Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Hucks Lookout 19 May 2006
Set out for a 16 km hike along the St Marys Peak Trail in the Pound. St Marys is the highest mountain in SA at 1610m. The next closest range is the ABC range named for its 26 peaks! The geology of this area is remarkable. Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre that was formed about 500 million years ago, through the erosion of a mountain chain. The trail started off OK and we bumped into lots of kangaroos and emus. However once it met the ranges, it turned into a mountain climb with near vertical clamber of rocks (Like Hang Dog!) We were exhausted by the time we reached the top, but were rewarded with 360deg views of the various mountain ranges, as well as looking down into Wilpena Pound. We didn’t feel too bad after we meet a group of young back packers on a whirlwind bus trip (with a guide herding them up the mountain), who looked worse than us. The first German fellow flew past and then along came the rest who referred to him as Amazon Man. The last two Irish girls were extremely red cheeked. We passed them (as we were going down) and smiled. Showered, had a cup of tea and drove off late and settled at Hucks Lookout with a fantastic 360deg view yet again. Woke up to a brilliant colourful sunrise.
Death Rock 16 May 2006
Did some shopping and then set out for the Flinders Ranges. The countryside got drier with little trees and the red soil smoothed by salt bush. Settled into a campsite for the night and then went for a lovely walk. Stumbled across an old settlement that was situated by a billabong. Took some great photos of rock formations, including one called Dead Rock. It was not explained which rock or why it would be called dead rock. Whilst Heather was zooming in and out to get the best shot of a great big boulder overlooking a water hole the ghostly face of an aboriginal mans face jumped out (Death Rock). When we came back from our walk, another motorhome arrived and we had a chat with them. Turned out that they were from a small Victorian town where our friends Julie and Greg spend time with family. When we messaged Julie she was entertaining those same relatives and the other campers knew them quite well. (Small world in the middle of the Flinders Rangers. Not to mention the couple from Mt Warrigal that turned up twice next to us.)
Port Augusta 14-15 May 2006
It was bright and sunny for Mothers Day as we set off for the short drive down the mountain. It was a magnificent view and a real buzz to see the sparkling water again. This is the end of Spencer Gulf and it has the feel of a big river yet something else. The visual impact of the mountain ranges in the background, the deep orange cliffs along the waters edge and plains of grey saltbush produce a very different feel. We parked right on the new wharf area in town and had morning tea. Peter felt that Port Augusta was a bit of a disappointment after the magnificent towns we had visited. It obviously has some sort of a crime problem, with a number of the houses having high metal fences around them and the caravan parks having high fences topped with barb wire. We visited a fascinating native botanic garden set out on 200 hectares. The range of unusual plants intrigued Heather and the camera got a good work out. We settled down for the night at a caravan park right on the edge of the water. Very surprised how many caravans are on the move. Lucky we had a great spot in the caravan park or we might have got a complex. Apparently there are at least 80 coming per night and there is another bigger caravan park here. There is talk about a big caravan rally in Alice in early June. Think we will go in a different direction for a few weeks to make a space between us. Convinced that free/bush camping has some definite advantages. On Monday morning we had a look around town and tried to catch up on some jobs. While we were aware of how much services have been cut back in the bush, it is not until you need a few things yourself that you realise how isolated you can be, even in large provincial centres. It must make it very hard for people to be sending away for equipment all the time or having to travel long distances for basic services.
Wilpena Pound (Flinders Ranges NP) 17 - 18 May 2006
Drove along an increasingly desolate road, until we arrived at Hawker, a small village at the base of the Flinders Ranges. Like most of the towns we have visited, this is still suffering from the effects of the drought. Caught up with our ANZ banking at tiny isolated Hawker as there is not a branch in Port Augusta. Only bank in town! Some thing unusual in the banking world there.
Arrived in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Rangers National Park and set up camp overlooking lovely mountains. Took off for a 9km hike in the early afternoon to the remains of Hill Home Farm – the major property in the Pound in the early days. The story of their life is all set up on boards with lots of photos and it made you really think about how very fortunate we are today. The farm was wiped out by a long drought that was broken by a flash flood through the valley that destroyed the road that the sons had taken years to make. The stories of the early settlers’ hardships reminded us of the stories Peter’s dad used to tell of him growing up in the bush in Queensland. The walk followed the creek and we were really impressed by wild life - lots of birds and Euros Kangaroos Specific to Flinders.
Herrick Pass 13 May 2006
Set off for a long hike along Alligator Gorge in Mt Remarkable National Park. Unbelievably - the gorge was amazing – enormous cliffs of ochre and orange rock. Drove on towards Port Augusta, but settled down at a campspot on Herrick Pass, with brilliant views of the Spencer Gulf.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Wilmington 12 May 2006
Our anniversary today – married 33 years! Had a look around Orroroo in the morning and found the local hospital auxiliary stall just set up in the very brisk morning breeze. It was SO like the monthly World Vision stalls at Mayflower. Heather stocked up on home made fig, mulberry jams, jubilee cake and wild peach/apple pies for our trip. Also found some great antique bargains. (65% off).
In the afternoon we drove to Melrose which is the oldest settlement in the Flinders Ranges. Had an interesting chat to an old farmer who has sheep and Hereford cattle Camped at Wilmington for the night and set up a lovely camp fire and cooked tea on same. Very romantic! Getting better at bush cooking! After a few drinks started on the marshmallows. Knocked up the neighbours to join in. They hushed us up and snuck out at 8 pm as they thought their boys (10 yr old and 6yr old twins) were asleep. About ½ hr later the boys were up having a wow of a time with my BIG bag of marshmallows. They were experts at it and had to be dragged to bed. Areal Nanna event!
Orroroo 11 May 2006
Just as we were about to leave a fellow turned up to chat. It was an interesting chat – after he asked us why we had not called in at his vineyard he told us he had a number of vineyards in the area and explained how the large supermarkets are squeezing the producers dry. He chatted about his family and his wife Heather (Joan)!!! He asked us to get a glass (10am) and let us try his special Imperial Muscat from 1860 vines still on his land. He then asked us to produce a bottle that he generously filled with this SMOOTH drop!!!! We are hardly game to drink it; but we will. We have his card! Drove onto Jamestown, an historic town that is supported by the local agriculture. Picked up our mail at Orroroo and camped outside of the town for the night.
Clare 8-10 May 2006
Visited some more historical sites around Burra then set off for Clare. The countryside is slowly changing the further west we went. By the time we got to Clare, the rolling hills were abundant with the autumn vine leaves. We settled into splendid isolation at the local race course for the night. In the morning we had a tour of Claire, which is well known for fine wines. Heather bought a bottle of Heather’s Homestyle Illawarra Plum Sauce. The weather hasn’t improved and is still wet and cold, but we are extremely warm and comfortable in our home. We were very cheered by the release of the miners from Beaconsfield though the media went on a bit. However, in the afternoon we heard sirens and later that day caught the news of the explosion at Beetaloo near the town of Laura about 50km from us. We were thinking of calling in at Laura this week though it might now be inappropriate. We do chop and change our plans along the way.
On Wednesday we drove down to Mintaro in the 4WD. While we were apprehensive about towing a car, it has been very helpful in getting us to isolated places. Mintaro was a delightful hamlet, built in the mid 1800’s. Mintaro was reputed to produce the best slate in Australia and many of the buildings were beautifully built out of stone with a slate roof. One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to Martindale House, an amazing Georgian mansion. The mansion was owned by two families and was very intact, with all original furniture. This stately house was used in the filming of Picnic at Hanging Rock. We recognised lots of bits when we found a lovely book of photos from the movie. Quite an iconic movie to connect us with this beautiful house. In the afternoon we visited the Seven Hill Vineyard, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1851. This was everything a vineyard should be, with a chapel, crypt, underground cellar and a beautiful cat by the fire. It was a very substantial set up with the beauty of time passed.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Burra 5-7 May 2006
Drove south through the farming land through partially deserted villages. The hills are really rolling and looked like parts of Scotland but not very green. Instead, lots of soft long white grasses that really gave a distant snowy look. In a relatively short time we went from the arid plains of Broken Hill to a more hospitable environment. It is becoming more obvious that Broken Hill belongs to South Australia by nature!!!!
After a lovely afternoon drive we arrived in Burra, an old copper mining town, which (while reduced in size since its heyday), still has about 1000 people. We found the recommended camp spot at the local showground and marvelled at the space and openness after seeing the cramped conditions of the caravan park. We had a lovely view of a large part of the town and hills. Toured around the town enjoying the old buildings - most are made of local stone, a reflection of the mining background of the occupants. They were extremely like an English scene. Burra has outstanding public buildings, as well as many mining remnants and ruins.
Saturday morning and off to the Burra Antique Show, where unfortunately we made a bit of a dint in the wallet. It got colder during the day (16deg) and by afternoon there was the promising look of a cold change to make the feel of Scotland or Wales complete. Visited a number of historical sites, including an old shop, a gaol (used in the film Breaker Marant) and a deserted village. It was strange to think of all the people who had lived there in what is now a mound of stones. It was very cold and threatening by the time we left. The air conditioner was very welcome and we set it for the night. Really toughing it out! Around midnight a big storm hit with the cold change and we just felt warm and snug.On Sunday, we awoke to a windy freezing day, with the temperature at 7deg. It alternated between 7-9 deg all day, but we still managed to have a good time. Visited an old miner’s cottage and had a fascinating tour. While this was a small 3 room house, it was ‘luxury’ compared to the underground dug-outs we saw later. As many of the miners were poorly paid, up to 1800 people lived in holes dug along the creek. We then had a tour of the Burra Mine and the Morphett’s Engine sites, which were very well preserved. Many of the miners came from Cornwell and brought their building techniques with them. All of the houses and public buildings were built with local stone and give it a very English feel. .
Terowie 4 May 2006
The countryside has changed yet again to undulating farm land, brimming with tough, yellow winter grass. Peterborough is a small town of about 1500 people that had a long history as a railway junction. It has many delightful stone public and private buildings with alas, many vacant shops. Had an enjoyable morning walking around
In the afternoon, we headed for Terowie, a tiny village that was forgotten by time. Terowie was once an important railway town with a populace of 3000 but now has about 150 people. However all the infrastructure has remained, so there are the vestiges of an impressive main street that unfortunately has a shop and a pub left. The highlight for the day was standing with the locals and watching a white cat named Blackie, playing with a mouse. Went for a drink at the pub and were soon engrossed in the local gossip. We had a lot of fun and have an invitation to stay with a local farmer when we get back from Clare.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Oodla Wirra 3 May 2006
Continued our trip westward. The countryside is slowly changing, from long flat plains, dotted with scrubby saltbush to hilly country filled with stunted gum trees – the common factor being no water! Drove past small desolate villages that consisted of a run down service station and a few derelict houses. Had to stop at the fruit fly station and get rid of all fruit and vegies, so Heather made up a large pot of veggie soup – delicious.
Thackaringa 2 May 2006
Finally got the generator part and got it fitted before we headed towards SA. Set off from Broken Hill and when we looked for a campsite, we found David and Janet pulled into a great spot for the night. They had been camping with us at the racecourse and while we expected to catch up with them, we didn’t expect it to be so soon! Had a relaxing glass of wine and watched the sunset.