Adelaide, Australia: Best. Freebie. Ever.

We were out of Tim’s Place by about 10:30 on our last morning in Halls Gap. There was one more rock art shelter we wanted to visit a little north of town before we curved West towards Adelaide.

I can’t remember the name of the last shelter before you hit the highway, but the meaning of which as something to do with “white people”. I’m not sure if it was painted in response to the introduction of Aborigines to Europeans, or if it was some deeper spiritual meaning. But either way, it fits:

Adelaide was about 6 hours West of the Grampians, and our lunch stop was just before the Victoria-South Australia border in a town called … well, Bordertown.

While we picnicked beside a small stream near the highway, I made an offer to Steffen to share something driving responsibilities. I had made this offer many times before, during this trip across Australia as well as throughout Tasmania, but this was the first time he actually took me up on it.

After lunch, I somewhat nervously climbed into the driver’s seat, and kept muttering to myself, “left, left, left, left, for god’s sake, stay left!” Fortunately, the road to Adelaide is straight and flat, and my champion driving skills were never called upon.

A couple hours before we reached the city, Steffen pulled out his guidebook and started reviewing our accomodation options. They all sounded alike, except one amenity at the Adelaide Backpackers Inn stood out: every night, they served free apple pie and ice cream. I’ll repeat that, as I believe it bears repeating: every night, we would get free apple pie and ice cream.

Steffen made the call and we navigated our way through the city and to the hostel. I was still getting used to the wide girth of the stationwagon and there were some close calls as I drove next to the curb. Every time, Steffen would flinch and yell at me, but all-in-all I think I did reasonably well for my first bit of driving in Australia.

We checked in and were given a tour of the area. The only part of it I remember was when the worker said, “And here at the back at 8:15 every night we put out warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream.”

We were debating on what to do, and decided on a quick walk around town. The others were keen on finding something to eat, but I already knew what my dinner would consist of: pie and ice cream, and plenty of it.

We headed through the center of town and up towards the Rundle Street Mall. My watch said we were getting close to 8:15, and I split off from the others to head back to the hostel.

On the walk back I passed a couple girls sitting on the grass in a park with laptops in front of them. A thought struck me and I approached them to satisfy my curiosity. “Excuse me, are you guys getting wireless internet access here?” “Yeah” “Is it free?” “Yeah, you can get access in all the parks around the city, and most major streets too, I think.” City-wide free wifi access? Adelaide just went up a few notches in my book.

When I got back I was kept waiting past 8:15 for apple pie time, until I realized that Adelaide was an hour behind Melbourne. Finally, the pie was put out, and a line quickly formed next to the table in the outdoor patio. The apple pie was hot, and went perfectly with the ice cream. I had seconds, then thirds. Halfway through the second piece, the others came back and joined me.

After apple pie time Steffen and I walked down the street towards that same park where the two girls were getting free internet to see if I could connect. I stopped periodically on the street to try, but couldn’t find an open network. Finally, only a few meters form where the two girls were earlier, I got a two-bar signal and Steffen and I quickly checked our mail before heading back.

That night we took a stroll down the street to a pub on the corner of the street and sat outside drinking jugs of Coopers, the home brew of South Australia. We talked about what the girls would do from there. Both of them wanted to travel up to Ayer’s Rock near Alice Springs, but needed to do so on a tight budget. We also talked about finding work, and some girls Sophie met in Sydney who were working at strip clubs in Kings Cross. Nadja didn’t like the idea of strip clubs and felt bad for strippers, and if she were into that sort of thing, would never support that lifestyle by visiting a club. I managed to convince her that they could’ve chosen any profession to make money, but intentionally became strippers because of the money. These girls were in control of their lives and had deliberately chosen to live it a certain way, their stories didn’t warrant any pity.

When it was Nadja’s turn to buy a jug, she wanted to go to the bar and order it, to practice her English. I told her to ask for “the pale ale”, but she still wanted me to come with her for support. She said it fine, but rather softly and the bartender asked her to repeat herself. She became very shy and looked to me to order again. I told the bartender what we wanted, then told Nadja that her English was fine, she just needs to be more confident about it.

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