Today started off cold and cloudy but by 9.30 am it was a fantastic warm sunny day. We had to find our warm weather gear which was good. There were several other vehicles who camped here last night and all left this morning but we decided to stay another day.
Our plan for this morning was to drive 35 or so kilometres into Iron Knob to explore the town and buy some milk. There is a sign on the highway advertising counter meals at the pub so we thought that that might also be an option. As soon as we turned off the highway and the ute was facing town we knew that our day was not going to plan!!!
The welcome board looked tired and had graffiti. The next thing that we saw was the Motel and our photo says it all. We have never seen a town with so much damage and rubbish. All of the shops seemed to be shut or closed down except the Post office / General Store but that had metal grills and looked closed and very uninviting. We drove slowly around the whole town thinking that we must just be in the wrong area, but no, it was all as bad and depressing.
We found the Pub and again our photo says it all. We were only 75 kms from Port Augusta which is a bustling busy mining town but this mining town is beyond words. We checked out the Free Camp where we had intended to stay before we found Nuttbush and yes, it had a brick well painted toilet block, a dump point, a camp kitchen and a flat parking area……BUT……..Oh Dear!!!!
The mine tours were not available on the weekend and we suspect that the mine is closed as everything looked very dilapidated even though there are apparently still a couple of hundred people living here.
We decided that we could live without buying milk (well actually we couldn’t even find a shop selling milk) and headed back to the station for a coffee while we drooled over our maps, planning the next stage of our adventure. The weather was so good that we opened all of the windows in the van to let it air. We are now in the land of red dust and those annoying little flies that get in behind your sunglasses, so we decided to sit inside behind fly screens to enjoy our hot paella for lunch.
Just after lunch, more vans started to enter this park and while Ann was hanging out some washing we had a good chat to some travellers who have just come across the Nullabor. It was good to hear about their travels and reassuring that the road is good and that there are plenty of free camps along the way. The laundry and clothes line got a real workout today with the good weather and travellers from the Nullabor.
I also had a good chat to one of the owners of the park. It turns out that one of the things they are trying here is to feed-lot their sheep. Essentially that means that rather than let the sheep try to find enough food out in the dry paddocks they spend more time in the yards with controlled feeding. The theory is that they will fatten up better. Things are pretty tough out here and we wish the Nutt family well with their new venture. The whole time we’ve been here they have been working very hard.
Here are some of Ann’s photos of the camp kitchen and shearers’ quarters at Nuttbush.
Gosh Iron Knob sounds like it’s definitely one to put on the itinerary!