Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Blue Lake

The Granites 22 March 2007

After a late start we visited The Coorong Camp, an Aboriginal Cultural Centre that had an interesting display of local artefacts and history of the local Aboriginal community. A local elder (our age!) explained the concept of the centre. It was good to see a successful project after so many disasters. Then drove down the coast and stopped at a campsite called The Granites, right on the water near Kingston SE. There are a number of granite outcrops in the water and over 1,000s of years they have been rounded smooth, so that they look like stranded whales. In the evening we went for a walk along the beach and watched the sunset. This was one of those special stops right on the beach edge listening to the waves. It had been a very hot day and we welcomed the balmy evening with gathering dark clouds.

Stranded whales at The Granites

The streets of Old Tailem Town

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tailem Town 20 March 2007

Rained overnight and in the morning – a rare experience! Had a long look at Murray River as we crossed the Murray Bridge a number of times. It was a significant moment, (with our interest in Australia’s current water crisis as we have encountered this river and its tributaries so many times in the past and now we saw it at its end, were looking directly at. It still seemed a big river with a few paddle steamers chugging along for tourists. Left in the late afternoon and the headed for Old Tailem Town. We arrived late in afternoon and the owners Peter and Margaret, invited us to stay the night overlooking the wetlands of the Murray on their huge property. We looked across to a colourful orange sunset with pelicans, black swans and ducks settling in the reeds. After dinner we shared a cuppa with Peter and Margaret in a heritage house which reminded us much of our own. Peter surprised us with his Australian bush poetry, especially his interpretation of a relatives experience at Anzac Cove. It was very moving and especially so when he read us the original letter on which he based this poem.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cruising down the Murray

Heading to the Murray

Friday, March 23, 2007

Murray Bridge 19 March 2007

We enjoyed Adelaide – it was an easy city to get around (despite the heavy traffic according to Peter!) So many trips were quick and destinations very accessible. Heather analysed the traffic and her conclusion was that everyone sticks to the arterial roads that are so straight and because of some anxiety about lights taking so long to change, the drivers rush around corners, block intersections, push in and pull out in a flash at top speed! It is a funny contradiction for probably the best layout of a city in Australia. Maybe they are just lousy drivers!
Left Adelaide knowing this was yet another city we would like to come back to. Enjoyed our drive up into the hills which were very much like the Blue Mountains. Stopped at Hahndorf, a touristy town with a German past and wandered around looking at the old buildings and enjoying some German pastries. Drove onto Murray Bridge to pick up the mail and then stopped for the night at a lookout out of town. Walked down to the edge of the Murray River and noticed the milky appearance of the water and surmised that this is part of the salination problem.


Adelaide 15 – 18 March 2007

Explored other areas of Adelaide on Friday including the coastal suburbs. Spent more time in North Adelaide’s main street and drove around the streets admiring the well preserved houses laid out in beautiful leafy gardens. Liz invited us to tea again and we enjoyed another friendly encounter before an evening out.
The annual open house for Government House coincided with our visit and we had a relaxed Saturday morning wandering around Government House gardens watching performers and having tea and donuts! We toured the house with a small crowd of visitors in unrushed manner. The house surprised us as it didn’t reflect the historical nature of the residence as we expected. For many years all Governors were from England and they brought their own furnishings and redecorated. Over time this has created a bland version of history so now it looks like a boutique hotel. We still enjoyed the tour and the personal memorabilia of the current governor. We hadn’t realised that the Governor was Marjorie Jackson (Nelson) who was a gold medal runner. So of course there was plenty of Olympic memorabilia! Marjory was there greeting everyone in a very friendly and homely manner - little wonder everyone was full of praise for her style!
Continued to explore the city and were disappointed that we were unable to see the interior of the Town Hall. Off to the nearby Central Market which was just winding down with lots of fruit and veg bargains. Left with a bag of sugar bananas and mangoes! Home to rest before a night out at a local Jazz performance.
Sunday another full day – in the morning headed off to Semaphore to Manfest, a festival promoting men’s health. They conducted men’s health checks called Mechanical Checks! Peter passed - just! Score was reduced because he had worn sandals for all the year!
Wayne and Liz met us at the festival and we enjoyed pizza at a balcony restaurant.
In the afternoon, we had a look around Port Adelaide and went to the National Railway Museum to watch a recording of the ABC’s Collectors programme.
The Museum had an expansive collection of state and commonwealth trains and railway paraphernalia and while we aren’t train buffs, we found it fascinating. We were absolutely intrigued with the Provisions Train that crossed the Nullarbor, as it was set out in original condition. It was just like a general store on wheels stopping at all the station sidings and the butcher shop was a gem.
Spent the evening packing our new treasures that were accumulating around our home, under the bed. The conclusion is that we have probably bought enough now!

Filming the Collectors

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Marching on Glenelg Beach

Adelaide 10 – 14 March 2007

Adelaide is very much alive in March. One of the comedians said it was a great joke to tell visitors who have arrived in April about how much fun they’ve just missed. In reverse we can’t imagine how quiet it might be for the other 11 months! Another big event on during the Fringe is Womadelaide, an enormous world music festival held in the botanical gardens over three days. There were five stages, so there was continuos music all day. As well as singers and dancers from around the world, we saw Australian groups including The Waifs, Deborah Conway, Emma Donovan and the Backsliders. The day was very hot and we cooled down under the water jets set up for the public. The grounds were very dry and the dust kicked up by thousands of people was so reminiscent of sheep in a paddock. As it is 50% shade everyone squeezed into the shade just like sheep in the paddocks following the shade pattern of the trees. About 50,000 people attended!
Sunday was dinner out at Liz and Wayne’s. Liz’s boys are lovely young teenagers now! It was wonderful to see her in such a lovely leafy suburb so close to the city. The meal was superb and it was fun being in a HOUSE!
Monday, a public holiday included a visit to the SA Museum. It is a very comprehensive museum of early colonial history with the most extensive Aboriginal artefact displays we have seen. It all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle as we travel!
In the evening we went out with Liz and son Max to a theatre sports comedy show that proved to be very creative and gave us some good laughs. There seems to lots of comedy on during the festival and is easy to find. .
On Tuesday we headed to the beach at Glenelg via Unley. We trailed the shops and points of interest. Glenelg has a feel of St Kilda (less waves and only one tram) with a large number of nine story apartments lining the beach, a new modern marina with a lock and lots of upmarket restaurants with masses of petunias making for a Mediterranean feel. We picnicked, walked the beach until sunset and drove home via the city in 20 minutes! That is the beauty of Adelaide! Everything is so easy to get around. It’s a very straight forward grid so when you plan a route it is basically a straight line! No rivers (other than the creek called the Torrens RIVER!), no hills, no harbour, no bridges to slow you up. It is a pretty place but maybe it is too easy!

The next day we had the final work done on the electrical system – it has been a long haul to sort it out, as there have been a number of small problems to fix, however we are now confident that everything is OK. If it’s not we will not mention it again!
Liz came for a coffee when she finished work for a girly chat, while Peter tidied up after the auto electrician! Win - win for everyone!
The weather has moved onto hot, so we had a swim and then went out to see Rod Quintock - finish of a great day.
Another hot day with a bit of shopping and browse around the local area to fill it out. Swimming in the pool was a highlight as Thursday added humidity to heat! Left over bits from WA’s Cyclone Ivan apparently! Thought it rained when drops fell from the sky but we doubt if it reached 1mm!

Getting cool at Womad

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Busking at the Fringe Festival

Carrick House

Adelaide 5 – 9 March 2007

Off to a cool, cloudy start and wandered the streets of another cute wine town, Tanunda. The op shops are over and replaced by Antique shops. Still fascinated by old things and German Bakeries! The clouds lifted and we enjoyed time out at the Tanunda Estate. Eventually we made our way to Adelaide and marvelled at the fact that the centre of this city is so close to the country. The road in was not flash and in poor condition for a major road. Settled into the caravan park under lots of shade - nice little compact park close to the city centre. Off in the early evening before dark to drive all over the city without the traffic and really enjoyed the first taste of Adelaide! We were impressed with the northern parks and North Adelaide and the enormous amount of heritage houses in beautiful original condition. The parks are surprising very green in this very dry time!
Caught the bus into North Terrace to explore the city. First stop was the National Trust property, Ayers House This was an amazing Victorian home right in the middle of the city and was originally the home of the SA Premier. It is very elaborately decorated house, with ornate cornices and ceilings. The sense of the original founders’ lifestyle is very evident in this house and was reflected in the quality of the furnishings/ decorations.
We wandered the city centre exploring the arcades and side streets – a very enjoyable afternoon!
Spent another day in the city to visit some of the many attractions. First stop was the National Treasures Exhibition that is touring Australia. It has been to Sydney already so it was lucky to catch it here and it is absolutely fabulous because it has the original Ozzy icons that we never expect to personally see. Highlights included Henry Lawson’s original pen and writings, Banjo Paterson’s original writing of ‘The Man from Snowy River’, original score of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, Cook’s and Bank’s original Journals, Finder’s original maps of Australia, Jorn Utzon’s original concept models for the Opera House, Dame Nellie Melba’s Menu from the opening of Parliament House (signed drawn on by Charlie Chaplain) and much more. We bought the catalogue which is very comprehensive and informative. Stopped off to hear the rabble of state Parliament – the only interesting thing was the beautiful building!
Home in the evening for a most pleasurable reunion with a friend of Heather’s, Liz Kennedy. Natter natter! Giggle giggle! Chat chat! Not as much fun for Peter but wonderful for Heather! We planned a few more meetings and look forward to them.
N ext day, another visit to a historic house, Carrick House, with a very different set up from Ayers House. It was built by a very wealthy Adelaide family, the Heywoods and Barr Smith who built a Tudor style mansion with material and furniture purchased in England whilst on their honey moon for a year. The materials were purchased from an old castle that was being demolished and built a replica of a 16th Tudor house with 1930’s mod cons. The couple did not have children and decided to donate the house and grounds to the people of SA. We had a picnic lunch in the grounds that were lovely but fairly dry, understandably. Must be beautiful when the rains come!
The start of the Fringe Festival is marked by a big street party in the city on the Thursday evening. Joined in and had a few laughs. Lots of people milling around creating a festive ambience. On Friday night we went to a comedy show with a variety of performers – very funny

Ayers House

Pigging it out in Rundle Mall

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sampling the grapes

Peter gets some wine advice

Greenock 4 March 2007

Drove down to Gawler and stopped in at a forgettable market, explored the main part of the town, had lunch by the park, then onto the nearby Barossa Valley! The Barossa is one of the iconic areas that we had been looking forward to seeing, being the birthplace of the Australian wine industry. We travelled through a number of small Barossa towns that were beyond our expectation of a pretty town with stone cottages and buildings historically intact and well preserved. This looks like a place worthy of a return holiday when the festivals are all on! Looks like there will be further trips one day!
We started off with the traditional wineries that we were familiar with from childhood - Seppelts, Penfolds, Yalumba and Peter Lehmann. The wineries were set in beautiful gardens that reflected their historic beginnings. Penfolds seemed to top them all so far. The talk was that Seppelts was for sale and big business comes first.
Stayed at the community reserve at Greenock for the night as suggested by the friendly locals. This is a quiet village on the edge of the Barossa but worthy of being in the centre. A fresh smell of pine and the friendly noise of the galahs and magpies was our dinner accompaniment.

Sampling a wee drop at Penfolds

Crystal Brook home

Just thinking!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tired Lochie keeled over at Port Wakefield


Port Wakefield 3 March 2007

After a hot evening a cool change arrived as we went to bed, ensuring a good nights sleep. After staying the night at the truck stop next to an old hotel at Warnertown, we decided to move to the nearby town of Crystal Brook for breakfast and the Saturday paper. Crystal Brook was as delightful a village as the name implied, though the brook was DRY! The centre of town was like Leura in NSW but not very touristy and was leafy with plenty of space down each side, making an English town atmosphere. The only antique shop was actually a community antique store – the first we had seen. Everybody puts in any antiques they want to sell and part of the money goes on local projects. The prices were reasonable with variations that gave an opportunity for a “bargain”. We found a South Australian green vase that will go nicely in our green kitchen!
After lunch we moved onto Snowtown, a sad little neglected town that seemed to still display the scars of it’s infamous past. A couple of kids trying to pass time on a boring Saturday afternoon, stood outside their house dressed as terrorists waving toy guns and innocently reminded us of where our old Cowboy and Indian games had gone!
Onto Port Wakefield, a popular boating town as it is the closest place to launch a boat from Adelaide. It was a bit unexciting because of the surrounding mangrove swamps, though there were some very interesting old buildings in the main part of the town. We stayed out of town on the first lay-by and acknowledged that the increase in traffic as we get closer to Adelaide meant the end of the remote part of our travels. Things are starting to feel East Coast again! It seemed to be such a loss!

Port Pirie Station

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gum nuts and flowers

Another bargin for Heather

Friday, March 02, 2007

Port Pirie 2 March 2007

Awoke to the feeling of heat! It felt strange heading south, as this is the end of our 10 month outback journey and the start of a more settled tour. Moved on and stopped at a lovely little village, Port Germein with a 1 ½ km wooden pier. Then onto Port Pirie which was an interesting moderate sized town (13,000) and not the ‘mossie hole’ that someone had just told us it was. Not that we stoped long enough that we will find out. All the CBD is within a few blocks and there are many fine heritage buildings to admire. It was so hot we stopped by the park with the generator on and caught up on the BLOG! It was HOT! A cool change is predicted! Good! One or two hot days is enough!

Port Germein Jetty

Port Augusta 1 March 2007

Up early to go on a morning tour of OneSteel Steelworks and we were very impressed with the tour and the views of the milling of long pieces of steel directly out of the furnace - it was so fast and hot! Unfortunately that was also one of our first hot days! The town is pleased to have a new industry with a large find of magnetite under the ore that will give them a new big boost, as the town has been in decline for 30 years since the closure of the ship yards. The CBD is very tired, as its just too close to the iron pellet production and has turned the town to a rusty colour. There is another part of the town that is more pleasant that this area, with trees and attractive homes but first impressions were not exciting! Got to live there to know it! Augusta also had a long list of op shops that kept us on the move for a bit! We always find a little something! Only problem is that when we get home we will need to throw out something for every new item we bring back!
Left late in afternoon to JUST make it to Port Augusta for the mail! “Port a Gutter” seemed like an old friend as this is where we started our Central Australia trip last May. Interestingly, we seem to be seeing lots of motorhomes and caravans heading north and west for the winter migration already! Seems we are going in the wrong direction!
Parked for the night on a lay-by outside of P.A., with another motorhome that we recognised. We first met them last September near Broome, as they headed east to QLD and we were now passing each other as they returned to WA! Very warm night with a hot day predicted.

The Rolling Mill - hope they know what they are doing!

2000oc Steel - don't touch!

Whyalla 28 February 2007

Had a look at the local folk museum in the morning, which had a number of interesting exhibitions, including an example of the first computer that Peter used – rather frightening! Stopped at Cowell for lunch – a small hamlet near the water with lots of charming old buildings. It had another fine folk museum that was preserving the history of the district. It is hard to believe that the small villages we pass were once vibrant communities with a wide range of services. As we drove north the countryside changed from wheat fields to paddocks of salt bushes. The first impressions of Whyalla were not inspiring – a dirty, dull city covered in red dust, with a rather sad and neglected CBD. The main shopping mall has been built a few kms away and has divided the town. We went down to the harbour to find the campsite mentioned in the camp book, only to find ‘no camping’ signs everywhere, so we settled down at a rest area just out of town.

HMAS Whyalla - first ship built at shipyards

Tumby Bay Museum

Tumby Bay 27 February 2007

After a final goodbye to Ross and Chris we filled up with fuel and hit the road north. Tumby Bay turned out to be a very different town to the run-down place we had been led to believe – a very tidy “toy town” with colourful gardens and a long green park along the seafront. We explored the cute little shops and found another op shop then stayed by the beach most of the afternoon and then went to a motorhome camp for the night. This was the first motorhome park we have encountered where the town has nominated a place to stop on the edge of town with a tap, a dump point and toilets in a lovely big flat area. The cost was $5, which is perfect as this is all we want when we are self-contained.

Tumby Bay Beach