Roadtrip across the State?… Better take some mates

The i30N is a compact little weapon of a sports car which would be considered by even the most serious boy racer as “seriously sick!”.

All images: Bryan Littlely

Hyundai i30N: Adelaide to Ceduna and return

It takes not a great deal to get me on a road trip to far-flung parts of our great State. So when a new little nervous mate of mine tripped off to Ceduna for a weekend, I was quick to offer a show of support.

It had been a while since I’d explored the wonders of the upper Eyre Peninsula and a few things had changed, I’d heard. Kimba was still basking in the glory of being named South Australia’s Agricultural Town of The Year, and there had been a facelift for its town galah. The farmers out Wudinna and Minnipa way were in an arm-wrestle with Mother Nature, with the latter definitely having the upper hand.

And, I had a couple of mates I could pick up along the way for company and to see the sights.

But, the clincher – and, let’s face it, a road trip to Ceduna MUST have a clincher – was the other little mate occupying the garage at home… the Hyundai i30N.

The i30N is a compact little weapon of a sports car which – if the car which I had the keys to was not a divisive pastel blue in colour – would be considered by even the most serious boy racer as “seriously sick!”. (Yes, that was one comment).

Yeah, so three blokes in a compact sports car for a trip across half the State, and to the Halfway Across Australia point, is probably not what most would consider “normal”. And while the Hyundai i30N may not be the first pick off the rank to do such a trip in – and surely it isn’t the best suited – it certainly wasn’t the worst and was definitely one of the most fun for some parts.

KIMBA claims to be Halfway Across Australia… technically correct, unless you’re heading north-south!

Who needs free drinks at a work Christmas show when Ceduna is calling?

Leaving a fully-paid Christmas party at sensational Adelaide Hills winery Lot.100 is not something I thought I would ever do, but with a belly full of great wood oven pizza and having raided the promotional Christmas sweets hamper with barely a Lemon, Lime and Bitters under my belt, I set off for some spirited driving through to Cudlee Creek to pick up mate number one.

I would, I figured, be watching the fuel consumption on the long and stretching roads between those Adelaide Plains, Upper Spencer Gulf and Eyre Peninsula towns, so the winding roads for this first little dash were approached in Sport mode, and steering mounted paddle shifters used to boot it along.

A weapon, indeed it was… even in that perplexing blue which caused a lady in a Covid testing line a week or so later to lag in the line alongside of me just to tell me it was “such a nice colour”. I’d find one of the two mates, the one I was to collect in Port Augusta, to agree with that lady, liking the colour quite a lot, while the other one was quite put off by it.

We all agreed, though, that it photographed exceptionally well… and even injected life into the abandoned Poochera roadhouse when we stopped there after rolling into Wudinna that first night for some of the always expected, and delivered, country hospitality of the Wudinna Hotel.

POOCHERA Roadhouse on Eyre Highway closed in 2019… it still makes a great backdrop for car shoots.

Conserving fuel was a key consideration for all

The Hyundai i30N may look a bit of a hot-hatch (try to forget this example’s colour) that is going to inspire some heavy right foot work, but it is super fuel efficient on the open road. It has a combined city/highway driving fuel consumption of 8.8L/100km and a highway low of 6.4L/100km and we got every part of that, if not more, on the long straight, very long and very straight, roads across the Peninsula.

We arrived in Ceduna with time to spare before I needed to go and see my little nervous mate who would be about to take centre stage and with the odds for his success stacked against him. Now, Ceduna is known for its oysters, and was, at the time, a bit better placed than its mates down the road at Coffin Bay who appear, fortunately, to be back up and running to pump out the best oysters anywhere in the world.

But, three relatively blokey mates in a little hatch and a bucket of oysters for brunch wasn’t going to sit well with anyone, so we opted for the Ceduna Bakery Coffee Lounge before heading to see my other mate, the ever-so-cool dude, Fiouruki.

While he sounds like a supporting act at a music festival, he is, in fact, a horse and better known to me from my short time caring for him, as “Kooky”. At 4-years-old and without a win from 16 starts, some may wonder why anyone would drive for two days (there and back) to watch him race for a prize pool under $7000.

I did say he was a cool dude. And I did have a cool car to get me there.

Kooky is a quick horse…one of the quickest his former track work rider had been on. But, unlike the Hyundai i30N which can be switched easily from Sport, to Comfort, to Eco mode to conserve fuel, Kooky has a tendency to drain his tank in the first few hundred meters of a race and hasn’t been able to go the distance…. Even pretty sure distances in racing terms.

We’d bonded… well I had at least shoveled his poo for a few weeks and filled his feed container. So, a pre-race chat to cool his nerves was the plan. I did the talking. Hell, if he was a Mr Ed, he wouldn’t be racing and would actually be centre stage at the Fringe Festival!

The chat must have worked. Knocked down at the start and sent out the back of the field, it did look like there’d be little chit-chat in the i30N on the long ride home.But the boy bounced back, and, rather than turbo blasting the energy stocks in a rampant bid to get to the front, put in a more controlled and effective run than those which landed him in the most remote maiden race in South Australia to finish strongly for a very respectable third… fuel money and a feed for all three of us.

FIOURUKI and Bryan Littlely (Bryan’s on the right!)

The not-so-long as it could have been drive home.

If the pockets were empty from our time at the Ceduna Racing Club – where it has to be said there was an incredibly high standard set in the Fashion On The Field – the drive home could have been a lot longer than it was. And given it was a third and not a first that Kooky scored, we’d also avoided the urge to buy up big on oysters, scallops and lobster for dinner, so it would be a comfortable trip home.

We didn’t need to tow a horse float either!

On the road-home agenda was a stop off at the impressive granite outcrop Pildappa Rock, about 15km drive out from Minnipa. I confess, I barely got out of the car given I have already been there a few times, have climbed to the top a couple of times, and the flies could have easily got together to pick me up and carry me away. Besides, I had to position the car for this shot.

PILDAPPA ROCK, near Minnipa and the Hyundai i30N. See, the colour does work well in pics!

On to Wudinna with tummies rumbling… (I may have made up for missing the drinks at the Christmas party a bit at the track) and a cracking lunch was had at the Wudinna Pub, washed down with squash all round.

I’d taken the chance to have a chat to some of the hard-working farmers bringing their grain to the silos – on a Sunday – and it was heartbreaking to hear most had gone from having high-grade grain for market to it being little more than stock feed in a matter of weeks, and a few troublesome rains at the wrong time.

They’re a resilient mob out that way, though, and none have shown so more than the community at Kimba. That has to be fact, given they won the 2021 Ag Town of the Year title. More than 50 per cent of the town’s population are active volunteers in their community… the other half would be too young or too old to be able to lend a hand, I’m sure.

You won’t miss the Kimba attractions, even if you think you’re going to whiz through town in a nifty little pastel blue Hyundai i30N. When it comes to pastel, Kimba has it covered. The silo artwork depicting a young girl in a field of wheat is my favourite on the SA Silo Art Trail – and it has some very stiff competition.

And you can’t go past the Big Galah… literally, you can’t. He’s recently had a facelift but not any old splash of pink and grey paint, Port Lincoln artists Karen Carr and Jill Pantiyasa, appropriately respectively from Squashed Cocky and Quirky Owl, put a real touch of art into the touch up of the Big Galah last year in time for its 30th birthday.

Snaps and appropriately hashtagged social media posts done (who needs enemies when you have friends?) and we were back on the road to round out our adventure.

While it would be unfair to say there’s little to see or do between Adelaide and the point halfway across Australia, we had run out of time to do any of it…. Except for getting delayed on the under construction Joy Baluch AM Bridge duplication project in Port Augusta.

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