For the first time ever we left Highway One and went into Port Wakefield.
I must’ve been through the town hundreds of times on the way to the West Coast or Yorke Peninsula over the decades. Very rarely had I thought to go and have a squizz for there was always somewhere else to be, someone else to see.
Port Wakefield’s like the forgotten Beatle or the Turkish Delight in the box of chocolates. Rarely mentioned and rarely loved.
I know nobody from there or anyone who’s even visited. I wonder if a newly-wedded couple has ever gone there for their honeymoon? Did they go crabbing to pass the time? Did they pop in the servo and grab a steak sandwich?
With a handsome town oval, enticing cafés and proud homes it was a pleasant surprise. The streets were ordered and wide and I’m sure Edward Gibbon Wakefield the driver of the European colonisation of South Australia for whom the town is named would’ve been proud.
Claire demanded we visit the Rising Sun pub. I acquiesced.
At the bar Claire inquired about white wine and the barkeep offered something from a cask. She declined and I feared the sun might set on The Rising Sun before the dawn of Happy Hour had even arrived. The barkeep located a glass bottle and glugged a splash into a tumbler. We picked our way past the Friday afternoon punters and the vesty dabs of dirty orange and as is my want in the warmer months headed outside.
The beer garden was wide and attractive with an outdoor bar and playground. A lush lawn pushed at the distant fences. Pine trees kept guard. Claire spotted a cat sneaking about. On a big screen The Strikers were batting in their BBL final. There was also an outdoor stage. I wondered if the Zep Boys had played there on a long-ago New Year’s Eve. I could imagine a black and yellow sea of crushed Bundy cans on the grass in front of the speakers.
A huge fireplace dominated the space and I reckoned it might be worthy on a cold August night. There were gnarls of locals grinning into their end of week cups.
If it had been winter I would’ve sought out the footy tipping chart that’s compulsory in country pubs. These are a curious but dependable metric of the social health of these little towns. Blue, Barney and Buckets would be right among the tipping leaders come September. One of these would claim the slab of beer and mega meat tray.
My Pale Ale was rancid but otherwise it was worth a visit. I said to myself, ‘Self, we must take the time to visit these places more often.’ Self wasn’t listening and I felt disappointed in my rudeness.
Heading back through the bar Blue had just missed his trifecta on the fourth at Esperance.