A Travellerspoint blog

July 2018

Marion Bay to the Flinders Ranges

...via Minlaton, Moonta Bay and Port Pirie

sunny 33 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Since we had not seen Marion Bay itself on our way in, our first target was the bay. It proved to be a lovely arc of beach with clear blue sea. There was a short walk up to a high point from which we had great views in all directions.

Marion Bay and the Yorke Peninsula looked worth the trip after all!

Panoramic view over Marion Bay from lookout point

Panoramic view over Marion Bay from lookout point

Rocky coast on seaward side of the bay

Rocky coast on seaward side of the bay

View of cliffs on seaward side of the bay

View of cliffs on seaward side of the bay

The pier in Marion Bay

The pier in Marion Bay

The pier is long and was empty

The pier is long and was empty

Other than the drear drive between Ardrossan and Minlaton, the peninsula has been delightful and has lovely beaches as well as offering good fishing areas - so we are told. Not being fisherfolk we can't vouch for that but there did seem to be a lot of fishing boats and people with rods, so it does seem likely that it is good. There are so many other places of interest, even just on the 'foot of the 'boot' (the peninsula is shaped a bit like Italy) that we could easily have spent much more time in the area.

Acknowledgements to Mapcarta

Acknowledgements to Mapcarta

Right by Marion Bay is Innes National Park (9,200 hectares, running from Marion Bay to the 'top of the toes' on the map), not a park we had heard of but one which we enjoyed immensely.

Shortly after leaving the Visitor Centre, we were driving along and saw a large bird soaring above the cliff. We stopped, grabbed our cameras and recognised the bird as a beautiful osprey which was sailing serenely up and down the coast. We watched it until it dipped out of sight behind some rocks and did not reappear. A little further round we pulled into a camping site from which we hoped that we may see where the osprey had come down but our luck was out. However, we were able to look down onto a lovely tempting beach at Ethel Beach (named after the wreck of the Ethel).

Our friendly osprey

Our friendly osprey

A view over Ethel Beach

A view over Ethel Beach

Both Innes and Inneston are named after William Innes who discovered gypsum there and founded the town of Inneston as a base for the mining operations.

As it was by now getting towards lunch time, we drove on for about three kilometres and found a lovely picnic spot at West Cape. The picnic site looked over peninsulas (peninsulae?) and islands in Pondalowie Bay (Pondalowie is an Aboriginal word meaning 'stony waterhole'). The weather was fine with a light breeze. Pretty well all the park roads travel through low bush (known as 'remnant bushland), mainly acacia and melaleuca with scattered eucalypts. the road undulates a little but mostly follows a contour around the cliffs off the headland which forms the park. The slight variations in vegetation and magnificent views maintained our interest and enjoyment of the park, a real eye-opener.

Steve trudging over yet another dune

Steve trudging over yet another dune

Rugged coastline near West Cape

Rugged coastline near West Cape

Panoramic view from West Cape lighthouse to Pondalowie Bay (the roof is at the picnic site)

Panoramic view from West Cape lighthouse to Pondalowie Bay (the roof is at the picnic site)

Some of the flat islands formed from sedimentary rock in Pondalawie Bay

Some of the flat islands formed from sedimentary rock in Pondalawie Bay

Some leucospermum flowers, just to show there is more than I suggested above!

Some leucospermum flowers, just to show there is more than I suggested above!

We continued to the end of the road and climbed a small rise to look down onto Browns Beach (I can't find the origin of this name but would guess that it was named for an early settler). You may by now have gathered that we are not beach and bathing types but we do enjoy the scenery. Browns was tempting as it was just about empty, as so many of the beaches in this area seem to be. However, we still had much to see. On our way back, we stopped at Shell Beach where Judith walked on to the beach area while I looked for birds. At the entrance to the drive to the beach parking area is an old Shepherd's Hut (now leased as basic holiday accommodation) and I took some photos of that before looking across the road and catching sight of a bird on top of a tree. It turned out to be a new one for us, a brown falcon. I only managed to take a couple of photographs before a grey currawong swooped down and chased the falcon away - not a popular move Mr Currawong!

View over Browns Beach

View over Browns Beach

White-browed scrubwren near the parking for Browns Beach

White-browed scrubwren near the parking for Browns Beach

View down steps to fisherman on Shell Beach

View down steps to fisherman on Shell Beach

Some plants help to stabilise the dunes

Some plants help to stabilise the dunes

The old Shepherd's Hut

The old Shepherd's Hut

Grey currawong about to unseat the brown falcon

Grey currawong about to unseat the brown falcon

We had a quick peek at Dolphin Beach before pulling into a car park with the thought to walk to Royston Head. The head is believed to have been named by Matthew Flinders after Lord Royston, eldest son of Lord Hardwicke. We started along this route but at that time it was quite warm and the path was very uneven and exposed so and both of us had clear messages from our knees that we should skip this walk - and never mind what George would have said for once! We then drove to Pondalowie Surf Break car park where we walked along a boardwalk to a point where we had superb views over Pondalowie Bay. On the way back I stopped to try to take a photograph of a variegated wren, the first we had seen on the trip. When I got back to the car, Judith told me I had missed two young women strip naked in the car park ready to change into swimming gear. Two naked women versus one flighty wren - I think I drew the short straw that day!

Dolphin Beach

Dolphin Beach

Boardwalk down to Pondalowie Surf Break

Boardwalk down to Pondalowie Surf Break

Beach at Pondalowie Surf Break with abandoned boat

Beach at Pondalowie Surf Break with abandoned boat

About 9km along the road, we came to a turning away from the coast to Inneston Historic Township. We parked and started to walk along the track as a recce for the following day, when we saw more variegated wrens, this time only a little more co-operative. They are beautiful little birds and I hope we get some more good sightings before we leave.

A scruffy-looking variegated fairy-wren (sub-adult plumage perhaps?)

A scruffy-looking variegated fairy-wren (sub-adult plumage perhaps?)

A rusted relic on the shores of Inneston Lake

A rusted relic on the shores of Inneston Lake

Inneston Cricket Ground!  Not quite up to Test Match standard these days?

Inneston Cricket Ground! Not quite up to Test Match standard these days?

The following morning, we drove out into the park again but this time stopped just after the Visitor Station at a car park overlooking Stenhouse Bay and the site of the wreck of the Hougomont. My knee was giving me grief at that stage so Judith walked down for a closer look at the wreck from the jetty below (I had taken painkillers but they had not kicked in at that stage).

Stenhouse Bay with jetty

Stenhouse Bay with jetty

Judith on the jetty

Judith on the jetty

View from end of the jetty towards the old gypsum workings

View from end of the jetty towards the old gypsum workings

Part of the old gypspum mining area, which ceased operations in in the 1970s

Part of the old gypspum mining area, which ceased operations in in the 1970s

To quote from Wikipedia, "Stenhouse Bay was named after Andrew Stenhouse who was a principal of the Permasite Manufacturing Co. Pty Ltd, which held 'leases for mining gypsum north of Cape Spencer'".

The Hougomont wreck can be quite confusing. There was a Hougoumont which had a somewhat chequered career, including being the last ship to transport convicts to Western Australia. However, the Hougomont was named after the Chateau d'Hougoumont where the battle of Waterloo was fought but in the naming, somehow dropped a 'u'. This vessel was damaged several times at sea until finally in 1932 she was dismasted in a squall in the Southern Ocean. Her skipper refused offers of help and limped to Adelaide where the ship was assessed as being damaged beyond repair. Everything of value was removed and the following year, she was towed to Stenhouse Bay where she was scuttled as a breakwater.

Further along there was an area where we could pull off and wander through the dunes for a better view of the island known as Chinaman's Hat Island before continuing to Cape Spencer. I was really pleased that I was now able to walk as when we walked round the lighthouse, I looked down and saw what at first I thought was a large gull but it was a fabulous white-bellied sea eagle, what a magnificent bird!

Chinaman's Hat Island

Chinaman's Hat Island

Cape Spencer lighthouse

Cape Spencer lighthouse

White-bellied sea-eagle, as seen in camera

White-bellied sea-eagle, as seen in camera

White-bellied sea-eagle, cropped in

White-bellied sea-eagle, cropped in

View from Cape Spencer over Althorpe Islands to Kangaroo Island

View from Cape Spencer over Althorpe Islands to Kangaroo Island

Cape Spencer was named by...guess who! Matthew Flinders named this cape after George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer who would be an ancestor of the late Princess Diana. The islands offshore are called Althorpe Islands after Earl Spencer's heir. They shold be Althorp but an 'e' was added in error.

After that highlight (the sea-eagle), we returned to Inneston Historic Township but obviously at the wrong time of day as there were no fairy-wrens to delight us (in fact few birds all round), so we had our lunch sitting on a nicely positioned bench overlooking Inneston Lake. There is an old township here which relied on gypsum mining until the Great Depression saw the operations moved to Stenhouse Bay. We walked the two kilometre loop track around the township where there are some ruins and some reconstructed buildings, as well as many relics from the mining days. It was an interesting walk but we saw very little wildlife, probably as the afternoon was a bit warm and birds and animals had the sense to be in the shade out of sight.

Inneston Lake

Inneston Lake

Steve walking back from the lakeshore

Steve walking back from the lakeshore

Colourful vegetation by the lake

Colourful vegetation by the lake

Some of the derelict buildings

Some of the derelict buildings

Judith walking between a restored building and a ruin

Judith walking between a restored building and a ruin

Grey currawong

Grey currawong

As this was a Saturday, there were a few more people around but we were surprised to find the picnic site at West Cape empty, so a good place for a coffee break and to admire the scenery - including an osprey. After that little break we continued to Pondalowie Campground from which we had excellent views of the flat islands in the bay. These are great lumps of sedimentary rock which also form the headlands in the area. As it was a bit breezy by now, we drove round to the lee side and stopped to look at Ethel Beach where the wreck lays exposed on the sands below.

View from West Cape of the sedimentary rock forming the headlands jutting into Pondalowie Bay

View from West Cape of the sedimentary rock forming the headlands jutting into Pondalowie Bay

Another view of the flat islands in Pondalowie Bay from West Cape

Another view of the flat islands in Pondalowie Bay from West Cape

Fishing shacks near Pondalowie Campground

Fishing shacks near Pondalowie Campground

Panoramic view over Pondalowie Bay from the beach near the campground to West Cape

Panoramic view over Pondalowie Bay from the beach near the campground to West Cape

Ethel Beach

Ethel Beach

All that remains of the Ethel

All that remains of the Ethel

The rusting anchor from the Ethel

The rusting anchor from the Ethel

The Ethel, a three-masted iron ship, was en route for South Africa in 1904 when she ran aground in a storm. One man tried to go for help but died in the attempt but the following day all passengers and crew were rescued. Usually, the wreck is covered by sand but for the last few years, heavy weather has tripped away the and, baring the Ethel's bones for us to see. The hull collapsed in the 1980s, so she will gradually disappear.

On the way back to our villa, we stopped briefly at Inneston Historic Township in the forlorn hope of seeing wrens in the afternoon - they foiled us again (Alan & Barb in Launceston will be familiar, from when we all lived in WA and also when we visited them in Canberra), with my chases after photos of fairy-wrens which would often sit up behind me and watch me trying to watch them!

Our villa at Marion Bay with the Beast ready for deparrture

Our villa at Marion Bay with the Beast ready for deparrture

As we had decided to shop at Port Pirie before getting out into the Outback again, Gladys opted to take us to Minlaton and then up the west coast of the peninsula. I should add here that we do use maps but find that using a satnav saves the odd domestic dispute! On the way north, we stopped again at Minlaton but this time had a look at the statue of Harry Butler (not the wildlife bloke!) and his aeroplane, the Red Devil. We would like to have had a closer look at the Red Devil but this being a Sunday, the building was closed so we had to content ourselves with trying to take photos through windows.

Statue of Harry Butler

Statue of Harry Butler

Views of the 'Red Devil'

Views of the 'Red Devil'

Harry Butler was an early Australian pilot who became a World War I fighter 'ace'. The 'Red Devil' aeroplane is a Bristol M.1 monoplane and the type was the only monoplane to reach production during that war, albeit not for service on the Western Front. When Harry returned to Australia, he brought with him the 'Red Devil' and an Avro 504-K. In 1919 he flew an air mail run from Adelaide to Minlaton, the first 'over water' flight in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1922 he was seriously injured when he crashed near Minlaton and only flew again once. He died suddenly in 1924 of a cerebral abscess. His 'Red Devil' is the only surviving original aircraft of this type.

The route up the west coast was much more attractive and we stopped at Moonta Bay for a coffee break. This is a lovely area, although very different from Marion Bay. Some distance (and time, in case anyone thinks we only ever eat and drink!) after our break there, I looked for some green on the map not the satnav, note, looking for somewhere to have lunch.

I found a place called Clements Gap Conservation Park which had some nice bush but no picnic tables. However, just beyond the conservation area was a little church, the Clements Gap Soldiers' Memorial Uniting Church, beside which we parked in the shade of a tree and ate our lunch. Birdlife was quite prolific in the area but quite elusive, although I did find a group of white-browed babblers while I was looking at the site of an old school.

Moonta Bay

Moonta Bay

Clememts Gap Soldiers' Memorial Uniting Church

Clememts Gap Soldiers' Memorial Uniting Church

White-browed babbler

White-browed babbler

In the past there was a small but thriving township but the Church, which opened in 1926 as a Methodist Church, is the only building still standing. The school was used from 1892 to 1942 when the site was used for an American Army camp. Relics of both occupations are still on the site. The name, Clements Gap is thought to have been named after a shepherd in the area before 1880.

We continued to Port Pirie to stock up for our stay in the Flinders Ranges and then drove north to just short of Port Augusta and then north-east through some fairly ordinary scenery for some time before we started to get that familiar Outback feel. Our route then took us through some hills with well-wooded areas before we came to a plateau which was fairly bland in appearance yet with a charm of its own. Finally we descended to a more plains-like area where we found Rawnsley Park Station, overlooked by the Rawnsley Range, where we stayed in a very comfortable and well-equipped cabin. On the road to Flinders Ranges, we stopped to let some young emus cross the road to join the adult birds - although some hoon sped past us narrowly missing the emus. There really are some clowns on the road. Close to the cabin we saw peaceful doves and mallee ringneck parrots, very similar to the 28s with which we are familiar for our years in Perth. We looked out across the park to the sun setting on Rawnsley Bluff - a wonderful introduction to this great area.

Emus near the road on the way to the ranges

Emus near the road on the way to the ranges

Part of the flat, dry plateau

Part of the flat, dry plateau

Willy-willies were fairly common

Willy-willies were fairly common

Rawnsley Bluff taken from outside our cabin just after we arrived

Rawnsley Bluff taken from outside our cabin just after we arrived

Chace Range from the drive into the cabin area

Chace Range from the drive into the cabin area

A pair of Peaceful doves near the cabin

A pair of Peaceful doves near the cabin

Sun setting on Rawnsley Bluff

Sun setting on Rawnsley Bluff

Sun setting on Rawnsley Range

Sun setting on Rawnsley Range

Posted by SteveJD 15:01 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Adelaide to Marion Bay

...via the Barossa, Balaklava, Ardrossan and Minlaton

sunny 33 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

On our first full day in Adelaide, we caught the bus into the city where we bought day passes so that we could go hither and thither more economically. One of the places on my bucket list was Adelaide Oval. Neither of us had seen any cricket from Adelaide over the last few years so when we found a typical bland sports stadium instead of the beautiful old ground, we were rather taken aback. When we arrived there was a Sheffield Shield match in progress and we were amazed to find that there was no entry fee, so we found a good position (not difficult as the stadium was almost empty) and enjoyed some good cricket (Queensland batting).

River Torrens from bridge to Adelaide Oval

River Torrens from bridge to Adelaide Oval

Statue of Sir Don Bradman outside the Oval

Statue of Sir Don Bradman outside the Oval

The Oval was unbelievably empty

The Oval was unbelievably empty

South Australian fielders wait as Queensland batsman is about to hit the ball

South Australian fielders wait as Queensland batsman is about to hit the ball

We walked back into the city and along the well-known Rundle Mall (named after John Rundle, a British politician and one of the original directors of the South Australia Company). The mall is a good shopping street although, as it happens, we shopped mainly off it! I needed a new UV filter as mine was damaged when I fell in the drink in the Whitsundays and Judith saw a camera bag which didn't look like a camera bag, so that had to come home with us!

Lovely old building with LOVELY chocolates

Lovely old building with LOVELY chocolates

Double reflections along the mall

Double reflections along the mall

Adelaide Arcade entrance with fountain outside

Adelaide Arcade entrance with fountain outside

Adelaide Arcade building

Adelaide Arcade building

The city transport delivered us back to Adelaide Shores, in a leisurely and meandering way, just in time for another gorgeous sunset.

Wonderful colour

Wonderful colour

The aftermath with some interesting cloud formations

The aftermath with some interesting cloud formations

The following day we were a bit slow starting so had to hassle a bit. This time we drove out to the Cheese Factory at Woodside (apparently named after a town of the same name in Scotland) where we, of course, had to sample and buy some cheese. Next door we found Melba's Chocolate Factory so felt it would be rude not to visit since we were there. More tasting and buying - no wonder we have put weight on during this trip! Not far away, we stopped to look at Wicks Vineyard. It is not open to the public but my mother's maiden name was Wicks. In Kent, there is a brewery run by a bloke named Wicks. Surely, with wine and beer in the offing, we must all be related?!

Inside the chocolate factory

Inside the chocolate factory

This is the logo to look for - great wines!

This is the logo to look for - great wines!

When we were in Hahndorf we had been advised to go to McLaren Vale so our route took us south. We stopped at a lovely picnic spot in Kuitpo Forest where we heard many birds but saw only a few of the usual culprits. Many years ago, we were holidaying in the Blue Mountains and in a restaurant had Wirra Wirra Church Block wine recommended to us, so as the Wirra Wirra Winery is in McLaren Vale, this became our destination. We tasted a few wines to be polite and came away with enough to keep us going, including more of the aforesaid Church Block, as good as ever, if not better!

Limbo time along the path in the forest

Limbo time along the path in the forest

A Common Brown butterfly - I would ask to be renamed!

A Common Brown butterfly - I would ask to be renamed!

Wirra Wirra Winery

Wirra Wirra Winery

For the origin of the name for McLaren Vale, it seems there is a choice of two; either David McLaren, Colonial Secretary of the South Australia Company or John McLaren (no relation) who surveyed the area in 1839.

When Judith was working at the Nuffield Hospital in Suffolk, she worked with a nurse, Vanessa, who later emigrated to Australia and lives just south of Adelaide so we headed for the coast to catch up with her and her partner, Seamus. It turned out that Seamus had worked at Stowmarket where I was a Business Manager at the local High School for seven years after our return to England, so we found a lot in common. As with catching up with other friends, it was all too brief but thoroughly enjoyable. Again, we returned to a pretty magic sunset.

Steve, Vanessa and Judith (Seamus the photographer)

Steve, Vanessa and Judith (Seamus the photographer)

Another gaudy sunset

Another gaudy sunset

A touch of crepuscular light as the sun descends

A touch of crepuscular light as the sun descends

And so came the time to move on again. Marion Bay was our destination but we took a slightly round about route. First we headed for the Barossa Valley, how could we not?! I had always assumed that the Barossa Valley owed its name to Germans or Italians who settled there. In fact, it is named after the Barossa Ridge which was named by Colonel William Light (famed for choosing the site for Adelaide and for designing the city layout). He named it after a victorious battle in which he had fought against the French in 1811, the Battle of Barrosa. A clerical error resulted in the change of spelling.

A last look at the beach before leaving Adelaide Shores

A last look at the beach before leaving Adelaide Shores

Someone in Hahndorf had recommended Seppeltsfield to us but on the way we stopped at Bethany. This is a pretty little village, originally settled by German migrants and there is a lovely Lutheran Church as well as many original buildings.

Lutheran Church

Lutheran Church

Nicely painted wagon in old barn behind the church

Nicely painted wagon in old barn behind the church

Other old farm buildings behind the church

Other old farm buildings behind the church

The little village has a fascinating history. It was settled in 1842 by 28 families who emigrated from Silesia in a part of Prussia that is now part of Poland. They left due to religious persecution and at first named the settlement Neuschlesian (New Silesia) but then changed it to Bethanien, after the town in Palestine. During World War I the name was changed to Bethany, the anglicized version of the name. The village was laid out in the German Hufendorf system which is still largely as it can be seen today. The houses are built along the main road, with farmland stretching out at right angles in long narrow strips. Most of the houses are privately owned but it is still possible to walk down the main street and see (pretty much) how it would have looked in the 19th century. A Lutheran Church was built in 1845 on the site of what is now the Old Lutheran Manse, with the current church being built on a new site, diagonally opposite, in 1883. Most of this information is borrowed from a little pamphlet which we picked up in the village. There is much more interesting information but there is a limit to what I can include in this blog.

From Bethany we drove to Chateau Tanunda which was very impressive but we didn't see the Welcome mat so carried on to Seppeltsfield (named after its founder, Joseph Ernst Seppelt) where we had a delicious lunch at Fino's. The estate is quite lovely and the food and drink are so good that it could have been a hovel - it wasn't! It is not cheap but I would say very good value for money.

Vineyards in the Barossa Valley

Vineyards in the Barossa Valley

Fino's Restaurant was under this Welcome sign

Fino's Restaurant was under this Welcome sign

Or you could dine in the courtyard

Or you could dine in the courtyard

Seppeltsfield logo on a fountain by the restaurant

Seppeltsfield logo on a fountain by the restaurant

A covered walkway

A covered walkway

Another view across vineyards in the Barossa Valley

Another view across vineyards in the Barossa Valley

One of the things that has kept me busy over the years is tracing my and Judith's family histories. Many years ago, my late parents had told me that I had a relative living in South Australia and eventually I found an address in Balaklava (named after the Crimean War battle but with a 'k' instead of the usual 'c'). I think the relatives have passed on some years past but I still wanted to see where they had lived so we detoured through some pretty hot, bare, flat country to get there. Balaklava itself is a very nice small town but, as I could not find anything more about my relatives, we had a cup of coffee and then pressed on through more flat, dry country - not the most awe-inspiring drive.

We stopped for coffee in this park in the middle of town

We stopped for coffee in this park in the middle of town

View along Balaklava main street

View along Balaklava main street

We had thought that the Yorke Peninsula would offer better scenery but our route took us down the middle of the peninsula and the countryside here was almost as featureless as that we had been through earlier in the day. In fact, our initial impression was that the drive made the Nullarbor crossing look like a scenic drive. However, we stopped at Ardrossan (named after a Scottish seaport) for groceries and Minlaton (derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'freshwater well') for fuel and found them both very pleasant small towns. We found our villa at Marion Bay but at the time of arrival couldn't find the bay! Nonetheless, there was a fine sunset and we looked forward to exploring the area.

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Two views of the sunset

The most popular origin for the name of Marion Bay is that it was named after a ship of that name which had foundered just off the coast with 350 emigrants aboard. All survived the wreck but one lady and her baby died on land after a dray overturned while ferrying transporting the emigrants to Adelaide. Some people say that the bay had that name before the wreck so maybe it was a coincidence

Matthew Flinders narrowly beat Nicholas Baudin in naming the Yorke Peninsula after the Right Honourable Charles Philip York (later Lord Hardwicke), rather than Cambaceres Peninsula (after a French nobleman). Well done Matt!

Posted by SteveJD 14:15 Archived in Australia Tagged australia barossa_valley wineries cricket bethany south_australia marion_bay Comments (1)

Kangaroo Island to Adelaide

...sealions, seals and much more

overcast 25 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Our plan was to drive to Admiral's Arch at Cape du Couedic but Gladys decided that we wanted to go to Seal Bay and we were so slow picking this up that we decided to give her her head! Again we lacked much Aussie sun for much of the time but in some ways that was no bad thing. We reached Seal Bay Conservation Park where we walked down a series of boardwalks towards the beach. I reckon boardwalk makers in Australia must do a roaring trade as there seem to be so many of them. In this case there is a total of 800m of boardwalk which winds through the dunes and gives excellent views out over Cape Gantheaume as well as sightings of sea lions which rest in the dunes after their exertions at sea. Some even settle down under the boardwalk. There are also guided tours which take people down onto the beach for a close contact with the sea lions but we felt that we had had close enough contact without being guided. This is a 'must see' if you are on Kangaroo Island.

View over the boardwalk to the beach and the ocean

View over the boardwalk to the beach and the ocean

Out for the count under the boardwalk

Out for the count under the boardwalk


Adult male sea lion

Adult male sea lion

Skeleton of juvenile humpback whale in the dunes

Skeleton of juvenile humpback whale in the dunes

Sea lion pup

Sea lion pup

Between 1800 and 1803 a French expedition, led by Nicholas Baudin set out to map the coast of 'Terra Australia' and as a result, many places we have encountered, particularly on the southern coast have their origins in the travels of this expedition. Flinders had beaten Baudin to the naming of Kangaroo Island (they met in 1802 off the coast of what would become South Australia) but Baudin managed to add a few names such as Cape Gantheaume, named after Vice-Admiral Honore Joseph Antoine Ganteaume (somewhere along the way an 'h' was inserted). Also, Cape du Couedic was named in memory of a French naval officer, Charles Louis du Couedic, the Seigneur de Kergoualer who had died of wounds sustained in a battle against the HMS Quebec in 1779.

We found surprisingly few places to stop on South Coast Road between Seal Bay and Cape du Couedic. And we had expected to find places to wander in the bush but there was none at all which was a great pity as there were some really lovely bush areas. Also, we found few eateries along this route and ended up having a rather indifferent light lunch at Hanson's Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. However, there was the up side that we did see a koala quite close to the road, as well as kangaroos and Cape Barren geese.

Nice bit of bush in Kelly Hill Conservation Park

Nice bit of bush in Kelly Hill Conservation Park

Another road with overarching trees

Another road with overarching trees

Koala at Hanson's Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Koala at Hanson's Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Galahs and Cape Barren geese at Hanson's Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Galahs and Cape Barren geese at Hanson's Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

After checking in at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre, we drove down to Cape du Couedic, where we had a look at the lighthouse which was built as a manned station in the early 20th century but, as with most lighthouses now is automated. We continued on down the path, seeing good numbers of New Zealand fur seals as we walked through to Admiral's Arch. The coastal scenery in this area, a mix of limestone and granite, is ruggedly beautiful. Admiral's Arch is a limestone feature with a fascinating display of jagged features arising from erosion and, unusually for a sea cave has stalactites.

The lighthouse

The lighthouse

Closer view of door and base of lighthouse

Closer view of door and base of lighthouse

View over the rugged coastline out to the Southern Ocean

View over the rugged coastline out to the Southern Ocean

New Zealand fur seals resting on the rocks

New Zealand fur seals resting on the rocks

New Zealand fur seals with pup

New Zealand fur seals with pup

View back to the lighthouse

View back to the lighthouse

Initial view of the arch area

Initial view of the arch area

Admiral's Arch, complete with stalactites

Admiral's Arch, complete with stalactites

Admiral's Arch is thought to have been named for a resemblance to Admiralty Arch in London. Personally I can't see that; it takes a lot more imagination than I have to make any comparison other than that they are arches!

From the car park at the cape, we then drove a short distance to the car park for Remarkable Rocks which are granite boulders which, again, have been eroded in quite grotesque ways. The whole cape area is another 'must see,' if on Kangaroo Island.

Remarkable Rocks

Remarkable Rocks

Our route then struck inland on West End Highway through part of the Flinders Chase National Park but here the bush was quite low-growing and flat and, again, no paths that we could see or places to pull over for a wander. Clearly, there is a need for conservation of the bush but it seemed that the only people who could enjoy it were the long distance trekkers. We turned onto the Playford Highway but turned off to stop at Parndana where we had coffees and cakes and bought some really nice bread at the Bakery - certainly much better than the places we came across on the South Coast Road. On the way back to Kingscote there was some magnificent evening light but, as so often was the case, there was nowhere to stop for photography. Parndana was established as part of a Soldier Settlement Scheme after World War II and its name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ' the place of little gums'.

The following day, as our ferry didn't leave until the afternoon, we had time to explore a bit more of the island and this time drove a short way to Reeves Point (named after a family who were among the early settlers on the island), the site of the first settlement on Kangaroo Island and also the first settlement in South Australia. There is a pleasant park there with a few information boards but little remains of the original settlement. We then gave Gladys her head and she took us on unsealed roads to Stokes Bay. This was a pleasant spot but had nothing to excite us so we started south in the general direction of Parndana and had only travelled a short distance when we came across the Stokes Bay Bush Garden. This is a wonderful garden developed by John & Carol Stanton, featuring 1,200 named plants (at that time), many of them being endemic to Kangaroo Island. There were many plants and shrubs in flower and as a result there were also many birds flitting around. At the time of our visit, the entry fee was $8 each and for that we were loaned a list of plants and could wander around as the whim took us. There were no food or drink facilities but there is a lovely sheltered picnic area which is where we had our picnic lunch.

Juvenile crimson rosella

Juvenile crimson rosella

Red swamp banksia flower

Red swamp banksia flower

A banksia nut

A banksia nut

Banksia flower (not sure of the variety)

Banksia flower (not sure of the variety)

Stokes Bay owes its name to the first mate of the Hartley which arrived in South Australia in 1837. Although there were people by the name of Stokes who had arrived on Kangaroo Island earlier, the honour goes to the late arrival!

We then drove across country to Penneshaw where, after time for coffee and cake, we boarded the ferry. The crossing was a bit less smooth but not a problem. The name of Penneshaw has rather interesting and unusual origins being a portmanteau word derived from the names of Dr F.W. Pennefather, private secretary to Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, Governor of South Australia and Flora Louisa Shaw, The Times Colonial Editor, a visitor to Government House.

Jet Set and Bobbie waiting for the ferry on the cliffs above Penneshaw

Jet Set and Bobbie waiting for the ferry on the cliffs above Penneshaw

We collected our honey from the General Store and drove up to our accommodation at Adelaide Shores (now West Beach Resort). On our way up the coast, we stopped at some very scenic areas and when we reached Adelaide Shores we found that we had been booked into a villa. We double-checked as it was superb. It was high-set so that from the balcony we could watch the sunset over the sea which was a few yards walk from the villa. Inside it was very roomy and very well-equipped. Without doubt the best park-type accommodation we have had and one of the lower-priced ones which is what made us think we had the wrong place! With hindsight, we wish we had stayed longer!

Near Carrickalinga (I think!)

Near Carrickalinga (I think!)

Valley running to the sea near Aldinga Beach

Valley running to the sea near Aldinga Beach

Various shots of the villa

Various shots of the villa

Crepuscular rays from the balcony of the villa

Crepuscular rays from the balcony of the villa

After a very comfortable night's sleep, we decided to head for the hills, or at least to Mount Lofty. At the summit there are the usual tourist-oriented establishments but also and an obelisk known as Flinders Column (our old friend Matthew Flinders had named Mount Lofty which is the highest point in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges). From the area in front of the obelisk, there are panoramic views over the city and its surrounds to the north and south. On the day we were there, the views were a little hazy so I have had to make use of Photoshop Essentials Haze Reduction tool which is pretty useful - you should see the 'befores'!

View over the city

View over the city

Panoramic view from the summit

Panoramic view from the summit

Flinders Column

Flinders Column

Just down the hill from the summit, is the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden. This covers some 97 hectares (nearly 240 acres in the old money) of beautifully laid-out gardens, threaded with good paths to show off the best of the plants and birds that can be seen there, from different levels as the garden is on the slopes of Mount Lofty. There is one large lake and other water features as well as some interesting sculptures dotted around the garden. We enjoyed a picnic lunch near the large lake before starting out so were able to walk off the effects of the food! The map provided gives a great deal of information as well as suggestions for walks to gain the best from the garden.

One of the sculptures to be found in the garden

One of the sculptures to be found in the garden

View over garden

View over garden

View along one of the paths

View along one of the paths

A beautiful lily

A beautiful lily

View over garden and lake

View over garden and lake

As with so many other places, the garden deserved more of our time to do it justice but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Once we had walked pretty well all the trails, we drove on eastwards to Hahndorf. Not surprisingly, given its name, this is a very Germanic village/town and is a most enjoyable tourist trap. There are many old buildings still in use and full of character. Just a warning to the guys who may visit - do not let your partner anywhere near Hahndorf Academy. I did and am a lot poorer for doing so! This is a place where you can eat and drink then walk it off and shop until you drop. Just keeping to Main Street will keep you busy for ages. Hahndorf is named for Captain Dirk Meinhertz Hahn, commander of the German Immigrant ship Zebra which arrived at Port Adelaide in 1838. To avoid anti-German sentiments running riot during World War I it was renamed Ambleside but reverted to its original name in 1935 and thankfully has remained so since then. It is a lovely place to end this leg of the blog.

The German Village Shop

The German Village Shop

The Hahndorf Inn

The Hahndorf Inn

An unusual antique-type shop

An unusual antique-type shop

St Paul's Lutheran Church

St Paul's Lutheran Church

Posted by SteveJD 15:36 Archived in Australia Tagged australia seals adelaide kangaroo_island hahndorf Comments (1)

Mount Gambier to Kangaroo Island

...via the Coonawarra wine region, the Coorong and Meninngie

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

As one does in Mount Gambier, we drove over to the rim around the crater holding the Blue Lake on a beautiful clear sunny day. There were several good viewing points on the way round and we ended up at a kiosk just above the pumping station. The lady there offered us tickets for the 11am tour, so we decided to try that and it was excellent. We had a short coach ride down to the Pumping Station and then a rather claustrophobic lift to take us down nearly to water level. There were steps down to the water's edge giving some different views. It was only on this trip that we learned that the lake is not always as blue as we saw it as it takes on a more grey-blue hue at some times of the year. This is something that I would recommend to anyone, both seeing the lake and, particularly, the guided tour.

View of the lake from the crater rim

View of the lake from the crater rim

The Visitor Centre where we had coffee

The Visitor Centre where we had coffee

The blueness is amazing

The blueness is amazing

A demonstration of the water pressure

A demonstration of the water pressure

Wonderful shades of blue

Wonderful shades of blue

We broke for a sandwich lunch in Vansittart Park (named after the former owner, a Captain Vansittart), a delightful small park with many shady trees, beautiful flower plantings and some interesting historic relics (other than us!). Once refreshed and sustained, we did some shopping, refuelling and other 'admin' tasks which needed to de done before we set off again the following day. However, we made sure to leave time for a return visit to the Umpherston Sinkhole, albeit a little earlier in the day.

Monument and gardens

Monument and gardens

Krupp 77mm field gun, used in World War I

Krupp 77mm field gun, used in World War I

Back to the Sinkhole

Back to the Sinkhole

Beautiful Monarch butterfly on white agapanthus

Beautiful Monarch butterfly on white agapanthus

Monarch kindly opened its wings for us

Monarch kindly opened its wings for us

Our stop for the day was to be Meningie and we could have gone straight there but instead decided to head north through the Coonawarra and on to Naracoorte where I had hoped to go into one of the caves. Strangely, the Coonawarra (the name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'a rise or hill covered with honeysuckle trees') has a speed limit of 110kph so we had to keep up a good speed to avoid annoying other drivers and this gave us little chance to enjoy the scenery. We finally managed to slow down enough to turn into Zema Estate where we tasted and bought some wine. We then continued to Naracoorte where we found that the cave we wanted to visit was by guided tour only with the next one being at 2:15pm which would have made us a bit late for the rest of the trip.

Zema Estate with the Beast parked outside

Zema Estate with the Beast parked outside

Trainee wine

Trainee wine

We backtracked about 21km to Bool Lagoon where we had an enjoyable time in the hides watching a variety of birds although for much of our time here, the clouds came over making for dull skies, poor backgrounds and stretching the abilities of our cameras. Still, we got a few decent photos. Just near the lagoon we came across a dog which was almost a double for Blott!

View over the lagoon with many waterfowl

View over the lagoon with many waterfowl

White-headed stilts

White-headed stilts

The reflected beauty of two black swans

The reflected beauty of two black swans

Black-shouldered kite by the lagoon

Black-shouldered kite by the lagoon

Blott's look-alike

Blott's look-alike

From Bool Lagoon we headed south, joining the direct route at Kingston SE where we had a cup of coffee and admired the Big Lobster! Kingston was named after Sir George Strickland Kingston, a politician, surveyor and architect. The SE was added to distinguish this town from another of the same name in the state. The SE simply denotes that it is the South East Kingston.

The Big Lobster

The Big Lobster

One of the places I had wanted to visit was the Coorong but I had not taken in quite how long it is with only a few roads to get into the water area (or in some cases salt flats!). Quite early on we came across a turning to a place called Chinaman's Well and this is believed to date back to the 1850s when some Chinese were trekking through the region on their way to the goldfields. Again the weather was not too kind but it certainly is a fascinating place and we probably could have done with more time.

The Coorong gets its name from one of two Aboroiginal words, both appropriate; one means long neck' and the other 'sand dune'. There are certainly many dunes and the lagoon could be said to have a neck-like shape. Take your pick.

The remains of a well at Chinaman's Well

The remains of a well at Chinaman's Well

Windswept tree open to the elements

Windswept tree open to the elements

Another even more windswept tree

Another even more windswept tree

Scarlet robin

Scarlet robin

View over the more typical flat landscape

View over the more typical flat landscape

Finally we reached Meningie Waterfront Motel where we found that we had been upgraded to a room with a lake view. There was indeed a nice view over Lake Albert but the room was minute. There was no table, one chair, a kettle (n toaster) and a minuscule wash basin in the bathroom with small shelves above making it rather difficult to wash one's face. However, when we saw the room we would have had, we were thankful for small (very small) mercies. It was, if anything, even smaller and was at a level with the car park so that anyone coming at night (as we did later on) would shine their headlights straight into the room. Now aware of this we did try to minimise the lighting that shone from the Beast.

The name Meningie is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'mud'. Our first impressions would have suggested that this was entirely appropriate!

We were recommended to go to the Old Cheese Factory (the motel only did breakfasts) where we had a good enough meal. We were met by a chap who was trying to do three things at the same time, so had very little idea of what was going on and was not helped by English being very clearly his second language. Observing other people there, it appeared that the main course was served to the table but you helped yourself to entrees or sweets, we think! As it was, we had very tasty fish & chips (our standard Friday fare) which was quite enough.

The following day the weather continued to be rather dull with odd spits and spots although we did have a few clear spells. We returned to a couple of spots on the Coorong and saw many birds although not perhaps the variety that I had hoped for. However, it is a very atmospheric place and gave us yet a different idea of the variations in scenery that can be found in this vast continent.

Early morning view over Lake Albert from our room

Early morning view over Lake Albert from our room

There's definitely a pelican there somewhere

There's definitely a pelican there somewhere

And our neighbourly pelican sails majestically by

And our neighbourly pelican sails majestically by

Two red-knecked stints

Two red-knecked stints

Australian shelducks and grey teal etc., on the Coorong

Australian shelducks and grey teal etc., on the Coorong

Pelicans on the Coorong

Pelicans on the Coorong

The Beast parked up an a rare high point

The Beast parked up an a rare high point

Panoramic view over the Coorong

Panoramic view over the Coorong

As the morning had not been ideal although interesting, we decided that we would return to Meningie and drive anticlockwise around Lake Albert. This proved to be a good move. The scenery was attractive and we had a nice little ferry crossing across the neck where Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina meet. On the opposite side was the lighthouse at Point Malcolm, the only freshwater lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. We stopped there at a campsite for a picnic lunch break, under cover from some drizzle and were pleased to see a good number of Whiskered Terns either perched on telegraph wires or wheeling around in the air.

Lake Albert was named by George Gawler, Governor of South Australia, after Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria. Charles Sturt had been tracing the course of the Murrumbidgee when he came across a river, which he named the Murray, after Sir George Murray, and followed this to a large lake which he named Lake Alexandrina after the princess who would become Queen Victoria. The river winds its way out of the lake through to the Southern Ocean. By chance, we have been close to the source of the Murray, in the Snowy Mountains, met it again at Echuca-Moama, drove by the lake into which it flows and subsequently drove over the river at Murray Bridge. It has been a good companion.

Bobbie having a tantrum on the ferry crossing, I think Jetset was ignoring her

Bobbie having a tantrum on the ferry crossing, I think Jetset was ignoring her

Point Malcolm lighthouse

Point Malcolm lighthouse

Whiskered terns at Point Malcolm

Whiskered terns at Point Malcolm

A short distance further round we had a side trip to the Aboriginal community of Raukkan where there is a lovely little church. Both the church and an image of David Unaipon, a Raukkan-born inventor and writer, are featured on the $50 note - a nice bit of trivia! The name Raukkan is derived from the Aboriginal word meaning 'meeting place' but was only used from 1982 when the Aboriginal community renamed it from Point McLeay.

Raukkan church

Raukkan church

Raukkan church

Raukkan church

Part of the community with mural across the side of a building

Part of the community with mural across the side of a building

As we continued around the western side of the lake we saw Cape Barren Geese and Black-tailed Native Hens as well as more distantly, various waterfowl.

Cape Barren geese

Cape Barren geese

Black-tailed native hens

Black-tailed native hens

When we saw a signpost to the Coorong we decided to have one last look but this was not very productive although on the way back we saw a Nankeen Kestrel wheeling around and then land on a fence post by the road where I was able to get a good photo (Judith was driving). Having taken a photo, I then noticed another raptor sitting on a fence post a few yards further on. This turned out to be a beautiful little Hobby and I was delighted to again be able to get a good photo.

Nankeen kestrel

Nankeen kestrel

Australian hobby

Australian hobby

On the drive back we saw Pink-eared Ducks, Coots, Black Swans, Black Ducks, White-headed Stilts and finally, in the grass just outside our motel room, a Reed-warbler. The weather could have been kinder and we would have liked more comfortable accommodation but overall, Meningie turned out 'less worse' than it appeared at first and we capped it off with some nice sunset shots over Lake Albert. Along the waterfront is a nice walking trail and at one point I came across a statue of an ostrich, with a saddle on its back! Apparently an Irishman, John Francis Peggotty, who grew only to the size of a seven-year old, had used his size, or lack of, to crawl down chimneys in London to steal jewellery etc. He decided to try his luck in Australia and acquired an ostrich when the market for ostrich feathers ceased. He continued his criminal career and when chased by police would race away on his ostrich into the dunes of the Coorong. He was guilty of many robberies and at least two murders but his career came to an end in 1899. He tried to hold up a fisherman but had not realised that the fisherman had a rifle. After a short chase, the fisherman brought down both Peggotty and his ostrich. The remains of neither has been found - perhaps there is a skeleton with a load of booty yet to be found?

Australian reed-warbler

Australian reed-warbler

Sun beginning to set over Lake Albert

Sun beginning to set over Lake Albert

Sun setting behind jetty on Lake Albert

Sun setting behind jetty on Lake Albert

Ostrich statue and information board by Lake Albert

Ostrich statue and information board by Lake Albert

The final setting of the sun over Lake Albert

The final setting of the sun over Lake Albert

From Meningie we had to travel north to Tailem Bend where we stopped for a light breakfast as we had managed an earlier than usual start. Tailem Bend is a very attractive small town on the Murray River. It is possible that the town name is really Bend Bend as one source suggests that Tailem is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'bend', both Aboriginal and English words referring to a bend in the river where the town is situated.

Our last view of Lake Albert as we left Meningie

Our last view of Lake Albert as we left Meningie

Once having eaten, drunk and wandered around for a while, we struck west through Murray Bridge (I suspect the meaning of this is fairly evident!) then south to Victor Harbour where we stopped for a cup of coffee in a lovely park by the sea. The drive through was very attractive but there were very few places to stop and enjoy the view. Victor Harbour was named for the HMS Victor which was under the command of Captain Richard Crozier when he surveyed the area in 1837. It was originally called Port Victor but was changed to its current name in 1921.

Looking over undulating country to Victor Harbour

Looking over undulating country to Victor Harbour

Finally, we reached Cape Jervis where we found that we had to surrender our honey (the local General Store will hold onto this, as it did for us, and you can pick it up on the way back if throwing food away is not your thing). Apparently, Kangaroo Island has the only disease-free population of Ligurian honey bees and doesn't want to risk any infection from the mainland. We also found that travelling with us were some blokes on a 'stag' do - we think possibly medical students.

Cape Jervis was named by Matthew Flinders after John Jervis, Lord St Vincent, Admiral of the Fleet of the day.

Guess which one is the prospective groom!

Guess which one is the prospective groom!

The ferry crossing was smooth and we drove on the island to our motel at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel. This was unremarkable but perfectly adequate and comfortable.

Kingscote was named after Henry Kingscote a director of the South Australian Land Company. The company was formed in order to develop South Australia. They first set up a settlement in Kangaroo Island but when farming there proved unviable, they moved to the mainland where they provided infrastructure for the new colony and sold or leased land to immigrants who came to settle.

After unloading and getting ourselves sorted out, we still had time for a look around so drove to Duck Lagoon where we delighted to find Yellow-billed Spoonbills as well as a variety of ducks. We drove on from there to Emu Bay before settling in for the night.

Beautiful tree-lined avenue en route for Kingscote

Beautiful tree-lined avenue en route for Kingscote

Pelicans do choose strange resting places, just near our motel

Pelicans do choose strange resting places, just near our motel

Steve at Duck Lagoon

Steve at Duck Lagoon

Yellow-billed spoonbils, black ducks and grey teal at Duck Lagoon

Yellow-billed spoonbils, black ducks and grey teal at Duck Lagoon

Pacific gull at Emu Bay

Pacific gull at Emu Bay

Silver gull at Emu Bay

Silver gull at Emu Bay

Posted by SteveJD 15:00 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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