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Published: February 28th 2015
This journey takes us across some of South Australia's most productive agricultural and horticultural land. Late last year we crossed the top of the Eyre Peninsular where we saw the grain harvest underway in October. Now the granaries are absolutely bulging with the harvested crops. Ceduna had built a huge temporary grain bunker as big as I have ever seen, and it was bulging. The same is true as we crossed the whole region, grain stored everywhere. Road trains and rail trains moving thousands of tonnes daily, and ships at the various ports loading as fast as the produce arrived.
This region has had little or no summer rain, bearing in mind that it is naturally a low rainfall region, so everything looked dry and dusty. Some harvested pastures had sheep eating the stubble, but when you consider the thousands of hectares involved, the sheep population here seems quite secondary to the grain production.
Once we re-joined the Eyre Highway, it wasn't long before we stopped for a lunch break at the little grain town of Kimba, which is apparently mid way between the east and west coasts of Australia. We pulled into a roadside park where there was
plenty of shade for lunch. We were the only RV plus a guy in his 4WD in this quite long park. We were busy eating when one car and caravan pulled in, then 2, 3, 4 & then5. Actually two of this group were motorhomes, and we recognised them as also having left Streaky Bay Caravan Park about the same time we were leaving. We found they were heading to Iron Knob Camp for the night, as indeed we were.
We squeezed our way past the poorly parked RVs out of the Kimba Park and set off for Iron Knob. Once again we witnessed the amount of grain that had been harvested in the region.
Iron Knob was one of two mining areas that BHP initially grew from, but this knob had not been mined for many years, so the once prosperous little town was almost ghost like. Last time we visited here, I was talking to the curator of the mining museum at Iron Knob who indicated that two deposits here had been identified as viable. New train lines to Whyalla had been established at that time, and now their mining process is just getting under way.
I don't think this will bring radical change to the town of Iron Knob as Whyalla is an easy drive for staff each day. Economy of transport has changed how we manage our lives. In days gone by, you lived and literally breathed your mine centre. Not so today. However, it has spawned a couple of new tourist things including a mine tour.
The new mine area is on the western side of Iron Knob, and it was easy to see how already the new mine preparations had caused the tussocky grass to discolour to an orange tone. Could make interesting sunset photos. The Iron Knob Camp is on the eastern side and protected from the mining dust at this time.
The five vans that we had lunch with eventually arrived at Iron Knob. To their surprise, all the level spots had been taken by other caravans. So they had to move on to a full price camp about 20ks further east and right by the Eyre Highway. I think we got the better location.
Next morning we headed east crossing Port Augusta (quick fuel stop) and rather than try and drive across Adelaide to get to
Low tide Streaky Bay
Our final morning at Streaky Bay.
Victor Harbor we asked Tom Tom to take us across the hills region. We were concerned as Adelaide traffic was heavily disrupted with a street motor racing event. Alternative routs are OK when Tommy chooses them, but not so easy when there are road closures and bypasses in place.
Tommy liked our idea, but wanted to still take us into Adelaide City. So we set him some shorter simpler tasks, and we were off. We concluded when we finally arrived at Victor Harbor that we would never have crossed the peninsular and hills without his knowledge of the towns and roads. Our first stop was at Georgetown, a once prosperous rural centre. It is sad to see that the stone buildings are cracking. A local lady told me that the soil on the plain here is absolutely perfect for growing wheat, but a total challenge for builders trying to get solid foundations.
From there we set off south east and after a time arrived at the town of Clare. This was the first of several regions famous for their quality wines. In this case the area is famous for it's white wines, Rieslings in particular.
Half way across Australia
wasn't the change in agriculture that impressed, it was the difference between the prosperity of the towns. Clare just buzzed with a combination of industrial and commercial businesses, but also the cafes and art galleries and life style businesses, and of course many invitations to sample the local vintage. The value of grain around Georgetown was probably as great as the wine, but the town struggles to survive.
From Clare we zig zagged through several country towns, some back in the grain regions and not doing so well, and back again into the wine regions and the presentation and activity changed each time. Hahndorf looked an absolute treat, and activity every where.
A short time later we connected with the main road from Adelaide to Victor Harbour and we were set up in our camp site before lunch. We had to go up town later to get a chip in the windshield repaired. It was right on the limit of the chip size that was repairable, and after a debate by the experts, they agreed that it could be repaired and given the warrantee against failure.
We will tell your more about our adventures here in the
Pipe lines across SA
From Dash Cam. Water is a very scarce resource in SA, so it is pumped for hundreds of kilometres across the York and Eyre Peninsulas.
next couple of blogs.
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