The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Haslam Jetty


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A Breath of Fresh Eyre

After crossing the Nullarbor, a trip of some 1600 odd kilometres, we arrived in Ceduna for the next leg of our journey to Penola, where the Solos Rally was being held in 10 days time. Did we take the short way? Of course not, we added another 1600 kilometres to our journey by going via the Eyre Peninsula!

It was Friday the 13th the day we arrived! Margaret may live to regret the comment she made about never having bad luck of Black Friday!

We stocked up our supplies and went off to the Information Centre to find out what we should do and see in the area. The lady there was really helpful – and a very good salesperson – because we both walked out with a $72 National Parks Pass for 2 months. The first park we were going to was just south of Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula and was called Decres Bay in the Wittlebee Conservation Park. The road in soon became a gravel road which was very rough and rocky but ok until we got to a sandy patch on a bend where Margaret became firmly stuck in the sand. I tried to dig her out but the weight of her Winnebago just kept burying her deeper and by this stage she was a little stressed, you might say! Three 4×4 utes stopped and one had a winch on it which was finally successful in dragging her out backwards where she promptly reversed all the way to the main road and we headed back to Ceduna and a Caravan Park where a stiff drink was in order. So much for going off road on the Eyre Peninsula – that experience cruelled it for Margaret and she was very wary of any gravel roads after that!

We had been recommended to go to the Shelley Beach Caravan Park and that turned out to be a disaster, too. We were allocated a spot right at the end of the park where they were still developing the extensions, so it looked like we were camped in a gravel pit, and the amenities were at least 70 metres away. The owner was very apologetic, told us not only were we on sites that shouldn’t have been let out but also we had been overcharged. To compensate he gave us two stubby coolers each – Big Deal!! I won’t be recommending that park to anyone even though most of the reviews on WikiCamps were very favourable.

Shelley Beach Caravan Park

Shelley Beach Caravan Park

One night was enough here so now we really begin our tour of the Eyre Peninsula. Our first day took in the coastal sights of Smoky Bay, Haslam and Streaky Bay, where we veered off the coast to go to Murphy’s Haystacks on our way to Port Kenny and our eventual camp for the night at Coodlie Park Bush Camp.

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Coodlie Park was certainly a Bush Camp. It was very basic and judging by the state of the camp kitchen and toilet, not often used or maintained. However, it was a bit of fun seeing what had been developed there and it was a shame it wasn’t better looked after and promoted because it had a lot of potential. It also had a private beach that the owners would take you to (for a cost of $15), but we decided to see the sights for free so one night here and we were on the move again.

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There was a lot to see the next day as we travelled through Elliston, where there was an historic reference at the jetty about how in the olden days wheat was stacked ready for transporting by ship to the markets. The jetty itself is constucted on steel pylons screwed into the sea bed and is about 430 metres long.  From here we passed through Sheringa and stopped off to see an example of drystone walling where the stones are placed in such a way that they don’t need mortar. These particular walls are believed to have been constructed in the 1850’s by convict labour. Not far from here we came across a delightful old cottage called the Lake Hamilton Eating House which used to be a stopover for coach travellers.

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Now to Coffin Bay, home of the famous Coffin Bay oysters. Wouldn’t you know it, we were there on a Sunday and hardly a place open, so I missed out on those beautiful fresh oysters I was looking forward to. Coffin Bay itself was quite pretty, though, with colourful sails on little boats skimming across the bay.

We finally had the chance to use our National Parks Pass near Port Lincoln when we stayed in a camp called Surfleet Cove in the Lincoln National Park. It wasn’t as attractive as some of the National Parks I have stayed in as the camping areas were formed around the ring road that circled the camp rather than being tucked into the bush, but we were entertained by a couple of families of emus that wandered through the camp. The long drop toilets were clean and the beach was quite sheltered but too cold for a swim.

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After a night at Surfleet Cove we headed into Port Lincoln, famous for its Tuna fishing, although it bills itself as the Seafood Capital of Australia. Commercially, Port Lincoln produces Abalone, Mussels, Oysters, Prawns, Whiting and Snapper,Blue Fin Tuna and Southern Rock Lobster. Pity that most Australians would not be able to afford to buy it! I certainly couldn’t and I was really hanging out for some fresh fish, too. On the positive side Port Lincoln provides overnight camping at Billy Lights Point and Alex Stencross Maritime Museum, which is a great initiative to attract RV’s to their town.

Not far up the road is Tumby Bay, which is another RV friendly town. Margaret and I stopped here for lunch at the jetty and wished we had more time to get to know this pretty area. We thought we might have got our lines out and tried to catch some fish for dinner, but it was so windy we were blown off the foreshore and kept travelling to our next destination.

Tumby Bay jetty

Tumby Bay jetty

It wasn’t a comfortable day travelling as we had a strong cross wind and Margaret really had to work hard in her larger van to stay on the road. We pulled in to Arno Bay thinking we would stay the night but it didn’t really appeal so we kept going to Cowell, which had a great free RV stop just out of town. The wind didn’t let up all night and the dust swirled so we were glad to be on the road again the next day. We drove into the township on the way out and once again it was a town that appealed to us for a longer stay if we had more time on our hands- lovely old cottages, historic town buildings and a nice foreshore. What is Cowell famous for? The beautiful Cowell Jade!

Jade deposits near Cowell on Eyre Peninsula are among the largest known nephrite jade deposits in the world. They were discovered in 1965 when Harry Schiller, a local farmer prospecting in the area, collected a 3–4 kg boulder of dense, hard rock near an outcrop of white, dolomitic marble. The boulder was subsequently identified as nephrite by Adelaide University and South Australian Museum.

Ninety-one separate jade outcrops were identified by Department of Mines geologists in 1974, and well over one hundred are now known. All are located within an area of ~10 km2, referred to as the Cowell Jade Province. The bulk of resources occur on the 23 leases held by Gemstone Corporation of Australia Ltd.

Whyalla was our next port of call, a brief stop at the information centre and to view the HMAS Whyalla at the Whyalla Maritime Museum. The Whyalla was the first ship built at the Whyalla shipyards in 1941.

Whyalla Maritime Museum

Whyalla Maritime Museum

Driving in to Whyalla we saw these spectacular mine tailings that looked like a many coloured patchwork quilt.

We arrived at Port Augusta, at the eastern end of the Eyre Peninsula, only four short days after starting our trip at Ceduna. It would be easy to spend weeks rather than days in this beautiful part of our country. Oh well, another place to go on the bucket list to revisit.

Next time I’d like to take a deeper breath of Eyre.


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From East to West – Crossing the Nullabor

I can’t believe how lucky I am to be asked to house sit for people who are going travelling. Last year it took me to Mt Isa and now I am on my way to Secret Harbour, south of Perth in Western Australia. That’s a pretty good reason to head west!

After a couple of days rest and recovery following the Solos Rally in Balranald I set off on my next adventure.

I left the Nyah Recreation Grounds on March 26, waving a fond farewell to Rosanna, who I had met just out of Boulia in Western Queensland last year and caught up with again at the Solos Rally. Also sharing our camp were two West Australians, Glenys Mitchell and Glenyce Mills. I had spent some time in Tasmania travelling with Glenyce and now here I am heading off to her home State of WA!

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Happy Hour at Nyah Free Camp

I camped the night at Psyche Pump, just out of Mildura. (free camp, lots of different spots along the river)

 

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View from Psyche Pump Free Camp

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Psyche Pump Free Camp

It turned out to be not such a great choice as there was an amazing thunderstorm in the evening and I woke to mud, mud, mud! The next morning it was a slippery drive out to the road and I couldn’t wait to get to a high pressure car wash and get rid of the mud I had collected under the van, in the van, and all over me!

Mildura to Cadell

Once I had Brutus – and me – sparkling clean I headed towards Cadell Recreation Ground for the night.
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I didn’t realise, but the way I had chosen to go meant that I had to cross over the Murray River by ferry to get to the campground. It was a free trip and goes on demand, and it was a bit of a buzz travelling this way.
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Michael and Margaret, the caretakers at Cadell welcomed me warmly and set me up on a nice clean level spot. The amenities here are first class and beautifully clean and well cared for. It was $12 a night for an unpowered site but I didn’t object as the facilities were so good – and the caretakers so friendly. The sunset was amazing, too!

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Sunset at Cadell Recreation Ground Camp

Before I left the next day Margaret gave me some of her home made tomato sauce that she had just finished cooking and Michael gave me a mud map of an interesting way to go to my next stop which they recommended to me.

Cadell to Melrose
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Once again I camped at the Recreation Grounds, which weren’t as nice as the previous night at Cadell but it was only $8 for an unpowered site and once again, great hot showers. I could get used to this luxury!

On the way there was a huge wind farm near Hallett. It seemed to go on forever and although this photo doesn’t show the extent of it I just loved the sky in this one!

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Wind Farm at Hallett

Melrose to Minnipa

I made a wrong call today and probably should have stayed in Kimba, which is the home of the Big Galah. Felt a bit of a galah myself for not stopping when I should have but the upside was the lovely people I met at my next stop.

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The Big Galah, Kimba

Kimba has a big sign declaring it is half way across Australia. I drove down to the Recreation Grounds which was the camping area in town but it looked like it had just been graded and a large area was closed off. I stopped long enough to have one of the best coffees I’ve ever had at The Cafe – yes, that’s what it’s called – in the main street, a pretty little place with lace curtains in the window and the coffee was soooo good. Fuelled with caffeine I decided to keep driving and eventually found a camp spot at the Apex Park in Minnipa.

Another couple, Judy and Grahame, pulled in with their caravan so I wasn’t camping alone – and I was sick of driving so the thought of having to go any further wasn’t at all appealing. I must say the toilet block had me a bit worried about the locals though! The next morning Judy was saying how noisy it was with other vans and trucks pulling in and out all night but I slept through it all!

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Minnipa Free Camp

This was the route I travelled today.
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You’ll see I went through Iron Knob, which I drove into but there was absolutely nothing there – or if there was I couldn’t find it!

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Looking towards Iron Knob

Minnipa to Koonibba

I was really looking forward to today as I was going into Streaky Bay, a place I had picked out on the map before I started this journey. I think I built it up too much because when I got there it was crowded and there was no free camp – but I had another beautiful coffee at Mocean, right on the waterfront.
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Grahame & Judy had been told that Smoky Bay was even better so I headed off there but it was jam packed – the caravan park looked like a supermarket car park – and once again, no free camps that I could find. This was my fifth day of travel to cross from the East of Australia to West Australia. My next stop was Koonibba for the night – I’m on my way to WA!
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