Sunday, 29 May 2011

Out Back

It’s been so long since the last blog, I’ve kept putting off writing as I’m not quite sure where to start.  We’re constantly on the move, visiting new places, seeing new sights, meeting new people and generally having a fantastic time.  I think my best bet is to just say a few words about the more memorable places and things which have happened over the past few weeks.  Here goes ….

Koroit Procession - "2 people with a bit of rope"
Port Fairy … After the Great Ocean Road we stayed at a lovely town called Port Fairy, unfortunately the weather wasn’t fantastic but on one of our day trips out we visited a tiny Irish town called Koroit who were having their annual festival.  It really did have to be seen to be believed!  The grand opening of the procession was announced as (and this has to be ‘read’ in the Irish accent) “and the procession is led by two people holding a bit of rope”  … and it just went downhill from then on!  Horses that decided they’d had enough so stopped pulling the cart, an Irish group singing Scottish songs (out of tune) and a very sad array of stalls and street entertainers.  We laughed so much it was well worth the $12 each entry fee!  But hey, they all put so much effort into the day and it was obviously a big thing for them - bless ‘em!

Blue Lake
Hamilton and Mount Gambier - A volcanic crater at Mount Gambier called the Blue Lake which really was astonishing and changed blues throughout the day depending on the sunshine.   We also visited some lovely water falls.  From Hamilton we had a trip out to Portland which was the first settlement in Victoria and the start of the wool trade there which Australia became famous for.  From Mount Gambier we also visited the most southerly point in South Australia - a fair few miles to anywhere!
A Very Cold Ruth
Mount Barker - we just had to stay at Mount Barker (my maiden name) and it was well worth the visit.  The views from Mount Barker were lovely.  
View from Mt Barker

View from Mt Barker
Hahnsdorf Pub
We had a day in a German town called Hahnsdorf (wine country) which brought back lots of memories for me of my time living in Germany.  It was a lovely town selling all the authentic German meats, toys, clocks etc.  
Known as The City of Churches
From Mount Barker we took a bus into Adelaide - it was about an hour’s journey, and we spent time touring the city on a guided tour bus, along with a visit to the local Chinatown. Another eye opener for us

Moving north from Adelaide….  
As the miles rolled on it was soon open scrubland and a feeling going bush again; Geoff was conscious of something he’d felt months ago as we’d approached Port Augusta last time having crossed the Nulabor desert… it was the excitement of heading into the Red Centre as it’s called… north up into the centre of Australia and beyond… (the first 2 months of our trip) and it was the signpost for Port Augusta “that lit his fire again” he loves it out there!
The Very Beautiful Flinders Range
The Flinders Range … to us was the equivalent of the Great Ocean Road - though in the desert - something different to see around every corner, stunning views, colour and scenery; it really was mind blowing …The mountains of mauve peaks and steep gorges stretched as far as the eye could see.  
Flinders Range
Sacred Canyon
Geoff's impression of an Aboriginal Emu

Sacred Canyon
We stayed at Wilpena in the Flinders Range National Park and had a trip to see an Aboriginal Sacred Canyon which again was truly amazing.     
Eagles flying overhead, kangaroos, wallabys, sheep and emus on the roads - we had to stop several times to let them cross!  
Baby Joey in Mummy's pouch
One of the many emus

We drove along the Parachilna Gorge (towing the caravan) - only a 30km trip but due to the un-surfaced road (that’s putting it mildly!) and having to stop to take lots of photos - the journey took us 3 hours!    
The un-surfaced road - this is a good bit!
Parachilna has a population of 7 … yes seven!  One pub or ‘Road House’ and a caravan site.  We didn’t stay there long!!  We also visited Farina - which is a ghost town - however several people have formed a group to rebuild and make safe the remaining buildings.  It’s hard to believe that it was once a thriving town - however when the local Railhead and stockyards moved up to Maree when the Ghan Railway extended (short for Afghan) it’s a case of pack up and leave - and that’s exactly what happened at Farina.
Shop Window Display at Quorn
Quorn  - I have to say that we really enjoyed our time there - it was so peaceful and we felt very relaxed (even more than normal!!)  It was just like stepping back in time 100 years - the shops were in a time warp.  I do struggle with some of the things which are advertised as ‘tourist attractions’ and wonder how they actually get away with it.  For instance, we visited a toy museum near Quorn, and yes there were lots of old games etc (many which I can remember playing with - so yes I know I’m getting old!) but there were more spiders and cobwebs in that place than I’ve seen anywhere, and ivy growing on the walls on the inside which had come through broken windows etc!  I do think that if you’re paying to go into a ‘museum’ the least you can expect is that it’s clean!  (There rant over!!)
Going down Day Dreamer Silver Mine
Near Broken Hill - we went down an old Silver mine - which was a bit scary if I’m honest.  We went some 200ft underground and at one point, we had to turn our lights out to imagine what it would have been like for the miners.  It was a real eye opener as children as young as 8 years old would be sent down the mines as well.. Evidence of this born up by the tiny shafts in the walls that only a child could get down!

One of the many metal sculptures
Silverton - another town which was almost deserted - a couple of galleries to look at - Geoff has been fascinated by the metal art and I think will be trying his hand at some of the sculptures on our return.  BUT... so often we come across a real gem… whilst here we had time to visit the old Goal.. It turned out to be the most fascinating museum either of us have ever visited anywhere. Every space (including the cells) was packed with local and Australian history. A true credit to those who have put that display together.

Noodeling for Opals
White Cliffs - way out in the middle of nowhere!  Famous for Opals being found there in the 1860’s. People flocked there,  though a slow hard tedious process soon reduced the numbers to the more hardy miners who stayed on and settled. They made their homes underground because of the heat.  We went ‘noodeling’ which is a term used for people who look in the rubble of those who have done all the hard work  mining  (they’ve used their noodle or head and let someone else do the hard work!)  We actually found several pieces of opal - one in particular was lovely and we took it to Bret at the Cathedral Gallery in town who made it into a pendant for me.  Geoff has enjoyed cutting open a rock to find opals inside, although these are known as ‘shotgun’ as it is shot through the rock and not really big enough pieces to cut out.  Was great fun though and to have a memento like this pendant is a fantastic long lasting memory of Oz.

Our Opal Finds

Pendant made from an Opal we found at White Cliffs
From White Cliffs to Cobar we had a bit of an ‘incident’ with the car - it seemed to be using far too much fuel and we were unsure whether we would actually make it to Cobar before juddering to a halt.  We stopped at a rest area and eventually another couple came in to stay the night, who had a 10ltr jerry can of fuel.  We unhooked our caravan and I stayed there with the other couple for company while Geoff drove the 60kms on to Cobar to refuel and re-fill all the jerry cans.  We’re sure now the petrol gauge is faulty - but it really wasn’t worth taking the chance at night time.  
Cobar -  we’re at Cobar now - another town famous for mining - copper, zinc and gold over the years.  We’ve visited the Heritage Centre which was good and again had an eye opener into life for the early settlers in Australia.  Geoff reckons the government got things wrong way back in the day … the convicts should have stayed in Britain and we should have been sent to Oz - however I don’t envy the work the convicts or the early settlers endured.  Life out in the ’bush’ and all these surrounding towns and villages we’ve visited, still seems quite primitive to me; it’s been fantastic to visit and see how life is for people here, but I’m looking forward to being back in civilisation again in the next couple of weeks!  Might have to drag Geoff away though as he’s loving it!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment