North and West

To this point our exploration of South Australia had been confined to the southeast corner. We had driven a little more than 2000 km but had seldom been more than 300 km from Adelaide. There is much more to see and, though we will leave much unseen, we did want to venture a bit further afield. Today was our first step on that path.

DSC_9473I was awake at 6:00 am, hesitated for a few minutes, and then decided to get out for the sunrise. I walked a few hundred metres upstream to the park I had found yesterday and watched the birds on the water as I waited for sunrise. Once the sun was up I walked back to the houseboat where the others were beginning to eat breakfast. I joined them. A cool change with cold gusty winds from the south had arrived overnight.

After breakfast we cleared up, packed our gear, and waited for our departure which was scheduled for 8:30 am. I used the time to check email and process some photos from yesterday.

DSC_9476We were on the road with Michael at the wheel soon after 8:30 am, refueled and then headed for a lookout at Paringa that the cruisers had heard about yesterday. We were not sure about the location so searched on Google and thought that Lookout Drive might be it. It wasn’t. There was a lookout tower there but little to see. Warwick asked the driver of a passing vehicle and found that the site we wanted was 10 km further on at Headings Cliffs in Murtho Forest. We drove on, found, the lookout tower, and enjoyed the views of red cliffs above the river, upstream and down.

The lookout was a diversion appreciated by all but it had taken us 30 minutes in the opposite direction to our destination for today at Port Augusta. We headed back past Renmark with Monash identified as a potential coffee stop. It was off the road and had no obvious source of caffeine so we drove on while Majella located an alternative at Barmera. The Lakes Cafe and Bakery was near the shore of Lake Bonney and served excellent coffee with a variety of tasty treats. In better weather the outside area with a view across the lake would be tempting but this was not one of those days.

Refreshed, we drove on. At Morgan we paused briefly, keeping out of the icy chill as much as possible, before leaving the Murray River and driving west and north toward Port Augusta. As we left Morgan we noticed a pair of pipelines and found by searching that they were carrying water to Whyalla and other points west. The first pipeline was constructed via Port Augusta but the second, done decades later, took a shorter route under Spencer Gulf.

DSC_9497Our lunch stop was at Burra. The weather had not improved so we scuttled inside St Just Cafe to eat lunch. Majella and I had pies which were quick so I had time to duck out for a walk and some photos of fine old buildings while others finished more interesting lunches.

From time to time as we drove on north and west we saw the pipelines running from Morgan. Most of the way there were two, the older and the newer. Occasionally we saw another, presumably a branch line. Eventually they separated with one following us north to Port Augusta and the other disappearing, presumably to cross the gulf.

DSC_9511We passed Port Pirie and noticed the 205 m stack of the smelter but did not go in to see it at closer quarters. Having visited the second longest jetty in South Australia at Beachport, we could not resist a visit to the longest at Port Germein. By that time there were showers that many felt were close to blizzard conditions, but we were lucky to find a gap that allowed us to walk part of the jetty before driving on. A kite surfer braving the chill winds against the background of the Port Pirie stack across the bay caught my eye.

Our accommodation in Port Augusta is in apartments operated by the same group as those we had in North Adelaide. We settled comfortably and then met in one for nibbles, drinks, and sandwiches for dinner. Tomorrow we drive south.