Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm home already

I left Port Pirie and came home a day early.....really, I'd had enough.
Some people might enjoy a visit to Port Pirie, I would think if such a person had a car, a short holiday in that region would be nice.
But I don't have a car, and I thought I'd just get around the town on a bus, get off here and there, take some photos, get back on the bus, repeat, repeat...

(Yes, this is a whinge. I did enjoy some parts of the visit, but.......)

Here's what actually happened.....Port Pirie appears to have only one bus. It does a circuit of Port Pirie and depending on where you catch it, close to the city centre heading out, or out in a suburb heading in, you're either on the A route or the B route.
If you live in the town and know where the streets are and where the bus is likely to stop and at what time, you're probably going to be okay. 
As long as you have plenty of time on your hands and don't mind waiting.
(And waiting. And waiting). 

Bus stops are few and far between, some of them are a seat with shelter and a number painted on that shelter, others appear to be a certain spot on a certain street with no indication whatsoever and unless you live there and use the service often, you don't have a clue where to push the button for the bus to stop. Or where to wait to get on the bus.

After dumping most of my stuff in my motel room, I headed for Florence Street where I'd been told there was a bus stop. No actual sign with "Bus Stop" written on it, merely a bench seat beside a painted yellow rectangle where the bus would stop. Others were already sitting waiting, so I did too. The bus was late. Nobody seemed concerned. Apparently this was normal. But when it got to be more than 40 minutes waiting I got a little....upset. It was hot.
And there were bush flies, by the hundreds it seemed. All focused on me.
Probably there were just a few dozen.

Eventually got on the bus and asked the driver to please let me off at the stop nearest -------school, because my sister lives near there, but I didn't know the stops. No problem.
Got off the bus by the school, walked to Js house and visited, then when I was leaving she told me where to get the bus back to the city centre and said there'd be one at 4pm. So I sat at that stop and waited. At 5:10pm, I gave up waiting and walked back to the motel room. About 5kms. There had been a bus at 4pm, but it was on the other side of the road where there was no stop that I could see and it was going in the direction I didn't want to go.
At this point I still thought there were two buses, one clockwise, one anti-clockwise.
I didn't find out there was only one bus until Tuesday.

Once again, I was waiting at the same city stop for a bus to take me to my old childhood Primary School suburb, Solomontown. I'd lived within walking distance of the school. A little old lady joined me at the stop with her trolley of groceries, and after waiting about half an hour she informed me she'd be walking around the block to another stop, because maybe the bus wouldn't come this way today.
Huh?? What?? Might not come this way? Isn't this a set route?
I decided to walk again. My old suburb is closer to the city centre than my sister's home, why not walk?

I decided to go past my old High School and follow the same road that I used to ride my bike on to get home from school. The distance isn't really all that far, but in that direction the footpaths are still dirt tracks,  although the road surface is much improved, there is little shade and nowhere to sit for a minute. I noticed that the city centre has seats here and there, not many, but once you leave the shopping area, you'd better be carrying a folding stool if you want to rest along the way. Clearly the town is designed around those who own cars.
So I'm walking, walking, walking.....taking photos along the way which was a little difficult as I'd spend more time shooing flies away from my face than I did aiming the camera.
I haven't processed any of the photos yet, so there won't be any here today.  

I recognised a few places, the International Hotel where I stayed looks exactly the same, apart from the accommodation which wasn't there all those years ago and is a row of motel rooms behind the Hotel. The Police Station is in the same place, next to it is the Courthouse which wasn't there when I lived in Port Pirie.  The schools are much changed, I'd expected that after 45 years, but the biggest change was the beach.
The street-scape, the parts visible from the road, are now very pretty. Where once there was a bitumen parking area and a kiosk raised above more bitumen and backing onto the sand, there is now brick steps leading down to the sand, (crusty, gritty, sand filled with sharp little shells), lots of green grass (with prickly weeds), no kiosk. Replacing the kisok is a shade structure, with another one the same further down the beach.
The main road into town, called Main Street until you pass the Visitor's Centre, when it becomes Ellen Street, parallels the beach road and used to have a fabulous fish'n'chip shop that everybody went to. Gone now. All changed.
The beach itself is ruined in my opinion. There used to be lots of lovely sand on both sides of the jetty, now there is gritty sand on the city side and the other side has the mucky swampy mangrove area encroaching almost to the jetty. Everyone swimming was on the cleaner side, where once upon a time both sides of the beach would be packed with families. Overall, I was disappointed with seeing the beach again.
One more thing, being such a hot area, temperature wise, I'd have expected the town to have at least one ice cream shop. I didn't see any. I know there would be ice creams available in cafes, but I'd say a specialised ice cream parlour in a town that frequently has high temperatures from November to April or May, would do extremely good business.

Anyway, to cut this short, I had planned on walking around yesterday taking photos of areas I hadn't been to the day before. But yesterday I woke up and realised I just didn't want to.
Not another day of waiting for a "maybe" bus, or walking in the heat shooing flies away from my eyes, nose and mouth, while searching for a place to sit and rest.
Maybe (definitely) I've gotten old, maybe I've got soft with city living, but I wanted to get out and go home.
So I phoned the bus company, changed my booking, got a refund on the room, and came home.
I was in Adelaide by 2:30pm yesterday and home by 3pm.

Photos will be posted as soon as I resize them and add the blog name.


  1. Sounds as if you've just escaped from a nightmare. I'm so sorry things didn't turn out like you expected they might. Never mind, put the kettle on, put your feet up and enjoy being home - as the song says, there really is no place like it

  2. I laugh, because I understand. I cry because I have been there. In another country.

  3. This is very, very familiar to me too. I am so glad that you had the sense to say 'I am not enjoying this' and go home. I probably wouldn't have - a mistake.

  4. No point hanging around if it's not fun. Welcome back.

  5. Echo Delores. As my mother once said about going back another time, you can't recreate the magic.
    Or get rid of the damn flies. How awful.

  6. Molly; the main object of the visit was to see my sister and make sure she is okay. Mission accomplished. I'm glad to be home.

    Susan Kane; nice to have people understand. Thank you.

    Elephant's Child; I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, but know now that I will never go back again.

    Delores; so true, thanks.

    Joanne; the flies were the worst part, it's near impossible to take photos while shooing flies away. And the lack of seating away from the town centre was a huge fault.

    Rose~from Oz; oh dear is right, but I managed a couple of hundred photos which I now have to sort through.

  7. Now THERE'S a retirement plan! Move to PP, start up your ice-cream shop, run for mayor and fix up the public transport system! Oh - and maybe work on some sort of Mortein force field above the town to keep the flies at bay??

  8. Red Nomad OZ; that sounds like work rather than retirement. A Mortein force field....there's an impossible dream.
    I think the town probably doesn't get enough funding for more than the one bus, the only thing holding it together seems to be the smelting works. If that goes the town would probably die.

  9. I just started following you and as I read, I thought: She's not from around here.
    I live in the southern U.S. It was 30 degrees this morning with a blanket of frost.
    I also learned a new word: whinge.
    Thanks a bunch.

  10. That does not sound like a fun trip. Good that you were smart enough to come early. I hope that you had an enjoyable visit with your sister!

  11. This all seemed like a whinge until you got to the part about no ice cream shop. No ice cream shop. You should have clutched your head and staggered about tragically, bellowing I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

  12. Rick Watson; welcome to drifting. 30 degrees!! boy that's cold. Here we had 43.4C yesterday, that's about 110F, today we have a cooler change coming in. At the moment it is very windy, but still quite warm. I'm in South Australia, the driest state in Australia.

    Robin; the sister visit was very short, which is just the way we both prefer it, so that was good. As for the rest, I'm glad to be home.

    Murr Brewster; welcome to drifting!!! So glad to see you here. It was definitely a whinge. I expected more from the town I grew up in although I don't know why, even 30 years can't change the heat and flies.

  13. That does sound like a bit of a nightmare with the way the buses run. It reminds me of when we lived in Montana and someone said you can catch the bus (if it is along the bus route of course) at any corner. When the bus comes by, you just put up your hand and it will stop whether it is a "real" bus stop or not. And it would. Problem is one of the streets I walked Koda was also a bus route and sure enough Koda would find a way to do his "business" at a corner right when a bus was going by and a bus would inevitably stop, thinking I was wanting to get on it :)

    Sounds like sometimes it is not always what we expect when we return to a place we used to live in. But I'm with you, why no ice cream parlour?


  14. If I read the story of your visit to PP I'd have thought someone was pulling my leg but obviously the place is pretty awful and I'm glad you decided to desert it and return home, never to return.
    I am still trying to take in the reality of that so-called bus service....what service?
    It is good you saw your sister and I would think the next visit should be she to you if that is ever likely.
    The main thing is you did visit with all the good intentions in the world which should make up for the disappointments all round. Well done you.

  15. I see that Port pirie has lived up to my low expectations. It's funny that I'd consider Port Augusta, but never Port Pirie.

    Glad you had the common sense to leave when you did. I know when we went to hubby's childhood village in northern Finland which he left when he was 10, we stayed far too long out of some kind of misguided loyalty. Like you. we're never going back. But also like you, we're glad we went.

    Now time for a glass of wine!

  16. betty; there really was only one bus doing a continual circuit of the town, except when he stopped for lunch or to change drivers. I guess most people buy ice cream at the supermarkets and store it in their freezers at home.

    Mimsie; I'm glad I saved you a trip, you'll know now to drive right past if you're ever up this way. Even the trains don't go there, they'll stop at a siding about 4-5kms out if anyone wants to get off. Goods trains still go there, but of course they don't carry passengers, just hundreds of ore buckets.

    Marie; Port Augusta is definitely more alive, or at least it was back in 2000 when I was up there cleaning out my Dad's flat while he was in hospital close to dying. In Port Pirie it seems there's nothing to do except shop.