Tag Archives: South Australia

Historic Mintaro, SA

We are now camped up on a property in Mintaro, 1/2 hr south-east of Clare. For anyone interested in history, just an exert from local website http://www.mintaro.sa.au/:

“Mintaro’s historic character was shaped by two important mining industries in nineteenth century South Australia. In the 1840’s and 1850’s it became an early staging point for transporting copper from the Burra mines to Port Wakefield and from the 1860’s onwards, it was South Australia’s leading producer of high quality slate.

The surrounding farming districts of the fertile Gilbert Valley were able to reap the rewards of excellent wheat and wool prices during South Australia’s rural boom of the 1870’s and early 1880’s. This wealth was reflected in two large pastoral properties near Mintaro. Both Martindale Hall, built in 1879-80 by Edmund Bowman, and Kadlunga homestead, purchased in 1881 by Sir Samuel Way, the Chief Justice, reflected a way of life akin to that of the English gentry. Mintaro, like rural village counterparts in England, provided these properties with a ready source of local labour. 

Archive Photo: Kadlunga Homestead 1901
Archive Photo: Building Kadlunga Homestead
Archive Photo: the men who built Kadlunga

The Mintaro quarry is one of the oldest continuously producing quarries in Australia. As you stroll around the town, you can see slate buildings, chimneys, tanks, wash troughs and paving. They show how widely slate has been used as a construction material and give a special character to Mintaro.”

We are doing some work on an old stone cottage on acreage. The faithful grapevine & word of mouth is how we found ourselves here. It’s been freezing cold, windy & frosty. At first we weren’t impressed, but then some days are beautiful (as long as you can make it through the nights!).

B has been turning his hand at stone work (he was lackie to a local stonemason recently so that has helped). Pulling out an old Metters Wood Stove to clean up the fireplace, render and get a slate hearth ready for a new combustion heater. A bit of a learning curve for North Queenslanders!!! This week we’re installing a new kitchen!

I’m B’s lackie! General dogsbody (hold this, sweep that) whilst he’s organising quotes for building jobs, orders for materials and doing the ‘manual labour’ etc. He’s looking a bit weary but I secretly think he revels in it! It’s been over 12 years since he’s had to make so many decisions!! 🙂

I’m on local buy & sell & Gumtree sites trying to move the leftover equipment & furniture in the house. It’s slowly looking good. It should be beautiful when complete – nothing like the old Queenslanders we know. Have put a few pics of Mintaro and what we do when we aren’t ‘gallivanting around Australia’.

Esperance’s Beautiful Beaches

This blog is a bit delayed as we are now in Ceduna SA, but I’d still like to tell about two beautiful areas we found before heading across the Nullarbor again plus our drive around Esperance….

Esperance: we did the obligatory 40 kilometre Great Ocean Drive. This took us to some amazing beaches: West, Salmon, Picnic, Twilight, 11 Mile & Observatory Point. We had our days exercise walking up the trillion stairs at Observatory Pt to take in the views. At 11 Mile, which is the end of the beaches, we had smoko overlooking a spectacular beach and swimming shallows. Highly recommend this drive….

11 Mile Beach, Great Ocean Drive – Esperance

Other sites not to be missed would be the Whale Tail sculpture on the foreshore, a walk along the whole foreshore area including a look at the old Tanker Jetty. We didn’t get to visit the Tearooms, but Taylor’s Cafe is said to be a good feed.

Early March: After leaving Esperance, WA we headed east to a couple of camp areas – we visited Membelup Beach – rough, long track in but no available sites big enough for us and very mozzie-fied! Earlier that day we’d found the most beautiful area, Wharton & Little Wharton Beaches, in Duke of Orleans Bay. As we are unable to go into Cape La Grand National Park because of our dog Jeda, we found the next best thing. This beach is pristine! We made a note to come back later.

Wharton Beach, Duke of Orleans Bay east of Esperance

Alexander Bay east of Duke of Orleans Bay –  we arrived a few days before the WA Labour Day long weekend, but the campsite was nearly full. We unfortunately had a ‘boggy’ problem trying to get to a sandy site, but I won’t elaborate on that 😦  We eventually found one area in the Fisherman’s Camp that wasn’t boggy & wet so we nabbed it. As it turned out we were neighbour-free all the long weekend – sweet!

We spent 5 days there fishing, walking the beach, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets and generally chilling. After the long weekend we packed up and headed back to Wharton Beach. It was beautiful. We spent most of the day enjoying this beach & photographing the amazing turquoise waters before stopping at Condingup Reserve for the night (free camp at the sports ground).

Before the big trek across the Nullarbor, we stopped for a couple of nights at Grass Patch Park n Stay, a small community run van park with clean public amenities and gravel sites (they also offer free washing machines). We enjoyed yaks with the locals and walking around this little quiet town.

From here we headed to Norseman for fuel then it was onto the Eyre Highway for the 1200+klm trek to South Australia!!

The Clare Valley SA

So we now have something to fill in a month or so….or so we thought! We headed to Clare from the York Peninsula end of February. We had been asked if we’d do a house/pet sit on a property north of Clare. As we’d never really done one before we said ‘why not!?’

We arrived to a beautiful property about 10 minutes out of Clare CBD. It is a working farm running cattle, sheep and four different crops. The owners greeted us warmly and made us feel at home right away. The Homestead is gorgeous and exudes the history of this area. We parked our rig by their shed and took in our view – a beautiful 4.5 acre succulent, cactus and tree lined garden with hand made artwork throughout. What a lot of work had been put into this garden.

After being introduced officially to the most important members of the family – the dogs – we bid farewell to our hosts as they jetted off and left us to enjoy the rare opportunity to live in a house! Well we didn’t really as we are so used to our van we still ate & slept in it! I got to love Clare and it’s surrounds. As most would know wineries abound in this area and they are some of the best in Australia. To fill in our days ‘B’ and I decided to do some gardening – and it just snowballed from there. Lots of weeding, moving of rocks, planting of shrubs, cleaning of the pool, walking of dogs, playing with dogs, feeding dogs……just the usual housey stuff.

After many weeks the owners came home, lagged out and weary so ‘B’ and I and Jeda took off for a week to check out the surrounds. We visited Murray Town, Terowie (lovely little town with stores just like they were in the early days), Burra, Saddleworth then back to Clare. Burra is a must see – we got the Passport for all the attractions, historic sights etc and spent a few days visiting them all – well worth the money.

‘B’ was offered work on the farm seeding. What’s seeding? was our reply. So ‘B’ had 6-8 weeks on & off of driving a big John Deere tractor with the seeding machinery behind – don’t ask me to explain anymore! (See photos) And as it turned out the Farmerette in Training (lady owner) had to go to England on short notice so I stepped in as Farmerette with L Plates for seeding – feeding the men, washing, shopping, etc etc and looking after the fur-kids! Great experience for both of us and fun to boot!

But it all had to come to an end and it did mid June.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Peninsulas of SA

Long time no blog! Very slack but very busy. Since my last entry we have done quite a bit of tripping around SA. In January we mostly free-dom camped along the Eyre Peninsula – Port Gibbon, Cowley’s Beach, Moonlight Bay, Louth Bay to North Shields near Port Lincoln for the Tuna Festival.

We spent a week re stocking and enjoying the Tuna Festival. Met a few of the same people we’d met further up the Peninsula and it was great to catch up. Port Lincoln is at the bottom end of the Eyre Peninsula, so leaving there we headed up the west coast to Farm Beach. This is a popular council run ‘caravan park’ for the fishermen. It was very busy and lots of people. We took the tinny out a few times when it wasn’t too windy. Met a good bunch of people and compared fishing stories at Happy Hour each day. Then we had a call from a guy we’d met at Arkaroola – said our pup was 8 weeks and ready to collect! Yes, we’d caved and said yes to a Blue Heeler Cattle dog pup – he had 8 pups and was selling the males and the girls were up for grabs! I didn’t have to cry and beg ‘B’ to get one, he was eager too. So goodbye Eyre Peninsula and hello Rawnsley Park Station in the Flinders!

We collected our new bundle of joy and took her to Willow Springs Station for a week to get used to each other. We named her Jeda. She is a real cutie and a bundle of trouble at the same time! Luckily she has had exposure to other dogs on properties we’ve worked at since and adapts well to new places and people.

From the Flinder’s Ranges we headed to the York Peninsula. We found a lovely little town called Alford that offered donation camping near a toilet block with BBQ’s. Then we headed to Balgowan, another popular fishing spot. Had bad weather there so not much fishing then on to Coobowie, Port Julia and Price. Still miserable weather so can’t recommend them for fishing as we didn’t get a chance to throw a line in.

By this time we’d been offered a house-sitting job (word of mouth from our previous employers at Willow Springs Station) so it was off to the Clare Valley!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bye Bye Flinders – Hello Eyre Peninsula

Yay we have internet again!! Really we didn’t miss it or not having 3G! Back to using phone cards and phone booths again. We finished our stint at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary just before Xmas – the temps were rising and the tourists were becoming scarcer – so we said our goodbyes to a wonderful place and headed south. If you are ever visiting the Flinders Ranges in South Australia you must detour to Arkaroola to experience the arid, dry & truly spectacular scenery of this area. (But beware the roads can be rough and very dusty) The Ridgetop Tour is a must-do (no you wouldn’t take your own vehicle there even if you could) and there are other tracks around the property that can test you and your vehicle, including Echo Camp backtrack. Check it out at: www.arkaroola.com.au

We are now making our way around the Eyre Peninsula – slowly. We spent Xmas and New Years on a beach near Whyalla called Fitzgerald Bay & Pt Lowly. Lovely spot, Pt Lowly was busy with travellers so we stopped at Fitzgerald Bay instead as less people. We are now making our way towards Port Lincoln – at the bottom of the peninsula by Australia Day. There is a festival called Tunarama being held which should be some fun. I’m most looking forward to going to a hairdresser! It’s been nearly 5 months since my last cut and I’m feeling & looking like a yeti!

I have uploaded some more photos to my catalogues of where we have been plus there are some below. Enjoy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rounded the bottom and in the middle!

Long time no blog! Last time I posted we were about to start the Great Ocean Road along Victoria’s south coast. Well we made it despite the cold, wind and rain. Unfortunately we didn’t have the best weather but we loved the views that we’d seen on TV over the years. One piece of advice I will pass on to Big Rig owners – it might be best to leave your rig at a van park and drive the short distances each way to see the sights. We left our van at Port Campbell and as we found out some of the car parks would have just fitted us and no one else! But we know of others that have had no problem, so it’s up to you.

We were a bit partial to the Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs and Loch Ard Gorge in preference to the 12 Apostles & London Bridge. Even in mid-winter it was inundated with bus loads of tourists all day long. We mostly had cold wet weather, so had to wait around for longer than needed to get photos with a glimpse of sunlight. Hubby hates the cold so he was suitably unimpressed!

Once complete we went as far as Warrnambool and Port Fairy and decided we’d had enough of the coast and headed inland to Ballarat. We both wanted to uncover the history of the area and we were not disappointed. Just loved the city with the architecture and history – and the Info Centre was very helpful with what to see and how to get around. I loved Sovereign Hill – I was a bit hesitant to go to a ‘theme park’ but after speaking with some of the locals in period costume who volunteer or work there my mind changed – it started off as a living museum visibly displaying the history of the region and we learnt a lot in a day and a half.

Then we were contemplating heading to Bendigo for some more history when I found a job that sounded like ‘us’ on the Grey Nomads website. We applied and got it so we did a detour straight to South Australia and the beautiful Flinders Ranges! So for the past couple of months B and I have been working on a 70,000 acre sheep and cattle property in the central Flinders called Willow Springs Station, owned & run by Brendan and Carmel Reynolds and their daughter Michelle.

This has been a fantastic experience for us doing different type of work (B even had a day lamb tailing) and getting to see what life’s like in this area. We have been welcomed by the Reynolds family and have loved doing sight seeing jaunts on days off to nearby Wilpena Pound, Brachina Gorge, Bunyeroo Gorge, Parachilna, Blinman, Hawker & Quorn. The fact that 3G and the Internet is 6klms away on the nearest lookout is great! Newsflash: we really don’t need all this technology ALL the time! The best 4WD experience has been Willow Springs’ Skytrek offroad track. It’s 79klms of ‘moderate’ rated 4WD tracks over the property and takes approx. 6 hrs to complete. The views are breathtaking and there’s abundant wildlife throughout the property. If you’re lucky there might be some shearing or mustering going on as it’s a working station. They also have secluded bush camp sites and accommodations in the Old Homestead, Jackaroos Hut, Overseers Hut and Shearers Quarters. If you’d like to check them out go to: www.skytrekwillowsprings.com.au

We are nearly finished here as the tourist season has ended so will probably head south to explore the rest of South Australia. Till next time hope you enjoy the new photos I’ve uploaded plus some of the pics in this post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.