Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yorke Peninsula

Week 18, 4th March 2010

Well! The best laid plans of mice and men etc. etc.

Despite my best intentions to keep this blog updated regularly, circumstances combined to keep me away from posting. First, many of the areas I have been simply had no phone coverage so it was impossible to access the internet and log in. Second, just as I got close to Whyalla, where I would have had coverage, my dongle died. The wireless USB device just refused to power up. I went into the Telstra agent in Whyalla, but of course they referred me to the full Telstra shop. Guess what, the only Telstra shop in South Australia is in Adelaide.

The pre-paid wireless broadband has turned out to be phenomenally expensive anyway, so I waited until I got to Port Pirie and bought a normal (not pre-paid) broadband dongle. But, when I left Port Pirie, I was back into no-coverage areas. The towns, obviously, had coverage, but the transmitters seem to be very limited in range and as soon as I got more than 10 kms or so from the towns, no coverage.

Anyhoo - I'm back in range for a week or so and will bring you up to date on the last 8 weeks or so (Crikey, it sounds terrible when you say it like that.)

The story continues . . . when we last spoke, it was early January and I was at Port Lincoln and heading up the east coast of Eyre Peninsula. From there on . . .

Thursday, 7th January 2010.

Left Port Lincoln this morning and headed up the east coast. First stop was Tumby Bay which was a very pleasant little place, as are most of the towns I have seen on the peninsula. As I think I may have said before, the interior is not much to look at, just flat wheatfields, but the coastline is fantastic.

After a wander around Tumby, headed north about 40 kms to Lipson Cove. This would have to be one of the most attractive areas I have seen. Beautiful white sand, blue sea and sky - I'll be happy here for a few days.

Later . . . I guess that even Eden may have had its drawbacks. The problem with a really nice spot, close to towns, is that everybody and their dog turns up on the weekends. There I was, sitting out the front with a drink and a book and 13, count them, 13 vehicles pulled up on the beach and out came the trail bikes, quads, and wave kites (or whatever they're called, I can never remember the difference between para-sailing, para-gliding, and all the rest - these were a type of parachute thingy with a guy on a surfboard.) Anyway, with the loud music, drunken screaming and midnight quad races, it was a real pain in the arse! I wonder if I was as objectionable when I was that age? Probably worse.

Later still . . . well, they went away after the weekend and left us genuine travellers to our peace. The weather has been great, warm to hot during the day and cool enough to sleep at night. It is still daylight saving of course, and the sun doesn't set until 9pm or so, so I am getting the most out of each day. There is a little island at the end of the point and it appears to be a seagull breeding colony. Stinks to high heaven up close and the noise is horrendous. Because the bay is very shallow, there is hardly any wave action, and the island forms a barrier, the water is deliciously warm and I have been swimming a couple of times a day, which is pretty unusual for me, the water usually has to be hot enough to make coffee before I go in.

I have never seen so many rabbits in my life! This place is absolutely infested. I took a quick run back into Tumby to get some bread and milk and on the 4 kms of dirt road leading to the highway, I counted 16 bunnies running across the road.

Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

Reluctantly, I have packed up and headed off. I could quite happily have camped here for months - maybe one day in the future.

Headed north and pulled into some of the little coastal towns, Port Neill, Arno Bay, Cowell (not so little) and so into Whyalla. Gigantic shopping centre here - reputedly the largest in regional South Australia, so took I the opportunity to stock up. Did the tourist bit and had a good look around town.

The Flinders memorial is a hoot - the sculptor must have had his (or her) tongue set firmly in their cheek when they did these.
The view across the head of the gulf is teriffic, the southern Flinders Ranges make a fantastic backdrop. You may notice some white tanks in the middle distance. That is the Port Bonython LPG gas facility where they ship LPG interstate and overseas. My next stop is just on the other side of that point at Fitzgerald Bay.

Wednesday, 20th January 2010

About 40 kms north of Whyalla is Fitzgerald Bay. Coming down from the hill into the bay is a great view. The things you can see off the shore are fish farms, mainly for Kingfish.

There are two or three distinct campsites at Fitzgerald Bay. The first, which is just to the left of this photo, is very nice, but the other one about 2 kms further on has a toilet so I'm heading for that one.

Unexpected bonus. The campsite is just off the alignment of the water pipeline, so someboby had a rush of brains to the head and tapped a side branch into the campsite, so the site has fresh town water and flush toilets. Very Flash.

There are a couple of other long-term travellers here and few overnighters each night. The main attraction appears to be the crabs. The bay is chock-a-block with blue swimmer crabs, and one of the blokes here seems to be a crab-addict. He goes out every morning and comes back an hour or so later with 14 or 15 crabs. He doesn't seem to eat anything else. I like crabs as much as the next bloke, but I don't think I could eat them day after day - still, it's cheaper than buying tucker.

Monday, 1st February 2010.

I have been here at Fitzgerald Bay for almost two weeks, and I'm starting to feel a little guilty about neglecting the blog, so I'm packing up and heading for Port Pirie. Also I'm getting low on clean clothes and I can't be tossed washing by hand and I'm running low on reading material so look out St. Vinnies and the Red Cross Op Shops.

Up to Port Augusta (straight through) did a U-turn and headed south. Through to Port Pirie. Booked in at the Rangeview Caravan Park for a week. It is one of the Oz Camps network so I get a discount. It's a very small park, right on the highway, and not a blade of grass to be seen, but it is neat and clean and LEVEL!. The guy gave me my discount and then threw in the 7th day free and then rounded it down, so I ended up paying $110 for a week for a powered site which works out to a bit over $15 a day.

Even more of a bonus - the CP puts on a free barbie on Wednesday nights so a free feed for that night. Bought the new wireless broadband so hopefully will be able to update the blog soon.

Monday 8th February 2010

I breezed through some of the towns like Port Broughton, Wallaroo and Moonta, because I've been to this area a couple of times, I'm heading further south into the Yorke Peninsula where I've not been before.

The country is very like the Eyre Peninsula, flat and grain fields, but Barley instead of wheat, but as it has been harvested, the difference is moot.

Next stop was The Gap according to Camps 5. I followed the instructions given which took me almost to Balgowan and then north along the coast track. Real rough and I don't think you'd get through with a conventional van. 13 or 14 kms up the track and arrived at the Gap to find there is a good gravel road direct from here to the main road. Thanks for nothing Camps 5.

Having said that, it's a nice spot. The camp site is just over the beach dunes from the beach which tempers the noise from the surf and protects from the sea-spray. I must be getting close to civilisation again, I was talking to a young couple with a van and they mentioned that they were just there for the weekend. I asked if they were locals, and they said No, we came up from Adelaide for a couple of days. It seems that with the freeway through to Port Wakefield, it's only a couple of hours travelling.

Saturday 13th February 2010

This appears to be another popular spot for the locals on the weekends. This morning 4 horse floats pulled in with 6 horses aboard, and then in the afternoon about 60 trail bikes turned up. Luckily they went straight through but it sounded like MotoGP for a while. There must be some sort of law in SA about not having rubbish bins. Nowhere I've stopped has bins, you have to store up your rubbish and then dump it when you get to the next town.

Wednesday, 17th February 2010

Pulled into Maitland and stocked up on necessaries and headed for Minlaton where there is a tourist information centre. I had forgotten how common houses built of stone are here in South Australia, much more so than in other states. I have no idea why it is so, just is, I guess.

The camps 5 book shows lots of campsites in the area, but has the $ sign meaning they're not free sites, so I have pulled in to the information centre to check them out. It seems that excepting the Cape Innes campgrounds which are in the National Park, all of the other campsites are run by the Yorke Peninsula District Council and the charge is $7.50 a night which I think is bloody expensive for what you get. The only facilities at the sites are toilets (and then not always). In most cases no bins, no tables and benches and no shade. The weekly rate is much more reasonable at $28.50 per week. I think that if they dropped it to $5 a night and say $30 a week, they would get a lot more business.

I booked into the Burner's Beach site for a week and what a clusterf**k trying to find it. This area has to be the absolute worst area I have ever seen for road signs, or rather lack of same. Thank the lord that I've got the 1:250,000 Natmap on the laptop so I can at least make an educated guess as to which way to go.

Finally got to where I figured the site was and sure enough there was a sign saying "Camping Area - Permit required" No mention as to where to get your permit of course and for $7.50 a night it's obviously to expensive to have a ranger come around to collect the fees. Anyway I puled up and it looked very unattractive, but I noticed a track leading off around a headland nearby. I didn't know whether I'd be able to turn around if I took the vehicle and van down the track so I went for a walk. Sure enough, after 800 metres, there is the campsite. A little bit of signage would go a long way in a situation like this.

The campsite is at the foot of an escarpment and there is a beaut view from the top but there is not a lot else to be said about it. Lots of flies, but!
Wednesday, 24th February 2010

One of the things I hate about paid sites, is that you have to move on when your time is up. One of the great things about free camps is that you can get up in the morning and think about moving on and say to yourself "will I move on?" Nah - can't be buggered, I'll stay for another couple of days.

I decided to try another one of the paid sites, one with a bit of shade this time, so back into Minlaton and booked for a week at Goldsmith's Beach.

Crikey, these places are getting worse as they go along. Got to Goldsmiths and there is nothing there, absolutely nothing. No bins, no toilets, no water, no nothing, and only room for one vehicle. To charge for sites like this is a bloody rip-off. At least there is a bit of shade.

No beach to speak off, just a rocky shelf and a lot of weird looking neighbours.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2001

I didn't think much of Goldsmiths, but I'd paid for a week and I was going to get my money's worth, so I stayed until the Wednesday morning. I still can't get over what a rip-off. I have stopped in free camps which were a hell of a lot better than these. I don't normally get wound up, but I think I'll get on to the YPDC and vent my spleen.

I had planned to head for Black Point which is supposed to be very nice, but I couldn't find out where to get a permit from (or how much it costs) so I stopped in a tiny little spot called Port Julia where there was a phone box and rang the contact number. It seems that this coming weekend is a long weekend in South Australia and the campsite was fully booked. I don't fancy having that many neighbours anyway.

There is nothing here at Port Julia except a few houses, no shop or anything, but there was a sign saying "Bush Campground" on what appears to be the local showground or sports ground. Very pleasant, plenty of level shaded spots, tanks of drinking water, flushing toilets, an electric BBQ at $1 a hit, 5 bars mobile coverage and $25 per week. Except for not having power, this is as good as many caravan parks I've stayed in (and better than the one at South Hedland), so I will stay for a week at least.

Well, that brings us up to date. In some ways Yorke Peninsula has proved to be a bit of a disappointment, perhaps it has something to do with the proximity to Adelaide and therefore the influx of visitors, but I really think they could do things a hell of a lot better.

See you soon.