We sat on the roof of a little Oyster shack, looking out over tidal flats on one side, and the border crossing on the other. And relax. It was nice to have that over and done with. The Oysters arrived and I was delighted when Katie actually tasted one. There’s no way I would have tried an oyster at that age.
There’s no way Katie would have tried that at the beginning of the trip either. She’s come a long way. Haven’t we all. In fact, right at this point in time, we’ve clocked up 26,715 km’s since leaving Sydney. And it kind of feels like that just now.
Oysters, baby chinos and chips suitably devoured, we got back in the wagon, and hugged the western coast of the rugged Eyre peninsula for another couple of hours. Finally coming to rest in Streaky Bay, the exact place that Edward Eyre had departed from, 177 years ago.
Streaky Bay is a lovely wee seaside village, that would be packed over the school holidays I would imagine. It could easily be called Sharky Bay, however, as the southern seas around here are absolutely teaming with Great Whites. Only a few years ago a young fella hooked, fought with and landed a Great White Pointer shark that turned out to be the largest ever caught.
An entrepreneurial garage owner turned a back room into a ‘tourist information’ centre, and plonked a full size reproduction of the shark in the middle. The girls weren’t deterred in the least, but thankfully, the temperature of the water kept them out 😀
Streaky Bay was only a one-night stopover though, as we were heading down to Port Lincoln, the southerly point of the peninsula, and the biggest commercial fishing port in the country. It’s all about farming, and seafood down here. The water is cold, but full of nutrients so there’s a veritable feast going on all the way up the food chain.
There are huge offshore tuna farms that we wanted to visit, but the weather was so bad none of the tours were running. So we tried an oyster farm tour instead, but no luck there either. We could have done a Great White cage dive, but I did one of those ages ago, and I think that’s the kind of thing you only need to do once!
So we pootled around, checked out the local fishing fleet then hit the road. Back up the eastern side of the peninsula to Port Augusta, stopping for more fresh oysters on the way 🙂
Port Augusta itself isn’t really the kind of place you’d go visiting, but it’s the jumping off point to the Flinders Ranges, a massive mountain range that reaches up into the Australia outback, and is supposed to be amazing.
If we had started our trip by heading west, we would have taken a good few weeks to explore the Flinders Ranges no doubt, but now, we just looked at them from the caravan park, packed up the next morning and motored on to Adelaide. Hmph.
Now Adelaide has a reputation, let’s say, of being a little bit boring. So we arrived and I wasn’t expecting much. But it was lovely! A beautiful, leafy city that was full of heritage buildings, cool cafés and brilliant museums. And the best food market in the country. And a free tram!
It had me at the free tram. Really. I am a Scotsman after all, and while I reject the stingy moniker, I’ll take thrifty every day of the week.
Now that I’ve visited all of the big cities in Australia, I can safely say I’d happily live in any of them. And having lived in Sydney for 12 years, anywhere else would be a hell of a lot easier than there. Nothing’s free in Sydney. Not a freakin’ sausage.
So, as seems to be the script in big cities, we visited a couple of museums, a couple of parks and generally soaked up the atmosphere. Very nice Adelaide. Well done. Thank you very much.
Next port of call, the Adelaide Hills. A half hour drive up into the hills, no shit, and you arrive in a beautifully arranged collection of villages, all nestled comfortably into the undulating green landscape, each one nicer than the next.
Vineyards. Strawberry farms. Cattle and sheep. Quaint little streams. You get the picture. What a back drop to Adelaide. We’d driven up because we were going to catch up with the family we met at the top of Cape York.
An afternoon fighting over washing machines, and then a piss up round a camp fire is obviously a good start to any friendship, but the way to cement it, apparently, is to go and stay with these people, who truth be told, you don’t really know very well 😀
Fortunately, we all got along splendidly. And we had a great couple of days hanging out at their house. Lunch in a vineyard. Nice relaxed dinners, and the kids, although a wee bit older, were very patient with Katie & Skye. It was an unexpected interlude in our journey round Oz, and a wee reminder of the great people you can meet when you break out of your comfort zone.
Which reminds me! We visited a wee village in the hills called Hanhnsdorf, which happens to be the oldest German settlement in Australia. Maybe I should have asked why the Crocodile warning signs in Queensland are in German… Anyway, we were walking down the road and we bumped into the lovely librarian lady we’d met in Mareeba!
Un-bloody real! It’s amazing the people that we’ve met, and then bumped into thousands of kilometres later.
Most have a pretty good story about why they decided to take off travelling. There’s often a trigger, a final straw that people reach before saying “Bugger it.” Over a few glasses of wine one night, our friend told us her story, and it had really stuck with me.
She was watching Dr Phil, and there was a woman who’s grown up son was kind of holding her back. Constantly needing her to do his washing, make food for him, all the sort of shit that he should be doing on his own by now.
The good doctor rolled a length of paper across the stage to demonstrate the woman’s life, and then he walked along, almost to the end and said “This is where you are now. And your son is stopping you from doing anything with what’s left.”
“That’s when it hit home.” she said. “That was it.”
She quit her job, rented her apartment, bought a van and hit the road. She’d never done anything like that before in her life. It was a total leap of faith. Fan. Tas. Tic.
Our final stop in South Australia was Coonawara, a very well-known district for wine, but not, unusually, so well-known for its World Heritage Listed Naracoorte Caves. A double whammy as far as we were concerned.
We decided to stay in a Bell Tent for a change, which was very cosy, and the best part, they had a fire pit out the front. We hadn’t had a fire in ages.
After gathering a load of wood I wandered off, and when I returned Katie had separated it into three distinct bundles according to size. I was so proud. What a kid! And boy what a sign that we’ve been living in the bush for a good while 😀
The Naracoorte Caves were discovered accidentally by a father and daughter, who were out wandering and saw a wee hole on the ground. In they went, holding candles to light the way through a tiny little passage.
Upon excavation, it was discovered the detritus that had blown in contained a perfect fossilised record of Australian animals, temperature fluctuations, oxygen levels and atmospheric conditions for the last 500,000 years. There’s nowhere else like it, well, not that’s been discovered yet anyway.
So we took the tour, and in addition to being an incredible record of life on earth, it was beautiful too. A fantastic end to our whistle stop tour of South Australia, time to scoot, off to Victoria!