Ride em on a loose rein

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Oceania » Australia » South Australia
December 28th 2009
Published: January 1st 2010
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Day 246 - Port Wakefield

We wake up this morning in our new surroundings, the lovely cabin at the Port Wakefield Caravan Park. Having got used to the confines of the caravan for the past 8 months this 2 bedroom cabin with its living area & kitchen all in one and separate bathroom seems huge!

If there’s one thing that has taken us by surprise its been the distinct lack of Australian creepy crawlies sneaking into our caravan and giving us a shock. We’ve not had the joy of waking up to a Red Back on the table or a Tiger Snake slithering along the floor so it’s ironic that in our sink this morning we have been joined by an eight legged new friend! Bugger, we’ve not even got our creepy crawly remover apparatus as it’s in the caravan! Darryl gets to work on its removal with the aid of a glass jar and out the door it goes.

There’s no rush to get going this morning, we’re not sure at this stage how today will unfold so we just take our time getting ready and then head out to see how the caravan is looking up at Lee’s place.

As we pull out onto the highway we can see the Caravan Repair yard looks to be open so we pop in for a chat just to see how the land lies. A leaf spring injury on a caravan is fairly common, or at least it is in our case, so we’re surprised to hear that these aren’t included in the list of spares kept in stock by the repair centre. The guy is helpful and offers us some numbers for us to try and resource a spring. The quicker we get one the quicker we can be on our way and hopefully make it back to Melbourne for New Years Eves. It’s another familiar story though with regards to actually fitting the new spring when / if we do find one as most places don’t open again until January 4th.

We wander back round to Parrish Motors who towed us in yesterday wondering what our next step should be. There’s a bit of chat with the chap covering the phone for Ken whilst he’s out on a recovery mission, then Ken’s brother turns up who is a hoot and keeps us entertained while we figure out what to do.

What we hadn’t realised was that Ken and his team had every intention of fixing the caravan themselves on Tuesday, they just needed a new spring which they assumed the caravan repair yard would keep in stock but they don’t so at least we’d achieved something this morning, the understanding that the leaf spring would need to be sourced from elsewhere.

In the middle of the mis-understanding about where the caravan was going to be fixed we’d ended up at Lee’s and were invited in for a coffee and a nose around the house. Wow! Lee and Debbie’s home is lovely, full of memorabilia and just fascinating. It reminds us very much the Hartnell’s family home back in Bristol but rather than drag racing it’s droving, brumby running, sprint car racing and photos from the real Outback Australia. Its all amazing, he’s such an interesting person and has so much character that we could have easily been lost here for hours.

He shares with us poetry that he’s written over the years of his life, some about his loves, some about his work and one to his Mother whom he never knew wishing her a Happy Mothers Day. We read through articles in national newspapers which are focused on Lee and even the current edition of The Age magazine he gets a mention. There are good anecdotes from the articles which Lee has led his life by, most from the days of working for old man RM Williams who sadly passed away some years since. ‘RM’ as Lee refers to him ‘always told me never use my own money, always use the banks and always ride on a loose rein in life as well as horses’. Something like that anyway, it was beautiful what was written and I’ve tried so hard to remember it but I didn’t want to write it down at the time so I’ll have to contact him to make sure I’ve got it right!

Lee presents us with a few mementoes to take back to the UK with us, a couple of CFS beanies, a cartoon book to get us up to scratch on Aussie humour and a fly shield from his Brumby Runner road-train! It’s huge and we both burst out laughing at the thought of getting it through customs and home but we just can’t say know to such a fun gesture! Before we had chance to take a quick photo for the blog, Lee’s phone went off and his rushing out again on another recovery mission. It’s refreshing how quickly he responds to the message, nobody will be left stranded for too long with Lee on the case.

With our lunch already packed in the car we make good use of the rest of the day and head down the Yorke Peninsula which is right on our doorstep here at Port Wakefield. There is traffic everywhere today, the population of Port Wakefield may only be 600 but the transit population looks more like 60’000, it just doesn’t stop coming. Each car we see is either pulling a caravan or towing a boat or packed to the gunnels with holiday gear. Everyone is on the move and they’re all coming through what we assumed was a sleepy little town.

The drive down the peninsula was lovely, the weather is glorious today and being along the coast gives us a cooling breeze every now and then. We stop off over looking Port Julia for lunch and watch the fun and frolics in the bay below then head towards the other side of the ‘boot’ to Parsons Beach. We were hoping for a bit of a snorkel here but the tide is out and the beach is getting ready for a New Years Eve party by the look of it. There are quite a few families bringing their caravans down here and there’s a couple of horses in the sea plus the normal parade of boats. It all looks excellent fun, if only we had two wheels on our wagon we might have joined them.

Driving back through the tiny town of Minalton out here on the peninsula we happened across an aviation tribute to a Harry Butler, a local hero. Born and bred in Minalton, this young man decided to follow a dream to becoming a pilot but when he first applied to join the air force he was told he had no hope of passing the exam and that he should just get back to his farm. He proved them wrong and passed with flying colours and went on to write himself into the Australian aviation history books albeit by first flying in England with the Royal Flying Corps. The soon to be Captain Butler was flying in France by 1916 and when he returned to South Australia he brought with him his Red Devil plane that is displayed in the town today. The plane was built in Bristol by BAC and has undergone a full restoration. Harry Butler has long since passed on but his tribute is an inspiration to anyone with a dream.

Not much of an exploration into the Peninsula we know but Innes National Park was a bit far to go for a day trip and we’d rather give it the attention it deserves by spending some time down there in the caravan so hopefully we’ll be able to fit that in on the way back through.

For now though we headed back to our little cabin, dropped some stuff off and went for a walk around ‘the pool’ at the back of the park. They refer to it as the swimming pool and there were indeed lots of kids in there having a great time. It’s tidal so we wondered if there would be any point fishing in it but when we asked in reception we were given the look that meant ‘no’!

Dinner was served, steak tonight which was gorgeous and then we popped up to the telephone box to ring my Mum and Dad. Dad will soon be travelling down to Bristol in the UK for his by-pass operation so we wanted to wish him all the best and remind him not to hassle the nurses! As if he would, more than likely he’ll be entertaining the ward by the end of the week with an impromptu songfest from Tarran Gray! Good luck Dad, lots of love from both of us.

That pretty much rounded off the evening although we did catch the end of Ocean’s 12 which is a fairly good film. Another night with Brad Pitt which can’t be bad!!

Dar and Sar


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