THE OUTBACK AND SO FORTH – Saturday, 3 March

I am awakened by the uncomfortable feeling that I have been sweating under my chin. In the common area I french-press some coffee and burn some toast, then try to organize the next couple days. A few cups later, Monique, our hostess, appears and delivers a monologue about her hopes and dreams for The Heights – a dozen cabins, a swimming pool, and a mini golf range. At a critical intake of breath, I’m able to blurt, “More ground coffee, please, Monique.” I shower and repack. Ali rallies. We’re on the road by 9am, bidding the daffiness of The Heights adieu. It was sweet and comfy and had eight seasons of Stargate on DVD.

We seem to be the only ones heading north at this time of day. Midway, it’s time to recaffeinate – a most excellent flat white is to be found in Dangara at a beach shack café called Starfish. Our Geraldton destination is easy to find, sort of. We drop the baggage and head into town for lunch. Black Panther is playing at 6pm at the Orana Cinemas right downtown. Lunch at Café Fleur is perfect because wild berry waffles. Our two-bedroom apt has a washer/dryer, so garment refreshment can be accomplished. The afternoon’s other challenge – we probably need to pack a picnic tomorrow due to desolate terrain. Overlander Roadhouse, the one spot on the map between Geraldton and Monkey Mia, may just be a lonely one-pump service station.

The movie begins. Aussie preview ads are just as lame as US ones. Black Panther has many assets, but in the end, it’s just a fucking superhero movie. Geraldton rolls up its sidewalks on the early side of early. After four or five disappointments, we finally find a restaurant whose kitchen’s still open. Big bolognese for me and salad for Alice. Our clothes are dry.

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