Wednesday, March 9, 2011

South Australian Trip March 2011

In the past we have always spent our holidays north of the Tropic of Capricorn for the warmth. Now, it was time to visit the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas.
We left home on Tuesday 8th March on our way to the Australian Motorhome Tourist park located just north of Raymond Terrace. We were having problems with our HF radio and needed to have this rectified by Lake Macquarie Communications in Newcastle. Lucky for us just a loose connection.

Wednesday 9th March was a 09:30 start out through Maitland with a morning tea stop at Jerry's Plains that also has a lovely free camp. Lunch at Cassilis before arriving at Mendooran for a free camp on the banks of the Castlereagh River east of Gilgandra.

Thursday 10th March we left Mendooran with light rain falling. We stopped at Warren for morning tea and to empty our toilet cassette before continuing on through Nyngan and Cobar. Tonights camp was beside the Emmdale Roadhouse about 100 kilometres east of Wilcannia.

Friday 11th March off at 08:30 after a very noisy night with our sleep broken many times with trucks coming and going. About 15 kilometres east of Wilcannia the normally dry flood plains were covered with water and large flocks of water birds. Our biggest surprise was the fast flowing Darling River at Wilcannia just below the height of the bridge. Stopped to briefly fill the 4wd with expensive fuel then drove to a rest area 16 kilometres west for morning tea. We planned to stay at Penrose Park at Silverton about 25 kilometres from Broken Hill. This park was set up in 1937 as a recreational reserve for miners and their families who worked in Broken Hill.
Saturday 12th March was an 08:30 start. Into Broken Hill to shop before heading off to camp at the caravan park at Peterborough to catch up on washing and fill the van water tanks.

Sunday 13th March we left at 09:00 and passed through Orroroo before stopping at Wilmington for morning tea and to empty the cassette. Then the lovely drive through Horrocks Pass and onto Port Augusta to refuel. We had planned to stay at Mt Ive station but with recent rains the road was now closed so we headed further west to stay at Pildappa Rock which is 15 kilometres north of  Minnipa. The rock is the largest wave formation on the Eyre Peninsula and has lovely views from the top showing the surrounding country side.
Monday 14th March with overcast skies we left for the drive to Streaky Bay. We had planned to stay at the caravan park but it was booked out for the next week so we drove to Haslam and stayed at the free camp behind the jetty.
Tuesday 15th March turned out to be a beautiful day. We drove to Streaky Bay were we shopped and filled water tanks had a coffee then off to view Murphy's Haystacks before camping at CoodliePark. We left the van here and drove to view the Talia Caves passing a Bushtracker on the road in. Unfortunately they had their UHF turned off. 
Wednesday 16th March to Sunday 20th March were spent camped at  Surfleet Cove in Lincoln National Park about 30 odd kilometres south of Port Lincoln.
Even the locals were extra friendly.
Unfortunately the weather was cool and overcast for most of the days however we had a beautiful day when we drove along the "Whalers Way". This is private property with a fee to obtain the key  for access. The scenery was just spectacular.
Monday 21st March again windy and cool as we drove up along the Eyre Peninsula and into Louth Bay for a look and then stopped at Tumby Bay and had morning tea by the water. We then drove to Lipson Cove and took the 8 kilometre dirt road from the highway. Another Bushtracker was already camped here and we introduced ourselves on the way past to our campsite. A lovely couple with the handle of "Maitland Bushies".
What a difference a day makes with the weather.
We spent 2 nights camped at Lipson Cove before moving north and camping at Lowly Point about 20 kilometres north-east of Whyalla. Next morning off to Whyalla and with the help of the nuvi 1490T we found a laundromat within a shopping centre so we killed 2 birds with one stone. We had checked the internet and the road to Mt Ive was now open to 4wd and heavy vehicles so we drove north to Iron Knob before stopping to reduce tyre pressures.

Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th March at Mt Ive Station
The road into Mt Ive station was quite muddy in places requiring 4wd to negotiate some of the longer patches and we were surprised to see the submarine just outside the station entrance.
Land speed records are run each year on Lake Gairdner which forms the northern boundary of the station. We had hoped to be there for these and also to meet up with some friends who were there for the same reason but unfortunately they had already moved on because the races had been cancelled. The rains received earlier in the month were now covering part of the lake. The lake measures 160 kilometres long and 48 kilometres wide with salt 1.2 metres thick in places and is the 4th largest salt lake in Australia.
We were again surprised to find that we were the only ones camping at the station. We purchased a mud map of the property showing the tracks and points of interest and while we were there we were able to see most of these.
The highlight of being at Mt Ive is having access to Lake Gairdner. You cannot appreciate just how wonderful it looks from up close. Here are a selection of up close and personal shots:
Sunday 27th March we left Mt Ive and stopped for morning tea at Iron Knob whilst I re-inflated the tyres before heading off to have lunch by the water at Port Germein. We then took the very scenic drive through Germien pass on our way to Melrose. We spent 2 lovely nights camped here at the showgrounds.
Tuesday 29th March we left on our way to Maitland on the Yorke Peninsula. We based ourselves at the showgrounds and took trips to see the surrounding towns.
Our next few nights were spent camped at Stenhouse Bay in Innes National Park. Again the weather left  a lot to be desired. We checked out Corny Point and many of the other sites around the coast for future reference cause we shall return and spend much more time here.
Little Emu beach:
We were now on our way to Tanunda stopping at Ardrossan for morning tea which included cakes from the local bakery. We have stayed at the caravan park at Tanunda on numerous occassions. It's one of those parks with grassed sites instead of the ugly ones with cement pads. We were interested in doing the Barossa wineries again and to purchase some wine. Some of the wineries we visited included Peter Lehmann, Saltram, Chateau Tanunda, Chateau Yaldara and of course Grant Burge. We purchased some lovely 2001 Holy Trinity wine here and they arranged free delivery home for us.
Mamre Brook House the original home of William Salter the founder of Saltram Wines.
We spent 6 days camped at Tanunda. Our next night's stop was camp 1149 "Bunnerungee Bridge" in the Camps 6 book. This site is located 198 kilometres south of Broken Hill. Quite a nice area about 500 metres from the road. Not sure if there is always water here or if it's from recent rains in the area.
Off to Broken Hill next morning to shop and re-fuel before continuing north to camp at the Packsaddle rest area just north of the roadhouse.
Next morning saw us continuing north to Milparinka. Its 17 years since our last visit and unfortunately the place looked better then. The pub has now closed and the whole place looks quite sad. We paid a gold coin donation to view the police station and court house before leaving. Volunteers from Broken Hill come and man these buildings some staying for several weeks to assist with up keep of the facilities. We thought we may camp at Evelyn Creek but decided against that and continued on towards Tibooburra. The only change at Tibooburra since our last visit in 1994 is a new roadhouse with a store.
Our plan was to take the Wanaaring road to Bourke the following day so we camped the night in Sturt National Park. The "Dead Horse Gully" campground is several kilometres north of Tibooburra and yet again another campground to ourselves.
During the night the wind picked up and was strong enough to rock the van. It also started to rain and did for most of the night. We drove to the roadhouse and re-fueled next morning asking about road conditions. Staff suggested we would have no problems so off to Wanaaring we went. After about 7 kilometres the road became very slippery with both 4wd and van sliding sideways. All our tyres had  formed into slicks and we were unable to clear the mud from them. We found an area on higher ground where I gingerly turned the rig around and headed back to Tibooburra. Note the mud stuck above the wheels.
Quite a strong breeze had now sprung up so we decided to stop for several hours and instead of going to Bourke we would retrace our steps and go back to Broken Hill. The breeze along with the sunshine helped to dry out the road enough for us carry on. We booked into a van park for the night.
We spent 2 nights in Broken Hill and after hearing the forecasts for the next week we decided to head east and home. We stopped in Cobar and the Warrambungle National Park before our last night at Aspley Falls just east of Walca.