WHERE ARE WE NOW
We continued on RM Williams Way through Carrieton a tiny township with some very well preserved old buildings including 3 churches and a few private homes. Then the larger towns of Orroroo, Jamestown and Clare each getting progressively larger as we headed south. The scenery also changes from dry sheep country into grain and even some green rivers which is something we’ve not seen for a very long time.
From Clare we turned west to the small town of Blyth to overnight in their free camp, no pub dinner as closed for the night and no movies are shown on Sundays actually apart from the general store that’s pretty much all there is in town. Like other declining towns here there is still good sporting facilities so let’s hope that holds the town together.
We then travelled through grain farm back roads watching all the various machines working, short stop at Balaklava then decided to head down to Adelaide to see if we could find the apartment we lived in 38 years ago. And we did wow it hadn’t changed a bit even though there were plenty of new houses and roads in the area. The beach had changed though with a lot of soil erosion and the pizza shop had gone but the laundromat was still there. Checked out a couple of caravan parks and a good decision was to stay at the Belair NP Caravan Park, privately owned but right next to the NP. Lovely surroundings and nice to do a few km walk in the park and see koalas in their natural environment.
Did a train trip to the city and also a tram ride out to Glenelg, a fantastic day even though warm at 36 we walked well over 20,000 steps so no idea how many km. We liked that both areas had really good shops to explore and nice to find a city that isn’t just malls. We treated ourselves at the recommended Eros Greek restaurant for an early start on my birthday.
Walkabout had been having some tyre issues so while in Adelaide we got a wheel alignment & axle adjustment, good results as Rob could instantly feel that we tracked better and turning was easier.
Leaving the city we had a night at a private property in amongst the vineyards at McLaren Vale then explored the Fleurieu Peninsula with its lovely coastline a lot gentler than the Eyre and some good swimming beaches, still way too cold for us. We stayed fairly much on the coast all the way to Cape Jervis where we watched the ferry leave for the nearby Kangaroo Island – too expensive for most people. Then crossed inland through lovely rich farming country to Victor Harbour and Port Elliot what a hidden gem great beaches and beautiful scenic walks. Stayed here the night at the Showgrounds to enjoy long hot showers – ours has been playing up recently.
We meandered our way to Murray Bridge via Hindmarsh Island, Clayton and crossing by ferry to Tailem Bend. Lots of holiday locations around these places with great beaches and amazing wetlands, plenty of birdlife. While at Hindmarsh we drove down to the Murray River Mouth which is incredibly narrow with the sand dredges working 365 days a year to keep it open.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
Headed inland from Port Augusta first stop was Quorn, during the winter months the old Pichi Richi Steam Train runs and the town swells with over 12,000 visitors but the opposite was the case when we arrived with hardly a person in sight. Had a good visit to the info centre and look around the railway museum before morning tea in the old emporium where the old gas money shute still works and plenty of other memorabilia on display.
As the weather is clear and cool we decide to explore the Southern Finders Ranges our first walk is at Dutchmans Stern a good 10.4km walk up to the highest peak and then looping round through a variety of vegetation. Brilliant views both going up and back down the only downside was the ants who attack with fury each time we stop. A short distance further up the road is Warren Gorge where we stop for the night. A large spread out camping area that we had to ourselves. Lots of different birds here including many young chicks, a dozen apostles kept us amused while eating outside. We did the gorge walk the next morning up to Smoko Lookout a very pleasant 5km.
Continuing on the scenic route including Buckaringa Drive we stopped at old graves sites from the 1840’s, old homesteads & towns from the same era plus some craggy rock lookouts. A good few hours of driving also stopping at Hawker to look through the Jeff Morgan Gallery what an amazing artist he is. A good overnighter before getting into Iraka Flinders National Park was the Rawnsley Rest Area where we were joined by a few other travellers, great sunset but not so good for the setting sun on the hills.
Our next walk was to see Aboriginal artwork at Arkaroo Rock, a good short 3km with nice views of the surrounding rocky outcrops. Then it was on to Wilpena Pound Information Centre to pick up maps and book 3 nights in the national park. Our first night after a short drive was Acraman Campground, we had this to ourselves. We explored the area and on our evening walk spotted not 1 but 5 of the rare Yellow Footed Wallaby pretty excited about that. Next day we did a good flat walk up the Bunyeroo Gorge where there is markers telling us of the geological significance of different rock formations wow so much to learn and very interesting, hard to imagine the 100’s of millions years ago activities. Although we were booked 2 nights here we decided to move on so we could do other walks and spent our second night at Aroona Campground again on our own. There are ruins here of an old sheep station homestead and also a few different walks. Before stopping for the night we drove through Brachina Gorge wow so nice with the evening sun and great to see yet another Yellow Footed Wallaby they just can’t be as rare as all the brochures tell us.
Another day another walk this time the Yuluna Hike which we both rally enjoyed started off by going up on a fire trail then zigzagging down steeply through cedars to dry river beds with enormous river gums. Just a beautiful walk with reminders of walking in parts of the US and also Switzerland. We are getting used to this walking and it’s worth leaving camp earlyish while still cool. In fact the weather has been fabulous overnight about 16 then up to high 20’s in the day with clear skies and very low humidity. This has also given us a chance to enjoy the stars and passing satellites again. It doesn’t get dark until about 9 so we have found that often it is past 10 before going to bed unlike WA when we were often in bed by 8.30.
Third night in the park is at Trezona Campground and surprisingly 2 other campers here. The sheep were still grazing in this area up to the 70’s and there is a lot of evidence of this with bare ground now riddled with rabbit & wombat warrens. While here we did the Trezona Hike passing stromatolites, old huts seeing plenty of kangaroos, emus and wedge tall eagle. Left the NP headed back through Wilpena Pound and on via a few back roads to just north of Carrieton where we stopped by the Pekina (dry) River for the night watching the Nankeen Kestrals gave us great entertainment.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
Memory Cove had been suggested by a local conservationist we’d met on our way to Gawler Ranges and although there is a rough limestone track all the way in for 35km it was worth the 1.5 hour drive and has to be the best place we’ve stayed. A small cove with only 5 campsites calm water surrounded by bushland with plenty of bird life (bush & sea), also saw sea lions & dolphins every day. There is a track out to one headland and an easy rock hopping exercise out to the other. Plenty of fishing and private boats go past at a distance and the occasional one comes into the cove. We did lots of lazing and book reading making good use of the hammock but also walked, swam and kayaked which was very rewarding with such clear water we could see all different types of seaweed & plants and fish of many sizes including some over a meter long. We originally booked for just 2 nights but with good weather decided to extend to 4 luckily we managed to get phone reception out on the point to arrange this.
After 3 days of warm sunny weather a sudden change came through with thunderstorms followed by a day of drizzle however even this didn’t take away from us enjoying this cove which we had to ourselves for the last 2 days. Sad to leave but headed back through Port Lincoln (a busy city with everything you need) and stopped at Moonlight Bay yes another free camp and yes right on the coast. The night was rough and windy but great all the same to watch the huge seas.
After a few squally showers in the morning the skies cleared and we had a nice long walk along the beach not another person in sight. As with most of the beaches in the last couple of weeks plenty of rope debris on the shore tangled with the sea grass, way too much to pick up but we move what we could to above the high tide mark.
Stopped at Tumby Bay next oh what a lovely small seaside town very tidy and plenty of the cute old stone cottages which we’ve been seeing on the peninsula. Sadly being Saturday the bakery was closed so I missed out on another Kitchener bun but we had a good wander round in the town and along the shore. We turned inland and on to gravel and even some mud roads to get to Federation Hill, Darke Peak and Carappee Conservation Reserve. Great fun finding these places which aren’t well known but each have their own character. Ended up at Kimba for the night, this is halfway across Australia as the crow flies, good area to camp and easy walk to the pub for dinner.
In the morning we walked the 6km (plus an extra couple of 800meter loops) Roora Trail through scrubland up to the lookout with sculptures of John Edward Eyre and Aboriginal Tracker, on the way there is sculptures of Australian Wildlife all very well done. Also checked out the painted Silos and the Big Galah which was incredibly ugly and unkept so decided not even worth a photo. Continuing travelling east on the Eyre Highway we came to Iron Knob where there is still mining activity right near the road although the township was almost deserted. We were fascinated driving round looking at all the deserted houses and shacks a few still being lived in but a bit hard to tell in most cases it was only that a car was parked outside. Very soon this will just be another ghost town with beautiful hills destroyed and little effort made to restore to any semblance of what once was.
Decided not to bother going back to the coast to Whyalla as the highway is very scenic with views of the Southern Flinders Ranges. Arrived at Port Augusta taking advantage of the area set aside for self contained travellers at the Sports Club, right on the outskirts of town which suited us fine.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
Moonlight Bay (between Port Lincoln and Tamby Bay)
After staying just out of Minnipa we explored many other rocks in the area including Tcharkuldu, Turtle, Polda and Mt Wudinna all very different and most having rock walls built around the bottom to channel the water into reservoirs, in the 1930’s this was the only water supply for the nearby towns. Plenty of water flowing when we were there as the predicted storms had arrived so heavy showers and thunder on and off all day.
We treated ourselves to lunch at the great Wudinna Bakery and I got myself another haircut finally fixing the mess the guy in Port Hedland made. We then headed across the farm lands to Eyre Peninsula. First stop was on Baird Bay a lovely camp spot watching pelicans and cormorants fish, more lightning & rain overnight. A few heavy storms in the morning encouraged us to stay in bed late but when we did leave it was gorgeous which was perfect for watching the seals and sea lions at Pt Labatt.
We continued meandering up the coast toward Streaky Bay and found a great spot quite early at Smooth Pool so decided to stop for the night, the seas here were amazing. We did a long walk on the coastal track and also checked out a “subdivision” of holiday homes, sheds, caravans etc no one home at any of the 15 or so properties. Streaky Bay was a useful spot to do groceries etc but the day was grey so decided not to do another loop road on the coast but to head south on the Flinders Highway.
We diverted on the Talia Caves Road to see The Hub a sunken cave and also the Woolshed Cave definitely worth the short drive, so interesting all these bays and coves. Our next loop was just prior to Elliston on Cliff Top drive here we were not only entertained by dolphins surfing but also many pieces of sculpture created by the locals. After a brief stop at Elliston we continued on to another ocean side free camping at Locks Well there is a 282 step staircase (we did this twice just to make sure) to the beach here and apparently fairly good fishing for Australian salmon.
We took a direct route to the seaside town of Coffin Bay, enjoying yet again the yellow fields with a variety of grains ready for harvest, and into the National Park only the Yangie Campground is on the bitumen so booked in there for one night. Unfortunately in SA (like Queensland) bookings must be made on line which does cramp our style and makes it inconvenient if we don’t know whether tracks are suitable for us to drive on. We have purchased a 2 month pass ($32 concession) to save us paying each time we enter a National Park in South Australia.
Yangie was ok but on an inlet which wasn’t particularly exciting the best thing was full internet access so we could have a good catch up with family. We explored some of the park but gave the deep sandy/rocky tracks a miss. Next town was Port Lincoln where we collected gate keys to enter Memory Cove however before staying there we headed down to the very bottom of Eyre Peninsula and had a nice night camped at Whalers Station. It was good to read that although they did whaling here they were pretty hopeless and it only lasted a few years. Southern Right whales pass along this coastline but we are just too late to see them.