Our plan to free camp at Crystal Brook was thwarted by all the early arrivals who took up the space at Jubilee Park in Railway Terrace. We could have driven out of town and found another spot but we had been driving all day and were sick of it so we found the local caravan park and took a site there. As it turns out the Crystal Brook Caravan Park (http://crystalbrookcaravanpark.webs.com/) is run by the community with profits channeled back into community projects.
We drove from Mildura reaching the South Australian border around 10:30am (Vic time) stopping for coffee at a rest area just short of the state line.
Crossing into South Australia picked up half an hour and our next stop was at about 10:15am (SA time) at Yamba where we had to stop for inspection at the South Australian quarantine checkpoint. The inspectors looked in both our caravan fridge and the car fridge before giving us the all clear to proceed.
Driving through Paringa and Renmark bought back recollections of our last visit to this area a couple of years ago. Just west of Renmark we stopped at a roadside stall to pick up some fruit then drove on to Morgan hugging the Murray River for much of the journey. At Morgan we passed a very large water treatment facility that feeds water from the Murray into an extensive pipeline which supplies Port Pirie and Whyalla (http://www.sawater.com.au/NR/rdonlyres/DEACDDBD-52A9-4971-8189-9B3FD1D98ECC/0/SpencerGulfLongTermPlan.pdf). We followed the pipelines for most of our route and picked it up again as we drove along the highway near Port Pirie on Sunday.
Burra, our original planned destination, was reached by about 2:00pm and we decided to drive the additional distance to Crystal Brook before stopping for the evening. On Sunday we drove the additional 110 kilometres into Port Augusta and checked into the Shoreline Caravan Park (http://www.shorelinecaravanpark.com.au/) where we will stay while in the city. On Sunday afternoon we visited Margaret’s cousin and her husband and spent the late afternoon with them at their home.
Joy Baluch AM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_Baluch) was a long serving Mayor of Port Augusta; the only bridge across the Spencer Gulf in Port Augusta is named in honour of Joy Baluch. This bridge is a vital link in the Port Augusta community and is the main north south link for transport through the city. If the bridge is closed it causes significant inconvenience for the travelling public and the citizens of Port Augusta.
On Monday 1st June 2015 the Joy Baluch Bridge was closed between 10:30 am and 11:30am as part of an Indigenous protest about the Federal Government’s reductions in funding for indigenous communities in remote locations in South Australia and other States (http://www.5au.com.au/news/local-news/47230-port-augusta-bridge-closure-today-1st-june). Some 300 people supporting the protest marched across the closed bridge as part of the national “Shutdown Australia” campaign (http://www.shut-down-australia.com/).
While the bridge was closed causing local inconvenience and disruption for transport operators traveling through Port Augusta, our day was quite productive. Margaret completed some necessary washing, I was able to arrange for the vehicle to be serviced at the local Nissan Dealer (despite the dealership looking like a bomb site during reconstruction of its showroom), we arranged some changes to our mobile phone set up to make it easier to call home when we are in Western Australia and we organised the rotation of the tyres on the truck to maintain the mileage guarantee.
We left Port Augusta on Tuesday heading to Streaky Bay; our route was along the Eyre Highway and we travelled past Iron Knob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Knob) and on to Kimba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba,_South_Australia) the town which claims fame as being “halfway across Australia”. Morning coffee was in a wayside stop in Kimba then we drove on through very plain country until we reached Wudinna (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudinna,_South_Australia) the home of “The Australian Farmer” a huge granite statue erected adjacent to the visitor information centre in Wudinna.
After lunch we drove on to Poochera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poochera,_South_Australia) where we turned south toward Streaky Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaky_Bay,_South_Australia) our ultimate destination where we would stay for the next three nights in the Streaky Bay Foreshore Tourist Park (http://streakybayftpark.com.au/).
Along the length of our journey to and including Streaky Bay a lot of grain is grown and a common site in most of these locations is the grain silos operated by Viterra (http://www.viterra.com.au/), a subsidiary company of Glencoe Grain.
We reached Streaky Bay mid-afternoon and setup on site before we took a long walk along a good bitumen path along the south-western side of the bay. Views across the bay from the path were quite good and we walked about two kilometres taking snaps of the town, the bay, the caravan park and the wildlife.
Murphy’s Haystacks (https://www.streakybay.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=237) are a natural (but unusual) feature located about forty kilometres along the Port Kenny road from Streaky Bay. Wikipedia suggests – “They obtained their name because a traveller in a coach saw the formation in the distance. He asked how a farmer could produce so much hay. As the farm was on a property owned by a man called Murphy, the rocks became known as Murphy’s Haystacks.”
There was a very cold wind blowing in from the bay on Wednesday and we felt its keenness when we visited the “haystacks”; when we were here in 2013 we visited the site and took many photographs only to lose the record when the hard disk in our computer failed and we had inadequate back up to fall back on. These rocks are very interesting and we walked around the site trying to ignore the biting wind and managing to take lots of photos for our collection.
After enjoying a delicious lunch of local fish, with chips and salad we retired to the van endeavoring to escape the wind until we took a walk along the bay towards the town centre later in the afternoon.
Streaky Bay is a nice place to visit and we have enjoyed our stay here as we did in 2013. The Tourist Park is well situated right on the foreshore, although a little exposed to the wind at times, and would be popular for fisher people particularly when the fish were on the chew – which they don’t seem to be at the moment. Tomorrow we will leave Streaky Bay and head west.
The next phase of the journey will take us across the Nullarbor Plain to Norseman in Western Australia. We will be two nights and three days on the road breaking our journey into manageable bites. While we won’t actually finish our crossing of South Australia until sometime Saturday it seems appropriate to end this post at this juncture – so I will.