Flinders: Kanga, Emu, & the 1/2 Liter Elephant


  • Flinders Ranges, South Australia – edge of the Outback and home to 6 aboriginal groups

    The elephant sits at sunset

    The elephant sits

Cast of Characters:

  • Chris – dork dad
  • Leti – 4WD specialist
  • Louisa – modern day carioca
  • Sebastian – biologist boy
  • Elephant – 6-meter campervan ->
  • Kanga – General local pop.
  • Emu – Minority local pop.
  • Aussie – Local people / tourists (friendly folk)Reptilian

Special Guest Appearance by: Slithering Snake, Black Widow & a host of local feral friends


After 6 weeks traveling OZ via plane, train, and auto, we packed our bags and threw them into the Elephant – a campervan of beastly large size. A spectacular specimen that generates cheers from our children because of its clear superiority when compared to our Kiwi campervan.

Act 1: Flinders National Park Entrance

As if on cue, Kangas come out in full force to greet our entrance to the Flinders Ranges. We spot them everywhere – in the bush, under trees, on the side of the road. Dead or Alive!

The first comments come from everyone with echo calls in the camper, “Look! A Kangaroo! Wow! Look another Kangaroo. There another one!” The repetition of Kanga calls goes on until we realize they really are every-friggin-where!

EmuTheKanga carioca  girl screams, “Snake! OHHH My God, I see a SNAKE!” Two minutes later, Chris shouts, “Lizard!” as he spots a friendly bearded dragon out for a walk on the highway. Luckily…no splat!

Now all eyes search for predators. Leti spots an Emu family – 2 chicks following daddy. These guys are fast and smart at avoiding our elephant unlike kanga.

Intermission: Totally Stoked Sunset

As we reach the midway portion of our trip in Flinders, we drive our elephant up to Stokes Lookout for sunset. We are not the only ones as there are several guided tours that arrive too – great news because we get a free guide to explain the beauty and size of Flinders.

Flinders sun

Caught completely by surprise on a sporadic cloudy evening, the sunset illuminates the sky in 4 – “I’m not kidding” ways. First, it lights up the Pound in front, then the side clouds get to show off with colored lights (on each side) and nothing like the full moon rising behind you to cap it off.

This sunset replaces my previous #1 off the west coast of Nicaragua which had a double rainbow behind us as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Stokes humbles the Big Blue Mountains in eastern Australia.

Flinders cloud 2 Flinders sky Flinders moon

Act 2: Feral Foodies Unite

We are crossing over the Ranges and our fearless 4WD specialist takes us on a marathon length off-road tour. Thanks to her perseverance, we break through to the other side for lunch at the famous Prairie Hotel.

Biologist Boy: “Dad, order me a burger and fries.”

Chris: “Sure thing son. Louisa what would you like?”

Carioca girl: “Hmm, let me see – I don’t know.”

Chris: “Well, they got good burger choices like Kangaroo or Camel.”

Carioca girl: “Um, I don’t know – um, I think I’ll just have the steak burger dad.”

Chris: “Really? You don’t want to try a Camel or Kanga?”

Biologist Boy: “I don’t care, just order me a burger!” Exits to men’s room.

Carioca girl:  “No, I think I’ll just have the steak burger dad.”

Chris: “Ah, c’mon! Ok, then but we’ll share!”  Waitress arrives to take the order.  “We’ll have a Camel burger for the boy, a steak burger for the girl, and I’ll have a…well, that leaves me with the kangaroo burger. Oh, and a large beer please!”

4WD Leticia walks in after touring restaurant’s aborigine art collection.

4WD Leti: “I’ll have a beer too and” she looks briefly at the feral menu “the tasting platter please.”

Biologist boy: “Dad – there’s a huge black widow in the bathroom! Check it out.”

Chris: Tone of please don’t be fooling with me “Seriously? Where is it?”

Biologist boy: “Yeah, it’s really big; must be ready to lay eggs or something. You can’t miss it on the urinal.”

Chris: Tone of regret for asking “Great, I can’t wait.”  Slowly walks off as one would to their death.kanga burger

Food arrives and the burgers are huge! The platter has kanga meat pieces, emu paté, camel salami, and veggies.

Biologist boy: “This is a little hammy if you ask me.” Chomping on camel burger.

4WD Leti: “The emu paté is great and I like the camel salami. Louisa, do you want some?”

Carioca girl: “No thanks. I’m good!”feral platter

Chris: “Here, try the kangaroo Louisa – it’s really good.”

Carioca girl: “No thanks, I’m good!”

Repeat for all Louisa offers to share but regretfully she tries the feral foods.

Act 3: ½ Liter Elephant

Chris relieves 4WD Leti since her arms are vibrating from the off-road driving and it takes some time for dork driver Chris to realize the fuel tank is empty.

Chris: “Whoa! Leti, there are only 2 bars left for gas!”

4WD Leti: “Then stop at the next station.”

Brilliant idea and dork Chris stops at the next station, which is CLOSED.

Chris: “We can try for the next station with 2 bars left, we should make it.”

He starts to do internal calculations in his head, which repeat until the end of the story, and then continues in Chris’ dreams for the next few nights.

Biologist boy: “Dad, I’ll guide you and we’ll make it!”

Chris: “Ok, look up in the driver’s manual to see how much fuel is in reserve.”

Biologist boy: “It says either 4 liters or 7 liters depending on our tank.”

Chris: “Great, we should barely make it; if not, it will be a nice run to get gas. I remember running out with Eustace in Mexico – we were one hill away from a station too. What an experience.”

Biologist boy:  “We’ll make it dad.”

The elephant, a sweating dork Chris, and family pull into the station with red light fuel flashing for many minutes now…and it’s CLOSED!

Everyone: “NOOOOO!”

Chris walks into a bar across the street either to get help or a nice stiff drink – how about both! All heads turn to look at this out of place stranger as the cowboy doors swing behind him. Chris notices the time warp too and thinks ‘I’m not in Kansas anymore, am I Toto?!’ 

Gap-toothed beer drinker: “Well, look here.” pointing to the dork.

Chris: “Any chance you know when the gas station will open?”

Bartender: “Where you from?”

Chris: “States – in Florida. We just near ran out of gas.”

Bartender: “Ah, ya, I could tell your accent is different and we don’t call it gas.” Entire bar of 6 people laugh heartily at my expense.                                               “Call Pete. I’m sure he’d come by to open it up and get you some petrol.”

Conclusion: Pete stops by, grunts, charges a $10 bonus to come save us and fill the tank. Go back to calculate the fuel put in with the size of the tank and our elephant had only a ½ liter of petrol left! Farewell to the Flinders! We loved it!


wilpena flinders mtn sunset yoha peace

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