Cowell (South Australia)

9/06/16  Kimba-CowellOur next leg took us from Kimba, on the Eyre Highway, south to Cleve and then across to Cowell on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula. This will be the start of a loop that will take us around the Peninsula for a couple of weeks and back to the Eyre Highway, to then head west towards WA.

In contrast to the open flat saltbush country of the past few days, this stretch took us through sections of dense mallee scrub that hadn’t been cleared for farming and, between Cleve and Cowell, quite hilly terrain.

Edward John Eyre travelled through this country with his small party of men and a wagon of supplies in 1840. It would have been a nightmare for them to negotiate a way through this seemingly impenetrable mallee scrub. A recommended read is “Eyre: the Forgotten Explorer” by Ivan Rudolf which gives an excellent insight into the explorer and his endeavours. He also produced another good book called “Sturt’s Desert Drama” on the journeys of explorer Charles Sturt. Both are good reads, derived from each explorer’s personal journals.

Just outside of Cowell, we came across the monument to the author May Gibbs that commemorates where she first lived after arriving from England as a child. Spending her early childhood in this countryside would have contributed to the development of the gumnut characters in her many books that include “Gumnut Babies” (1916) and “Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” (1918).

We had no idea that jade was mined in Australia until we visited the Cowell Jade store. Jade deposits discovered near Cowell in 1965 are among the largest and oldest in the world and are of very high quality. Cowell jade is mainly dark green, but there are also deposits of black and white jade. Di’s Pandora bracelet will now sport a piece of green Aussie bling once we get back home.

The next morning was very blowy. A severe weather warning had been issued for the Eyre Peninsula advising of damaging winds all day. Rather than trying to move on in those conditions, we stayed on in Cowell and took a rocky day trip in the Landy south to Port Gibbon, then to Arno Bay where we had lunch at the pub, and on to Port Neill before heading back home to Cowell.

The Lincoln Highway closely follows the coastline and we took a few side tracks to the shoreline, turning right to explore where the track took us, then returning and taking the left branch to see what else we could see. Along this stretch of coast, there are some terrific isolated free camp spots along the clifftops, but too blowy for us at present.

The cold rainy blustery conditions continued through the night and into the next morning, so we spent yet another day bunkered down and being lazy in the warm Kruiser. Di caught up with her photos and I read and watched movies.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
”So it is.”
”And freezing.”
”Is it?”
”Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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