Port Augusta et al

Tuesday 4 September and Wednesday 5 September

We arrived in Port Augusta early in the morning, expecting little of the town but being very pleasantly surprised to find a pretty, neat and modern town that is obviously thriving. The town centre has been modernised andseems to have most shopping needs catered for. The wonderful calm weather added to the beauty of the town by providing glassy conditions across the top end of Spencers Gulf. Before finding a caravan park, we stopped at the tourist centre and booked a couple of tickets on the Pitchi Richi steam train trip up into the Flinders Ranges to Quorn.pt-augusta.jpg

The next couple of days were wonderfully relaxing, consisting of lazy bike rides into town to shop or just admire the scenery. The town has established some first class bike trails and produced some pamphlets detailing hstorical sites along the way. We set out several times to undertake a offical pathway but always ended up just doing our own thing. The Library was a favourite venue,mainly because they provide free internet access and is staffed by very friendly people.

A large slice of Wednesday morning was taken up trying to get through to a ticket booking agency to secure tickets for the 1st Qualifying Final between West Coast Eagles and Port Adelaide to be played in Adelaide on Friday night. We eventually made it through, got our tickets then were lucky enough to book the last villa at a caravan park close to AAMI Stadium.

Thursday 6 September – Flinders Ranges

The train ride up the Pitchi Richi Pass to the historic town of Quorn was a highlight of our trip. The train was steam-train.jpgpulled by a W Class loco that had originally been in Broken Hill. The carriages were from the original “Ghan”. They had one marvellous sleeper car with four compartments and a dining section. We were free to move around the train as it travelledand spent a lot of time out on the balcony, wiping coal cinders from our eyes as we went. The company of the other travellers was terrific. One couple had travelled on the Ghan on their honeymoon back in the sixties only to have to abandon the trip half way to Alice Springs due to floods.

Lunch was a meal at the Austral Hotel in Quorn, one of 4 pubs still operating. The country up this way is suffering badly from the effects of the drought and tourism is badly needed to sustain the towns. Quorn does it well and we had a really great time. The trip down to Port Augusta was exciting as the train really picked up some speed on the downhill run and across the flats. I’d recommend the day to anyone.

Friday  7 September and Saturday 8 September – Adelaide

We packed up early and drove down to Adelaide. Our accomodation was a 2 bedroom villa with all facilities and a wonderful beachfront view. The beautiful weather was holding on and we enjoyed a terrific afternoon shopping for some Eagles gear and relaxing. Christine had knitted a couple of Eagles scarves in the record time of three days so with them and beanies we were well-equipped for the big night. We soon discovered that lots of people were going for the Eagles, namely all the Adelaide Crows supporters. They really hate the Port Adelaide mob. Down at the shopping centre, alot of Port Adelaide gear was in evidence and we enjoyed some good natured banter as we walked around sporting Eagles gear.football.jpg

The caravan park ran a courtesy bus to AAMI Stadium so getting to the oval was easy. The stadium itself is very comfortable but unfortunately, it was only three quarters full, with Port not enjoying the same level of support as the Crows. However, of the 37,000 fans present, I estimate only 1000 or so were Eagles supporters. The noise that followed a Port goal was deafening. The silence that followed an Eagles goal was amazing. It was a hard fought game and such a shame we had to lose it by a mere three points.

The next morning we drove back to Port Augusta and prepared the camper for the long haul home acrtoss the Nullabour.

Sunday 9 September to Wednesday 12 September – Homeward Bound

With time running out and a couple of appointments in Perth calling us, we st off on the long boring Nullabour trip. The good weather has come to an end and the forecast suggested strong, cold headwinds and periods of rain for much of the trip. We did little except drive. We chose bush camps along the way in areas where there was plenty of firewood in order to make the nights bearable.

cliffs.jpgOne distraction was the cliffs along the Bight. Approaching the edge was more frightening than usual with gale force winds making it difficult to walk safely. Unfortunately, the promise of whale sightings along the Bight was lost to the wild weather.

Our final night was spent just outside Southern Cross. The night delivered steady rain andwe packed up in freezing wet conditions before heading into town for a road house breakfast. It always seems to happen that it rains on the last night of camping, meaning that everything needs to be unpacked and dried out on arrival at home. Fortunately, the rain cleared once we reached Dowerin and we managed to get everything squarred away.

We were away for 120 days and travelled 20,434 kms. Neither of us wanted to come home and we could easily have just kept going. So much was left undone that we will just have to go again.