Adelaide, Kangaroo Island then home
Trip Start Sep 16, 2008
5Trip End Oct 07, 2008
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Les has taken a couple of days off work, and when he and Cornelia get back from their 25 km morning bike ride, we go into the city with Les on the train. He has tickets for us, and the system seems to work pretty well,
although the carriages are pretty crowded, and it takes a long time. We have heard and read news articles on the problems of the SA train system, including spending an extraordinary amount on windows. When we first found out about this, we thought "how ridiculous", but when you can't actually read the station names in broad daylight, you realise they have a problem. There is a lot of scratching and graffiti, but the major problem seems to be some sort of coating, which has weathered and peeled. The glass (or plastic, hard to tell), is relatively clear where the coating has peeled.
Get out of the train at the central station, walk the streets, particularly Hindley Street, what passes for a red light district. MP has some history here from working around the clock for York back in the early '70's.The only place you could get a late meal in Adelaide in the '70s was the strip club. Take photos of the streetscape, and a few remarkable old buildings, have a pizza in a fashionable restaurant area, then check out the Botanical Gardens Of particular interest are the Victoria Amazonia lilies (last seen in Mauritius) and various Madagascan plants, which we recognize from our recent trip there. Walk back along the Torrens River, then back to the station for the trip home.
Day 17 - 2 Oct 08 Hallett Cove (Adelaide Hills and Barossa)
Early start is delayed by Les and Cornelia's 75km morning bike ride, and tyre trouble on the road, so don't get away till after noon. Follow back roads through the hinterland, ending up at Mount Lofty. It has recovered pretty well from the bushfires. Get hazy views out over the city and St Vincent Gulf, and better views of the very pretty Piccadilly Valley to the SW.
Take photos of the historic mill at Bridgewater, then have a fairly ordinary lunch at Hahndorf, which is picturesque, but a bit Disneyland-ish. Have a look for some colourful wine cellars, but end up out in the vineyards, heading up the main road through Woodside, stopping at the interesting Chocolate Factory, where Les goes long on presents for Cornelia. Check out the cheese factory then continue on minor roads to Lobethal, Cudlee Creek, Chain of Ponds, Gumeracha, and past the National Motor Museum, without stopping. Head cross country again to Williamstown, to Lyndoch and on to look at the flash Novotel Barossa Valley Resort on the hill behind Jacobs Creek. A bit flash for us, with a Porsche Owners Convention on. We had seen a bloke walking around with a Porsche jacket on - thought he was a bit of a wanker, but it is possibly allowable for a meet.
Move on to the Jacobs Creek visitor centre, near Tanunda, which is very modern and flash, not really what we were looking for in the historic Barossa. Unfortunately it is now getting late (it was 5pm and they were about to close), so don't have time to go to any more places. However just before Nuriootpa we see "Chateau Dorrien" which doesn't close till 5.30pm, so have five minutes to have a look. It's a family run winery, and is definitely cashing in on mass tourism. They seem to specialize in liqueur ports and mead, and have a mural on the old vats. All a bit kitsch.
The afternoon sun is shining on the green hills, powdered with purple Pattersons curse, so head up into the hills to the east for an overview. End up driving deep into the hills, past deep grassed valleys, and into thick bush. We stumble upon the Heysen Track again, passing over a style into private property.
Have another domestic night in, another night in the car. We are getting used to it, don't know whether the neighbours are.Day 18 - 3 Oct 08 Hallett Cove - Kingscote (Kangaroo Island) - 150 km
We're off to Kangaroo Island today. Unfortunately it's Friday of a long weekend in the school holidays, and the only vacancy for the ferry was at 9pm tonight.
Try to catch up with Wally and Ingrid before we head off, but Friday is their market day, and can't raise them on the phone. Later go around and knock on the door, can't raise them, so head down to the Hallett Cove
Conservation area to look at the glacier grooves which we have been told, carry off from the same geology as at Arkaroola. The park is interesting, with boardwalks along the beach and up over the headlands. The rocks are severely folded, with the strata in the eroded water level rock shelf vertical. We would have to take their word for the glacial scrape marks, as they sure aren't obvious. We do the full circuit up over the headlands, and down to an interesting, highly coloured outcrop. On the way back to the car, down in the swampy area, MP has a scare, thinks there is a frog quite close by, in fact, jumping around right in his pocket. Has forgotten he has a frog ring tone on his mobile, and a vibrating phone.
Check again without result for Wally and Ingrid, then head south, generally along the water where possible. Get photos of landforms at Sellicks Beach, then straight to Delamere for petrol. Pull up on the wrong side of the petrol pump, then reverse to reposition the car, failing to see another petrol pump directly behind us, obscured by all the junk in the car. We come to an abrupt halt, think we have knocked over their pump, but it is protected by a massive steel pipe, which dents our bumper. Bummer!
Next stop is the Talisker Conservation Park, where we hope to kill some time waiting for our last-chance ferry tonight, but weather is unpleasant, with a light drizzle, and blowing. Just on spec, decide to go the extra few kms to Cape Jarvis, and try for a standby on an earlier ferry. There is one leaving almost immediately, and we can probably get on if we wait in the standby lane, but we can definitely get on the 4.30 pm. This suits us fine, so we change our booking, look at the coast around the corner, and head back to Talisker to have a look at the 19th century Cornish silver lead mining and ore processing operation.
The information at the park indicates that the circuit walk takes 1 ½ hours, which we don't have. MP decides to have a quick look at the nearest features of the old mining area, while DP stays in the car. The mining area turns out to be only a short walk away, so MP takes photos of the mine workings, crusher house and old brick flues laid on the hillside to take away the toxic fumes.
Back at the ferry, have to check in ( return ticket for two people and car is $324 - pretty steep for about 17 kms). MP stays with the car, DP goes with the passengers. Being relatively short and low (the car), we end up right up the front of the cargo deck, under an overhang, inches away from other vehicles. The ferry is new and well set up, with inside lounge areas and outdoor promenades. The cargo deck is open to the sky, and has walkways down either side to the stern. The weather is pretty grim, so we stay mainly inside. Can see Kangaroo Island across the 17 kms of smooth sea, and the high headlands and wind farm of the mainland behind us.
The crossing is uneventful, and get to Penneshaw about 5.15pm. Check in straight away with the Tourist info, which is about to close, to find out the situation with accommodation, as it is a long weekend in school holidays. They give us camping information, but can't book anything. They have free Wifi, which they say we can use outside the building, as they are closing. Have a quick check of our emails, then head off towards the American River camping area, looking out for any possible camping spots on the way.
We decide not to climb the enormous staircase at Prospect Hill, which offers views across the bay, partly because it is coming on dark, so turn in towards American River, where we hope to find a decent camping area. The town looks pretty desperate, and we can't find the camping area on the way in. Go as far as a large Golden Chain motel, which is either waiting for the Season, or derelict, not sure which, but there is no water in the swimming pool. On the way back, find a small camping area beside the water, but no-one is there, and there are no facilities, so carry on to Kingscote.
We see a turnoff to Brownlow with a camping sign, but it is a long way out of Kingscote, so figure it isn't us. Carry on into the town proper, check out the wharf and waterfront area, and a reasonable CBD area with a fair bit of action. Find a camping sign which leads us along the coast all the way to Brownlow, and the only camping area. They are open for business, and get a choice of several campsites. Take one close to the road, and the exit, but well away from other campers. Use our camp discount voucher to get pretty ordinary fish and chips, which we eat in the camp kitchen area, which we share with a large group of bike riders. They have massage tables set up, and are getting rubbed down by their supporters, after a long day in the saddle.
After tea, go back into town to check it out, but it is now very quiet, so drive back to the camp to set up for another night in the car.
Day 19 - 4 Oct 08 Kingscote - Harveys Return (Kangaroo Island) - 208 km (direct)
Head off to see most of the island today, via Birchmore road and South Coast Road, turning off at Seal Bay
Road. Go to the Seal Bay Visitor Centre. We have just missed one tour, but can do the next tour with the boardwalk walk thrown in for the same price, as advised by the over-the-top chatty blonde bimbo at the desk.. The boardwalk takes us along the cliffs for good views of the coastline, which is quite pretty, with cliffs, offshore stacks, white beaches and brilliant blue sea. The weather is fine, but the breeze is pretty chilly. The boardwalk also takes us down to the beach, where we get quite close to Australian Sea Lions lying on the beach. Get a photo of two of them sand surfing on a steep dune. Back to the top just in time for the tour, which has about 20 people. Taken down to the beach, across a bridge over a dry lagoon area. See sea lions in the sandhills, and lots of tracks. The ground under the low scrub is surprisingly clear, probably seal habitat in bad weather. The tour gets us down onto the beach, but not very close to seals, apart from the odd one which crosses our path, or hides under the steps. Get the rundown on the population size and prospects, habitat, range, diet.
Next stop is Vivonne Bay, on the south coast, which is reached on corrugated gravel roads through coastal scrub. It has a number of houses, some pretty exotic, hidden in the scrub, and an excellent long, white beach which stretches east to the sea stack we saw from Seal Bay, and west to the settlement and jetty at Point Ellen. We have to go back to the main road to pick up the road to Point Ellen. Stop on the way in to look at pretty, calm beaches facing Vivonne Bay, then get photos of the jetty before walking out onto the rocky point which protects the bay and jetty.
Our next stop is Kelley Hill Caves, which has walking tracks and a guided tour. We have seen a lot of caves, and the walking track is a long one to the beach at Hanson Bay, so we take the easy option, and drive to Hanson Bay, where we have lunch beside the outlet of South West River, walk around the bay, getting some good photos of the rugged coastline.
Take photos of a pair of Cape Barren Geese beside the road at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre to pay our way into the park and find out about accommodation. Another chatty blonde, has to be the sister of the one at Seal Bay, seems to think our Visitor's Pass bought on the mainland will cover the admission, but there is no camping in the Chase since the bushfires. We cop this sweet, and she gives us a no-charge receipt for our windscreen, shows us which roads are out of service, and sends us on our way.
The park is pretty big, and we soon get tired of the 40km speed limit, push it up to 60 without problems. Come to the bushfire area, with dead trees reaching to the horizon, some new growth showing close to the ground. Take the Remarkable Rocks turnoff, and get good coastal photos, with white sands, brilliant blue ocean, approaching them. There are a lot of visitors, and a long, easily graded boardwalk leading to the rock. This area is extremely picturesque, and get some great photos of the weathered granite boulders and rugged coastline in spite of the limitations of our camera.
Stop at Weirs Cove to look at the old provision haul way for the lighthouse families, getting more good coastline photos, then to the Cape du Couedic parking area, to walk down to look at the seals. Resist the signpost to the seal viewing area, as told there are closer views if we stay on the path. Walk a long way down another gently
graded walkway to the end of the cape and views over the Casuarina Islets (The Brothers), which have heavy swells from the west breaking around them. The views from the lookout points are spectacular, with large slabs of rock dropping into deep water, with large waves breaking into brilliant white foam. Steps lead down to platforms over the rocky shore, and a walkway to the spectacular Admiralty Arch. There are many sea lions lying on the rocks, basking in a large, elevated rock pool, and diving in the boiling surf off the point. They are quite entertaining, and we watch for a long time. We follow the fortunes of a young sea lion who has trouble getting ashore between the waves, as he hasn't the skill, strength, timing and experience of the larger animals, who make it look easy,
Get photos of incoming waves through the arch, then return to the car. Don't feel the need to do the lighthouse tour, head off toward Cape Borda, which has its 150th birthday celebrations on today. We pass West Bay Road
to the west end of the island, which leads to Shackle Road, which we know is closed by the bushfire. DP thinks some of the area has just recently (lat week) opened, but MP not so sure, and we are running out of time, so go back to the West End Highway, which is tarred, and make good time to Cape Borda.
We drive a few km back down the road to the turnoff to Scott Cove, which had good views along the coast, but no tracks to the cliff edge, or down to the cove.
A couple who had been walking turned up to set up camp next to a car parked in the next bay. They were locals who were waiting for a walking group to turn up the next day. Invited us to walk with them to (or from) Snug Cove tomorrow, but we had decided by now to leave earlier, rather than later. While we were cooking tea, a wildlife protection truck turned up, and parked around the other side. We thought it might be the ranger, and were getting our story straight, but it was a young woman who was camping there the night. Later a car came in for a look, then the owner of a camper trailer further along returned. Torch lights in the middle of the night from our neighbours, but no problems.
Day 20 - 5 Oct 08 Harveys Return (Kangaroo Island) - Bordertown - 520 km
Early start, heading east, calling into every sea access point we could find. The first was 16 km into Western River Cove, a pretty valley in green pasture country, ending in a tannin-stained estuary, with a camping area and
very chancy bridge across to the beach and a tiny bay. Had breakfast here, then along the coast road to Snelling Beach, King George Beach, and Stokes Bay, where we got out to have a good look. At the end of the rough, shingle beach found a strange sign among the rocks pointing to the beach. Followed a narrow, winding track through the limestone rocks to an unspoilt sweep of sandy beach.
On the way back to the main road, came upon some excellent displays of canola in flower, then descended the gentle escarpment to the Cygnet River Valley, and back around Nepean Bay to Penneshaw. We were booked
on the 8am ferry on Monday morning (tomorrow) but decided we may would leave this afternoon if possible, so that we could get a few kms up before stopping for the night. Checked at the ferry wharf, but were directed to
the office up the road, and made the change. We were to be charged extra for the change, told we would probably get on as standby for no charge, but decided to be sure, and booked the 4pm ferry. We also found out that, as the re-booking would negate our original booking, and we would now be booking direct, we could use the seniors card. The change cost us $4 instead of $20, and left us with a certain booking so we could use the time to look at the south east corner, completing the Kangaroo Island picture.
We head down Willoughby Road to Cape Coutts and the river which runs into Antechamber Bay, and lunch beside the very pretty estuary, with paperbarks in the still, tannin-stained water. Take photos of the estuary, and
the white sandy beach running around Antechamber Bay. Carry on along the river on a causeway, then climb up through green pastureland to the lighthouse on Cape Willoughby. The Lighthouse seems to be off-limits unless you pay for the full tour, so chip in for the walking path, which takes us over the curve of the hill toward the boat harbour and the end of the beach. Decide there isn't a lot to be seen here, and Dianne wants to find the great granite boulders shown on the postcards, so head further over the curve, onto steep slopes with sheep tracks between granite boulders and savage thorn bushes. Go as far as we can safely, and get some good photos of the granite boulder cliffs and the sea below, but not the ones in the postcards, and can't see as far as the lighthouse. Climb back to the top, and walk to the cliffs below the lighthouse for better views.
Back at the visitor centre, Dianne asks where the photo was taken from, and they tell us that it was taken from the south side, reached by climbing the stile and walking to the point. However it won't look exactly the same, as the photo has been reversed when it was printed! We find a deep rocky inlet right below the lighthouse, and steep cliffs to the south west, with lots of white water breaking onto the rocks. Quite spectacular.
We then head back to town, getting to the ferry in good time to check in and line up. MP chooses the third lane, as the first two are full, but the loading plan allows people just arriving to fill up lanes 1 and 2, so it takes forever to board. MP is glad we have a firm booking. This is a different ferry, not as flash, with a plastic roof over the load deck, and less internal lounge seating, but is still ok. Have another calm passage, highlighted by a pod of dolphins following us for a couple of kilometers.
At some stage we have decided to try to cross South Australia and Victoria lower down than on our outward journey, so plot a course which retraces our route as far as Tailem Bend, then take the Princes Highway to get a look at the Coorong, then across into the Mallee country, and possibly as far as Bendigo.
We still stop to take photos, as the Fleurieu Peninsular is very pretty. Get good photos of Victor Harbour,
Day 21 - 6 Oct 08 Bordertown - Sydney 1441 km
We are surprised to find it has been raining through the night, and it is still pretty grim. Take a look at the downtown area of Bordertown, which is pretty big, with the usual country services, but it is pretty quiet because
Cross the Edward River at Moulamein, taking photos of the Courthouse down by the river, accessed by a bridge across a billabong, then on toward the Sturt Highway at Ravensworth, and across the desolate Hay plains, and Hay itself, where we take the mid-Western Highway through much better country, with red soil, and green rolling fields of young wheat. Just before dark, take a photo of some very red sheep, stained with dust. The roads are good, but we have to regulate our speed according to the kangaroo risk.
Arrive at West Wyalong after dark, but figure we can keep going to Sydney, rather than stop at a motel. Are surprised by the size of West Wyalong, expecting two shops and a pub. We are pleased to get off the Newell Highway and back onto the relatively quiet Mid-Western Highway to Grenfell and Cowra which look pretty good -well worth a visit on another trip. Miss the town of Blayney, but see some of the wind towers. Are pretty desperate for something to eat by Bathurst, which looks like the plague has visited, with everything closed. Finally find some fast food at a servo on the way out. We find that the Bathurst 1000 is next week, which explains the tranquility.
We push on toward Sydney, kept awake by our talking books, courtesy of our local library, which have been very useful and entertaining, if sometimes grim. Ruth Cracknell's husband takes eight CD's to die after their trip to Venice, and is still hanging in when we get home. The run through the Blue Mountains has been the usual nightmare of changing road lanes and speed limits, but it is probably getting better. We are breathalysed at Katoomba. Finally arrive home about 2.30am. Park the car in the street at home because of Poddy, and take up only the really valuable stuff. The village crims can have the rest. Collapse into our own bed for the first time in three weeks, after driving 6085 kms, and encountering freezing weather, gales, heatwaves and fly plagues.