22/11/15 Our shortest hop so far was 22kms from the very small community of Alford to Wallaroo on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula, where we set up at the North Beach Caravan Park for a “Stay 3 days, Pay for 2” deal.
Having had two days of drizzly rain at Alford, we decided to put out the main awning and the smaller offside awning at the new camp to give us some extra shelter. It was novel to have the main awning out as it hadn’t seen light of day since May, and with the forecast of sunshine for the next week, we were looking forward to making good use of it.
Di was happy to be back at the beach, with sand on her toes and her Beach Tank all topped up. Vehicles are permitted on Wallaroo North Beach and on dusk quite a few would be parked along the waterline with people in camp chairs watching the sun set in the ocean. Must be a local tradition. It was an odd sight. The beach was different to ours back home, with the low tide mark a long way out and the high tide mark only half way in to the top of the beach. It was this wide expanse of sand that was so popular for beach driving.
We had a very relaxing time at Wallaroo, took a day drive to nearby Moonta, Port Hughes and Kadina, and the three-day stay pushed out to six days in the end as wet weather had returned to most of South Australia, along with cold blustery winds. We stayed put rather than set up somewhere else where it would probably be just as wet.
Di and I put away the main awning at 2:00am one night because of wind gusts that had come up quite suddenly. A check of the weather showed a strong wind warning had been issued for most of the coastal areas. The awning was strong enough to handle wind but was acting like a sail and rocking the van with every gust. And I had visions of us taking off like Dorothy to the Land of Oz if the wind picked up anymore. I thought that bringing the awning down in the strong winds would be unmanageable, but it proved to be easy – you just need a good woman to hang off it when the ropes and poles are released so it doesn’t all fly away…
From Wallaroo, which is on the “knee” of the Yorke Peninsula, our next stopover was further south at Minlaton, at the “ankle”. That was our base for day trips in the Landy throughout the “foot” and along the east coast of the peninsula. Minlaton is home to the last remaining original Bristol M1C fighter monoplane from a total of 130 manufactured in England during WW1. It’s been fully restored and is housed in a display building in the main street. In 1919, the bright red Bristol, nicknamed the “Red Devil”, made the first mail flight over ocean in the Southern Hemisphere from Adelaide across the Gulf to Minlaton. I never cease to be amazed at the things we come across in the unlikeliest of places.
Minlaton had some interesting little shops and we enjoyed taking time to browse along the main street. It also had the first stone showground buildings that we’d come across in our travels.
For most of our time on the Yorke Peninsula, it had been constantly windy. At Minlaton, the overnight temperatures dropped to single digits with daytime maximums in the 20s. Add in the wind chill factor, and conditions were very cold and wintery. The diesel heater kept the van lovely and warm in the mornings and evenings, and we rugged up during day trips around nearby coastal towns. This place must be miserable in winter if it’s like this in November.
After four days at Minlaton, we moved on to Port Rickaby, 19kms away on the west coast – a new record for the shortest hop. We’d found the location on a day drive and loved the look of the tiny community clustered up against a sheltered cove of white sandy beach at one end, a rock shelf at the other, and an old wooden jetty running out in the middle. Turned out they do have proper beaches in SA, after all. The van was backed in right above the beach, providing terrific views up and down the shoreline. Di couldn’t stop saying “It’s just so beautiful”. And it was, particularly the sunsets across the waters of Spender Gulf. A real slice of heaven.
From Port Rickaby, we did more day trips all around the peninsula. There’s lots of coastline around the edge, with small communities named Port this or Point that (locals tend to drop these when referring to a place), and lots and lots of wheat and barley growing in the middle.
We found the southern parts of the peninsula more interesting and scenic, and particularly liked Black Point and Port Vincent, on the east coast.
Innes National Park, located in the “toe” at the southern end of the peninsula, took a day to check out. It is an unspoilt and very beautiful place with amazing scenery and stunning views from the coastline cliffs. The area has a very wild coastline and five nearby lighthouses can be seen at night from the headland at Pondalowie Bay.
Looking down from the clifftop at the lovely bay below the Cape Spencer Lighthouse, we spotted a shape cruising back and forth in the shallows – a big shark, another tick (Twelfth) for Di’s “Animals in the Wild” list. We couldn’t tell what type it was, but, at a guess, it would have been at least four metres long. And we’d just been commenting how inviting the water looked for a swim and wondering if we could get down there. We gave that idea a big miss.
Yorke Peninsula can be very windy, especially on the coast. We were lucky at Rickaby (note the silent Port) to have a few fine days at first with a pleasant breeze and blue skies. The last few days, though, were mostly overcast and windy, gusting to 50kph on one day. The only consolation was that it blew away the bloody flies! We stayed at Port Rickaby for seven days.
Daylight saving here takes a little getting used to. South Australia and Northern Territory are on Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) and normally a half hour behind Queensland, but South Australia is also currently on summer daylight saving that pushes the time an hour ahead. This puts us half an hour ahead of Queensland. When daylight savings finishes in April, South Australia would again be half an hour behind instead of ahead. A little confusing? Only for us travellers, I guess, when we want to ring family back home. All I know is, it’s 8:00pm and the sun hasn’t gone down yet.
“It gets late early out there.” – Yogi Berra