As we drove into Port Augusta at the start of this phase of our adventure many of the landmarks and locations seemed a little familiar; we were in Port Augusta for a few days during our trip in 2010 and managed to see a bit of the place. On this occasion we didn’t stop but drove straight through the town en-route to Whyalla (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whyalla) which we reached late morning.
After refueling we drove on about sixty or seventy kilometres south of Whyalla we passed the Arrium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrium) mining operation in the Middleback Ranges where hematite is extracted for export to China. The once natural shape of the mountains has been altered to leveled benches from the mining operation.
Arriving at Cowell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowell,_South_Australia) we stopped for lunch in a local park. Given the early hour we decided to drive on to Port Lincoln instead of staying at one of the smaller locations along the way. As we drove along the Lincoln Highway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Highway_%28Australia%29) we travelled through some harsh looking country which didn’t appear to have much agricultural value. Eventually, however, there were areas where cultivated fields appeared and sheep and cattle grazed the country on each side of the highway.
We passed Arno Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arno_Bay,_South_Australia), Port Neill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Neill,_South_Australia) and Tumby Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumby_Bay,_South_Australia) before arriving weary but intact at Port Lincoln (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Lincoln) (http://visitportlincoln.net/). After some confusion (lack of signage on the road we took – the wrong one of course) we eventually reached a caravan park where we will stay for the next three nights.
Saturday morning we awoke late and found it was overcast but not raining, however rain had been predicted as a rain band and front came across from Western Australia. We went shopping for supplies and by the time we returned to the park light rain had started. After storing the tucker we decided to see what sights we could before the rain set in – bad plan as almost as soon as we drove into town the rain became consistent and we spent the time flitting from shop to shop to keep dry so we returned to the caravan to have lunch. As Margaret cooked lunch the wind became stronger and as soon as we had eaten our lunch I went out to raise the awning before it was blown away. The rest of the day was miserable and we were rain bound in the caravan so we played CDs and spent the time reading and on catching up on correspondence.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear after overnight rain (we have really been quite lucky with rain during our holiday and South Australia needs the rain so we shouldn’t whinge too much) so we drove out to Coffin Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_Bay,_South_Australia) named by Flinders after one of his lieutenants (Mr. Coffin), to take a look. We drove around the town but didn’t go out to the National Park as by then the sky had darkened and rain was again ominous. When the rain started we decided to go elsewhere.
Cummins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cummins,_South_Australia) is about 60 km north of Port Lincoln along the Tod Highway which intersects with the Flinders Highway not long after the turn off from Coffin Bay back to Port Lincoln – so we headed north along this route to see what there was at Cummins. We found it a pleasant enough small rural town which looked quite prosperous. We also found a turnoff to take us to Tumby Bay so we followed this road to the coast and drove into the town.
Along the road to Cummins we came across a shoe tree – no apparent reason just a tree full of shoes and boots. It is interesting when you come across these things; on the way down from Whyalla we passed a helmet tree – again no apparent reason just a tree decorated with construction helmets – mostly white. Didn’t get a picture of the helmet tree but made sure we snapped the shoe tree.
At Tumby Bay we found the Ritz Café (http://tumby.com.au/wpbdm-directory/ritz/) and as it was Mothers’ Day we decided to have lunch here; we were lucky to find a seat as the tables had been booked out and only outside seating was available (not advisable in rainy weather) so we opted to take the bench in the front window and act as the living advertisement for the Café. We had a pleasant and tasty lunch of fish with chips and salad and completed the meal with coffee and cake.
After exploring Tumby Bay a little more we drove back to Port Lincoln stopping at a few places along the way for photographs of the various locations. As we are moving on Monday morning we packed a few things and prepared for our departure in the morning before retreating to the caravan when the showers decided to visit once more.
On Monday morning we moved on from Port Lincoln and headed for Streaky Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaky_Bay,_South_Australia); along the way we travelled close to the coast and passed through Elliston (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliston,_South_Australia) and Port Kenny (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Kenny,_South_Australia). There is not a lot to see along this part of the coast unless you deviate and visit every little settlement and coastal spot along the way; this is not particularly practical when towing a big van so we stuck to the black top and only deviated once to visit Murphy’s Haystacks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphys_Haystacks). These ancient stones are fascinating.
Once we arrived at Streaky Bay we headed for the caravan park and set up for the night. As we were in the need of clean clothes we headed for the laundry and spent a couple of hours washing and drying. Near the beach just across from our site was a fish cleaning area and as the successful fishermen cleaned and filleted their catch the local pelicans and seagulls lined up to compete for the scraps; quite a competition it was too as there were at least six pelicans and probably 20 seagulls waiting their chance. After the domestic chores we headed out for a short exploration of the town. What we saw of Streaky Bay impressed us and it was a pity that we were only staying the one night.
Tuesday morning we were on the road early headed for Port Augusta to complete our exploration of the Eyre Peninsula. We left Streaky Bay and headed across to Poochera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poochera,_South_Australia) and the Eyre Highway. We passed through Minnipa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnipa,_South_Australia) and then called in to Wuddina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudinna,_South_Australia) for morning tea and a visit to the Australian Farmer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Farmer) a granite statue in Wuddina saluting the contribution of the Australian Farmer and the pioneers of the district – very impressive. We drove along to Kyancutta (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyancutta,_South_Australia) and then on to Kimba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba,_South_Australia). In Kimba one of the local businesses claims it is the “Half Way Across Australia” gift shop and also home to the Big Galah museum.
From Kimba there are no substantial settlements until the road reaches Iron Knob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba,_South_Australia) and this is not located immediately on the highway but a couple of kilometres away. The iron ore mine at Iron Knob closed in the 1990s but there is still significant activity apparent in the immediate vicinity and this can be seen from the highway.
Port Augusta is about fifty kilometres along the Eyre Highway from Iron Knob and it wasn’t long before we rolled into town and made our way to the caravan park where we had booked to stay for a few days. We stayed in this park when we were in Port Augusta in 2010 and while some renovations have been made in the amenities block nothing much else has changed. The park is full every evening then empties out the next morning until the new arrivals come along and the process repeats itself.
On Wednesday we shopped for the necessities of life in the morning and then vent to visit another of Margaret’s cousins in the afternoon. Thursday saw us at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens (http://www.aalbg.sa.gov.au/) for a look-see. It is quite interesting to see what has been achieved in the gardens since they were officially commenced in 1993.
On Friday morning we will move on to Rawnsley Park Station and the Flinders Ranges for a few days to take in the sights and sounds.