Back on the Road: Adelaide to Melrose


We left our housesit and Adelaide on a Thursday morning; after making sure everything was clean and in its proper place, I reluctantly went to say goodbye to the cats.

The little orange cat, usually loud and demanding attention, curled up in her sock and glared at me through one eye. The white cat sat in his fleece-lined cat bed and looked very serious as I leaned down to say goodbye; as I did, he raised up on his hind legs to bump his furry little forehead against mine.

I started to tear up, until he sat back down and emitted a horrible hacking cough/sneeze combo. Then Jared and I had to delay our departure and monitor him for a few minutes until it was clear that he was going to survive.

It’s surprisingly hard to leave a housesit. I always get attached to the pets and the house, especially when I know I’ll be trading down to a tent in the winter.

Within four hours (we drive slow) we were in Melrose, South Australia, and set up the tent successfully, despite being months out of practice. After a quick dinner of pasta in front of the re-heated scraps of the previous campers’ fire, we zipped ourselves in for the night at about 7pm. Our $15 portable K-Mart heater did its job, heating the small space so well I wanted to hug it.

In morning we woke up to the not-so-gentle sounds of an enormous pack of screeching galahs. If you have never heard a screeching galah, it sounds like this SKREEEBLAARREEBLA.

Getting close to nature: goal achieved.

The plan was to hike 12.2 km to the Mt Remarkable summit, if I could ever get myself out of the tent. My camping organizational skills are definitely rusty; I couldn’t figure out where I’d put anything and nothing was where it was supposed to be.

Spotted rubber boots
Bought some budget gumboots from Rivers and they have barely left my feet.

While I was bustling around for my warm accessories—gloves, scarf, ear warmer—I remembered that it was time to depress my coffee plunger. The plunger was on a tiny, crowded table in the middle of the tent floor.

I did what I’ve done a million times before and pressed the plunger down, slowly and carefully.

That’s when it erupted, spraying hot coffee into my face and all over the tent: the fridge cover, the floor, the wall, and my beloved heater. Of course I couldn’t find a rag and spent precious seconds stomping around the tent, cursing.

By the time I’d cleaned everything up, the coffee was lukewarm and tasted disgusting. I remembered the Italian espresso machine from the housesit and once again had serious doubts about our new lifestyle.

I changed my mind, of course. Despite a persistent fog, Mt Remarkable was remarkable, even if the views were hidden. We met a few kangaroos, hiked through a magical fairy grove of clover, crossed moonscaped rockslides, and I even got warm enough to go from four layers to three.

Lush green valley
Show me the leprechaun, I know he’s there.


Mt Remarkable
Checking out the scenery.


Mt remarkable plane crash
A Piper plane crashed into the side of Mt Remarkable in 1980 and the wreckage is still there. Mind blown.

In the late afternoon we jumped in the car and drove half an hour to squeeze in another hike; one day back on the road and we’re basically Bear Grylls. This was in Alligator Gorge, an alligator-free gorge near Wilmington, SA. We chose the 2km circuit hike down into the gorge and back out again, and at 3:30pm on a Friday we had the whole place to ourselves.

Gorge Melrose South Australia
The shades of orange got me all excited for the upcoming outback.
Orange wall gorge
Love a good gorge.
Green moss orange gorge
Looks fake but it’s not. Nature’s crazy like that.
Alligator gorge from above
Views from the top. If there’s a lookout, I’m looking out.

That night, when I plugged in the little heater that could, the scent of stale coffee wafted in, along with the lovely, reassuring warm air.

I still missed the cats and the house, but only a little.




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    1. Thanks! That is so exciting that you’re redoing a van to be a campervan – I think that’s ideal because you can make it just how you want it & take it for test drives in the lead up.

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