26/05/16 From Millicent, we headed north on the Princes Highway to the town of Robe on Guichen Bay. We were told it’s a popular tourist spot for South Australians and Victorians, with a population of 1,500 that grows in the summer holiday season to 15,000. We were there at the bottom of the tourist season and the town was very quiet. What draws the tourists is the combination of many historic stone buildings around the town centre, scenic cliff shoreline and bushland surrounding the town. Many parts of Robe are straight out of the 1800s. We were fortunate to have a cloudless sky while looking around the town, but the breeze continued to come off the Southern Ocean direct from the polar ice shelf and our coats and beanies stayed well and truly on. Robe is a base for a large fishing and lobster fleet; the budget couldn’t stretch to a lobster meal unfortunately.
Next morning, we were woken to the sound of rain on the roof and the rocking of the van in the wind. The water tanks were topped up and we travelled north through the Coorong National Park to a free camp at Narrung on Lake Alexandrina. The campground is located next to the landing for the vehicle ferry that operates across the narrow waters of Albert Passage joining Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. It’s one of eleven vehicle ferry services operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Murray River crossings, provided free of charge by the South Australian government. Different from the “You want it, you pay for it” attitude of the government back home in Queensland.
Already in camp when we arrived was Dave Jacka and his support team. Dave is a quadriplegic adventurer and motivational speaker who is currently 88 days into a solo kayak paddle of the Murray River. We didn’t get to meet him, unfortunately, as he was resting up but we did meet Paul and Peter, two members of the support team accompanying him. We missed them in the morning as they were up before dawn and off to finish the circumnavigation of Lake Alexandrina. Check out his story on the link above.
We had an early night which translated into an early morning. The van is dark inside with the window blinds drawn down, and I usually tell that it’s after sunrise by the light coming through the ceiling hatch at the end of the van. Light was coming in so we got up. It was only 3:45am and the light was from a floodlight on the nearby pole. Needless to say, we had an early start that day to the next camp at Strathalbyn.
Looping north around Lake Alexandrina and across the Murray River, we stopped in at Bleasdale Vineyards at Langhorne Creek, looked through their original National Trust listed buildings dating back to 1880 and I did a tasting of their lovely reds.
A little further on, we set up in the town of Strathalbyn, had lunch at The Victoria pub and spent the rest of the day browsing through the many antique shops for which the town is renowned and dodging intermittent showers and flocks of corellas in the Soldiers Memorial Gardens.
In a blog entry when we were on the Yorke Peninsula last year, I wrote “This place must be miserable in winter if it’s like this in November.” Prophetically, I was right! The day at Narrung hit the Miserable Mark on my personal weather gauge. Have a look at the rain radar image below. In the whole continent of Australia, the worst weather is where?! Right where we Queenslanders are. The locals are lapping it up, sploshing around in shorts and moaning that it needs to rain a bit more to make it worthwhile. I’m starting to grow mould because of the damp.
“You know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold.” – Me