This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels September 24

MONDAY 24 SEPTEMBER     PORT AUGUSTA

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.


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2007 Travels September 22

SATURDAY 22 SEPTEMBER     CEDUNA TO PORT AUGUSTA   470kms

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.


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2006 Travels December 9

SATURDAY 9 DECEMBER   NUNDROO TO PETERBOROUGH   790kms

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.

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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.

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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.

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2004 Travels September 12

SUNDAY 12 SEPTEMBER   COOBER PEDY TO PORT AUGUSTA   540kms

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.

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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.

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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.

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2004 Travels March 31

WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH   MILDURA TO PORT AUGUSTA   580kms

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.

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

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1999 Travels September 8

WEDNESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER   PORT AUGUSTA TO BALLARAT   970kms

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!


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1999 Travels September 7

TUESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER   MT IVE TO PORT AUGUSTA   477kms

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Our roundabout route to Port Augusta