A Fine Sandy Finish

White car driving up a sand dune

We set off for Port Lincoln at a cracking pace in our new but elderly 4X4. It had been years since we visited Lincoln, and Bridie was excited to see the place where she was born, as we had left it behind when she was two years old.   

Trev was keen to put the vehicle through its paces on this trip, and I’m sure had hatched a wicked plot that only became evident several days later. The drive from Whyalla to Lincoln was endless, thank goodness I had a book with me. 

‘How much longer Dad?’ came a voice from the back seat at regular intervals. 

‘Not too long,’ came the reply.’

The Motel looked fantastic from the outside, with a huge wave and dolphins painted on the facade. The reality was somewhat different however, it was ordinary, but no one seemed to mind the uncomfortable seats, it was an adventure after all. Next morning, we drove past the House that Trev had built ten years ago and stopped to admire it, sitting atop a hill that overlooked what was now the Marina. Memories.

‘Let’s go to the Lincoln National Park,’ he said beaming, rubbing his hands together. ‘Should be plenty of wildlife around.’

‘OK,’ I replied. ‘Let’s see how many different plants we can see.’

Bridie just bounced out to the car and sat impatiently for us to gather important paraphernalia for a day without shops nearby.  The weather forecast was for a hot day, so plenty of drinks were added.

‘I think we’ll check out the Dunes at Wanna,’ he said. ‘Do you remember them?’

I nodded, so off we trekked to the vast area of Sand dunes. Just the thing to test out a 4X4.

‘Not too sure about this,’ I said. 

There was no answer, glancing over I saw the jaw tighten, the eyes squinting in concentration. Bridie, wide eyed in the back seat, still bouncing around, and quite ready for whatever came. Unlike her mother.  

So, into the sand we drove, up, up and up some more, then down the other side of a massive dune until. Yep! We were bogged in the fine, soft sand that apparently gets softer in hot weather. All we could see were sandy dune waves, sculpted by the wind. We could have been in the Sahara.

‘Now worries,’ he said, opening the door. ‘All part of the adventure.’

‘Don’t expect any help from me,’ I said between clenched teeth as I opened my book.

‘C’mon Mum, you’re no fun.’ Said Bridie, hopping out to help her father. 

The pair of them scooped out as much sand around the rear wheels as they could. Funny thing about sand, it just falls back and fills the hole again. He hopped back into the car, rocked it from reverse to drive. Nup!! It just dug in deeper, now up to the back axle.

‘You have to get out and push,’ he said.

‘Nope.’ I replied. I could see us all dying of thirst in this vast sandy wilderness.

There was nothing for it but to get out and look for some vegetation, to give the rear wheels a bit of traction. Vegetation was sparse in the Sahara, and I was aware that it was an offence to pick wildflowers in a National park. Did that go for stunted shrubby bushes as well?  I wondered. Like my mood, the day was slowly turning grey, as clouds gathered overhead. The sky wept for us and sent down a fine misty spray that covered us, and the sand.

‘OK, now push as hard as you can, both together.’ Came the instructions through the window. ‘I’ll drive us out.’ 

The back wheels spun, churning up the dampish sand that now coated us both. Then with an almighty jolt had the car suddenly jerked forward, just as I was heaving and pushing. Hard. Bridie managed to stay on her feet, but me? Flat on my face I fell, full length into the churned up, soft, slightly dampish sand.  

‘Mum, you do look – funny,’ she said giggling, hand up to her face.

‘I’d just shut up of I were you,’ he said to his daughter, trying to look concerned, but failing miserably. 

‘Hrrmmp!” Was all I could manage, as my mouth was also coated in sand, inside and out. 

It didn’t take long to get back to the Motel, and we could do nothing about the amount of sand we transferred from the car to our room. 

Wasn’t it an offence to remove sand from a National park? I wondered. 

The subject did not come up again, for some time, although, I did catch Bridie and her Dad smirking together, then change their faces to neutral when they saw me coming. Little did they know, there have been a few times when I revisited the memory, that I couldn’t control a very loud belly laugh.

© Patricia Toomer 2021