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Published: March 23rd 2011
Wednesday 16th March – we had a good run through the Pichi Richi pass and then on past Port Augusta. We were able to by-pass Whyalla, where we had stayed eight years before, and eventually we stopped for a break in Cowell. At one time we had identified Cowell for an overnight stop but, not unlike with Wilmington and Quorn a few days ago, we had time to travel on and thought that Tumby Bay may have a little bit more to offer. We were right - Cowell was ideal for a quick break and also had a Post Office which I was able to use to post a small parcel back to the UK. The lady behind the counter was thrilled to see a couple of Brits and told us all about her up-coming trip to the UK (good thing she didn’t have any other customers!!) On arriving at Tumby Bay we both felt we had made the right choice as it looked a delightful, small seaside town and the caravan park was right next to the beach. Also, it was within easy travelling distance of Port Lincoln and the Lincoln National Park, so we agreed that Tumby Bay could
This pipe goes 100s of kms
what is it for? (it was always there near the road towards Port Lincoln)
be our base for the next few days.
The site we were allocated was a grassy one that Graham was able to drive straight into so it didn’t take long for us to set up. When we booked in we spotted a board outside reception advertising a horse-drawn covered wagon tour of the town that would go at 5pm. So we strolled back there and waited. Then realised that the board notice now read ‘Friday’! We were sure it had read Thursday!! Oh well never mind – we enjoyed watching some pelicans getting fed fish scraps by some fishermen and we consoled ourselves with fish and chips!
On Thursday we drove into Port Lincoln where we had briefly stayed on our previous visit. We had a bit of lunch and strolled along the sea front although there was a chilly breeze blowing which seems to be fairly normal for Port Lincoln. It’s a reasonably sized town so had a Woollies store and garage so we stocked up with groceries and diesel. Graham also took the opportunity to fill the two spare fuel canisters we had been carrying. He had noticed that we had used substantially more fuel on
the journey down from Port Augusta than was normal but could find no obvious reason except, perhaps, a persistent headwind. Alternatively it may have been due to some poor quality diesel but it’s something we need to keep an eye on especially as, soon, we will be setting off across the Nullabor.
We had a casual start to the day on Friday and then cycled along the sea front into the centre of Tumby Bay. At the local bakery, which seemed to be the “in” place for lunch, Graham tried one of the local steak pies followed by a custard tart. I just had a salad roll which was actually quite big and took longer to eat than did Graham’s two pastries! After sheltering from a brief rain shower we cycled some more – this time to the opposite end of town. We passed by the brand new marina with its fabulous new houses, each with their own mooring. Some houses have yet to be finished while others have yet to be sold but it should be a splendid place to live on completion. We found a man-made lookout which was a steep metal staircase that climbed some way
up to a small platform – just about big enough for two. I suppose it was designed to resemble a ship’s “crow’s nest” but, in spite of the hair-raising climb, it did provide for a splendid all-round view. With the weather being a bit un-settled we retreated to the caravan and then used the camp kitchen to prepare and eat our evening meal. We passed the time with a young couple who were re-locating to SA from the Tiwi Islands which lie some way off the north coast of Australia.
On Saturday we had decided to explore the Lincoln National Park so we were up and away quite early. We aimed to be at the Port Lincoln Information Centre right on 9:00am as we were led to believe that we needed to purchase a pass and a key in order to get into the park. It transpired that we only needed the key if we were intending to camp in one of the remote campsites (which Sarah and Darryl had actually done). Read about their exploits in their blog: Thanks for the memories
Camp pitches are limited and allocated under strict control at the Information Centre. But a daily pass could be
purchased at the entrance to the park so our trip into Port Lincoln was a bit un-necessary. So, about half an hour later than we needed to be, we entered the National Park and began to explore. Some of the visitor sites were easily accessible on a sealed road but to get to any of the more interesting locations it was necessary to travel along “gravel roads”. We are used to gravel roads but it’s probably fair to say that these were the worst roads we had ever encountered. The “corrugations” were really bad and after a while the journeys ceased to be a pleasure. Apparently, when S & D were here the roads had just been “graded” and were reasonably passable but now they were desperately in need of re-grading. We persevered, often at only 20k per hour, and made it to Surfleet Cove – a magical spot where S & D had managed to take the caravan!!!!!
We also managed quite a few other special spots and happened upon a place called Engine Point. It was beautiful and in view of the poor road conditions we took very little persuading to make this our lunchtime spot especially as we were the only people there.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away and struggled along the ‘road’ as far as Donington Lighthouse where the views were spectacular. We could see a large seal sunning itself on some rocks out at sea. As we made our way back we passed the turn off for Engine Point and were drawn there again. It was wonderfully relaxing wandering and paddling in the chrystal clear waters. We had our swimsuits, wetsuits and snorkelling gear with us but we ‘chickened’ out of getting right in the sea. We would have had to go some way out for it to be deep enough to snorkel and sometimes, for safety reasons, it’s good to have other people around, which there weren’t. But that wonderful beach made tolerating the dreadful road for the return journey worthwhile.
Graham fast asleep in bed I was still busy ‘blogging’ when suddenly the Skype button on the laptop started flashing. When I opened the programme up, there in lovely technicolour, loud and clear, was Graham’s sister Barb. I had the volume turned right down and it took me a few seconds to sort that out and in the meantime I could hear her saying to hubby Tony “it’s no good – they must have gone to bed”! They were getting advice on the phone from their technical expert, daughter Claire, who just then received a blog from us and realised that I was still online. Amongst the chaos I managed to turn the sound up and shouted “I’m here, can you hear me?” In the end we had a great chat which Graham completely slept through!! Tony had just bought a brand new all singing all dancing bright red laptop for Barb to use that came complete with a built-in webcam. At about 12.30am I thought I had better go to bed before I had complaints from all the neighbours!
In the night we had a terrific thunderstorm and it was still raining heavily in the morning so we
decided to delay our planned departure and stay in Tumby Bay another day. Consequently we again had the laptop on when we had another Skype call from Barb. Graham was awake by now (!) and this time we could see Tony as well so we had another great chat to them. We’ll try and get a web-cam so that they can see us as well although we won’t be in a town where we can hunt for one until we reach Esperance in early April.
We nipped out to the local supermarket and then had some lovely warming soup and hot rolls for lunch back in the caravan. The rain eased off later in the afternoon so I did some washing and hung it out but it rained again leaving it damp. Usually in Aus the washing dries in a few minutes so I’m not used to dealing with damp clothes. I could have popped it into a drier but decided to hang it all around the caravan – not a pretty sight! We used the camp kitchen again and chatted some more to the couple from the Tiwi Islands. Because they were living out of a tent they
kept their food in the large fridge in the kitchen and spent a lot of time there too. Luckily for them no-one else seemed to want to use the kitchen facilities (apart from us) so they could spread themselves out.
The rain finally cleared in the evening so we walked into town to the jetty and right out to the end of it. We saw a sting ray, a few fish and a lovely sunset and it made a very pleasant end to our stay in the delightful Tumby Bay.