Thursday, February 20, 2014

Southern Flinders Ranges

Thursday, Feb 20th 2014 - Round 4 Day 27

Hancock's Lookout, South Australia

The run through the northern edge of the Eyre Peninsula was uneventful, if unexciting. This is a wheat and barley growing area and is fairly flat and uninteresting. To the north are the Gawler Ranges and I have often thought about taking a swan through the area, but it would mean stopping in somewhere like Kimba for a few days and using that as a base. Maybe next time, I'm told it's worth the effort.

Stopped in Kimba for a break and a coffee, took the obligatory photo of the Big Galah.

Arrived in Port Augusta and did a bit of shopping to top up the larder, then headed up through Horrock's Pass towards Wilmington. This road is as steep as I remember from years ago and nearly gave the poor old Kia a hernia. Still, probably no worse than driving up Greenmount coming out of Perth, except that it is only one lane each way and of course I found myself behing a grain road train half way up.

I found the track to Hancock's Lookout easily enough, it was well sign-posted and the 7 km track in was fairly reasonable although it looks as though it would be a mongrel in the wet.

The camping area is OK, fairly level but very rocky, room for 8 or 10 vans at a push, although there have not been any caravans here since I arrived. A couple of Toyota Land-cruiser campers, one camper-trailer and a couple of back-packer vans and a couple of cars tenting it and that's about it. Perhaps the caravanners and motor-homers aren't adventurous enough to try it.

The view is to die for. I can see the power station in Port Augusta to the north-west, the gas refinery at Port Bonython to the south-west and at night I can see the lights of Port Pirie to the south, Iron Knob to the west and Whyalla to the south-west as well as those of Port Augusta and Port Bonython. Out in front of me and stretching tight across from left to right are the waters of Spencer Gulf with the coast of Eyre Peninsula beyond. Magnificent. The photos are not all that clear because there was a fair bit of haze around, but if you click on them, they will blow up and you can get an idea of the vista.

The day I arrived, Monday, was fine and warm and I set up and had a glass of wine and some nibblies and watched the sun go down over the gulf.

Since then the weather has been pretty dreadful. Tuesday was a bit blowy and overcast and after dark the wind came up to, literally, Gale force and there were several heavy showers overnight. Yesterday it was pretty awful with complete overcast and the wind from the south was so bad I had to roll the awning up as it blew down several times. The gale kept up all last night but it has cleared up a bit this morning although very cold (8 degC this morning when I woke up) and the forecast is still for "scattered showers", I just hope they scatter elsewhere.

Although the place is very picturesque, there is really not much to do here. The camping area is surrounded by fences and there are signs saying to keep off private property, so nowhere to do any bush walking. Provided that it stays fine, I will pack up in the morning and head for Burra Creek tomorrow, via Orroroo, Peterborough and Mt. Bryan. I am not sure what to expect as the area is called World's End. Should be interesting???

That's all for now, see you in a week or so.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Central Eyre Peninsula

Wednesday, Feb 12th 2014 - Round 4 day 19

Tcharkulda Rock camping area, Minnipa, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.

Well, I picked a great time to get here, it was 43degC (108 F in the old money) yesterday and it was still 32 degC at midnight. Did not make for a restful night. Today is very overcast with a chance of thunderstorms but still pretty warm - 36deg and very humid.

I went for a walk up the hill this morning before it got too hot and the view out over the wheat-growing areas towards the Gawler Ranges to the NE is amazing. The rock is a granite outcrop, fairly common in this area and some were used in the past for water catchment, similar to the eastern wheatbelt in WA. The water works seem to have been built a lot later than those in WA as they are made up of small rocks mortared into a wall, rather than the big slabs or flakes in WA.

Weather report doesn't look too flash for the next few days, so I think I'll stay here until next Monday before heading further east.


Sunday, Feb 9th 2014 - Round 4 day 16

I have been camped at the ruins of Koonalda Station in what is now the Nullarbor National Park on the Old Eyre Highway in between Border Village and Nullarbor Roadhouse. It was very hard to find as the track in is not signposted, but thanks to some research I managed to track down the location. As you can see from the photos, the buildings are still in fairly good repair thanks to the National Parks and the lack of ferals who just want to seem to wreck everything they come across. Maybe being remote and un-signed is a good thing?

Prior to the re-alignment closer to the coast and bitumising of the present highway in 1976, the old Eyre Hwy which was a dirt road about 13-14 kms north of the present one. The Koonalda Homestead also acted as a roadhouse/fuel stop for travellers. By the look of the number and condition of the cars in the graveyard, there were a significant number who didn't make it all the way across. The station continued until 1988 and was purchased by the State Government in 1989 as part of the Nullarbor National Park. There are no facilities here apart from the buildings, a long-drop pit toilet and two brand new rainwater tanks. Not a lot of shade, being the nullarbor.

It has been very, very, very windy since I got here on the 6th and quite frankly, I have had all I can stand. Somehow constant wind seems to set the nerves on edge, maybe because one doesn't sleep too well with all the blowing and shaking and flapping of the awning. I'll be heading off tomorrow for points east. Hoping to make it to Minnippa by evening.


Wednesday, Feb 5th 2014 - Round 4 day 12

Baxter Rest Area, Eyre Highway 113 km East of Balladonia, Western Australia

A lovely spot where I have camped before. There are Toilets, a Dump Point and several bins close to the highway where the trucks pull in, but there are several tracks leading off to the south and plenty of nice shady spots to set up. There's a fancy grave site along one of the tracks, but some feral has rippped off the plaque as a souvenir so no details available. I have a suspicion it may be a pet's grave, some people do take their pets very seriously. The weather is great, there are a group of magpies which wake me each morning and plenty of tracks for bush walking (but none of them actually go anywhere), so I have stayed here for a week to replenish the batteries, both mine and the van's. Tomorrow I'll head further east through Caiguna, Cocklebiddy, Madura and Mundrabilla to the WA/SA border and then see if I can find Koonalda.

Wednesday, Jan 29th 2014 - Round 4 day 5

Boondi Rock Campground, Great Eastern Hwy, 104 km East of Southern Cross, Western Australia.

I stopped here with Anne on our way home from the last trip, but only for one night so I thought I'd stop for a few days and have a look around the area. The site is maintained by the Coolgardie Shire and is very pleasant although a little regimented. There are only 7 campsites and only two of those are big enough for caravans. There is a hybrid toilet. (a pit toilet with hand-pumped water flush) and a few picnic tables but limited shade and no drinkable water.

The dam is fantastic. There was some rain while I have been here, so the water catchment and sluices have been working and due to the recent rains of a week or so ago, the dam is full and overflowed the spillway last night. Perhaps not as spectacular as Boorabbin Rock dam, but a lot more convenient to get to and better facilities.

Unfortunately there was a group of (presumably) locals for the long week end with about 5 vehicles and 3 quad bikes. I can't figure out which I hate more, dirt bikes or quads. There cannot be any logical reason why their exhausts need to be so loud.


Saturday, Jan 25th 2014 - Round 4 day 1

Forrestfield Western Australia.

We were originally intending to take off on round 4 of my travels on February 18th, but Anne and I decided to part company so I have packed up the van and headed off. This trip I want to visit some of my relations in the eastern states and head for some places I have not yet been, Cooktown, The Birdsville Track, Lawn Hill etc.

Hopefully I can keep this blog a little better than in the past as for a lot of the round, I will be close to settled areas which have phone coverage. Only time will tell.