2016 Short SA Adventure

Day 8 – Peterborough to Whyalla

It was freezing cold last night so we needed to put on the electric heater and throw another blanket on the bed.  We slept snug as a bug!

We woke to slightly overcast skies, cold, but not much wind, so not a bad start to the day.  We weren’t travelling too far today so we got off to a lazy start (again).

Leaving Peterborough a fine but steady drizzle started, but the road was in good condition and the driving was pretty comfortable.  The first small town we went through was Orroroo, which was a quaint town with a stereotype country pub and a decent looking caravan park.

The Commercial Hotel at Orroroo.

The Commercial Hotel at Orroroo.

Just past Orroroo we stopped at the Giant Gum Tree.  This tree is estimated to be 500 years old, and the circumference is 10.89 metres just 0.61 metres above the ground.  Unfortunately there is no information as to how high it is, but it is certainly a giant tree.

The Giant Gum Tree outside Orroroo.

The Giant Gum Tree outside Orroroo.

Until now the roadsides had mainly been cultivated red soil, with some stubble and a few sheep here and there munching on stubble.  After Orroroo the scenery changed and changed to low scrub.

Scenery along Horrocks Highway.

Scenery along Horrocks Highway.

Morning coffee was at Centenary Park in Wilmington.  This was a great stop with tables and chairs, shelter, toilets, a dump point, drinking water, and some play equipment.  Unfortunately camping wasn’t allowed here.  There was an interesting hand-painted map inside one of the shelters.  Wilmington looks like a nice little town with an interesting Toy Museum and a Puppet Museum.

Hand painted map of Wilmington at Centenary Park.

Hand painted map of Wilmington at Centenary Park.

Scenes of Wilmington.

Scenes of Wilmington.

As we have been along this road before, we knew that we would soon encounter Horrocks Pass, which is a long and winding, steep downhill adventure.  Still being new to the motorhome we were a bit apprehensive, but somewhat relieved to remember that we had survived in the Ute with the Trailblazer behind.  At this point the full concrete mixer we had happily been following decided to pull over and let a ute and ourselves overtake him.  I don’t know how any of you readers might feel, but going down a steep hill I would prefer to behind a concrete mixer rather than in front of it!  So I politely declined the offer to overtake and copped a real mouthful of abuse as thanks.

Would you overtake the concrete truck over double lines and on a bend, going downhill?

Would you overtake the concrete truck over double lines and on a bend, going downhill?

Obviously we survived Horrocks Pass again, and the first thing that struck us was that the ground was actually green, not just red dirt.

Horrocks Pass.

Horrocks Pass.

Greener pastures - the rains have turned things green.

Greener pastures – the rains have turned things green.

Soon we found ourselves heading through Port Augusta.  Again, we’ve been here before so didn’t go overboard on the photos, but Ann did take a few from the bridge into town.  One thing of interest was the piles of coloured gravel along the water pipeline, presumably there to protect the pipe from over-zealous motorists.

Port Augusta.

Port Augusta.

Leaving Port Augusta we again encountered good roads, with a mixture of red dirt and low scrub.

On the road from Port Augusta to Whyalla.

On the road from Port Augusta to Whyalla.

We stopped for lunch at the Lincoln Eyre Highway Junction rest-stop (Camps 8 S550) before tackling the remaining 50 K or so into Whyalla.

Even several kilometres away it was obvious that we were entering an industrial town, with chimneys tacks, huge sheds, and so on.

First stop on the way into town was at the Whyalla Visitor Centre and Maritime Museum, which is located right next to the warship Whyalla.  This was the first ship built at the Whyalla shipyard and served during the Second World War undertaking mine-sweeping, escort, troop transport and other duties.  The Whyalla covered over 110,000 miles on active duty before transferring to Victoria where she patrolled The Rip.  Unfortunately we missed today’s tours of the Whyalla and the tours of the Metal Works weren’t on today either.  We may come back tomorrow and do both tours as they look very interesting.

Whyalla Visitor Centre & Maritime Museum.

Whyalla Visitor Centre & Maritime Museum.

From the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre we went directly to the Whyalla Foreshore Holiday Park where we secured a great site right on the foreshore.

Bertha on Whyalla Foreshore.

Bertha on Whyalla Foreshore.

After setting up Bertha we headed off into town to keep our steps up, and to replenish some supplies.  Two observations when tackling Whyalla on foot – it is very hilly, and there are no street signs.  It took us a fair bit longer than expected to accomplish our task but we definitely did the steps.  Whyalla is an interesting town, from what we have seen.  Clearly things are difficult from an industry perspective, but the place looks “tired”.  The red dust, and perhaps the emissions from the chimneys, just seem to stain everything a pale red colour so nothing really seems to look neat and clean.  Having said that there are some beautiful houses around and some development happening.  Let’s hope that the steel manufacturing situation and other industrial worries are resolved soon and stability returns to town.

Whyalla is the start of our planned 2016 Short Adventure.  Getting here has been only part of the adventure but we are looking forward to now spending time in the small fishing villages on the Eyre Peninsula before heading back home to Melbourne.  It looks as though the weather is going to cooperate as well!

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Day 7 – Renmark to Peterborough via Burra

We both slept well last night and woke up to quite a nice day – slightly overcast but with blue sky poking through and great for driving.

Packing up Bertha is a lot quicker than what was required for the Trailblazer – just roll up hoses and power cable, wind-down the TV aerial, clean the windscreen, and without too much further ado we’re off.

Preparing to leave Renmark Big 4.

Preparing to leave Renmark Big 4.

As we left Big 4 Renmark we spotted a group of intrepid Avanners heading off on their way into town.

Intrepid Avanners heading off to town.

Intrepid Avanners heading off to town.

I love driving around places like Mildura and Renmark with grape vines growing right up alongside the road even on the outskirts of town.  After getting onto the Sturt Highway (A20) we passed through Barmera which again featured vines and citrus.

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Our morning coffee stop was at Waikerie where the roadside revealed vines, stone fruit trees, citrus, almonds and walnuts.  Along the way we spotted several well-known vineyards including Angoves and Banrock Station.

Waikerie Tourist Information Centre - coffee stop.

Waikerie Tourist Information Centre – coffee stop.

From Waikerie we headed on to Morgan where we got two surprises.  The first was that the road ran out and we had to catch a ferry across the river.  As new motor-homers this was quite exciting but it was something of a relief to back on dry land again.

Crossing the river ferry style!

Crossing the river ferry style!

The second surprise was that the weather turned nasty – the skies clouded over, the wind came up, and it started raining quite steadily.  And here we were thinking that we’d missed most of the bad weather.  None the less, we persevered.

At Morgan we changed to the Goyder Highway and the fruit and vines pretty well vanished from the roadsides, to be replaced by mostly scrub and saltbush.  We passed a turn-off to World’s End, but things hadn’t got quite that bad yet so we continued on the highway.

At our friend PK’s suggestion, we took a slight detour off the highway to Burra.  This is a historic precinct with many delightful old stone buildings.  According to the brochure from the Tourist Information Centre, Burra was made famous though the finding of copper in 1845.  By 1850 Burra had one of the world’s largest copper mines and saved South Australia from bankruptcy.  There are organised tours of the town for those who have the time.  The copper mines resulted in a large Cornish population settling in the area, so we couldn’t ignore PK’s recommendation to have Cornish pasties for lunch.  We got the last two in the shop and they were very good!

Views around Burra.

Views around Burra.

Returning to the highway we again faced strong winds, and then realised that we were passing a large wind-farm so it made sense that it was windy there.

Just passed Mt Bryan coming around a bend we were confronted by a huge tractor and some sort of harvesting equipment coming towards us and taking up most of the road.  Immediately behind that were two B-Doubles with large “Explosives” signs on them.  Needless to say we made sure we got off the road and let them pass safely.  Ann was so stunned by this that she didn’t think to take a photo!

From Mt Bryan it wasn’t very far to our destination for tonight – Peterborough.  Peterborough is a railway town and even the Tourist Information Centre is in a vintage railway carriage.  We have stayed here before and found it to be a nice, comfortable place.  We checked in at the Peterborough Caravan Park and set up Bertha for the night, then went for a good long walk into town.  The rain had stopped but the wind was still quite fierce, so we rugged up for the walk.  There are some beautiful buildings around town but like many country towns things don’t appear to be as prosperous as in the past.

Peterborough is a railway town!

Peterborough is a railway town!

Beautiful heritage buildings around Peterborough.

Beautiful heritage buildings around Peterborough.

After our walk we came back home to Bertha for a light tea, update this blog, and do some reading.  There’s no TV reception here but we can cope with that!

Today has been another tough driving day but the scenery has been interesting and varied, and we have stopped and seen some great places.  Bring on tomorrow!

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Day 6 – Renmark

The storm continued overnight.  We put the TV aerial up for a short while but soon wound it down again as it was so windy.  We did put the slide-out out as it is difficult to sleep with it in – that’s an adventure of its own for another day.  I actually slept very well once my head hit the pillow, as it had been a hard day driving, but Ann stayed awake listening to the sounds of ripping awnings and tent pegs being hammered in.

By morning the storm had calmed down and there was blue sky.  We decided to stay put in Renmark and have a look around town rather than venture potentially back into the storm.  It does seem that the worst of the storm has passed us now – we saw some photos from the SA coast, where we are heading, and we are happy that our decision to detour north has been worthwhile.

The caravan park this morning looked quite different.  The Avanners had their AGM somewhere in town so we were surrounded by Avans but no tow vehicles.  Just looked a bit strange.

Avans

Avans

After a bit of a late start, we headed up the walking path from the caravan park into town.  This is a proper bitumen path away from the roadway, but this morning was showing signs of the storm.  The path followed the river and it was interesting to see several house-boats moored along the path.

Walking path into town.

Walking path into town.

Houseboats along the river bank.

Houseboats along the river bank.

The Renmark Paringa district is renowned as a state gateway to South Australia.  Founded in 1887, Renmark is Australia’s oldest irrigation settlement, thanks to a joint agreement between the State Government at the time and Canadian engineers, George and Ben Chaffey.  The brothers were instrumental is establishing the system of irrigation much of which is still in use today supporting the abundant horticulture and viticulture industries.

Renmark has a great many beautiful old buildings, including the historic Irrigation House and the Renmark Hotel.  There are also some very nice modern buildings, and a significant amount of new housing development.

Historic Irrigation House.

Historic Irrigation House.

Renmark Hotel.

Renmark Hotel.

One of the features of the main street in Renmark is the very wide median strip dividing traffic and the inclusion of lawns, gardens, tourist facilities etc within that median strip, much like we found in Nhill.

Main Street

Main Street

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Main street.

Although Renmark is quite a busy town, all is perhaps not as rosy as it may seem as there are quite a few empty shops around town and there are some signs of hardship.  This is a real pity and hopefully the town can halt the decline and return to the status it clearly deserves.

After a good walk around town, we stopped for a light lunch at the Renmark Patisserie.   The range of cakes and buns was enormous, but we both remained strong willed and opted for a healthy lunch.  The place was packed with all the tables full and a lot of take-away traffic.  We obviously chose a good place for lunch!

Great place for lunch.

Great place for lunch.

After a quick trip to the supermarket for supplies of fresh fruit and veggies, we returned along the path to the caravan park.  We hadn’t taken too much attention when we arrived yesterday, but right next the entrance to the Big 4 is a decent looking boat ramp and a Lions Park with picnic and bbq facilities and childrens’ play equipment.

Boat ramp near Big 4.

Boat ramp near Big 4.

As we walked passed the caravan park swimming pool a fellow guest told us that the water was cold but it was more than compensated by the warmth of the spa.  What a pity we forgot to pack our bathers.  We’ll leave the pool to the intrepid Avanners.

Swimming pool and water fun park.

Swimming pool and water fun park.

Returning to Bertha we spent a bit of time catching up with some reading, emails, etc and generally taking it easy.  We then went for another good walk around this caravan park and realised just how big it really is, and they are about to open a new area that will cater for a heap more vans and motorhomes.

Another view of the caravan park in better weather.

Another view of the caravan park in better weather.

As dusk settled in I headed off to the camp kitchen to cook some lamb steaks for dinner, which was accompanied by a delicious fresh salad and a nice glass of red.

We really needed a bit of a quiet day today after several challenging driving days.  The weather forecast for the next week or so looks very promising so we look forward to seeing the sunny side of South Australia.

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Day 5 – Mildura/Buronga to Renmark (SA)

We had very heavy rain overnight, which meant that we both had an interrupted sleep.  As newbie motor-homers we were worried about leaks, especially around the slide-out, but finally the weather died down and we got back to sleep (with no leaks).  Eventually we were woken by kookaburras singing and heralding in a nice sunny morning with clear blue skies.  We took our time getting ready and packing up and generally enjoying the sunshine.

Sunny morning at Buronga

Sunny morning at Buronga

In due course we headed out of the caravan park and back across the Murray River to Mildura, where we stopped for a coffee at Hudak’s Bakery and a spot of shopping before finding our way to the Sturt Highway and on our way to Renmark and beyond.

We really like Mildura and the emphasis on good food and wine, and the weather is usually pretty good as well.  Passing through the outskirts of Mildura it just feels great to be surrounded by grape vines, olive trees, stone fruit trees, and more.

Plenty of grape vines along the way.

Plenty of grape vines along the way.

Once on the Sturt Highway the weather changed and the wind blew up considerably.  Our theory was that by heading North from Nhill to Mildura and then across to South Australia we would miss the most of the storms, and to a point that was right, but we didn’t bank on the cross-winds.  It was really heavy going.  The further West we got the worse the wind got and the worse driving conditions got.  At times we slowed to what seemed like a snail’s pace.

Wonder how far this cyclist got in the storm?

Wonder how far this cyclist got in the storm?

We stopped for lunch beside the lake at the Johansen Memorial Reserve in Cullulleraine (Camps 8 V325) where we found a nice sheltered spot out of the wind.  This is also the site of the Millewa Pumping Station and there are some great walks around the lake.  There are grassed areas, table and chairs, and signs indicating it was suitable for swimming, although today surfing would have been a better bet.

Lunch stop at Cullulleraine.

Lunch stop at Cullulleraine.

Returning to the Sturt Highway the wind got worse.  There were infrequent respites when there was a bit of vegetation beside the road providing a bit of a wind break.  At other times the entire sky was filled with dust and dirt, presumably from farmers cultivating, hoping for rain.  Headlights on was definitely the order of the day.

Dust storm as it approached.

Dust storm as it approached.

Next stop was at the SA quarantine station near Yamba, where the very friendly fruit fly inspector relieved us of a bag of home gown vegies that we hadn’t been able to eat yet.  It just seems a real waste; Mildura has some fantastic fruit and vegies but if you’re heading West there’s no point buying any of it.

Leaving the quarantine station at Yamba.

Leaving the quarantine station at Yamba.

The bridge to Renmark.

The bridge to Renmark.

Eventually we arrived at Renmark.  In our original plan this was to be our lunch stop but the terrible weather conditions put an end to that.  After a good drive around town we followed the signs to a caravan park and ended up at the Big 4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park.  To be honest we have tended to avoid Big 4s as in the past we have had some real problems with access and getting a Big Rig onto some of their sites, but this park is a great surprise.  It is huge, it has tremendous facilities, there are some nice looking cabins overlooking the river, the sites are generous, and there are even some concreted double-slab sites (ie room for a van, annex and tow vehicle).

Some unusually large slab sites.

Some unusually large slab sites.

The most amusing thing is that we have arrived in the middle of an Avan convention, which means that we are surrounded by over 230 tiny Avan caravans.  We have only spotted 3 other non-Avans!

AVAN Convention - an impressive sight lined up along the river.

AVAN Convention – an impressive sight lined up along the river.

A very unusual AVAN cabin!

A very unusual AVAN cabin!

Spot Bertha!

Spot Bertha!

We have a great site though, absolutely flat, quite protected, and close to all necessary facilities.  And it’s not under any trees with potentially falling branches!

Since we arrived here the wind has been increasing and it is now blowing up a gale, as well as raining quite heavily.  Our next door neighbour told us that we are expecting 100 kph winds tonight!  We have been for a good long walk as the temperature is quite warm and we can tolerate the wind for a limited time.  Back in Bertha we are all set-up although we haven’t put the slide-out out, just in case.  All around us there are Avanners struggling with flapping awnings and annexes, but at least we feel safe and sound.

We’re not sure what tomorrow will hold, and what we do and where we go will depend on the weather.  We’re in a bit of a conflict as we wouldn’t mind spending a day looking around Renmark, which seems to be a really nice town, but on the other hand we would possibly prefer to keep on the move.

The adventure continues ….

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Day 4 – Nhill to Mildura/Buronga

We were woken at 6.30 this morning by a very loud siren either in or very close to the caravan park.  We quickly dressed and rushed outside.  There was no hive of activity, in fact no-one else had even bothered to poke their head out of their doors.  So we almost felt cheated.  A check on the emergency services website did reveal that there was a fire reported on the Western Highway in Nhill.

Now we were up, it was time for showers, breakfast and getting ready to leave.  The weather was quite fine, and I actually spent the entire day in tee-shirt and jeans.

Once back on the Western Highway however, the drizzle started and remained with us almost all day.  Driving through Nhill before 9.00 am on a Sunday was quite different to the bustling town we had seen yesterday.  No shops open and nobody around anywhere.

We actually headed back along the highway to Dimboola, where we turned off on the Borung Highway (C234) towards Warracknabeal.  Travelling along C class highways isn’t usually an issue for us but road conditions this morning were pretty terrible and we had to drop our speed accordingly.  The constant drizzle didn’t help much either.  Driving through Warracknabeal we noted that the town’s claim to fame is being the birthplace of Nick Cave!

Long flat road ahead, in the drizzle.

Long flat road ahead, in the drizzle.

Rough surface, in the drizzle.

Rough surface, in the drizzle.

Ordinarily we would have had a walk around town but the drizzle and the fact that again nothing much was open meant we stayed on the road and kept driving.  From Warracknabeal we changed to the Henty Highway (B200) and immediately felt the improvement in road conditions.

Morning coffee was at the Brim Redda’s Park (V598).  We were here in 2011 and noted that local community groups were doing a lot of work here, and it shows.  This is a great community space with plenty of room for camping with powered sites available for $10 per night on an honesty system.  There is a basic but clean amenities block with showers, play equipment for children, a nice looking beach along the river, plenty of tables and chairs, and lots of room for walking, playing, and so on.  We had coffee in Bertha then put on our jackets and went for a walk before continuing on our way North.

Views of Redda's Park at Brim

Views of Redda’s Park at Brim

Passing through Beulah, Hopetoun and Lascelles we eventually stopped at Turriff on the Sunraysia Highway for lunch.  This is a very small spot on the map with highlights being a Pioneers Memorial and a new CFA shed.

Nothing open in Hopetoun.

Nothing open in Hopetoun.

Pioneer Memorial at Turriff.

Pioneer Memorial at Turriff.

After lunch we continued up the Sunraysia Highway until it became the Calder Highway (A79) some 10 kms before Ouyen.

We actually stayed at Ouyen several years ago so we turned off the highway to have a look around town.  It was still raining enough to make a walk unpleasant and almost nothing was open so, after cruising around town, we continued back up the Calder to Mildura.  We stopped at Irymple just before Mildura for fuel.

Mildura is one of our favourite places and we have been here several times so we headed off to one of our favourite caravan parks just over the river at Buronga where we set up camp for the night.  Fortunately the drizzle had stopped so we were able to have a good walk around the park.  Every time we come here there are changes and this park just gets better and better.  The owners just keep improving the gardens and facilities all the time.  It really is a beautiful park with million dollar views across the river.

A garden bed near us in Buronga Riverside Caravan Park.

A garden bed near us in Buronga Riverside Caravan Park.

Overall, despite the wet weather and some bad road conditions, we have travelled further than we had perhaps thought, and hope that we have missed out on most of the storms in the region.  Mildura has apparently had good rains of around 20 mm, and no-one is complaining at all.  There is apparently more rain on the way so we will have to make a stay or go decision tomorrow morning based on the weather report in the morning.

At this time, the rain has stopped, it is quite warm and we have a great site in the park.  Life is good.

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Day 3 – Nhill

As we had decided to stay put in Nhill for another day we got off to a lazy start.  First item of business for the day was to visit the caravan park office and pay for another night, then we headed off the 400 metres or so into town.

Right next to the caravan park is Jaypex Park, which is a fantastic family destination.  There is play equipment, BBQs, covered seating areas, and one of the biggest slides we have ever seen – and it was nearly all under cover.  Also in the park is a restored historic cottage, and the start to the Nhill Swamp Boardwalk (more about that later).

Jaypex Park with its amazing slide - our grand-daughters would love it!

Jaypex Park with its amazing slide – our grand-daughters would love it!

A little further up the road we entered the main business district of Nhill.  This is a historic town with many beautiful old buildings. Wide verandahs were definitely the order of the day when Nhill was established.  The Nhill Post Office is a standout.

Nhill Post Office

Nhill Post Office

Farmers Arms Hotel

Farmers Arms Hotel

One of the features of the main street of Nhill is the wide median strip separating traffic going into and out of town.  Within the median strip is some off-street parking, a delightful rotunda, tourist information, toilets, grassed areas and gardens, tables and chairs, and a bus stop.  It makes a very friendly and inviting environment.

Main street Nhill

Main street Nhill

There are several decent looking pubs, some very interesting art galleries, a good range of retail shops, and several options for meals. We stopped at the Olivia-Rose Café for a coffee and stayed for lunch once we saw the menu.  I couldn’t finish mine!

Lunch at Olivia-Rose Cafe

Lunch at Olivia-Rose Cafe

After lunch we returned to Bertha to change into tee-shirts, before heading back to the Nhill Swamp Boardwalk.  This is an incredible structure over 600 metres long over the Nhill Swamp.  Today this area looks nothing like a swamp as it is terribly dry, but apparently there are irregular but massive floods at which time the water levels rise considerably. There are signs of bushfires, drought and swamp all in this area.

There are signs of bushfires, drought and swamp all in this area.At the end of the Boardwalk is Nhill Lake, and the tide is out there as well.  Walkers are presented with 2 options for walking from there, and we chose the longer walk right around the lake.  It was glorious and incredibly peaceful.  Several brave folk were fishing in the lake, and one fellow actually caught something as we walked passed but threw it back in as it was a bit too small.  Apparently there are rainbow trout in the lake so a decent size would make a nice meal.

Nhill Swamp Boardwalk

Nhill Swamp Boardwalk

We then returned to Bertha at the caravan park, both having completed close to 10,000 steps today.  Out came the chairs and we put out the awning and had a quiet time catching up with a bit of reading.  As dusk set in I did some quick preparation for tomorrow’s early (maybe) departure, before we came inside for a light dinner, some computer time, and then settling in for some favourite TV shows.

Our home among the gum trees tonight.

Our home among the gum trees tonight.

Having looked at the weather forecasts for the next few days, it looks as though we’re going to get wet where-ever we go.  We’ll check the forecasts again in the morning and decide exactly which direction we will go from here.

The adventure continues…..

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Day 2 – Stawell to Nhill

Last night was a beautiful, clear, starry night with the sky unpolluted by big city lights.  We heard on the TV news that we should be able to see lots of meteorites as a result of Halleys Comet passing, but that was best seen between 3.00 am and 7.00 am, so needless to say we missed the meteorite display.

One of the by-products of clear skies overnight is cold – and it was still very clear and quite cold when we finally awoke this morning.  Unfortunately it turned out that the heater didn’t want to operate, and we had an error message on the solar controller.

Beautiful clear morning

Beautiful clear morning

A few phone calls later and we headed back to Stawell to visit an auto-electrician recommended by our motorhome dealer.  Ann took the opportunity to pick up some lunch treats and we then enjoyed a coffee at the nearby café while the auto-electrician crawled under the van and did his thing.

Bertha at the auto electrician

Bertha at the auto electrician

The cafe had some interesting visitors, and great coffee.

The cafe had some interesting visitors, and great coffee.

We then enjoyed an early lunch at a very nice park in Stawell.  There were clean facilities, friendly ducks, a bridge across the lake to a walking track and plenty of picnic tables.  We sat outside near Kelly’s Bridge in the sun enjoying our lunch before eventually hitting the road again.

Beautiful place to stop for picnic lunch on the outskirts of Stawell.

Beautiful place to stop for picnic lunch on the outskirts of Stawell.

From Stawell we headed back along the A8 Highway past the Grampians on our left and stopped for a photo opportunity at the Giant Koala at Dadswells Bridge.

Unmissable tourist photo opportunity.

Unmissable tourist photo opportunity.

The road condition from here was not all that great and the landscape was very flat and dry.  The clear skies and horizon were punctuated by grain silos.  We drove through Horsham without stopping as there seemed to be roadworks everywhere, so we kept going.

Dry and flat, with silos along the railway line.

Dry and flat, with silos along the railway line.

We took a brief detour from the highway and stopped in Dimboola for a walk around town.  Dimboola is a pretty little country town but it is extremely sad to see so many vacant shops and so little activity.  Attempts have certainly been made to spruce up the town and make it more attractive to tourists, and there are several very nice shops, cafes and a good supermarket, but overall it is still very sad.

Dimboola streetscape.

Dimboola streetscape.

From Dimboola we continued along the highway in the general direction of Adelaide, and stopped overnight at the Nhill Caravan Park.  This is a nice, small country caravan park under new management.  We found a good level site and hooked up power, water and sullage, then set up our chairs with cool drinks and a snack outside.  I then cooked dinner on our new BBQ which we ate outside before we retired inside to escape the mossies.

As I write this the temperature is still in the low twenties and we have the door open and fans on.  Another beautiful, starry night.

We are looking forward to a long walk around this very pretty and lively town in the morning.

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Day 1 – Shortys 2016 Short SA Adventure

Today is the first day of our 2016 “Short” Adventure.  We’ll only be away for two or three weeks so in a way this is an extended shakedown to get used to living in Bertha the Birdsville motorhome.

We got off to an early morning start and were gone by 6.45am.  Part of the reason for the early start was that we had booked Bertha in with the dealer in Campbellfield to make a couple of adjustments before we left and it was easier to leave early and miss at least some of the peak hour traffic.  We were able to leave the dealer with a happy Bertha by 9.30am.

First stop of the day was at a service centre in Rockbank where we filled up the fuel tank and had a snack to compensate for having a light breakfast what seemed many hours earlier.

We were soon on the Western Highway and made quite good time.  Weather wise we had blue skies, some clouds, and sunshine, but the wind was a shocker and at times I struggled to keep Bertha on the road.  Most of the highway seems to be very exposed, and roadworks also contributed to a general lack of any shelter from the wind.  My shoulders are quite sore from wrestling with the steering wheel.  Seeing banks of wind turbines only confirmed that we were travelling through a very windy area.

On the Western Highway

On the Western Highway

On the Western Highway

On the Western Highway

On the Western Highway - Very Dry

On the Western Highway – Very Dry

Our lunch stop was in the nice little town of Beaufort.  This is an old but quite busy place that the highway has not yet been diverted around.  Plenty of large trucks go through the middle of town on their way through to Adelaide.  We found a great local bakery and enjoyed some very flavoursome vegetable pasties and shared a huge pink lamington (we also had a bit of a walk in the wind to compensate for the kilojoules).

Lunch Stop at Beaufort

Lunch Stop at Beaufort

From Beaufort the roadworks increased and plenty of new work was evident, so much so that the Tom Tom GPS got lost and thought we were driving through paddocks.  As a result we missed a couple of potential rest stops that we had intended to check out.

Seppelts Winery in Great Western

Seppelts Winery in Great Western

Eventually we all got organised and decided to stop at the Canadian Gully Bushland Reserve (Camps 8 V478), which is very close to Stawell.  We realised that we had actually stopped here overnight several years ago but there was a small lake here then – no such thing now.  In general it has been very dry as we have travelled west.  After a cool drink we decided that it had been a reasonably long day with some difficult driving so we would set up camp here for the night.  We found a good level and quite sheltered spot well away from the road and set up.  There are no facilities here but we’re self-contained and we have phone, TV and wireless internet access, so we’ll be fine.

Out of the city - at last! Ahh, the serenity!

Out of the city – at last! Ahh, the serenity!

We intend to keep travelling west towards South Australia’s Eyre Peninsular, but we don’t have any specific plans or accommodation bookings.  Exactly how far we travel each day is flexible, and where we end up each night will in part depend on the weather.

We look forward to continuing our adventures tomorrow.

Categories: 2016 Short SA Adventure, Free Camping | Tags:

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