our diets, we buy fruit from Woolworths nearby.
I’m now producing enough nose wontons to supply all the Chinese restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney combined. Coolly regarding me from a distance, HRH says, “You might need antibiotics.”
“Oh, you noticed? I think I can hold out until we get to Perth.”
I spend much of the day in bed with a box of tissues by my side. Amanda and HRH have cup noodles for lunch while watching the Australian Open.
“I want to put money on Li Na but am too lazy to walk out to TAB,” he says to a sleep-walking me who has tinned tuna for lunch, followed by two black plums.
When we leave for dinner, the sun is so strong you can feel it bite into your flesh. It is 7 pm but I have to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. After dinner we come across a street thermometer. Get this: the temperature at 9 pm is 34 degrees C.
Here’s the proof: