Day 78 – 79 Adelaide to Auburn
We are travelling to the Clare Valley today to reach our destination at Auburn. It’s a short journey of just over 100km. Along the freeway we pass a paddock full of blooming roses, I can just imagine the fragrance in the air outside. There are large farms of grain crops and many olive groves and then the vineyards. How the landscape changes from being dry and barren to the lush green vines.
Our home for two nights is a community run caravan park at Auburn. Owned by the council but run by volunteers. It’s a small park by the football field and the amenities are lovely and clean and the welcome is well received. Every night at 5pm is happy hour, time to sit back relax and chat with other like minded travellers and hear about their journey and experiences. We meet “Mad Dog” who visits us several times during our stay. He’s an ex navy diver and knows acquaintances of ours from Mission Beach. He loves to cook and bakes a cake every afternoon for happy hour with his own special extra ingredients! He loves his air fryer and uses for pretty much everything and tells us that the chips are extra good.
This morning we wake up to a very chilly 6.3 degrees. I’m calling in to our monthly board meeting and my fingers are freezing while I’m busy tapping away at the keyboard.
Wandering around Auburn we discover a lovely little gallery; Linhay Gallery which was previously an old corn store. Hellen Bakhoff has had the property restored and now displays her own works and those of other artists in the region. She also hosts exhibitions and the current one that I viewed was Undalya – Over the bridge and under the radar. There were some lovely works of art and it inspired me to take a drive down to the historical Undalya bridge to photograph it for future sketches.
Along the main street are many planter boxes painted and adorned with mosaic artworks depicting the area. The project involved the Auburn primary school students who were mentored by local artist Dianne Turner. It’s a real credit to the community, they certainly brighten up the street.
Driving around town we see some familiar architecture bringing back memories from nearly 20 years ago when we visited the Clare Valley. Andrew and I stayed at Amy’s House a BnB in Auburn and it is still operating all these years later. It was and is still such a beautiful quaint property; ah the memories…
Wildlife: Llamas, sheep, 2 boobok owls, galahs, corellas.
Day 80 – 81: Wirrabara
It’s another cool morning at 7.4 degrees and we are heading off to Wirrabara; 129km away. The scenery is so picturesque driving through the vineyards and olive orchards and the Flinders Ranges are in the distance. To my surprise we see a hill covered in native grass trees, the first I have seen in our entire journey.
We are staying at the Wirrabara Football Club, a low cost camp site with toilets, showers, laundry and power. The football oval is lovely and green, so stark against the red dirt that we will park up on. The area is not very level so we have to chock the wheels up. The pine trees provide welcome shelter from the sun during the late afternoon.
Wirrabara is home of the newly painted silos by artist Smug, aka Sam Bates. The artworks depict a Tumby Bay resident Dion Lebrun as the Wirrabara township did not want to depict a local so as not to overlook anyone. I’ve taken the drone and whilst you can’t enter the site, I’ve flown the drone above the tree line to get a good shot, featured below in the middle photo.
Along the dry riverbank is a sculpture trail from the Wongabirrie Park to the Aboretum. Funding was sought from Country Arts SA to bring a sculpture artist to the township to mentor 8 local artists in sculpting with fine bird wire. The group sculptured a kangaroo, kookaburra and goanna which stand at the beginning of the trail. Two of my favourites where Big Red the spider with a solid wooden body and the promiscuous tree.
Wildlife: Llama, sheep, dead kangaroos, cattle, galahs, hawks, magpies.
Day 82 – 83 Wirrabara to Port Augusta
Today we are travelling 103km to Port Augusta where we will stay for 2 nights. The landscape is barren and arid, how the grain crops are surviving out here is beyond us. In the distance we can see the 960m high Mount Remarkable Summit which presides over the Willochra Plain and looks out to the Spencer Gulf. There are many popular bushwalking trails and campgrounds.
Port Augusta is known as the “Crossroads of Australia” and the “Gateway to the Outback“. The Flinders Ranges stretch over 400 kilometers in length and today we pass over them. Coming up we sight Australia’s largest single site glass greenhouse facility; Sundrop. It is a very ambitious facility utilising a unique combination of renewable energy and desalinated water and it is an enormous facility supplying Coles supermarkets with a 10 year contract.
As we travel closer to Port Augusta we can see a large dust storm on the horizon. The wind is so strong, you can easily see how caravans can work up a sway if they are travelling too fast for the conditions. Arriving at the Shoreline Caravan Park which is situated on the beach, the wind is gusting up to 60km an hour and the dust is horrendous. It’s a large van park surrounded by a metal and barbed wire fence with gates that are locked every night at 9.30pm. This is required to keep unwanted visitors out, there is a large crime rate in Port Augusta. Our site is situated right beside the rubbish bins – not the nicest site for the hefty price of $39 per night.
We take a walk down by the beach, there is some sand, but mainly mud. Cinta enjoys a dip in the ocean though, it’s been quite a while since she’s been able to swim in any water. There are mangroves and salt bushes and lots of broken glass around.
Spending an extra day here has given us time to do the shopping, washing, some baking and a bit of work for me. Andrew is tasked with going to Woolies today while I’m working and on his return he tells me he’s glad that he went instead of me. There were 2 security guards in the store and after chatting with the checkout bloke apparently they are there the whole time the store is open due to the high rate of theft and breakages. A lot of the car parks have CCTV cameras and for the first time on our journey, we don’t feel terribly safe. We’ll be glad to head off in the morning.
The dust storm has bought an amazing sunset!
Wildlife: Suffolk sheep, dead kangaroos, seagulls, cows, doves, minor birds.
Day 84: Port August to Pimba
We are travelling 172km today, that’s a big day for us! Heading up through the centre of Australia our days are going to get longer as stop over locations are few and far between. Tonight’s destination is Spuds Roadhouse at Pimba; population 40. It’s a free camp (donation of $5 to the Kimba community) and provides a roadhouse, $2 showers and toilets, bbq facilities and tonight’s special is parmigiana & chips & salad. Of course it had to be Andrew’s favourite so we are going to dine out in the roadhouse…
While we were having lunch I noticed a stray emu just munching on the salt bushes right beside our van. I would say they are regulars at the road stop foraging for food and water. The train line is just across the roadway and the trains look to be over a kilometer long and some have double containers. There are plenty of road trains around, the roadhouse is an extremely busy place today, let’s hope it’s a bit quieter tonight.
Woomera is only 6km away so we take a drive out to have a look at the township which provided accommodation and facilities for personnel – scientists, technicians and ancillary staff – who came to work at an isolated experimental station which was used to test rockets, weapons and missiles. Woomera also housed asylum seekers between 1999 -2003 who arrived by sea onto our coastlines. It’s dry and barren, some of the buildings are boarded up and it doesn’t look attractive at all. There is an array of RAAF aircraft and missiles on display in the missile park.
Where to next week? Stay tuned to find out!
Wildlife: Dead foxes, dead kangaroos by the hundreds, crows, eagles, emus.
Week 12 total expenses: $644.76 finally under budget again!
That’s a wrap for Week 12 of the Lap of the Map.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!