After the excitement of Kati Thanda and the Flinders, we were hard pressed to be excited about the trip home.
So we spent a couple of days in Port Augusta, keeping the Flinders in view. Turns out the town is pretty pleasant after all. We visited the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens and took a few tips for the future, after all Orange is now on Level 5 water restrictions and maybe some of our plants won’t survive.
We also spent a morning at the impressive and comprehensive multi-award winning Wadlatta interactive display at the Tourist Info Centre there – all you need to know about history of the region: geological, Aboriginal dreaming, pastoral, industrial, etc etc. Lunched At Barnacle Bill’s then returned to Arid Lands to have a stroll, and cuppa looking at the mountains, again. By the way, we had explored the fossil trail in Brachina Gorge years ago with one of our kids – do it if you are there!
Day 1 (once we got going)
Still hadn’t decided on trip home by the next morning , so went to Port Pirie Information Centre to visit Shakka the Shark exhibition although not brave enough to do Virtual Reality cave dive ($5!). Picked up brochures on Adelaide as mood so undecided! Read those brochures and they were so razzy we decided to go back to plan x-1.
For once we pulled into Burra mid afternoon to stay overnight in the caravan park there – very nice!! Short stroll, over bridge, through the town square (well, triangle) to St Just Cafe for delicious, highly nutritious carrot cake and good coffee, then back via butcher for lamb chops and pulled pork Filo parcels for later date.
Brilliantly restored and maintained Cornish mining town (mainly copper), very picturesque, and next time through we are going to stay a few days and do the key trail of historic sites, buildings, etc – looks brilliant and reviews concur, pay fee and hire key from Visitor Info Centre.
As the plan was to head for silo art trail in Victoria, I was looking for a road less travelled to get there and found Worlds End Highway!!! Gotta do it! But first! Headed back across the little bridge into town to the Gaslight Cafe/book store/antique shop to buy Cornish pasties for the road. Wow! Large, flavourful, meat and veg -superb! Try their Tiddy Oggie – Traditional Cornish Miners main meal – pastie 2/3 meat and veg, 1/3 apple! Sensational! Pricier than some but amazing! We shared one for late brekkie and one for lunch!
Moving on, the Worlds End Highway was well made easy Highway driving. We detoured onto great gravel road into Worlds End Reserve/Burra Gorge where there is a lovely campground with longdrop loos and the largest river red gums, by a long chalk, that we have ever come across- incredible! Must be many hundreds of years old and still flourishing despite fires, floods and droughts. The area is so named because the Goyder Line passes right through the property.
Next stop was Eudunda, a thriving little town that is probably on the edge of the Barossa region. Their rest area park is so well designed and utilises unique tiles to illustrate their history- so well done – I must talk to people I know in Orange’s History Society about the idea!!
We then zigzagged S and E across through Truro, Blanchetown, Swan Reach and across finally to Loxton where we stayed in a CP on the banks of the Murray- v pleasant. Had we got there earlier we may have found the free camp on an island in the river.
All the way through this area was green and damp looking and there were plaques to remind us that we were mostly travelling on the right side of that Goyder Line – We do keep coming across mentions of the work of that very talented surveyor! And across ruins resulting from government and other hopefuls trying to prove him wrong.
Next day was another long one. Heading South, landform appeared to be about 100km of ancient E-W sand dunes stabilised by mallee and now taken over for agriculture – although sandy soil the crops were doing well. At Pinaroo we found its well curated museum of agriculture (sooo many types of wheat from around the world), farming machinery, and printing presses (although we have both been involved in the industry, we still learned a lot more on the history).
Then East into Victoria and almost across to Ouyen (mallee scrub alternating with healthy looking crops, running parallel to Murray Sunset NP). Turned south to wriggle our way along the Silo Art Trail – magnificent art works. Google Victorian Silo Art to see pictures and where to find them. We visited the silos at Patchewollock and Lascelles that day and got in late to Hopetoun CP. In the morning we realised that had we arrived in daylight we could have driven in a little further to lakeside camps and very funky mini silo cabins the Council are constructing!
Following day we worked our way through the final four silos ( the trail is about 200km long, doable in one day if the first one doesn’t start in Loxton😉)
We then made our way toward Halls Gap and the Grampians. The crops, mainly barley, were doing incredibly well. Again it is sandy soil, no doubt from the erosion of the sandstone ranges around here, including the Grampians. They have had rain from lots of cold fronts moving through southern SA and Vic. We were told that the long time farmers down this way know that when Lake Eyre fills, the following winter and spring brings good rain to this area.
Chose to stay a little way out at Lake Fyans Holiday Park – what a setup and views! Got in early!!!! Made good use of the laundry facilities, got into bread making and finally baked and relished the pulled Pork parcels from Burra. Yum!
Day 4 – The Grampians
After a couple of cloudy days (perfect for silo viewing) we scored a brilliant day for our first visit to the Grampians. Our choices of which way to go around there were a bit suss but it all worked out in the end.
We did drive up Mt William but only walked the first 200m of the 1.8km final assault UP to the peak – sensational views anyway!
We did find the Wartook Valley and watched a stunning lenticular cloud forming. That was not in the brochure!
We did go to Mackenzies Falls lookout and Broken Falls lookout – the sound of so much water falling is something we have not heard for a long while! The sight was pretty good too.
We ran out of time to go to Reeds Lookout and the walk to see the Balconies, but we figured we were probably looking at them from Lake Fyans.
Before the sunset we did make it to Boroka Lookout for gorgeous views across Halls Gap and the plains beyond.
We also found the Bakery in the morning and the pub in the evening for the pork roast dinner!
After a few detours etc, it turned out to be a good day. Glad we came but not desperate to hike around it – way too much up, down and loose surfaces!
With a series of impending cold fronts looming, we decided to skip our visit to Sovereign Hill, Ballarat and head a bit more north-ish to Echuca which we had visited about 25 years ago, and one son and his family had really enjoyed recently. Echuca is a large and bustling city, including large modern Law Courts!
The weather held apart from light drizzle on the second day. We loved the Historic Wharf precinct – went for a ride in the coach pulled by Shire Horses, dawdled through the discovery centre including the reconstructed many storey wharf to accomodate Paddlesteamers and their barges At greatly varying river heights, hung out in the Penny Arcade and played the antique machines, and enjoyed lunch at the Star Hotel.Must revisit the TV series All the Rivers Run!
As the freshwater pump in the bus had finally died the night before, we popped into the Caravan supplies shop there – oh joy! Could spend hours and a small fortune in there as they have all the things it would be nice to have! However they did actually have the correct pump!!! So we returned to the bus and very skilled hubby was able to switch out the old one and install the new one – so useful to have around!
The weather forecasts are becoming increasingly dire for a series of massive cold fronts coming through so we are calling the trip done and heading north, hopefully collecting the dogs from Dubbo and getting back to Orange before we get snowed in, or is that out?
PS The countryside through northern Vic and Riverina has benefitted from this winter’s rain and all looking good, but becoming noticeably drier north of Narrandera. We also came across many signposts to The Long Paddock and found a notice in Deniliquin – it ran from Wilcannia to Echuca and was of great importance! Another time, although rings of droving tracks through NT and Qld we have come across and I had read about.