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Published: September 11th 2015
My most enduring memories of Port Augusta from previous trips involved the sounds of trains shunting and making weird noises throughout the night (I think I must have stayed in a caravan park opposite the rail yards) and public toilets with automatic everything from door opening to water from the tap to wash hands accompanied by elevator type music and recorded instructions on how everything works. I know, I know, these are not uncommon now, but 18 years ago on my first trip to this fine city, they were very avant garde. This time however, I am taking away some much finer memories. I was surprised by Port Augusta this time and impressed with the townscape, their care of fine old sandstone public buildings, the wharf precinct and harbour generally and especially with the wonderful Arid Lands Botanical Gardens which incorporate stunning views from the Red Cliffs that look back to the east and the “rail yards” but also easily allow one’s eyes to range over the magnificent Flinders Ranges in the distance and the country in between. I didn't have my macro lens with me unfortunately, but managed a few flower shots nonetheless.
couple of funny things happened while I was in Port Augusta. The first involved filling my jerry cans with fuel in preparation for travel through more remote areas and eventually the Nullabor. The poor woman on the till at the Shell Service Station which I chose was all prepared to get quite hostile and upset however when I simply smiled at her and acknowledged my stupidity, she chilled and even managed a smile and “have a good day”. I should have known better than to try and fill my jerry cans in situ on the roof rack of the van. But I was so intent on using my wonderful new step ladder that has travelled strapped to the front bull bar all this way and on trying to avoid injury to my back by lifting full cans from the ground to the roof that I completely forgot. When the fuel stopped pumping, I concluded (wrongly) that it must have something to do with gravity and getting the fuel up that high. Dhurr!!!! Long story short, the lady at the helm saw what I was up to and simply stopped the fuel pumping. In my ignorance, I went and filled the
Number Four Barge 3
Note the burnt person image on the bow of this old vessel. No wonder no one has been able to remove it or get rid of it. It is protected!
fuel tank of the van. Fuel recommenced to flow. Back I went to the roof, fuel stopped flowing. Eventually she came roaring out from behind her glass enclosure waving arms and telling me that all jerry cans must be filled on the ground, DIDN’T I KNOW THAT!!!!! Oh I smiled and said, how stupid of me. Of course, I completely forgot. I got the two cans down and filled the first. Put the pump back in the cradle to close it and put it back on the roof, and then tried to finish filling the second. Out she came again …. “now we have another problem” she said. “You have stopped and started the pump too many times. You have to pay for what is there now before I can let you have any more fuel”. Oh dear.
Eventually my mission was successfully completed and we parted friends. Oh, the second lot of fuel I had to pay for separately cost all of $5.30.
The second odd thing about my time in Port Augusta was where I spent the night. Described as a Motorhome Park, it was a meagre size block of red dirt enclosed behind 6 foot
high cyclone wire fence at the rear of a small local sporting and recreation club. No facilities whatsoever. No view whatsoever other than of the power station and a dry salt lake. But for $7.00 for the privilege of parking there is was fine. It was also almost full by the time I arrived at 4.00 pm and I think I counted about another 20 vehicles that approached, could not fit and turned away. It was a better alternative than pressing on out onto the Eyre Highway that late in the afternoon when I was hot and tired. Yes, yes, it’s actually hot here on the Eyre Peninsular. Almost hot enough to swim except the water is still freezing.
On my way out of town next morning, I dropped into the Wharf Precinct and managed to gain access to an old barge wreck/ruin that I had seen from a distance earlier. Number Four Barge had a fine and outstanding service record on the Murray River and for the Adelaide Steam Companyfrom the 1880s until 1944 when it was sold, decommissioned and left to rot in its current position in the center of Port Augusta. Apparently the city council has
Number Four Barge 5
Beautiful hardwood timber - red gum?? no wonder it has resisted burning and cutting up.
made many attempts to remove it, get rid of it, sell it …, whatever. Some have tried to burn it. Others to cut it up for firewood. And so the story goes on. But all attempts have failed and there she remains. Take a look at the beautiful timber in her – no wonder they could not burn her, or cut her up. Good on her I say. I think she is an asset to the foreshore and spent quite a while photographing her from all angles. In the photos I have included here, take a look at the close up of the front on shot – can you see the burnt image of person on that post??? Fascinating. I loved her.
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