Fleurieu Peninsula – 16 & 20th October 2016

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October 20th 2016
Published: November 1st 2016
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Fleurieu Peninsula – 16 & 20th October 2016

On the way down to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island, we wandered down the west coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia and on our return we drove along the south coast and up through the Adelaide Hills. This area of SA is beautiful with rolling plains, many covered by agriculture. The southern coastline is varied with some lovely beaches.

The Fleurieu Peninsula is a peninsula located south of Adelaide in South Australia. It was named after Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, the French explorer and hydrographer, by the French explorer Nicolas Baudin as he explored the south coast of Australia in 1802. The name came in official use in 1911 in response to a recommendation to the South Australian Government from the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia following a representation from Count Alphonse de Fleurieu, a great-nephew of Charles de Fleurieu, that places in South Australia discovered by but unnamed by Matthew Flinders be given the names proposed by Baudin's expedition.

Once out of Adelaide, we drove inland to Myponga. We stopped at a micro brewery in the town where the 5 of us shared a rack of 7 locally brewer beer. It rained while we were in the brewery and with the fire burning in the adjoining café it was a bit difficult to go back to the car.

Interestingly, one of the first pioneer families to settle the area, was the family of Con Polden and Mary Windson along with their children from Wiltshire in South West England.

For those who are interested, the Fleurieu Peninsula is also known for its Heysen Trail which is a long distance walking trail in South Australia. It runs from Parachilna Gorge, in the Flinders Ranges via the Adelaide Hills to Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula and is approximately 1,200 kilometres in length. We saw the sign for the Trail many times during our drive through the area. It even hugs right along the southern coast of the Peninsula.

From Myponga we drove down to Yankallilla then to the coast to Normanville. The coastal area between Normanville and Yankalilla Bay was beautiful.

We continued our drive further south and came across Second Valley which is another beautiful area. This time, the rolling hills were covered with purple Salvation Jane (some states call this Paterson’s Curse) which is a weed. However, it looks picturesque against the very green winter grass.

It didn’t take us long to arrive at Cape Jervis to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

On our return from Kangaroo Island 4 days later, we headed through the wind-farm area of southern Fleurieu Peninsula to Victor Harbor and Encounter Bay. This is a bay which was named by Matthew Flinders after his encounter on 8 April 1802 with Nicolas Baudin, the commander of the Baudin expedition of 1800-03. It is the site of both the mouth of the River Murray and the regional city of Victor Harbor.

Victor Harbor is the largest population centre on the peninsula, with an economy based upon agriculture, fisheries and various industries. It is also a highly popular tourist destination, with the city's population greatly expanded during the summer holidays, usually by Adelaide locals looking to escape the summer heat. I know the town is now a popular place for ‘schoolies’ after all year 12 kids finish their year.

I couldn’t get over the growth of the town as well as all the new cafes and restaurants. It was good to see the progress. I also saw Granite Island which has also changed in the last 2 decades.

Granite Island is a small island next to Victor Harbor. Although there are no permanent residents, there are buildings and shelters on the island, including a cafe. It used to be a popular tourist attraction for people wishing to see little penguins but sadly almost all died or were killed by fur seals and foxes since the last time I was on the Island in 2001.

In January 2016, the Granite Island Penguin Centre closed. The centre had cared for numerous injured penguins and nursed them back to health over the course of its sixteen years of operation. The centre closed due to the retirement of Dorothy Longden who had managed the centre and was suffering from stress. The island is accessible across a causeway from the mainland on foot. When the penguins were there the antique horse-drawn tram used to go to the Island. The tram is still in use but I think it only goes around the town now.

I learned that the private company Oceanic Victor started to use the island as a departure point to ferry tourists to a new tourist attraction in adjacent waters. Tourists will be able to enter an aquaculture seacage where they will be able to swim with and hand feed southern bluefin tuna, and observe other South Australian marine species. Environmental analysis continues so the venture has still not commenced.

We also visited Goolwa after driving through Middleton, another popular beach. Goolwa is an historic river port on the Murray River near the Murray Mouth and joined by a bridge to Hindmash Island. The name "Goolwa" means "elbow" in the local Aboriginal language, and the area was known as "The Elbow" to the early settlers.

During 2008 and 2009 Goolwa suffered from one of the worst droughts in Australian history and the river which has sustained the town throughout its history was reduced to nothing much more than a channel and mudflats. The crisis prompted ongoing discussions with state and federal governments with the aim of releasing more water from upstream to ensure the survival of the river. In 2009 a temporary levee (called the Clayton Regulator) was constructed. The Regulator was put in place to protect the Goolwa Channel and its tributaries from the danger of acid sulfate soils. The low water level was exposing the river bed and scientific evidence warned of the devastating impact of acidification of the Lower Lakes region. The Regulator immediately increased the water level between the Regulator and the Goolwa Barrage.

In 2010 increased rainfall and water from upstream allowed the Regulator at Clayton Bay to be substantially removed. The rainfall has replenished much of the river and lower lakes. In late 2010 some gates on the Goolwa Barrage were opened for the first time in many years to allow fresh water to flow to the Murray Mouth. Continued rainfalls combined with flooding upstream in NSW and Victoria has led to massive flows down the River Murray and by January 2011 all the gates on the Goolwa Barrage were open. They remain open when we drove to see them so that’s very fortunate.

From there we headed north stopping at Strathalbyn for a Cornish pasty lunch. Tom’s parents used to live in the town. There were a lot of good memories there.

Small lead, zinc, gold and copper mines operated in the area in the later part of the 19th century, but these have all been long closed, and did not have a significant effect on the development of the town. In 2008, mining company Terramin Aust Ltd established an underground zinc mine with the decline portal and much of the above-ground operation situated in a quarry east of the town. The mine was proposed to yield zinc and lead, with small quantities of silver, gold and copper and was expected to operate for seven years. This proposal was opposed by "The Residents For A Future Strathalbyn Inc." who were concerned about ecologically unsustainable development within their district. That was great news.

The mine stopped operating in October 2013 due to low metal prices and the economic ore reserve running out. It is possible that it will reopen to extract more ore if the sale price increases. The mine closure resulted in over 100 jobs being lost to the town.

For more reminiscing for Tom, we drove almost to Meadows through Bulls Creek where his grandparents lived and then headed for Macclesfield. We saw the results of the flood and wild storms of 2 weeks earlier. Hugh trees had been cleared away after they were uprooted by the strong winds and gouges along creek riparian zones were evident everywhere.

It was then time to drove back to Adelaide and Gawler via Mount Barker Nairne and Woodside as well as Williamstown. We stopped at Mt Barker to see the new National Car Museum which had drastically expanded since we were there last.

We arrived back in Freeling which is on the edge of the Barossa Valley and where our caravans were parked in the front yard of Sheryl’s home (my sister). Many people Sheryl knows have seen the 2 vans which have caused a few conversations and jokes and some people in Freeling have called it the Shanahan caravan park.!!!! The past 6 days were great fun, thanks to my 4 travel companions.

Doug and Leura left in their van a few days later, but not until they experienced the “bottom pub” for dinner followed by the “top pub” for a drink in Freeling. The top pub is now known as the Gungalin Pub since the TV series ‘McLeod’s Daughters’ was filmed in and around the town. The next night Leura cooked a fantastic roast. The following morning we waved them goodbye as they set their course back to Brisbane via the Birdsville Track.

Additional photos below
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