Posts Tagged With: SA

Bushman’s Rest, Lake Cullulleraine – Weethalle Showground – Narrabri – Scarborough (South Australia – Queensland)

23/12/16  Saying goodbye to our camping buddies Charles and Joy at World’s End Reserve, we followed the Goyder Highway east through rolling hills, golden fields of wheat and endless sheep pastures. The Murray River soon appeared on our right, and from the top of the Golden Limestone Cliffs, we looked out on the swollen river. Flood waters had breached the banks and spread out through the river red gums on the broad floodplain to the far cliffs. It was wonderful to see the mighty Murray so full and replenished by recent rains. There was a downside to the flooding, though. The many scenic bush camps dotted along the river were under all that floodwater.

Consequently we motored on, following the meandering river east and crossing it just beyond Renmark via the Paringa Bridge. This heritage listed bridge has a single railway line in the centre (now disused), with a narrow road lane on each side of it. A lift span allows river traffic to pass underneath. The road lane felt very tight for the Kruiser and we were glad it wasn’t any wider.

A little way down the road, we crossed into Victoria, intending to stay at a bush camp on the border. The Landy, though, was showing an outside temperature of 38C and rising, and we opted instead for a powered site. We spent the night beside Lake Cullulleraine at the Bushman’s Rest Caravan Park with the aircon keeping us cool and comfortable. The next morning was overcast with a forecast of rain. It was our wedding anniversary and we stayed on a second day beside the lake to celebrate.

img_3089Between the small towns of Goolgowi and Rankins Springs on the Mid Western Highway, we were happy to sit a long way back from a caravan that was travelling along at our pace. Suddenly, the van tilted and pulled over to the roadside, having lost a wheel. We stopped and gave them a hand to find the wandering wheel, got their details and went ahead to Rankins Springs to arrange a tow vehicle to get them into nearby Griffith where the broken wheel studs could be replaced. We were the first on hand to help them, and two other caravans pulled up to offer help as well. Aussies are a great bunch, quick to pitch in and do what they can when someone’s in trouble, especially for travellers on the side of the road.

That night, we camped in the showgrounds of the small town of Weethalle, among a group of rustic buildings facing a white-fenced trotting track sitting idle between infrequent race meetings. A local contact person was very helpful in opening up the facilities and making sure we were comfortable for the night.

From Lake Cullulleraine in upper Victoria, we had three big motoring days that took us home by Christmas Day, firstly 547kms to Weethalle in New South Wales, then 578kms to Narrabri where we stayed the night with Deb and Stu, and the final leg of 611kms to home. North of Narrabri, broad sheets of water lying in the paddocks and across the road at one point was evidence of recent rains. We’d crossed three State borders in four days to spend the festive day with family.

Since commencing in 2014, we’ve travelled 65,740kms with the van. Here are some facts about our overlanding to WA this year:

2016-overview

“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – The Landy 

The Landy

The Landy and Kruiser

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - New South Wales, Travel News - Northern Territory, Travel News - Queensland, Travel News - Victoria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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.

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

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.

Categories: Travel News, Travel News - Multiple States, Travel News - South Australia, Travel News - Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mundrabilla Roadhouse – Cocklebiddy Roadhouse (Western Australia)

1/07/16  I need to retract my previous description of the Nullarbor Plain being devoid of trees. The section east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse certainly lacked any, but travelling west the next day to Mundrabilla, we found that the flora was different, comprising waist-high bluebush and saltbush and then including mulga. Regardless of trees or no, it’s still the iconic Nullarbor and presently in full burst of growth with the recent unseasonable rain. It’s very fortunate we didn’t take the Old Eyre Highway track as we’d intended because it rained again on and off all day and I’m sure sections would have been impassable.

Not too many people can lay claim to seeing a rainbow on the Nullarbor! The northern end is probably touching down in Kalgoorlie.

IMG_8124

Sections of the Eyre Highway are designated as emergency Royal Flying Doctor Service landing strips, and are widened to allow road traffic to pull over on both sides leaving sufficient clearance for the plane’s wingspan down the middle.

At a few spots along the way, we pulled in to scenic viewpoints overlooking the iconic Bunda Cliffs and the Southern Ocean, and at the last one before the highway turns inland and leaves the coast, we spotted a solitary Southern Right Whale cruising slowly along the shoreline below.

The section of highway closest to the coastline is contained within the Nullarbor National Park which starts at Nullarbor in the east and ends in the west at the WA border. My Hema maps showed a number of side tracks from the highway to the clifftops and various sinkholes which I’d been looking forward to seeing. Disappointingly, most of the tracks had been closed off by Parks and Wildlife, leaving just a few “official” access points. Possibly to discourage camping, who knows. There is an awful lot of space out there and it’s a shame that when you make the effort to go see it, you’re contained within fenced pathways and parking bollards. We’re looking forward to travelling the unmaintained Old Eyre Highway track on the way back, if that hasn’t been closed off in the meantime or been sanitised with bloody bollards.

At the Border Village Roadhouse on the SA/WA border, we pulled in to the quarantine check point prepared for a good going over by the inspection people. Travellers had told us that they will open everything in their hunt for banned bio-produce, so we made sure that what we had on the quarantine list had been consumed before we got there. As it turned out, though, we mustn’t have looked like bio-mules or eco-trafficers, only receiving a cursory inspection before being told to be on our way. While we try to do the right thing, we’ve met people who’ve bragged about hiding fruit and vegetables under spare wheels and hard to access places to avoid confiscation, oblivious to the whole point of the quarantine requirements. All for a few dollars. Strange.

IMG_8235

We‘re now in Western Australia, the seventh and biggest State and Territory on our travels. Entering the State, we went from Australian Central Standard Time in South Australia to a strangely small time zone around Eucla called Australian Central Western Standard Time (clock goes back 45 minutes) and further down the road at Caiguna it changes to Australian Western Standard Time (clock goes back another 45 minutes). Confusing? I know. We are now two hours earlier than back home in Queensland, four time zones away.

The 6th hole at Border Village and the 7th at Eucla were called due to inclement weather, and we’ll do those on the way back home to Queensland. The rain cleared enough to let us look over the old Eucla Telegraph Station, built in 1877 and now almost covered by the shifting coastal sand dunes. We overnighted at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse, and played the 8th hole on the Nullarbor Links.

IMG_8301a

Mundrabilla Roadhouse – Nullarbor Links Golf Course (WA)

The following day, the 9th hole at Madura was completed on what can only be called the world’s roughest fairway. After carefully negotiating the freshly ripped/ploughed fairway, I overshot the green by 10 metres on my second shot, requiring a further 9 (yes 9!) shots to complete the hole from the saltbush and mulga “rough”.

Madura Pass - Flora (WA)

Madura Pass – Flora (WA)

We overnighted at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, 214kms west of Mundrabilla, and completed the 10th hole with a superb score (for someone using just a 5 iron). Everyone else I’ve seen playing the course has a bag of clubs. How commonplace!

“For those who love it and understand, 
The saltbush plains are a wonderland.” 
– Banjo Patterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Animals In The Wild List (AITW), Travel News, Travel News - South Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: