Monthly Archives: November 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jig-a-Jig Jig

We have been home for almost two weeks and I can’t believe how hard it has been to find time to post a final blog. We are back to doing all the things (mostly enjoyable) that didn’t  concern us when we were meandering around with a caravan, and life is suddenly very busy.

We loved Clare and had an excellent Cup Day lunch at Skillogalee Winery with friends who drove up from Adelaide for the day.  Exploring Clare is like slipping into a Hans Heysen painting.  The area abounds in the magnificent river red gums which he loved to paint.  There is a sense of solidity and stillness around these trees which I love.  We visited a number of wineries, including Jim Barry and Kilikanoon, (and possibly bought some wine!) and we also took a picnic lunch to the grounds of Martindale Hall, near the tiny, historic town of Mintaro,  and, afterwards, toured the house.  Martindale Hall served as ‘Mrs Appleyard’s College for Young Ladies’ in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ and a number of scenes in the film were shot there.  We even saw the bedroom and dressing table where Miranda sat, staring into the mirror and brushing her hair.  The Georgian mansion is magnificent and is currently the subject of considerable controversy because it appears that the state govt. is going to cease allowing public access and possibly put it up for private sale.  It has been operating as a guest house and function venue and is open for self-guided tours.  There are some very inviting walking tracks around Clare so we hope to return some time soon with more time to explore.

From Clare we drove to Kingston on the Murray and stayed in a delightful little caravan park close to the river.  We were very close to Banrock Station so we were obliged to go there for lunch and we possibly bought some more wine!  It was a very hot day so we didn’t walk down to the wetland which has been developed as part of the winery.  The swimming pool beckoned.

Our final night on the road was in Mildura where we had a lovely home-cooked meal with friends.  Mildura to Melbourne we did in one day, stopping in Maryborough for more lovely food with friends and a pub meal with my sister and her partner.  We drove into Lindy Court at 10.30pm, very tired, but thrilled to be home and back in our own comfy bed. Bliss!!

it was a wonderful trip.  The weather was great, we visited wonderful places, met great people and travelled 15,521 kms without a single serious mishap – not even a flat tyre.  But – there is no place like home ….. It is so good to be with our lovely family and friends again.

Martindale Hall

Martindale Hall

Skillogalee Winery Restaurant

Skillogalee Winery Restaurant

Geoff's favourite tree in the Clare caravan park

Trees at last – view from our bed in the caravan park at Clare

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Kingston on the Murray

Kingston on the Murray

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Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden

This Botanic Garden was established in Port Augusta in 1993 to research, conserve and promote a wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora.  It is located on the shores of Upper Spencer Gulf with spectacular views to the ancient Flinders Ranges and it is a delightful place to visit. There is a wonderful and colourful array of plants which are able to thrive in environments where temperatures are extreme and droughts can last for decades.

We arrived quite early, before it got too hot and windy, and the air was full of the scent of eucalyptus.  We only intended to stay a short time but didn’t leave until 1pm after a nice lunch in the Bluebush Cafe and a bit of a spending frenzy in the gift shop.  We bought 4 small plants which we will be taking very good care of over the next week.  A very knowledgeable volunteer took us on a tour of the garden, which was interesting, and it would have been great to stay longer because there is a wide variety of birds frequenting the garden, including many which I have never seen.

Geoff ended the day with a swim at the caravan park in Clare.

Stuart Desert Pea

Stuart Desert Pea

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Pim Pim Mallee

Pim Pim Mallee

Our guide referred to this as a Butterfly Bush/Tree

Our guide referred to this as a Butterfly Bush/Tree

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Poached Egg Daisy

Poached Egg Daisy

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Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta

Sunset at Fowler's Bay

Sunset at Fowler’s Bay

Bunda cliffs

Bunda cliffs

Lunchtime view from the van

Lunchtime view from the van

Free camping in the desert at Madura Pass

Free camping in the desert at Madura Pass

Getting fuel at Madura Pass.  The road trains are quite intimidating and there were a lot!

Getting fuel at Madura Pass. The road trains are quite intimidating and there were a lot!

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Fowler's Bay

Fowler’s Bay

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The Sand Dune that Ate New York!

The Sand Dune that Ate New York!

Fowler's Bay from the jetty

Fowler’s Bay from the jetty

Dunes in morning light

Dunes in morning light

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Afternoon sky and the Smoky Bay jetty

Afternoon sky and the Smoky Bay jetty

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We have been doing a lot of driving and our tally is now up to 13,000 km. First night out from Kalgoorlie we free-camped in the desert at the top of the Madura Pass. We weren’t entirely alone – there were a few other vans dotted about in the scrub – but we certainly felt alone. It was soooo quiet and soooo black. I expected to hear the odd dingo, but silence reigned.

We then drove to Fowler’s Bay where we spent a couple of nights, and then Smoky Bay for another two nights. We weren’t particularly taken with Fowler’s Bay, but the tiny settlement is nestled against enormous, and very beautiful, sand dunes. If this sounds cosy, it is anything but. The dunes have already swallowed the town once, and they continue to creep forward. One optimistic soul has his beach-front holiday house up for sale. It is situated about 100m from the base of one of the largest dunes! When it comes to insurance, I’m not sure how you are placed if your house is swallowed up by sand. Is it regarded as an act of God? Geoff actually went out in the afternoon to climb the dunes and he took some great photos, then, and the following morning. The patterns in the sand, the flowing shapes, and the effects of light and shade, are breathtaking.

Smoky Bay is a lovely, little spot and we enjoyed our stay even though it was stormy and quite cold. Geoff went to the oyster sorting sheds and paid $7.50 for 17 fresh-out-of-the-water oysters. He then had to pay $6.95 at the local general store for an oyster shucker! He ate most of the oysters straight from the shell and we shared a few cooked a la Kilpatrick. Delicious! Then the manager of the caravan park gave us a couple of squid, all prepared for cooking, and they were also terrific. Nice to have a win – WA was diabolically expensive. There was a wedding at Smoky Bay last night – a local lad and lass, I was told with much pride. It was a rowdy celebration, so there would have been a few sore heads around town this morning.

We are at Port Augusta for the night and we will explore the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in the morning, (we missed it on the way through), before we leave for Clare, which is only about 200km away.