Travel News – South Australia

Kooma View Farmhouse – Nuttbush Retreat – Jamestown – World’s End Reserve (South Australia)

18/12/16  After Ceduna, we met up again with Charles and Joy at Kooma View Farmhouse, 60kms or so west of the town of Kimba, the halfway point across Australia from east to west. That brought home to us that we were halfway back on our return leg to Queensland. Kooma View is a disused farmhouse that the property owners make available to travellers to camp at no charge, although donations are welcomed to help with the upkeep of the basic facilities (the dump point and flushing outdoor toilet). The house was open and visitors were welcome to look through, which was interesting but clothes hanging in cupboards and crockery set out on the kitchen table were a little eerie. Some furnishings and contents were very familiar, dating back to our childhood. It felt like someone should be living there – like those movies where everyone vanishes suddenly leaving everything undisturbed. We spent the night camped in the grounds near to the house. No ghosts or green alien abductors bothered us.

The following morning, we headed on east through Kimba and Iron Knob to spend two nights at Nuttbush Retreat on Pandurra Station, near Port Augusta. We’d previously stayed there when travelling across to WA in June. I replaced a broken brake pad sensor in the Landy, finally extinguishing a dashboard warning light that had been in my face for more than a week.

Our next leg took us around the top of Spencer Gulf through Port Augusta and over the high South Flinders Ranges to quaint, historic Jamestown, with its lovely stone residential and commercial buildings. Charles and Joy pulled in shortly after us, having taken a separate route, and we joined them for lunch and a leisurely walk around the town from our semi-bush campsite at Robinson Park Reserve on the northern edge of town.

In the morning, we took the Hallett Road to one of our favourite towns, Burra, which we’d spent a couple of days exploring last year. We were just passing through this time, and had lunch and refuelled before heading 30kms south to our bush camp at World’s End Reserve on Burra Creek. In spite of the creek being dry, it was still a very pleasant camp with just our two vans in amongst old river gums near the creek. This was our last night with our travel buddies, who were heading on to the vineyards of Clare while we continued east towards home. We generally don’t travel with others, preferring the flexibility of doing our own thing, but have done so now with a few couples who we’ve enjoyed camping with. We’d thoroughly enjoyed Charles’ and Joy’s company and had great fun together, sharing seven camp sites since first meeting them at Esperance in WA, and we’re looking forward to getting together again and doing more free camping when they’re travelling around Queensland next year.

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad

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Yalata East – Shelly Beach, Ceduna (South Australia)

13/12/16  img_2675aFrom our Nullarbor free camp, the Eyre Highway closely followed the Bunda Cliffs of the Great Australian Bight, and the blue of the Southern Ocean was a constant sight off to our right. 240kms east in the Yalata Aboriginal Reserve, we pulled in for lunch at a little rest area just beyond the turnoff to the community and, again, stayed on and spent the night. At the back of the rest area, a number of tracks led off to individual camp spots among the trees, and being the only ones there, we had the pick of them. We parked the van in a shady spot beneath a couple of overhanging trees.

img_9983 Di checked out all the bird life, and that night I spotlighted for a wombat. I’m now convinced that wombats are extinct throughout Australia. We’ve travelled the length and breadth of this great country during the past couple of years, ever watchful for a wombat in the wild. Sure, there have been the occasional ones lying belly-up on the roadside, but I now believe these were the last of their species. There are no more. If I could “parrot” the memorable words of John Cleese: “’E’s passed on! This (wombat) is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace!…’Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! This is an ex-(wombat)!!”

Di and I have had trouble adjusting to the change in time zones since crossing the WA/SA border. SA is 2 hours 30 minutes later than WA. At 9:00 o’clock at night, it’s still light outside! It’s been a couple of days now and our body clocks are still way out of whack – we’re having lunch in the mid-afternoon, Happy Hour when it should be dinner, and going to bed way too late. It’ll take time to adjust, I guess, but we’ll soon be entering another new time zone in NSW and it’ll be all out the window again. Many are the trials of overlanding. It’s such a stressful life.

After a quiet night at our Yatala East bush camp, we headed on to Ceduna, with Di spending most of the time buried in a map planning our route home. It wasn’t so much about where we wanted to go, but where we haven’t been before and avoiding roads already travelled. We have a general idea which, as always, will develop and change as we go.

At Ceduna, the Landy and Kruiser had a surprise visit to a truck wash day spa, and came away looking very swanky again. I was chuffed to collect my certificate for completing the Nullarbor Links Golf Course, notwithstanding my substantial scorecard from using just a 5-iron. The certificate will have pride of place back home in the Castle. With the last two stopovers at 52km Peg and Yatala East, we’d lost track of our travelling companions, Charles and Joy, but came across them again at the Shelly Beach Caravan Park in Ceduna, along with Scott and Kez who we’d met and had dinner with at New Norcia a couple of months ago. And in a further coincidence, on our last day a motorhome pulled in next to us with Kev, Adele and Matt who we’d met at Dongara. It really is a small world.

Our stay at Ceduna was extended to sit out two days of horrifically hot weather, the kind that sucks the breath from your lungs. We met the global warming challenge by sitting in the cold waters of the bay or in the Kruiser’s air-conditioning. Whoever invented aircon should have a very large statue erected in their honour.

“So, Di, you have until Port Augusta to decide about going home via Birdsville.” Pete, not holding out much hope at all of that happening.

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Mundrabilla Roadhouse – Nullarbor Bush Camp (Western Australia)

8/12/16  Di and I left the bush camp at Woorlba East heading for our next overnight stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, about 90kms short of the South Australian border. We’d arranged to meet up again with Charles and Joy there.

There was just a barely noticeable lightness to the rig on the drive which I put down to a breeze that was blowing the grass around outside, but we didn’t realise just how windy it had become until pulling in at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse for fuel. A strong westerly tail wind had come up during the morning, giving us a push along. It was that kind of wind you had to lean into to walk against, and opening the car door was a feat of strength and determination.

img_2480While fuelling, we could see just ahead an immense column of smoke from a bushfire ignited by lightning strikes the day before. It looked to be a monster, fed by the strong wind conditions. And, strangely, sitting on top of the high column of heat and smoke was an immense cumulus cloud that boiled in on itself, looking very angry. Whether it was the cause of the bushfire or the effect of it was hard to tell. We finished fuelling and headed on, learning later at Mundrabilla that shortly after we’d gone through, the fire had changed direction causing the closure of the Eyre Highway for the rest of the day and night.

img_9821 It was certainly a day for avoiding Nature’s wrath. Firstly the bushfire and then, at Mundrabilla Roadhouse, we waited out a widespread warning of severe thunderstorm and damaging hail. The rig was still hitched up and the plan was to head under the servo awning if the hail hit. But, fortunately, the storm didn’t eventuate in our area – just the strong winds that rocked and shook the van all afternoon. Charles and Joy went further on to Eucla while we stayed the night at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.

On the way into WA in July, I’d played all the holes on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course, the world’s longest course, apart from two and had also missed getting my card stamped at a third hole. Now that we were going back again, I dusted off the versatile 5-iron, played the remaining holes at Eucla and Border Village at my usual level of golfing excellence, and had the missing stamp inserted at Mundrabilla. My scorecard was full and I’ll be collecting my certificate at Ceduna.

Unfortunately, the rain that prevented us from doing the Old Eyre Highway between Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village in June, again put paid to doing the stretch on the way back. Bummer! It’ll have to keep until next time.

We stopped for lunch at the 52km marker on the Nullarbor and decided to stay the night, tucked away beside a gravel heap a couple of hundred metres from the highway and near the ocean cliff. SA National Parks are serious about keeping vehicles away from the cliff edge. They not only install bollards to block vehicle access, but scarify rocks up on the tracks as well.

Crossing the WA/SA border took us into different time zones, and clocks were reset to SA time.

Don’t forget to turn your clock back. I’m going to turn mine back to when I was twenty.

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Nullarbor Roadhouse (South Australia)

30/06/16  From Coorabie Farm, we pulled in to Nundroo Roadhouse for fuel, and played the 520m 4th hole of the Nullarbor Links – you don’t need to know my score.

IMG_8042The mulga country we’d been heading through quite literally changed from one side of a low hill to the other, and it hit us that we were on the treeless Nullarbor Plain. The derivation of the name is Latin – nullus, “no”, and arbor, “tree”. And it is so correct; there are no trees, only low saltbush and sparse heath-type vegetation. No hills either. It’s the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock and is flat in every direction.

Just before reaching the Nullarbor Roadhouse from the eastern side, we turned off the Eyre Highway and drove in to the Head of Bight Centre. From viewing platforms perched on the 60m clifftops, we could see Southern Right Whales that come to this area of the South Australian coastline to breed and give birth to calves. We got a very up-close look at three whales lolling around below us just a short distance away from the base of the cliffs. Two had calves playing closely around them. And with the binoculars, we counted another 12 whales further along the shoreline. Close second to the whale watching we did off the Gold Coast, and no sea sickness too!

After setting up in the Nullarbor Roadhouse camping area, I played the 538m 5th hole located out back. Only after I’d finished on the green did I realise that the Royal Flying Doctor plane that had been parked up behind the roadhouse had been warming up for take-off and the pilot had let me play through his taxi-way to the airstrip that went straight across my fairway. He must have had a smile on his face watching me slug it out in the salt bush rough – and, no, you still don’t need to know my score.

From here, we’d intended leaving the Eyre Highway and driving the 200km stretch of the Old Eyre Highway track from Nullarbor to the WA border and camping on it overnight. However, I spoke to a couple of locals who reckoned there was still a lot of water on it from the recent rain. In the early hours of the next morning, we had another shower of rain, so we’ll take the main highway instead, and hopefully be able to do the old one on our way back from WA, whenever that might be.

Nullarbor Roadhouse - Sunset (SA)

Nullarbor Roadhouse – Sunset (SA)

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, A.A. Milne

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Coorabie Farm (South Australia)

28/06/16  270kms west of Streaky Bay, we arrived to stay the night at Coorabie Farm, 12kms in off the Eyre Highway. Once again, the relatively short trip took about 5 hours with a couple of coffee breaks and recces of the towns of Smokey Bay and Ceduna. The country became progressively drier as we motored along, green pastures changing to dry salt bush paddocks and mulga scrub country. Within a short time, the country had steadily become drier and less manicured, and started to look like it would have been before Europeans arrived.

At Ceduna, I played the first two holes of the Nullarbor Links, the world’s longest golf course stretching 1,400kms from Ceduna to Kalgoorlie. At Penong, 70kms on from Ceduna, was the 3rd hole, played in the shadows of restored Australian windmills. The rest of the golf holes are located at roadhouses dotted along the Eyre Highway as we cross the Nullarbor, with the 17th and 18th at Kalgoorlie. The Spalding Pro 5 iron that I’d purchased for $5.00 at an Op Shop some time ago has proven most versatile for covering all the required shots – teeing off, driving, chipping, and putting – and my scorecard is so very reflective of my omni-club approach. I wonder if there’s a prize for the highest score card?

Dinner at Coorabie Farm was had around the warmth of the campfire with fellow Queenslanders Mick and Loretta, and later in the evening Selina arrived in camp, a young cyclist riding solo from Perth to some as yet undetermined destination, probably Melbourne she said. We no longer feel qualified to complain about the weather conditions after seeing the way she travels.

“While playing golf today I hit two good balls. I stepped on a rake.” – Henny Youngman

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Streaky Bay (South Australia)

IMG_715427/06/16  The 290km drive up the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula from Port Lincoln to Streaky Bay took five hours, allowing for a couple of coffee breaks along the way, a few sightseeing stops, and lunch on the point overlooking the bay at Elliston.

The Flinders Highway was a good stretch of road and we stuck to a steady 90kph. There was a strange absence of other vehicles on the road, which was good for me as I didn’t have to worry about traffic build-up behind us on the 110kph highway.

South of Elliston, green pastures became littered with white limestone rocks, some of which had been stacked along the fence lines. Soon, most of the paddocks were enclosed by waist-height drystone walls that stretched up and over the hillsides, and we wondered why anyone would bother to go to all that effort. We learned that these walls dated back to the 1850’s when paddock stone was a cheap and convenient form of fencing. There are many kilometres of this drystone fencing on the west coast. It seems that when the area was first settled by Europeans, shepherds looked after mobs of sheep on the fenceless plains. Gold was discovered in Victoria in the mid-1800s, and the shepherds deserted the sheep to go strike it rich in the goldfields. Faced with labour shortages, pastoralists then had to put up fences to contain their sheep and those with abundant paddock stone built rock walls, employing skilled Wallers brought out from England, Ireland and Scotland for this purpose. One way to clear the paddocks of troublesome rock, I suppose.

IMG_7121

Most of the next day was spent just out of town on the Cape Bauer scenic drive, along some very rugged coastline. The well-maintained unsealed road loops around the cape, with many 4WD side tracks leading off to spectacular views of the Great Australian Bight from the clifftops and lots of photo opportunities. No whale sightings to report yet.

Cape Bauer Loop Drive (SA)

Cape Bauer Loop Drive (SA)

We’d heard that this area was well-known for fossilised weevil cocoons (Leptopius duponti beetle from the late Pleistocene era) locally called “clogs”, which are around 100,000 year old. We were excited to find a few at the first place we looked. At the next few spots, though, we soon realised there were thousands of them lying around underfoot. I had to make a real effort not to look at the ground, to stop picking more up. This part of Australia must have been knee deep in these acacia beetles back then!

The Whistling Rocks and the Blowholes were something to see, with the steam engine sound of air rushing from vents and shafts in the rocks with each incoming wave. Someone had written on the sign “A breath of fresh Eyre”. Very appropriate for the windy conditions.

The following day, we took a drive south to Point Westall where I spotted a solitary whale out to sea (didn’t count on Di’s Animals in the Wild List though as she couldn’t see it with the binoculars) and then on to Point Labatt, one of the largest Australian mainland breeding sites for the endangered Australian sea lions. From the clifftop above the beach, we counted 48 sea lions, including a pup having a feed from its mother and a couple of big bulls, lazing on the sand and rocks 50 metres below us.

A short way inland, we stopped at Murphy’s Haystacks, impressive formations of weathered pink granite sculpted by the elements to their present form about 100,000 years ago. Located on a hilltop in a green pasture, they were an imposing and remarkable sight.

We spent two days driving around the spectacular countryside and seeing truly magic places, just the two of us. No tourist hoards to compete with at this time of year. It’s too cold and windy and rainy. We were very fortunate, though, to have two days of clear weather to enjoy seeing the sights of the local area.

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” – Winnie the Pooh

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Port Lincoln and Surrounds (South Australia)

16/06/16  The wet weather was dead-set determined to stick with us. Di did a tally the other day and at that stage, of the 44 days so far this trip, only 10 have been without rain. It’s like we’ve been towing the rain clouds along with us.

And they descended on us yet again for a wet welcome to Port Lincoln at the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula. Our intended bush camp at Mikkira Station, south of Port Lincoln, was reconsidered as the recent rain would have made it too sloppy getting in there and we’d be generating next to no solar power once we did. Instead, we set up at the Port Lincoln Caravan Park at North Shields, just five minutes out of town to the north. Probably better anyway, as we’d be unhitching for a few days and doing day trips around the area, and the Kruiser would be more secure there than the isolated property. The van sat only a few metres off the top of the beach cliff, with sweeping views across Boston Bay to Point Boston, Boston Island and Port Lincoln.

Port Lincoln is the largest city in the West Coast region of SA, and is a major centre for government services and commerce. It also has the most millionaires per capita in Australia. Who’d have guessed?!

We especially liked the foreshore area at Port Lincoln when we went for a look around town the following morning, particularly its sweeping panorama across Boston Bay. The local sailing club were out and struggling to make headway in a rather sluggish race. With such calm conditions, the large bay was as still as a millpond and very picturesque, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the foreshore park on our first day of fine weather in what felt like ages.

Port Lincoln, we decided, would be a nice place to live, if not for the cold weather and Great White Sharks that the locals seem very wary of. Not many people venture into the water down here which says something about the sharks. One local told us that a couple of weeks earlier a 14 foot shark had been seen by a fisherman just off a nearby beach. We thought back to the big one that we’d spotted last year from the clifftop at Cape Spencer Lighthouse on Yorke Peninsula, lazily cruising the shallow waters of a small beach cove below. We’re kind of glad it’s winter and too cold for swimming. With big crocs in the far north and big sharks in the far south, where we live in the middle was looking pretty good.

We took a drive to the nearby communities of Tumby Bay, Louth Bay and Point Boston, each offering different beachscapes and cliffscapes and their own picturesque views across to the nearby islands. Regardless how inviting the water looked, though, it was way too cold for a swim. Drinks at the Wheatsheaf Hotel before a big log fire rounded off the day very nicely.

Coffin Bay is a small community on the west coast of the peninsula, about 40 minutes drive from Port Lincoln. We spent an afternoon cruising around and checking the area out. It’s a sleepy little coastal town with a well-stocked general store that makes truly excellent chips, a pub and lots of protected shoreline. It’s easy to see that as well as being a tourist destination in its own right, from the new housing that’s springing up it’s also taking off as a satellite town to nearby Port Lincoln.

The weather the following morning was glorious, made more so when a dolphin cruised slowly past our camp in the flat blue waters of the bay while we were enjoying a morning cuppa. It just doesn’t get any better. That afternoon, we had a look around Lincoln National Park, a short drive south, and found it did get better – we came across a group of sea lions sunning on rocks just off the tip of Cape Donington. Another tick (Thirteenth) for Di’s “Animals in the Wild” List.

The next day was spent at Whalers Way, a privately-owned wilderness reserve 32kms south-west of Port Lincoln at the very foot of the Eyre Peninsula. We used a key obtained earlier from the Visitor Information Centre in town to get through the locked entrance gate and followed the 14kms of tracks along what has to be South Australia’s most spectacular and dramatic stretch of coastline. We spent six hours in the reserve, seeing numerous blowholes, deep coastal crevasses, rocky capes, and fur seals lazing on rocky outcrops, but most of all, the spectacular cliffs and pounding seas.

We’d have stayed longer but the gathering clouds looked threatening and the tracks would have turned very ordinary with the forecast rain. Whalers Way is not widely publicised. There’s none of the usual hype or touristy trappings to be found anywhere in the reserve, but it should be on everyone’s List of Must See Places simply because of the unadulterated natural beauty of the coastline. It certainly has a spot on our Favourite Places List.

The rain came that night, and a clap of thunder at 5:00am had me springing out of bed thinking the small awning was wrapping over the roof of the van. All was well, though, and we had early cuppas.

“The first bug to hit a clean windshield lands directly in front of your eyes.” – Drew’s Law of Highway Biology

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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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Brinkworth – Port Augusta – Whyalla Area – Kimba (South Australia)

7/06/16  We survived the anxious transit through Adelaide’s road system, from where the A13 highway entered from the south through to the A1 on the north side. In between, these wide highways become narrow roads, often twisty and choked with dodgem cars and big trucks. I swore this was my last visit to Adelaide pulling a van. Life’s too short for all that stress. We were now on our way north to loop around the top of Spencer Gulf at Port Augusta and down onto the Eyre Peninsula before heading into Western Australia.

Past Adelaide, we overnighted at the small town of Brinkworth, located a little north of Clare. The local Progress Association maintains a nice little rest area to attract travellers to the town, and the community obviously cares about welcoming visitors because just after we arrived a couple of locals pulled in to make sure we were all settled in OK. On a walk around town we met a lady who was hand-rearing a young magpie that didn’t have any tail feathers yet and looked more like a penguin than a magpie. It had grown up with them, so, instead of having a normal bird call, it alternated between sounding like their young son crying out for attention and their cat meowing.

From Brinkworth the next day, we went through Snowtown, notorious for the murders committed back in the 1990s, and on through Port Pirie to Port Augusta at the tip of Spencer Gulf. Compared with many roads we’d recently been on, the Princes Highway north of Adelaide was a good stretch. All the dips and bumps had been laid down elsewhere. For most of the way, we were Tail-end Charlie to a convoy of army vehicles travelling at 80-90kph, a good speed for fuel consumption so we stuck with them. There’s a large Defence Reserve on the western side of the Gulf just beyond Port Augusta, and they were probably headed there.

We camped at Pandurra Station – Nuttbush Retreat, 40kms west of Port Augusta at the start of the Eyre Highway that goes west to Perth. The property’s been owned by the Nutt family since 1895, and is still a working sheep and cattle grazing enterprise carrying 20,000 sheep and 150 cattle. These days it offers guest accommodation as well.

The next morning was spent at the Australian Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, back on the northern outskirts of Port Augusta, which maintains a collection of arid zone habitats in a very picturesque setting of 250 hectares. It was very interesting and well laid out, and we were glad we had a look.

Back at the homestead after lunch, six vans had set up around us while we’d been away. We’d gone from being the only ones there to being one of a bunch. Despite there being heaps of room available, one van had parked up so close to us we couldn’t have put our awning out if we’d wanted to…… OK, Di, I’ll control myself. I won’t go to the Dark Side. They’ll be moving on in the morning and all will be well again.

After seeing off our intimate neighbours the next morning, we took a drive to Whyalla, firstly 4WDing in to Wild Dog Hill in Whyalla Conservation Reserve and then to the lighthouse at Point Lowly, both just out of town to the north, before going in to Whyalla and its foreshore area to have a look around.

We stayed three nights at Pandurra Station. It was a good camp with a great happy hour in the bar area from 5:00 each afternoon. Kevin and Susan, fellow caravanners temporarily managing the accommodation side of the place, were very friendly and welcoming and good company over a beer or two. Our planned early departure was delayed when I found a broken wheel stud while prepping the van. I fitted a new one from the spares box, and we were off.

Iron Knob - Iron Monarch Mine - Stopover On our Way To Kimba (SA)

Iron Knob – Iron Monarch Mine – Stopover On Our Way To Kimba (SA)

A little further west on the Eyre Highway, we free-camped at the recreation reserve at Kimba. This was another RV-friendly small town with the foresight to encourage travellers to pull in and stay for a while by providing an open space and clean amenities at a recreation reserve. More towns should wake up to the fact that not all travellers desire caravan park facilities, and that some (like us) will often bypass a town with a caravan park in lieu of one that provides alternatives such as a secure free camp or a showground camp area.

Kimba’s claim to fame is that it is located halfway across Australia, so I guess as we approach Western Australia, we are now officially into the “other half” of the continent. We unhitched and went for a drive on a very chilly day to Refuge Rocks. This is a large granite rock formation where, in 1840, a very parched Edward Eyre and his party found water and camped for a day or two during his exploration of an overland route from Adelaide to Perth. Back in Kimba, we fuelled up and restocked the groceries – a financial benefit to the town derived directly from their provision of free-camp facilities.

Before hitching up and leaving Kimba, we drove out to the lookout on White Knob, just out of town. We arrived in heavy fog which cleared enough to give us a good view of the surrounding countryside.

“Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it.” – Gene Perret

Categories: Pete's Extreme Points Of Mainland Australia List (PEPOMA), Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

McLaren Vale (South Australia)

1/06/16  To the west of Strathalbyn, we wound our way slowly up and over the steep Bull Creek Range through some very picturesque grazing country. Stone farmhouses and outbuildings were sheltered in the rolling hills, and green hillside pastures were dotted with sheep and cattle among old Red Gums. Coming down off the range on the other side, we were back in McLaren Vale where we’d finished up last year before heading home for Christmas. We were now back to pick up our meanders westwards.

We settled in at McLaren Vale for a few days while waiting to have the car serviced in Adelaide. This part of South Australia is just lovely. The local vineyards play a big part in that but it’s really more to do with the splendid scenery, heritage buildings and charming little storybook villages located around the district.

In the middle of a severe storm, we caught up with long-time friends from Queensland, Arthur and Caroline, who came down from holidaying in Adelaide to have lunch with us at Angove Winery on the outskirts of McLaren Vale. Over a few glasses of red and some platters of yummy local produce, we shared a very enjoyable afternoon with them.

The Landy was pampered by Triumph Rover Spares at Lonsdale. It’s nowBillet Cooling Crossover Pipe sporting a beautiful shiny billet aluminium cooling crossover pipe that is an absolute piece of art – so much lovelier and much more robust than the standard plastic thingy that Land Rover designed to ultimately fail. For all its cost, you can’t see it hidden away under the engine cover. I know it’s there though and, just for that fact alone, the engine is running so much better. At the end of the day, bling does make a difference!

We also met up with Di’s teaching colleague Kerry and husband Greg, who were presently caravanning and arrived in McLaren Vale a couple of days after us; more wines and meals as we caught up with what’s been happening with everyone since Di retired from teaching.

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The car and van were washed, the water topped up and supplies replenished and we girded our loins to tackle the transit through Adelaide on our way north and around Spencer Gulf to Eyre Peninsula.

“If the universe is expanding, why hasn’t that helped with the traffic through Adelaide?” – Me

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , ,

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