This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2010 Travels April 23

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The usual morning routine was uneventful.

From Peterborough, went through Orroroo, Wilmington and via Horrocks Pass to Port Augusta.

I always found this section depressing. There were too many abandoned old stone buildings that were once farm homes. There was a sense of desperation and failure, to me. Tricked by a series of good years, would-be settlers had ignored Goyder’s Line and tried their luck out here. In the 1860’s, the Surveyor General, Goyder, had separated SA into two sections: the better watered part where agriculture was feasible, and the drier parts suited only to open grazing, if anything. The division between these on the maps became known as Goyder’s Line. Unfortunately, when there were a few unusually good seasons in a row, it was too easy for people to think he was wrong. Hence the abandoned ruins we were passing.

I wondered if, with current climatic change, a 21st century Goyder’s Line would shrink even closer to Adelaide?

John was very pleased with the performance of the van brakes through Horrocks Pass. That made a change. Maybe Trakmaster did something at the recent service that had actually worked.

As we were driving into Port Augusta, saw a Trakmaster van pulled up at an auto electrician place. After the trials of last year’s travel, I could sympathize.

We went to the Woolworths supermarket, easily finding a parking place for the rig in the large car park between the shopping complex and the sea front. Did a food shop, mostly for fresh provisions. We did not plan to be near shops again for a week or so.

Drove to an auto parts place, where John bought a new CB aerial. We were picking up M’s calls to us alright, but she couldn’t hear us transmit. John did not want to wait around for someone to install it, and said he would do it himself, later.

Headed out of town, on the highway west. At Iron Knob, turned off onto the unsealed Nonning Road that goes for about 120kms, through the Siam Station, to Mt Ive Homestead.

The road surface was not too bad, but in parts there were little humps, and dips, which necessitated great concentration. John missed seeing one such and we did a huge bounce – instant rearrangement of the contents of the van’s cupboards!

Stopped by the road side to eat lunch. A bit further on, there were glimpses of Lake Gilles, to the south – another salt lake. Gathered some wood for possible campfires.

The entrance to the Station approach road was marked, very distinctively and incongruously, by a submarine apparently rising out of the red earth. This had been built by some local volunteers, utilizing an old boiler. Why, I’d never been able to find out. Maybe because they could? Anyway, it certainly made for a very unusual mail box.

Mount Ive campground had been developed more, since our last visit in ’99. The camp area was more attractive, with tree plantings and a roofed sort of camp kitchen structure.

Our powered site cost $22 a night, with the seventh night free. Very reasonable we thought, for out here. There were two power poles, a distance apart, with eight outlet sockets on each. We chose an area by one pole where shelter screens kind of defined the camp spots, and we hoped would prevent any neighbours from becoming too intrusive.

We were not too far from the amenities, which were housed in one end of an ex-Woomera building that also housed a kitchen and recreation room – for users of the cabin accommodation  only!

Ex-Woomera building

Woomera, further to the east, was the site of a military rocket launching and testing facility, from 1947 until 1982, a joint British and Australian facility. After 1982, the off limits Woomera village area was opened to the travelling public, though only official government staff can live there. As the facility was wound back somewhat, after 1982, some buildings that were not needed were sold off and re-located. Hence the one at Mt Ive.

We set up, with M putting her “living” tent at an angle to the back of the van. I re-packed the van cupboards. They were not quite as bad as I’d expected.

Mt Ive camp

Had a wander around the campground and buildings. There were some excellent photos on display in the rec. room, many taken by a lady from nearby Thurlga Station. There was one photo of a bird delicately picking the nose of a sheep – a once-ever photo!

John was really absorbed by some Major Mitchell Cockatoos in scrub in the area.

A twin engine plane – identity VH ZUM – also featured in a photo that was obviously taken here. I wondered if that was taken before our one-time boss bought it for his aviation company, back in 2005. However, later, I saw some brochures set out, for his company, so then assumed that he had added Mt Ive to his aerial tour routes and destinations.

There were only a couple of other lots of campers here.

Near the camp ground

There had been cloud build up during the day, and it was quite overcast by sunset. Hoped it would not rain. The tracks in this area would not be pleasant, wet!

We had the usual happy hour, sitting outside, around a campfire we’d built. Our tea was salt and pepper squid rings, and salad.

The night was wonderfully quiet – back in the bush again…..

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