Week two has been a bit better – maybe.
We enjoyed Mildura a lot. Marg had not had her birthday present from Geoff, so after acknowledging that $95 p.h for a fixed menu at Stephano’s was too rich for our blood, she was very excited to find a great Thai restaurant called Thai-riffic. Indeed it was good, although their service was so efficient we were in and out in a little over an hour.
Our second day there saw us doing a bit of sightseeing, and in particular looking at some of the historic places that were the result of the work of the Chaffey Bros from Canada. They saw the opportunity to create something grand in irrigation on the Murray River when the Alfred Deakin (P.M at the time of the day went on a world search to find people capable of turning the arid countryside into productive land). Interestingly, the Chaffeys created a Temperance society that grew grapes and made wine... So, of course our first point of interest was the Chateau Mildura (which started life with that name, changed to Chateau Mildara but has more recently been renamed back to the original). It had been a
Renmark caravan park
That was at the back of the van
very cold night and the lady providing the tasting pointed out that the corrugated iron roof made an excellent refrigerator. She insisted on putting the tasting glasses under hot running water every change of variety! We were intrigued by her accent and found out she was from Leningrad... explains the hot water. Don’t think it is a wine growing area!
Next stop was Renmark (S.A.), and we opted for another caravan park. Apart from an appalling entry, which required a sharp turn right at the end of a bridge with the narrowest lanes I have ever seen, we were happy to get a water front site by the river – at great expense. As it happens, the Chaffey’s were very influential in Renmark as well and a lot of the street names are the same as in Mildura. Again we did some exploring there, mainly to check-out some free camp sites for our next stop. The trip took us to Berri where we found a Coles supermarket and on to the historical village of Loxton (which was excellent) and then to Barmera looking for free camps. I don’t think there is any need to mention that when we were
More Murray River
filling up with fuel back in Renmark, Geoff found that he had left his credit card at the checkout at Coles. A quick 40 km return trip retrieved it, so best left unmentioned! Oh dear – should Marg be worried? Two card failures within a few days – I think so. Not to mention he received a notification from a brothel in Dandenong - was that you John Neeson?
More important was that we both rejected the free camps we saw and decided to head further west to a place called Heron Bend which is in a conservation park. The view over the river was lovely, but the surrounds were very ordinary. Apart from a chap doing maintenance on a houseboat about 150 mts. away, we were the only people there. The area does have another attraction which is the Overland Corner which had received a great write up in one of the caravan mags. Geoff walked up to the pub to find that: a) it was for sale, b) it was closed on Mondays (of course it was Monday when we were there), and c) if it had of been open we needed to have 6 other people
She made me do it.
there if they were to serve a meal! Geoff got rained on on the way back to the van ... he was under his own personal black cloud.
From Overland Corner there are a couple of ways westward. Marg was keen to visit Waikerie and we followed the advice from the aforementioned magazine article and much to Marg’s consternation we took a turn-off that she was sure was going to get us into trouble. As it turned out the advice was good, with some great views of the river deep down in the valley, snaking through the countryside. The road ended at a ferry across the river virtually in the heart of Waikerie! South Australia maintains several vehicular ferries along this stretch of the river, and they are FREE! The approach and departure angles are a bit daunting, but we only scraped the back caravan bumper once. From there it was a pretty straight forward run North West towards Burra.
After stopping to (unsuccessfully) help some back-packers whose car had broken down, our stop for the night was a place called Burra Creek Gorge. It was raining on and off, but we found it – despite it being
Very colourful Information Centre
called Worlds End Gorge which was along Worlds End Road. Fortunately the camping area had well formed dirt roads and there was lots of water around, we had no problem getting in and finding a spot. I might also add on the bright side (especially for those who remember our trials with the satellite TV last year) we have had great success in getting reception on this trip. Even when it was raining, it was done so quickly, Geoff barely got wet!
By now Marg was itching to get to the Yorke Peninsula (Y.P) and the Cornish triangle in particular (her ancestors were Cornish). A big deposit of copper centering on Moonta on the West coast was the main centre for the Cornish as they were experienced miners and miners of copper in particular. We stayed in Moonta for a couple of days. On the first full day, we decided to explore the bottom end of the peninsula for our next free camps. The tourist map we worked from did not have distances marked on it and after driving south for 30-40 kms Marg exclaimed that the GPS was indicating that we still had 150 kms to go! We
More a craft store than Info centre
made the trip only to eliminate the possibilities, although we did find one possibility on the 180 km return trip! Doubting the navigator’s competence... such rot. Doesn’t the driver have final say?
We did have a good look around the Cornish triangle the next day, and even had an authentic Cornish pastie at Kadina, but Marg said it was not the best one she had tasted. All three of the towns that make up the triangle (Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo) all have some great examples of the original buildings from the days of settlement. And some mining ruins etc.
Time to head north around the top of the Y.P and further westward, but not before one last stop at a place called Germein Gorge, more or less inland from Port Pirie. After rattling along about 12 kms of (well maintained and graded) dirt road we found the site, but... the powers that be had changed it, we believe, and it is no longer the ‘camping by the river-side’ that we expected, but a common loop car park! We relied on the GPS to get us out of there to a place due North called Murray Town. The road
Moonta town and mine
They new how to build 'em in the 1860's
was dirt and left a lot to be desired and before long we could see a flashing light on some machinery in the distance. There were 2 men standing beside a grader, and quite clearly the last thing they expected to see that day was a caravan heading up their track. Behind the grader was a continuous mountain of road gravel that was being bought in by huge trucks. There was simply nowhere to turn the rig around, and the men confirmed that the road did in fact go somewhere and link up with a MADE road, so we headed on. The MADE road was more akin to 20 kms of hill-climb and whilst Geoff would have loved it in the clubbie, it demanded a lot of attention with the caravan in tow. We did make it to the top – chequered flag – at Murray Town and stopped at a community reserve available for travellers. The navigator is up on charges of incompetence now and will be dealt with shortly! Another load of bull crap!
It was cool and by the time we retired to bed it was 4 degrees outside. It rained overnight and into the dawn
Moonta caravan park
Another day at the office draws to a close
but by then it was 6 degrees. Not sure if the rain was a blessing or not, but we were very happy to have the gas heater available. The morning was miserable with rain and low cloud/fog for the first couple of hours, but it has cleared up for us to camp tonight. We are now in the middle of the top of the Eyre Peninsula, and will head across to the upper west coast of the peninsula for a bit more of the coastal experience.
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