Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Eyre Peninsula after Streaky Bay, Port Lincoln, Port Augusta to Adelaide

The Gawler National Park was just a 2 hrs drive from Streaky Bay, 1/2 of that time on dirt road. The National Park is part of the Gawler Ranges NE of Streaky Bay & is 166,000 hectares in size.
Entering the park can be done by 2WD, but the majority of the tracks within the park are recommended for high clearance 4WD vehicles only.
Due to the lateness of our visit (Nov) we were the only visitors to the camp ground we stayed at. We had just the birds to keep us company. We saw just 2 other cars driving in the area during our short stay.

The scenic Gawler Ranges consists of volcanic rock hills over 1,500 million yrs old. The external exposure of volcanic rhyloite to form columns known as organ pipes, is one of the largest in the world. Many of the hills in the park are over 400 metres above.
The mean annual rainfall for the area is 295 mm, thus there is little water found in the Nat Pk.
The flora & fauna have adapted amazingly well to this very dry climate.
The trees covering the hills was sparse as we drove about some of the park. Most trees are growing  in the alluvial soils that settled there after ancient rivers carved the hills. There are no permanent streams in the park.

Early pastoralists to the region around 1850's had to build stone walls like this 1 between short valleys to contain water for their sheep.
This is Old Paney Homestead around 1850's. Every room in the house including the 3 bedrooms had a fire place for winter warmth. They must have gone through a lot of wood & getting wood for those fires would have been quite time consuming. Rod is sitting on the front verandah just to look the part of a pastoralist himself  :)
There are 250 plants in the area, with a few of them listed as threatened. I don't think the Crimson Mallee is 1 such threatened plant. The 4 mtr high tree was in the yard of Paney Homestead.

The huge rhyolite columns are scattered throughout the region & erosion in many areas over millions of yrs has caused the columns to slip sideways.  The spinifex in the fore ground is called Woolley Spinifex, 1 of the threatened plants in the national park. 
Kolay Mirica Falls was a 20 km 4WD drive to visit. I guess there's some water in these falls when the area gets rain, but the carving of the rock has been going on for millions of yrs, probably when the area had more rain than now.
Quite spectacular.
We were visiting this area in November & most spring flowers had finished. This pretty bell flower was 1 of the few left flowering.
The Organ Pipes is the main attraction to The Gawler Ranges Nat Park. The huge stand of columns was over 50 mtrs wide.

After visiting Gawler Ranges, we went back to the western coast of the Eyre Peninsula.
Most of the country through the centre of Eyre Peninsula is farmed for grain growing. 
We reached the coast @ Elliston approx midway down the peninsula.  The west coast of the Eyre Peninsula is still part of  The Great Australian Bight. Elliston has some very spectacular coastal cliffs.

We went on a 10 km cliff top Drive. There were several stopping bays to take in the beautiful views. We were blessed with mostly sunny weather, but the wind coming off the Southern Ocean was trying to blow us off over.

Says it all - there were no guard rails along the edges to prevent wayward cars - or pedestrians. At least we had un interrupted views of the cliffs :)

The Southern Ocean is pounding the fragile looking limestone. Flat rocky ledges are common place at  the water line at the base of the cliffs.

Along the 10 km drive, unusual sculptures have been strategically placed. This fellow was the 1st of many.

Another wide rocky ledge.

This road looks to be going no where here in this pic.

These pretty  fantail doves were residents of the van park we stayed in.

As we headed further down the Eyre Peninsula we stopped @ a popular fishing & surfing spot called Locks Well. The viewing platform including a picnic table was just a few dozen steps down from the car park. Getting down to the beach was easy - coming up from the beach wasn't - 285 steps. The views here were spectacular.

Farm Beach is renowned for it's excellent fishing. This beach requires tractors to launch & retrieve fishing boats, hence the name. This pic shows 2 of the 'dead' tractors from decades past. The 1 hectare yard was full of old & very 'dead' looking tractors where rust from the salty water has taken its toll.
Near  Farm Beach is Mt Dutton Bay Woolshed Museum.
We didn't go inside as shearing sheds are in my childhood background & I didn't need to see another shearing shed :)     (I'm a graziers daughter who once worked the boards 'rous-about- ing' a few shearing seasons. )

Further down the coast is Coffin Bay. This small community of 600 that swells to over 3,000 during the summer months, is world famous for its oyster. The area is really pretty with dozens of  protected bays & estuaries.
Coffin Bay marina is the place to watch the oyster boats coming in with their catch. The boats are retrieved from the water onto trailers by tractors that then take the boat back to the 'Oyster Sheds'. The cages with the oyster shells are left on the boats.
We called into 1 such Oyster Shed to buy 2 dozen  fresh oysters. A 1 minute lesson to Rod on how to shuck an oyster had us on our way back to the van to prepare these big babies for dinner.
Pic is a little out of focus - but we had 2 dozen oysters - Kilpatrick, Mornay or a la natural. I'm not a fan of oysters, so I only had about 8 of them. The cost for 28 large oysters ..... $15. (a few extra were thrown in as they didn't have change for the $6.50 / doz)

Mt Dutton is in the back ground. That piece of land jutting out into the bay is at least 20 kms away by road. The water to  the right is a very large bay
This is just 1 section of hundreds of hectares of oyster beds through out the bays which are owned by several oyster farmers.

Coffin Bay National Park is a few kms from the centre of Coffin Bay. The National Park features a long peninsula with a sheltered bay, coastal dunes, swamps and a spectacular coastline of islands, reefs, limestone cliffs and white surf beaches.

These sand dunes are a few kms inland.

A hill top view looking back towards Coffin Bay - the town & bay - you can see the definition of the larger bay & the piece of land that reaches into Coffin Bay - even though to get to it by land you have to drive 20 kms.

Port Lincoln is < 1 hr drive from Coffin Bay & on the southern end of Eyre Peninsula.
The town has the usual gloriously beautiful white sandy beach with a beautiful grassed picnic area.
We made a bee line for the Marina. The marina is like the type you would see @ Hope Island (for Qld'ers).
The big boats here are dominated by fishing boats...... BIG fishing boats.
Port Lincoln is the seafood & aquaculture capital of Australia, home to the country's largest commercial fishing fleet and renowned for its Southern Bluefin Tuna, King George Whiting, Western King Prawns & Southern Rock Lobster.

Lincoln National Park is 20 kms south of Port Lincoln. The 26,000 hectare park is a rugged peninsula with spectacular ocean views, sandy beaches & sheltered camping sites. Matthew Flinders discovered much of the southern regions of Australia during his circumnavigation in 1802.
Stamford Hill is just a few hundred mtrs high. The views of the bays & Islands are magnificent. The piece of land jutting out from top right is Cape Donington Lighthouse & still a part of Lincoln Nat Pk. The bays along this part of the coast are  protected by Boston Bay.
Port Lincoln is just 5 kms across Boston Bay from Lincoln Nat Pk.

This galah wasn't too happy by my presence.

As we approached  Port Augusta - a few hundred kms north on Port Lincoln & sitting on the most extreme inlet of Spencer Gulf - we were amazed by the mountain range stretching in front of us. The Flinders Ranges stretch for 430 kms from Port Pirie (88 kms south- east of Port Augusta) northwards towards  Lake Callabonna - not far from The Menindee Lakes systems.
The Flinders Range near Port Augusta is the mid Flinders Range.
Literally, in less than 5 mins after pulling into our van park, the wind speed picked up (from the dry north west) bringing with it a significant dust storm. The windows were hastily  shut & we holed up in the van for 1/2 hr to wait it out. Dust covered the beautiful mountain ranges views that I was hoping to get pics of & every thing else around town. Thankfully we paid for a powered site as it was 35* inside & outside :)

After 30 mins we decided to take a chance & look at a couple of things near town any way.
Spencer Gulf with a bridge over it & splits the town were looking a little worse for wear.

Redcliff  on the northern edge of Port Augusta with Matthew Flinders lookout over looks Spencer Gulf.

Looking in the other direction towards town.

I didn't get to take any pics of the magnificent Flinders Ranges that afternoon. These pics are the next day heading towards Mt Remarkable National Park - 50 kms south of Port Augusta. The 16,000 hectare park stretches from the coastal plains adjacent to Spencer Gulf acrosss the ranges to Mt Remarkable on the edge of the Willochra Plain in the east.
This was a bonus stop as we'd not known it was there, so we only spent a day / night there with just 1x 3 hr walk. The southern regions of the Mt ranges are still looking 'dusted' in the distance as we drove south towards our turn off :(

This is the our destination - Sugar Gum Lookout -  a sugar gum tree with restricted views.
This view of Mt Cavern - a 6 hr walk return - was seen further down the trail.
Around our wonderful camp ground were magnificent River Red Gums - some of them up to 50+ mtrs high like this 1 near, but not over our van.
There were lots of River Red Gums looking like this majestic old lady - or should I say gentleman - huge girth!!
That's Mt Craven again from Mambray campground. The most scenic walk to Hidden Gorge was a 7 hr trek & that 1 was also given a wide birth.

More of the beautiful Mt Remarkable National Park before we headed further south towards Adelaide.

A magnificent view of  Adelaide from Mt Lofty

Glenelg is similar to  Surfers Paradise - high rises, beaches, tourists, but probably no large surf due to it being on the Spencer Gulf.

We didn't take much time in exploring  the rest of SA as our holiday time was running out.
We were to visit newly acquainted friends from the trip that night so we went for a day trip to Hahndorf.

Hahndorf was established by a tight-knit group of Prussian settlers in 1839 & is just 25 mins from Adelaide. Hahndorf's famous main street is filled with old Germanic character. Many of the buildings still have that old charm dating back to the 1840's. The hotel & many of the food outlets serve up German style food & beer.

Not only a strawberry farm -some of you will have seen this name on some of the bottled sauce products on the shelf in the supermarket - we had many in our pantry. Stocks of all the Beerenberg products at least 1/2 the price of supermarket prices can be bought here. 

The next day we started our journey home via the magnificent Murray River.
We have decided that SA will have to be visited again to see all the regions that haven't been seen on this trip. We only got to see a small part of SA. Adelaide will be on the list for next time as well.

The next blog covers our journey home past the mighty Murray & through central NSW.

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