TUESDAY, APRIL 22 MARCUS HILL TO MILDURA/OUYEN
We left Warrawee at 9 a.m. with Rose and Buschy in charge for the next few months, confident that everything would be fine in their capable hands. During the night it had been very windy and some rain but it cleared for us to pack the last few things and get underway. The big question was “how would Millie handle being locked up in the boat?”
The answer was evident when we stopped to check a couple of hours later – one brand new pet bed shredded! Not happy, Millie?
Lunch stop and pie report from Avoca – good pies. Uneventful day, just regular stops to let Millie have a run. We travelled through St Arnaud, Birchip and started looking for an overnight stop after Birchip. We found a wayside camp with a few fellow travellers between Ouyen and Mildura. It was a bit noisy with lots of trucks travelling on the highway, and a train going past early in the evening. With no power, it was an early evening in bed after dinner. Millie slept in the camper – hope she doesn’t get used to that! At one stage she even thought she might be more comfortable on the couch! I didn’t think so.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23 ROADSIDE STOP TO TEROWIE
On the road at about 8 a.m. Millie is getting a little used to the cage in the boat, still not happy about getting in there, but she seems to understand it’s necessary if she wants to come.
Another uneventful day travelling through the Riverland area – lots of fruit trees, grapes and almonds, and some very large paddocks in places. There is quite a tinge of green about everything, even away from the river so there must have been some rain recently. No pie report today – pie free day – sandwiches by the road, without tomatoes which had been confiscated at the border, along with other fruit, beans and potatoes.
We travelled along roads we hadn’t been on before after Renmark, new highlighted lines on the map. There were lots of piles of stones, ruined cottages and outbuildings where the early settlers had made their homes.
As you drive through the long stretches of open countryside it makes you realise how harsh the environment must have been for those pioneers. Clearing the paddocks without machinery in the hot summer would have been so difficult, particularly considering most of the early settlers would have come from beautiful green English countryside.
We drove off the road a little way to Terowie to have a look. It’s like a ghost town. It used to be quite a thriving community because train travellers and goods needed to change here as the rail gauges on each side of the town were different.
There is a plaque at the station commemorating the spot where General Douglas Macarthur made a speech when he came with his family by train from Alice Springs to Adelaide. It says that his family had flown from Darwin to Alice Springs and his wife said she refused to go any further by plane. It also says that this is where he spoke the famous words “I will return”. Not sure if that is correct – maybe he said it more than once. When the rails were all made the same in the late 1970’s, the population changed to only a few people. There are some interesting old buildings, and free camping in the old railyards beside the remnants of the station so it was worth the drive off the road. For those of you new to the blog, this is how we travel.
Exciting news this morning with the arrival of Charlie Eric Muller at 10.30 a.m. to join my nephew Simon and his wife, Natalie and the gorgeous Isabelle.
THURSDAY, APRIL 24 TEROWIE TO PORT AUGUSTA
From Terowie we were heading to Port Augusta to stay with friends, Mark, Lia and Billy for a few days. This was only a couple of hours drive so it was an easy day. Just out of Terowie there was a paddock with lots of tin sculptures and old bicycles, probably the main tourist attraction in Terowie! We passed through Peterborough and Ororoo, both very tidy little towns. In Ororoo there were corrugated iron statues in the main street, one of kangaroos and one of horses ploughing. They were very well done.
Mark met us at the entrance to Port Augusta to take us to their place as we hadn’t been there before. Apparently Billy was very excited about us visiting and wished “they were here yesterday”. They have a nice big backyard so we have plenty of room to set up camp here. Mark also had a shed full of “toys”.
FRIDAY, APRIL 25 PORT AUGUSTA
Mark, Lia and Billy were going to Whyalla for the drag racing today and Mark left us his car. They suggested a drive through Quorn to Melrose where there is a good pub, the North Star, for lunch. The scenery on the road to Quorn was lovely, through the south part of the Flinders Ranges. The pub at Melrose was great, obviously very old and well preserved.
The new additions were done well, the service was great and the meal excellent. Well worth a visit if you are in the area. There are lovely old stone buildings all through this area.
SATURDAY, APRIL 26 PORT AUGUSTA/WHYALLA
In the morning we found the shopping centre of Port Augusta and made a few purchases, including a chain for Millie at night so that she doesn’t have to sleep inside! We then drove to Whyalla to have a look at Mark’s passion – drag racing. This would be first for me. Mark wasn’t racing but he is very involved in the organization, as is Lia.
Billy is very much at home there and loves driving around in the golf cart. There were lots of impressive looking cars that went very fast, and it was quite entertaining, but I think it will probably be a once only attendance.
When we left there we drove to Point Lowly to have a look as it is a fishing spot that a lot of people seem to visit. The lighthouse there was lovely and the area quite unspoiled.
There were caravans and motorhomes just pulled up all the way along the shoreline. As we were driving around we spotted a slide-on camper which looked familiar. It was Denis and Joy McCabe from Geelong. They were quite surprised when we pulled up for a visit.
SUNDAY, APRIL 27 PORT AUGUSTA
As we hadn’t seen much of Mark and Lia we decided to stay another night to spend some time with them when they got back from Whyalla. They have given us the keys and directions to their beach shack at Smoky Bay so we will be heading there from Port Augusta. They got back from Whyalla about lunch time and we spent the afternoon catching up, then had dinner outside as it was still quite pleasant.
MONDAY, APRIL 28 PORT AUGUSTA TO SMOKY BAY
After saying goodbye to Mark, Lia and Billy we left Port Augusta at about 8a.m., headed for Smoky Bay. The drive took us past Iron Knob, which was a very large reddish heap of dirt/stone. This raised the question – how much iron is needed to make a ton of steel? Ms Google later provided the answer – 2 ½ to 3 tonnes.
In this part of the countryside the vegetation was largely grey/green saltbush with a few larger scrubby trees, always with the red dirt underneath. Later the vegetation became much thicker with taller trees. The colours of the Australian landscape are so varied and quite dramatic at times. We are very lucky to live in this amazing country where we can see such spectacular scenery and colours, find unspoiled places of quiet and have “adventures”.
After a fuel stop at Kimba, the countryside became flatter with large paddocks for grain growing. In all the small towns there are large silos by the railway line, no doubt the lifeline for these communities. There was also a strong north wind blowing, causing big clouds of dust which made travel a little unpleasant.
At Poochera we turned towards Streaky Bay and the welcome sight of the ocean. It was then a short drive to Smoky Bay. Mark had been extolling the virtues of Smoky Bay for years. His family has had the fishing shack here for a long time and he has recently had it replaced with something a little more comfortable. We found the shack (not really just a shack now) and offloaded the camper beside it.
This is certainly a hidden treasure – Smoky Bay (don't tell anyone about it). An undeveloped fishing village where there are still a few of the old shacks right on the beach, only one store and an unspoiled beach. It was amazing to be able to sit at the front of the shack and have only beach in front of you, the only sign of live being a few birds on the beach (including my particular favourites, pelicans). This is paradise!
We walked along the beach to the jetty which has been sympathetically restored and saw a few people fishing off the jetty.
One fisherman had caught a blue swimmer crab which he was going to put back as it was only just legal size. He let me take a photo first – the colour was brilliant. They are aptly named.
Dotted along the beach there are rustic shelters which seem to encapsulate what the town is.
The caravan park near the jetty seems to be well occupied, this is no doubt a favoured spot for fishermen and grey nomads. We visited the store which is well-stocked with just about anything you could want. Dinner was cooked outside with the ocean in the background. During the night it became very windy and rainy, with the camper being blown around a bit but feeling very cosy inside.
Hello to everyone at home - missing you all, but happy to be travelling again.