This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

Leave a comment

2010 Travels April 23


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…..

1 Comment

2007 Travels September 24


A proper sleep in this morning….

Today was John’s birthday.

After breakfast, went to the main shopping complex, so I could buy the makings for a birthday meal of his choice – a roast chicken dinner.

Topped up the fuel again, after yesterday’s drive – we’d done about 120kms. Went to the other major brand servo on the main highway and found the fuel was cheaper – $1.35cpl.

John played computer games for much of the rest of the day.

The roast chicken, vegies and gravy turned out well, “roasted” in the electric frypan.

After tea, watched the Brownlow Medal Award count on TV – the reason we had stayed put these couple of days here.

1 Comment

2007 Travels September 22


Onwards again……

With only a few brief stops for “comfort” and to alternate drivers, we reached Port Augusta in time for John to see the next football finals match.

We booked into the Port Augusta Caravan Park, onto an ensuite site. For what I had endured over the past six days, I deserved a little luxury, I thought! It cost $34.20 a night, after discount.

John’s TV reception was not as clear as he thought it would be, though. I was not sympathetic!

While John was fiddling about with his TV and watching football, I walked to shops a few blocks away, bought the weekend papers.

It had been quite hot, the past few days, and was still warm here.

Leave a comment

2006 Travels December 9


My watch and the little van clock were set on SA time, but our body clocks were not. So it felt like an unreasonably early start, even though it wasn’t.

The day was a little cooler – just a little.

Went through the quarantine checkpoint west of Ceduna. I had calculated the fruit and veg stocks bought back in Newman, so we did not have anything to throw out.

Topped up fuel at Ceduna – $1.27cpl; Kimba – $1.30 cpl; and Port Augusta – $1.20 cpl.

This was the fourth time we had driven across the Nullarbor, so it all did feel a bit routine.

At Port Augusta, parked near the Woolworths store and bought some fresh supplies, and newspapers. We were appreciative of the large parking area beside the waterfront, where it was easy enough to park a vehicle and van.

The idea of staying in Port Augusta – yet again – was not appealing – given some not so pleasant memories of being stranded there for nearly a week in 1993 with a broken axle on our Hilux of the time. So we pushed on, through the winding Horrocks Pass route, to the rolling plains beyond. I always enjoyed the drive through the Horrocks Pass – bendy  though it was. Just found it interesting. In places, one could see that the road foundation edging, beside steep little roadside gutters, was of brick.

12-09-2006 in hp

In Horrocks Pass

At the top of the pass, the vista was of the rolling sheep and grain country of the mid north west of SA.

12-09-2006 hp plains

Peterborough beckoned – like normal civilization again. We took a powered site at the very pleasant caravan park there. $20 for the night. We were able to stay hitched up.

Trees! Shade! TV!

I enjoyed reading the weekend papers. Could feel myself transitioning back to something like our real world.

Resize of 12-10-2006 to p

Leave a comment

2004 Travels September 12


Refuelled at Coober Pedy before leaving – $1.25cpl, and again at Glendambo Roadhouse – $1.33cpl.

It was another uncomfortably long day in Truck, with my legs becoming painful again.

John realized that the van brakes were not working, despite his best efforts at fitting them in Yulara. Fortunately, the highway was pretty level and there were no big towns to go through. But it added a degree of tension to the driving.

Resize of 09-12-2004 03 S.A. Info Board 1.JPG

Resize of 09-12-2004 04 S.A. Info Board 2.JPG

Attractive display information boards by the highway

We had lunch at the roadside stop at the picturesque Lake Hart, one of many salt lakes, large and small, that occur in a great swathe across this area. This would be an attractive place to bush camp, overnight – or longer.

Resize of 09-12-2004 02 Salt Lake after Coober Pedy.JPG

Lake Hart

Went into the Port Augusta Big 4 Caravan Park – a place we’d stayed on several previous occasions. $21.60 a night, after discount.

John decided we would stay an extra night here, so he could work on the brakes tomorrow.

Resize of 09-12-2004 to pa

Leave a comment

2004 Travels March 31


The day provided pleasant travelling weather. It was about 22 degrees, and cloudy. There were a few spits of rain.

It was a fair distance, but we reached Port Augusta comfortably. This was a route we’d travelled before, so there was no motivation to dawdle and sight see.

At the quarantine point east of Renmark, we had no fruit to surrender – I’d made sure we had no surplus vegetable matter. But I’d forgotten about a few onions, and they were surrendered.

As planned, we stopped in Renmark, and I did a big re-stock of fruit and vegetables at the supermarket.

Refuelled at Terowie – 96cpl. And again at Port Augusta, on the way into town, at the place where the trucks stop – also 96cpl.

Near Orroroo, we’d had a chat on the CB radio with a Trakmaster van that was behind us. It was a similar size to ours. They now hailed from Quorn in SA, but on the VKS Radio Network had a Romeo call sign, as they used to live in NSW. They had noticed our large aerial on Truck, and asked us if we belonged to the network. That was a pleasant interlude, while we drove.

We went into the usual Big 4 Holiday Park in Port Augusta – on the western side of town. After discount, this was $19.80 for the night. We were able to keep Truck and van hitched up, as the park was not too busy. It was a gravelled site now – we were in arid country.

Resize of 03-31-2004 Port Augusta camp.jpg

Travelling west, we’d “gained” half an hour of time as we crossed into SA.


Leave a comment

1999 Travels September 8


It was still dark when we left the caravan park, at 5.20am.

Given where it is located, at the crossroads of both the north-south and the east-west routes, there was no problem finding an open fuel outlet, at that time, and we filled the tank – at 75cpl.

We had an uneventful run south, opting to go through Adelaide, as the route that would allow us the fastest driving. By the time we reached there, the morning rush hour was over, and traffic more normal. However, given the months we’d been in the outback, even that seemed rather busy!

Truck pulled the van up the Adelaide Hills steadily. The section from Adelaide to Murray Bridge has been vastly improved from how I remember it, in the 60’s and 70’s, and was much easier driving than I expected.

We alternated the driving, changing each hour. Had a brief fuel and lunch stop at Tailem Bend – fuel was 74cpl.

Crossing the border into Victoria meant, of course, that we “lost” half an hour of time.

It was dark by the time we reached Ararat, so the last hour and a half of driving was again in the dark. Like yesterday, the number of trucks seemed to suddenly proliferate.

There was another fuel stop at Beaufort – 75cpl. Towing on the highways, at a fairly steady speed, I was able to calculate that we were doing about 7.4kms per litre of fuel.

We reached Ballarat at 8pm, and very tired we were, too. Booked into our old friend, the Lake Wendouree Caravan Park – $15.75, after discount. That was actually cheaper than we paid in January last year – must be because it is outside the holiday period.

Tea was leftover chicken, from last night’s meal, with some salad that I threw together quickly. Then we fell into bed, after making phone calls. Sister N was still hanging on.

Today’s drive has set a record for the distance we have towed in one day. I fervently hope it is a record that we never break!

Leave a comment

1999 Travels September 7


Today’s plan was to drive south west, to Streaky Bay, on the coast of the Eyre Peninsula. We were definitely ready for some sea again! We still had, roughly, six weeks before needing to be in Melbourne to catch the ferry to Tasmania. Time enough to explore sections of the coast as we headed back that way.

Before leaving Mt Ive, spent some time adjusting the van brakes because the left wheel was locking when the brakes were applied. We seemed to fix it, by trial and error, and driving up and down a station track, testing the adjustments.

The drive south, through the Gawler Ranges, past Yardea and Paney Stations, was very pleasant and varied. The roads were unsealed, of course, to Minnipa. In places, the surface was gravel, but there were occasional slightly sandy sections too.

09-07-1999 01 Gawler ranges from Yardea road.jpg

Gawler Ranges from Yardea road

John had done the usual entering of navigation points on the GPS, last night – useful, because the wasn’t a lot of signage.

We stopped to look at an unusual, large, round stone tank or well. The pastoral relics in these parts are most interesting, with a history of sheep grazing going well back into the 1800’s.

09-07-1999 02 old well yardea

Old stone water tank on Yardea Station

We detoured slightly, to Pildappa Rock, not far from Minnipa. This is a “wave” rock formation, quite high, with good views from the top. Technically, it is a pink granite inselberg.

09-07-1999 04  wave rock minnipa.jpg

On top of Pildappa Rock

There were stone gutters built at the base of the rock, to collect and channel water – every little helps, in that dry country.

09-07-1999 05  Wave Rocks and water collecting gutters.jpg

Water collecting gutter built at base of Pildappa Rock

We had our lunch at Pildappa Rock, then climbed to the top – which was quite easy as one side is almost stepped, with gradual rises up. The walk up, and exploring on the top, was interesting. There were natural rock waterholes, of varying sizes, in the rock surface, some with plants growing due to the moisture. The top was quite extensive and we  wandered all over it.

09-07-1999 06  Gawler Ra from Pildappa Rock.jpg

Gawler Ranges seen from top of Pildappa Rock, and a gnamma rock waterhole

We reached the Eyre Highway at Minnipa, about 3pm, and turned west. Turned on the mobile phone and found there was a signal and a message downloaded from John’s sister H, asking him to phone her. We stopped and John did this. One of the other sisters, N, was in hospital in Mornington, in her last days, and was hoping to see John.

We continued driving on, debating about what we should do. Our initial reaction was that we were too far away, and that it would take us days to reach Melbourne. But, near Poochera, we decided to turn around and try to make it back before she died. John needed to at least think that he had made the effort. If he was too late, he would at least be there with the family for the funeral.

From then, we alternated the driving, having about 320kms to go to reach Port Augusta, which seemed like a feasible place to stop for the night. The last hour was spent driving in the dark. The number of semi-trailers on the road seemed to suddenly increase as it got dark! That last hour was not enjoyable at all – and it was me driving!

We made no stops, except to change drivers, and to get fuel at Kimba – adding just a top up of 20 litres, at 84 cpl.

Noted that the bulk of Iron Knob, as we passed it, looked huge and impressive.

In Port Augusta, bought take away chicken and chips, and went to the Port Augusta Holiday Village. After the Big 4 discount, this cost $15.30. We were able to stay hitched up, and did a very minimal set up.

John phoned H for an update and to let her know what we were doing.

We went virtually straight to bed after that, gearing up for a very early start tomorrow.

09-07-1999 to pa.JPG

Our roundabout route to Port Augusta