Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Archive for December, 2011

Port Lincoln and swimming with the tuna – Nov 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 7, 2011

Panorama of Redbank Beach

Fishery Bay

Where's that crevasse

Ah that crevasse

Hi Everyone,

Well we left Port Gibbon relatively intact after a bit of a storm last night.  We travelled down the Eyre Peninsula coast and landed in Port Lincoln and are staying at the Port Lincoln Tourist Park, once again on the water’s edge.  We have sunshine and good weather at the moment so we chucked on a few loads of washing after setting up the van and had some lunch.  After talking with our friend Eldo, whom we had met on the Cape York Trip, we decided to visit the Tourist Information Centre and pay a deposit for a key

Cape Wiles

Sea spray at Cape Carnot

Warning sign

to allow us access to Whalers Way and Cape Wiles, which is about 32kms SW of Port Lincoln. It’s a 4WD access track and Whaler’s Way is so-called because of its close association to the whaling operations carried out in Sleaford Bay.  First stop was Fishery Bay, which was quite beautiful but windy as hell today.  It is quite sunny but the wind is very chilly.  We drove to some of the lookouts for a peek then stopped at Whalechaser Crevasse.  We couldn’t really find the blowhole till we realised it was on the other side of the track. Cape Wiles to check out the NZ fur seal colony.  At first we couldn’t see any seals but after watching the water we spied

Oldest rocks in SA

Theakstone's crevasse

Only sign to Redbank beach

them playing in a pool near the rocks.  There were only about 3 or 4 but they were very playful. We continued along the track and stopped to check out Cape Carnot which is the most south-westerly tip of the Eyre Peninsula. There is like a blowhole here only it is the spray from the sea against the rocks which gets pretty high and loud. It was fantastic to be there to see it, but it’s very rough and there are warning signs not to go any further as loss of life has happened here.  It is also the oldest known rock in SA, estimated to be around 2,643 million years old and was discovered in 1876.  We oohed and ahhed here for quite a while then drove a little

Sand dunes at Redbanks

Redcliffs-banks hence the name

No swimming today brrrrrr

further around the corner to Theakstone’s Crevasse.  It is a fault fracture, occurring millions of years ago, measuring some 13m deep and 9m high walls and upon navigation by surfboard, was found to extend 30m underground! Impressive! Next stop on the tour was Redbanks and the beach.  You can only drive just so far then you have to get out and walk across the sand dunes.  Only problem was there are no signs or directions, you just have to guess which of the 5-6 options will get you to the beach.  We split up and eventually found our way over to the beach side, which looked very nice and fairly protected too.  We admired it

Wind farm at Redbanks

Swim with the Tuna Boat

Tuna Platform

from atop the red cliffs and then returned to the car and retraced our steps back to Fishery Bay.  As we crested the hill we saw a few kite surfers out in Fishery Bay and they were hammering, which wasn’t that surprising considering the wind today.  They looked pretty awesome actually.  We returned to the caravan park for showers, dinner and an early night as tomorrow we are swimming with the Tuna.  We were up nice and early, breakfasted and in our bathers and off to meet the boat.  It is a fantastic day to be out on the water as it is sunny and there is little wind today. We met another two families on the boat, who were also travelling

Swimming with the tuna

Tuna Spa

Dan dodging the tuna

around Oz with their kids and amazingly all the kids, on the boat were all boys.   We met the catamaran out in the Lincoln Cove Marina and 15mins later we were out at the tuna platform which sits just inside the last island before the open sea.  The tuna platform has a double skinned edge and it’s like having several, contained swimming pools around a circular jetty.  We boarded the platform and everyone who was swimming got fitted for a thick wetsuit, sorted out with booties, snorkels and masks and gloves as well as the tuna can’t tell the difference between your fingers and the fish we’re feeding them.  Daniel is not a huge sea-faring lad and

Surrounded by tuna

Wade feeding the tuna

Big tuna underwater observatory

Wade is usually chomping at the bit to get in; however Wade took awhile to get geared up so he and I were the last ones into the pen.  Joel and Daniel were 2 of the first to get in and the guides had already started to throw fish into the water to get the tuna swimming around us. OMG! They are huge and move so fast that Wade and I struggled to actually get in the water, but we did and just had to push our way through the tuna to find a free space.  Trouble was they were so big and fast and they really knocked poor Wade around due to his size.  Most of the tuna were as big as he was. Mostly they have remarkable sonar so they don’t ever run straight into you but they dart off at the last-minute and holy shit, it can scare you.  We stayed in the pen for about 30mins while these massive fish just darted around us, then we all got out to feed them by hand (gloved hands ‘cos we’ve seen the teeth!).  They have

Wade with Port Jackson baby shark

Casing full of shark eggs

Scallops - yummy

an underwater observatory for getting a different perspective when they feed the tuna.  They can get into quite frenzy when they are eating.  One of the other pools/sections has different types of local fish, like snapper, salmon, morwong, nannygai and even a couple of Port Jackson sharks and we could get into the tank and swim around all those fish as well.  Another call to jump in with the tuna for a little while then it was time for the tuna spa.  The kids all jumped in for the tuna spa and once they were in the middle, the guys threw heaps of fish actually onto them or very close to them and the tuna just went crazy around

Green-lipped abalone

On the tuna platform

Two big ships in for loading

them.  The water was white and bubbling, like a spa and the kids were screaming – all in fun of course.  It made for some great entertainment for the adults I can tell you!  Once the tuna spa was over, we all got out of out wetsuits and changed into some dry clothes.  They also have two large touch ponds on board with sea urchins, abalone, starfish, scallops, crayfish, small port Jackson sharks, etc.  The kids all loved touching everything they could and asking heaps of questions too.  There was a sausage sizzle on board for lunch then it was time to move on out.  The catamaran took us into the Port Lincoln Harbour and up to the jetty, then with

Port Lincoln Jetty

Viterra grain storage silos

Port Lincoln Marina

commentary, took us along the foreshore describing the people, places, owners of boats, etc.  There were two large ships in for loading and we saw the huge white Viterra grain silos as well.  It is a massive operation with conveyors out to the ships from the silos.  It was a great day out and we were all a bit tired from our day in the sun. We all had showers and felt more human again so we stocked up on some shopping, collected our mail, returned the key for Whaler’s Way and went out to the Marina for dinner.  We packed up the next morning and headed over to Cummins, a small wheat farming community about 60kms away, where we will

Sunset at Port Lincoln

meet up with our friends we met on the Cape Trip at Dulhunty River.

Till Next Time

Ciao`

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Port Elliot and Adelaide – Nov 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 7, 2011

Port Elliot with sun

Port Elliot gorgeous water-colour

Hi Everyone,

We took the hilly, windy road from Wirrina Cove to Port Elliot, passing through some beautiful and green pastureland.  We navigated through Victor Harbour and decided to stay out at Port Elliot on the advice of Joel’s cousin John and so glad we did.  It’s one of those quintessential family holiday parks right on the beachfront.  The park is quite full for this time of year and we learnt that it is a popular weekend getaway for the locals and we could understand why.  It’s a beautiful park and right on the beachfront of Horseshoe Bay, which is a popular and safe swimming beach.  The day we arrived was glorious, sunny and hot so the kids went for a swim in the ocean after setting up.  They came back later, looking a little bit blue as even though it’s sunny the water is still quite cold.  We went over to Joel’s cousin house to catch up over a few beers and nibbles.  John and Marilyn are really lovely people and Nicholas was entertaining the boys on the Play station – they were in heaven!! We went back to the van where Joel made us

Horseshoe Bay

Traffic light drinks

chicken burritos for dinner. The next day was Sunday and saw a huge exodus of people from the caravan park.  We did lots of housekeeping and washing as we hadn’t washed any clothes while we were on Kangaroo Island and the kids caught up on some schoolwork too.  These are THE most expensive washing machines we have ever used in the entire trip around Australia.  Even Coober Pedy, which has to reverse-osmosis their water wasn’t this expensive at $5 a load and they were the little washing machines too!! John, Marilyn and Nicholas came to visit us at the caravan park and Nicholas and Wade braved the temperature and went for a body surf at the beach.  Once they were back, showered and dried off we headed off to the local pub in Port Elliot for dinner and drinks.  The bartender made the kids some traffic light drinks which looked really great and no, there was no alcohol in them.  Mostly it was green cordial, orange juice and grenadine and layered to resemble a traffic light, with green at the bottom, orange in the middle and red on the top.  They were quite a hit! We headed back home and noticed that the weather

Interesting cloud formations

Storm rolling in

has turned and they are expecting rain tonight and tomorrow:( I went for a

Other side of Horseshoe Bay

walk along the cliff top which overlooks the bay and watched the clouds roll in.  Even getting dark this is still a beautiful spot.  Next day we thought we’d head into Victor Harbour to check out the place as it’s only about 8-10 kms down the road.  We stopped in town, along the beach, for lunch then walked across the jetty/bridge to Granite Island.  The water is quite shallow, low tide i think, and the colours of the water are beautiful.  The Island is home to a group of Little Penguins and there is a kiosk/cafe and a penguin centre on the island as well.  The penguin centre opens at night for tours to see the Little Penguins but we won’t be staying for that.  We walked over to the island but you can catch a tram that runs normally, but the track is being worked on at the moment so we walked.  The paths are nearly all bituminised or boardwalk so it’s quite an easy walk with a few uphill sections thrown in.  The sun was shinning when we left and the walk was quite warm.  The view was amazing from the island, which was once joined to the mainland but is now a granite island, with the land mass having eroded away over time.  We had just finished our walk and were about to start back along the jetty when the rain came down so we bunkered down for a drink and ice-creams while we waited out the rain.  Back to camp and then off to

Walking over to Granite Island

Looking back toward Victor Harbour

More orange lichen

John and Marilyn’s place for dinner tonight.  They are making home-made pizzas for tea which sounds yummy – and they were.  Marilyn has started painting and showed me some of her artwork, which was very good and has won her some prizes too.  The pizzas were divine and John shared his secret sauce which we’ll be sure to get next time we’re shopping.  After a few more drinks we bid them farewell and thanked them for their fantastic hospitality.

We packed up the next morning with the weather still a bit overcast and windy and headed into Adelaide.  We are staying at the Big4 Adelaide Shores Caravan Park which is

Little fella on Granite Is

Wade entertaining us on our walk

Lots of pigface

another great little holiday park, right on the beachfront.  We got an ensuite site as we’ll be here for a week and the weather is supposed to change for the worse for a few days too.  We set up and then the boys were off as there is a jumping pillow here. They were over at that pillow everyday and most of the day, practising their jumps and somersaults.  There is a boardwalk right up and down the beachfront, great for cycling or walking which we did both.  I spent most of the next day trying to sort out applications for Daniel and Wade for school next year.  Daniel will be in Year 8, which is the first year of high school here in WA so sorting out his

Just before the rain

Ovens Valley Homestead view

options is a bit more tricky than Wade’s who will be in Year 6 in Primary school.  Writing those application letters can be quite tricky so I rang a few friends for advice, which they freely gave and I’ll thank you all personally if he gets in!  Joel’s cousin Sharon, her son Kaine and her mum Val come over to the park for a visit.  The boys took Kaine to the pool and then we lost them to the jumping pillow again! It was lovely to catch up with them and catch up on family news.  They both looked amazingly well and happy too. The next day we went shopping with the kids, always fun, and sorted out a few bits and pieces.  Unbeknownst to us the weather had changed to very windy and a storm warning had been issued.  We got back to our caravan to find two lovely gentlemen, holding onto our awning and trying to fix it with cable ties as the awning itself had ripped a bit.  We thanked them profusely, then set about bringing in the awning as the wind was just ridiculous and it was also starting to rain quite heavily too.  Now suddenly, it’s not so great being by the beach but am very thankful for the ensuite, so we can hide

Flight from Melb to Ade

some of our gear in this weather. The next day the storm had passed which I was thankful for as I am off

Sunset at CP in Adelaide

on a trip back to Victoria for a 25year school reunion, for the catholic school I attended for a awhile. It was a bit unreal as this is the first time since we started our trip that I have been apart from Joel and the boys!  I settled into the short flight from Adelaide to Melbourne, where I got a hire car and headed up to Wangaratta to see my sister.  It was great catching up with Dianna as she has just returned from a trip back to Italy where she managed to catch up with some relatives we didn’t even know we had over there and she had some brilliant photos and lots of information for me.  The school reunion was in Myrtleford, starting in the afternoon with drinks and an informal catch up, followed by dinner and drinks.  It was great to see and catch up with these people I went to school with so many years ago and playing guess who that is, etc.  The reunion was at the Ovens Valley Homestead which is just out-of-town in the most beautiful valley ever (I know, a bit biased) and we were the only guests, which was lucky as we drank and partied till the wee hours, some more wee than others! A big kudos to the organisers of the event who

Colours in the sky b4 storm

Spaceship in paddock

spent a lot of their time and energy into making sure we all had a great night, complete with photos and a slide presentation from way back when.  Breakfast was a less formal affair with lots of last-minute catch ups and farewells and promises to do this all again.  My only regret is that I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take photos! I picked up my Mum, who still lives in town and we headed off to a lovely cafe for brunch, although it was nearly lunch by the time we ate.  We had a walk around the town as it has a few new statues, plaques etc and it was just nice catching up.  I farewelled mum and took a short drive out-of-town to the local cemetery where I went to visit Dad’s grave as it is 21 years to the day since he passed away. I headed back to Wang to see my sister again before travelling back down the highway to Melb to catch the plane back to Adelaide and my boys!  While I was away, they had caught up with Sharon and Val a few times both at the caravan park and at Sharon’s house. Joel to had been enjoying himself and we have only just realised that we took no photos of the family, doh! When the boys picked

Grasshopper in paddock

me up from the airport we tried to go out for dinner but it was nearly 9pm and nothing was open much, so to the boys delight, Maccas it was!  The next morning we slept in as we were all pretty tired from way too many late nights over the weekend. We had a cruisy day, basking in the sunshine reading whilst the kids played on the jumping pillow for the last time.  We showered and dressed as we are going over to Judy (another of Joel’s cousins) and Gary’s house for dinner.  Judy was a finalist on Masterchef so we were in for a gastronomic treat tonight.  They live a bit closer to the city but it was easy enough to get there, except for an unusual intersection which has 2 different train crossings on it and about a six-way car intersection.  We had to wait about 10-15mins for the trains to pass and then for the lights to change in our favour!  Ah city traffic, haven’t missed it at all! Judy started with a home-made hummus dip with Lebanese bread and some tartlets of basil pesto, goat’s cheese and balsamic, cherry tomatoes which were all very delicious!  Gary went off to work for an hour and we kept Judy company in the kitchen while she whisked up our dinner.  Dinner was pork spare ribs, sliced steak, boiled potatoes, asparagus and beans lightly steamed. It was absolutely delicious!  The kids retreated inside to watch a bit of telly and Wade was a little off his food, which is unusual.  Gary returned just in the nic of time to eat dinner with us too.  We chatted about our lives and caught up on some more family news too.  Wade had taken a turn for the worse, sporting a roaring temperature so we bid a fond farewell to our hosts and took him back to the van to dose him up and hope he sleeps.  He seemed to settle through the night and we packed up the van and headed out of Adelaide the next morning.  We didn’t get far before cries of “I’m gunna be sick” coming from the back.  We pulled over in the middle of some main street and grabbed a bucket for poor old Wade.  He ended up nursing that bucket for a good few hours after that and we made sure to make lots of stops to get some fresh air.  There are some interesting sculptures along the highway out of Adelaide and we tried to snap some photos as we passed them. They were just in someone’s paddock, no signs or anything to say why, just these things. We lunched at Snowtown, Wade wasn’t game to try to eat anything so lots of fluids for him, and then back on the road.  We stopped for fuel at Port Augusta then continued around the coast to Whyalla and down through Cowell.  Just past Cowell is a small holiday place called Port Gibbon and that’s where we decided to pull over into the free camp (#560 in Camps 5 book) for the night.  We got there about 5pm and there were quite a few grey nomads there already, some looked like they’d been there for quite some time.  It is a great, little camping area, right on the beach as well.  We parked up and listened to the fellas there who reckoned we were in for more storms tonight.  They were right, the wind howled and the rain came down so we had an early dinner and read until bedtime, listening to the storm outside.  These are the days/nights I am thankful for a toilet inside the van!.  We didn’t set up much as it’s just an overnight stop and we are off to Port Lincoln tomorrow.

Till Next Time

Ciao`

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Kangaroo Island – stunning place – Nov 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 5, 2011

Wind turbine blades

Pink salt lake near Snowtown

Kids on the tank at Two Wells

Hi Everyone,

We left Port Augusta and headed south towards Adelaide with more stormy weather looming.  We stopped for a break at Snowtown and read about the wind farms we had seen on our way in.  They have one of the actual blades at the rest area and they are huge!  The town is very quaint and has lots of beautiful murals painted on the sides of buildings.  I talked to the kids about the murders that happened here years ago and they were trying to see the bank where the bodies were stored; but I don’t imagine it to be a huge tourist draw card!  We travelled on down the highway amazed at all the wheat

Funky lighthouse at Cape Jarvis

Bit blowy on way over

Coming into Penneshaw

and wind farms; it must be pretty windy here most of the time.  We stopped a bit further down the track at Two Wells for lunch and Wade found a great old tank in the memorial park so the boys managed to get rid of some excess energy here! The rain has set in again and we managed to traverse Adelaide city along the western side to the expressway through lots of road works and down to Wirrina Cove Resort.  It is a resort and caravan park and we can leave our van here, hooked up to power, while we check out Kangaroo Island for a few days.  The countryside is very green and hilly on one side and the roaring coast is on the other; it’s a

On the ferry

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

Wade inside old lens

View from top of lighthouse

beautiful mix.  We spent the next day packing for KI and took a drive down to Cape Jarvis as that is where we will catch the ferry tomorrow.  Even though it is sunny it is very windy and cold and we nearly got blown off the lighthouse lookout! We jumped back in the car and admired the view from behind some glass then stopped at Secret Valley for a hot chocolate and muffin and whilst the chocolate was warming the weather is still freezing!!

Next day we locked up our home and headed back to Cape Jarvis to catch the ferry to KI.  It was still quite windy but the whole ferry trip only took 45mins, unlike the 9 hours coming back from Tassie, and we were disembarking in Penneshaw before we knew it. It was a beautiful, sunny day but the wind was bitterly cold so jumpers were the go!  We (and all the other ferry passengers) made our way to the Tourist Information Centre where we armed ourselves with as much info as we could and got a family National Park Pass ($174) which lasts for 12 months but will still save

Vivid orange lichen

Boardwalk on the rocks

Views of lake and ocean

us $$$$. We drove straight down to Cape Willoughby and made the 1pm guided tour of the lighthouse.  There was only one other family and us and the ranger was very lovely and informative.  The original glass lens used was so huge Wade could crawl in and stand up in it.  Having so many individual lenses would have been a mongrel to keep clean but then again it’s not like there would be much else to do out there! The tour takes you up into the lighthouse itself and the view from the top is amazing and chilly.  The arctic winds blow straight onto the Cape and it is freezing.  After the tour ended we walked around the grounds and there are several

Steps to Prospect Hill

4WD quad bikes

Raring to go

Wade speed demon

old cottages that have been restored and are available as accommodation stays now.  We drove back to Penneshaw and had lunch at the pub whilst overlooking the ocean.  We had lots of time to admire the view as our lunch took over an hour to come by which time the kids were just about chewing on the furniture!  We wandered around the park at Penneshaw foreshore and marvelled at the vibrancy of the algae/lichen growth on the rocks.  It was a vivid orange colour. We decided to head west across the island and stopped at Prospect Hill, where we climbed up lots of steps to get to the top for lovely views of the bay and the southern ocean.  We turned off and took the gravel, road-less-travelled towards Vivonne bay.  The weather is still sunny but very cold so we went to look for our holiday house, which will be our home-base for the next few days. The place is huge and the kids are so excited, as they get a room with a Queen-sized bed each! Vivonne Bay is a particularly good surfing beach and there is a surf festival here in the next week or so.

Waiting to go

Inside Kelly Cave

Amazing formations

The only unfortunate thing about Vivonne Bay is that there is a general store and that’s it.  We thought there would be places to eat all over the island but we are slowly coming to realise that it’s not the case.  We did bring a few supplies with us but I was looking forward to a few nights off cooking! Not to worry, the Parndana Pub is 30km away and serves good meals so after showers we headed off and found they do indeed serve good, pub meals.  We got back home, turned on the heater, figured out the TV and DVD player and watched a family movie.  Next morning we enquired about some 4WD quad bike tours, at Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action, and we could go this morning if we wanted. The boys are so excited as most places don’t allow anyone under 16 to ride on their own but these

More amazement

Small blue wren

Vivonne Bay

guys set up the kids on their own bikes. Luckily they are just around the corner from where we are staying so before we knew it we were paid up, geared up, safety briefing done, few practice laps and away we went.  We followed the guide along some great tracks and stopped to get a few photos as well.  Wade was up front on a little 50cc, Daniel on a 90cc and Joel and I both on 125cc bikes.  It was great fun and we all agreed it was one of the best things we have done on the trip.  We went back to the house for lunch then off to Kelly’s Caves.  We did the normal cave tour, learning about the history of the cave, etc and then we decided to do the adventure cave tour, with a guide and another father and son.  It’s pretty tight in here and quite dirty so I opted not to take my camera in there. We geared up with a helmet and headlamp and it was an hour-long tour, with a guide and had us climbing through some unusual and some very small openings in the cave system.  It was really interesting, even the boys thought so, and there was only one small spot where I thought I was going to get stuck as the others were all boys/men and we had to commando crawl through a very slim hole, turning our heads to the side to get through and luckily I managed to get through as there was no other way out.  There was an archaeological dig area that was screened off, but as we crawled through the small space and around the other side we could see down into the pit where they have found lots of animal skeletons, etc.  Joel and I agreed that it was probably better than the 4WD biking this morning but the boys didn’t agree!  We

Cold at Seal bay

Beautiful creatures

Family Siesta

did get pretty filthy but most of it was limestone dust so it brushed out fairly easily.  The ranger who took the tour often helps out the PhD students doing the archaeological digs so he was full of interesting facts and stories.  On the way back to the car we saw a very friendly echidna that came right up to us and didn’t appear scared at all.  The ranger said he was very used to people and often came out to put on a show – lucky us. We also saw a blue wren and it is only this blue when it is mating season. We went back to chill out at the house, with the heater on again, then back to Parndana Pub for tea once again.  The next day was overcast and still windy

Just laying around

Seal Bay Lookout

NZ fur seals home pad

but not raining so we went to Seal Bay.  It is home to a colony of Australian Sea Lions that spend their whole life here.  It is breeding season at the moment so there are lots of pups around and they are very cute.  We paid to do the tour down onto the beach with a guide, who was really enthusiastic and great.  There is only one other colony of Australian Sea Lions and that is in SA at Point Labatt so they are trying very hard to increase the numbers of this endangered species.  There were heaps of sea lions on the beach, some younger males frolicking in the waters and some were half-way up the dunes, sleeping in amongst the scrub.  They can get back up

Admirals Arches

Seal love

Cape de Couedic Lighthouse

to a km inland from the sea for protection from the wind.  It was a surreal place and they are amazingly beautiful creatures.  I loved this place.  There is a huge boardwalk that you can walk along and still get some great views of the sea-lion for free.  It was still quite cold and we made sure to rug up well with jackets and scarves.  We lunched back at the house before heading further west across the island to the Flinders Chase National Park. First stop was the Admiral Arches, so-called for the arch of rock that has formed from the weathering of the rocks to form an archway.  The walk down is all on a boardwalk with information boards telling of the history of seal hunting and the early pioneers.  There are heaps of New Zealand fur seals here, a bit on the pongy side too, depending on which way the wind is blowing but they are just beautiful.  We

Flying fox for transportation

Weir Cove

Remarkable Rocks

witnessed a bit of a fight between two males but for the most part they just played in the water or sun bathed on the rocks.  We did the short loop-walk from the car park to the

Kids enjoying the climb

Cape de Couedic lighthouse and read about the early lighthouse keeper and their families.  Life would have been pretty lonely and harsh out here I reckon. Next stop was Weir Cove, which was where the lighthouse keeper had supplies delivered by ship, every three months, then hauled back to the lighthouse by horses.  There was a storage area at the Cove and they used an industrial strength flying fox to haul up cargo and even people from the boats below.  We drove around the look at Remarkable Rocks, a set of granite boulders and domes that have weathered at different rates to form some amazing sculpture-like rocks.  The kids had a ball climbing over and

More orange lichen

hidey-hole

Interesting Weathering

around here for ages.  The orange-red lichen grows on these rocks and makes for some remarkable photography.  The day is still pretty overcast and windy and the coastline is very rugged but still beautiful. After all this ‘fresh’ air we were ready for some food and hot showers.  We headed back to the house, turned on the heater and had a great feed of pasta, followed by another movie. We are all starting to feel the effects of the cold and sore throats are cropping up.  We packed up the next morning and had intended to traverse the island clockwise but I have an eye infection that needs some medical help so we choofed off to Kingscote hospital,

Quite a climb

Mick firing the cannon

Cape Bourda Lighthouse

then a GP for a script for some eye drops.  We decided we could still make the Cape Bourda Lighthouse tour if we stepped on it, which is on the most north-western side of the island (Kingscote is on the east coast) and we did make it with 10mins to spare.  Mick, the ranger/lighthouse keeper was quite a character.  A not-so-young ranger he was amazingly knowledgeable about the lighthouse and its history.  He also talked like a horse-race commentator at about 1000 words a minute.  OMG he was hilarious. We actually videoed some of his speech ‘cos he was so entertaining.  We were told that the cannon is fired at everyday at 1pm and he didn’t disappoint.  He fired off the canon, which was another way for ships to navigate past as Cape Bourda always fired a canon at 1pm.  Mick was very forthcoming with

Dwarf emu

Mouth of Western River Cove

Western River Cove

tall tales of the lighthouse, its keepers and the early pioneers of the time.  Initially the kids were like “not another lighthouse” but were laughing and joking and said it was the best one so far, no doubt due to Mick’s humour. The lighthouse is unusual in another sense as it is a square-built lighthouse and not cylindrical like most others. In the history room there was a picture and skeleton of a dwarf emu too!  We lunched at the Cape then drove the roads-definitely-less-travelled along the north coast starting at Western

WRC rocks and lichen

Through the rocks to Stokes Bay

Stokes Bay

Snelling Beach

River Cove.  There was a school camp at the cove and the waters and beach were pristine.  A lot of the road follows the coast along so we were spoilt with fantastic views of the beaches and coastline along the way.  We stopped at Snelling Beach for a walk along the beach but it’s definitely too cold for swimming.  We drove to Stokes Bay and stopped to check out the beach as it is a local favourite apparently.  After you climb over and through the rocks you step out onto a

Emu Bay panorama

magnificent beach, Stokes Beach.  It has a great swimming area and a low rock wall and the water is so clear and greeny-blue; it’s a gorgeous place.  The sun is out and we took a walk along the

Jetty at Emu Bay

View of Emu Bay from our balcony

beach which is fairly protected from the wind but still not warm enough for these ducks to swim I’m afraid.  We drove to

Pelicans at Emu Bay Jetty

Emu Bay where we are to stay for the next 2 nights.  It’s another holiday town, with not even a general store this time, but the views from the balcony of this place were incredible.  It’s a beautiful place, with wide, white beaches and clear blue waters.  The sun is out and the place looks like a holiday paradise.  The house is smaller than the last one but has more of a beach and holiday feel to it.  The big upside is that Kingscote is only 18km away so we all showered and headed off for a meal in town.  We went to the Aurora Ozone Hotel where we had an excellent dinner, with Daniel ordering a huge mixed grill with black pudding.  To his credit, he still tried it even when I told him what it was but he didn’t like it that much.  The hotel is right along the foreshore and has some excellent views of the bay.  Back to the house for some dessert and a movie again.  Next day was a quiet day, starting with a good sleep

American River

Sea Lion in "distress"

in and a walk around Emu Bay.  There were a few pelicans down on the jetty and the weather was just lovely.  We spent the day just chillin’.  We ventured back to Kingscote to the Queenscliffe Hotel this time. More of a family pub with great meals and a price to match.  We have seen the kangaroos mostly at night as we are driving and tend to take it a bit slower, especially on dusk.  We had brekky and packed up but we don’t have to be out until 10:30 am so the kids watched a bit of foxtel and we savoured the views outside.  We headed into Kingscote and took a drive out to Reeves Point.  I saw something in the water and upon closer inspection saw it was a sea-lion.  It was lying in the shallow part of the bay and looked like it was caught in a net or something under the water, popping its head/snout up for a breath every so often.  We hopped back into the car and stopped at a local shop/tourist centre who informed us that they do that quite often and he was just playing in the bay, but they thanked us for our concern.  We travelled down to American River where there is a camping ground

Island Beach

Rainbow at Wirrina Cove

on the foreshore for $10/night for a powered site.  There aren’t many sites and it’s definitely first-in-best-dressed but looked great.  More pelicans and a protected harbour make this a lovely place.  We stopped in at Island Beach, which sits opposite American River and walked along the beautiful beach here.  It was just gorgeous with more white beaches and sparkling azure water. We drove back to Penneshaw for lunch and grabbed some take-aways to eat at the park.  We walked around the rocks and then decided to laze in the sun, reading our books and making some phone calls while we waited to catch the ferry at 4:30pm.  The ferry crossing was over before we knew it and we were back on the mainland, heading back to our van at Wirrina Cove.  We unpacked the car and then packed up the van ready for heading out tomorrow.  We had some more rain but the sun came out and we got the most magnificent rainbow over the car and van.  It was a pretty awesome sight.

Till Next time

Ciao`

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The Flinders Ranges – 4WD, emus and yellow footed rock wallabies

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 2, 2011

Elder Range Panorama

Rawnsley Bluff Panorama

Gorge section of walk

Dan tying forest onto car

Start of Wilpena Pound walk

Hi Everyone,

When we left Port Augusta  it was raining but not enough to be useful for say washing the car, just enough to actually make the car more dirty! We passed through some beautiful and undulating countryside and saw some magnificent rock walls that were supporting railway tracks.  They were actually part of the Pichi Richi Railwayline which now runs as a tourist railway.  We spied some very dead trees just waiting to be cut up so we stopped to grab some wood and decided that tonight would be a roast night! After loading up the car we were listening to the UHF radio and heard a few cars coming towards us, with one of them remarking “Look they’ve got a

Old Wilpena Homestead

forest on their roof!”. We laughed and told them it was a magic forest…..they went very quiet and we just laughed again.  We stopped for lunch at a park in Hawker which is a lovely, old town.  The weather is still threatening to rain so we pushed on to Wilpena Pound Resortwhere we found there were no powered sites left so unpowered we go. Just have to hope the new batteries will get enough charge from the occasional show by the sun as it’s a national park and no

Burnt out tree

Lookout in Pound

generators are allowed!  We found a great little spot on the edge of the campground and after setting up, the boys got to it using Joel’s new electric chainsaw and cut up all the wood for the fire.  While they were being industrious I headed back to the Visitors centre and tried to get some information about walks and drives in the area.  It is an accredited Visitors Information Centre but trying to get any information was akin to pulling teeth.  We found out more information of the surrounding area from

Hucks Lookout view

visiting Rawnsley Station and Willow Springs! It’s not that the staff weren’t helpful but there just wasn’t a lot of info on 4WD tracks or anything that wasn’t to do with Wilpena Pound.  While the fire was burning and the roast-a-cooking- we played another game of monopoly with the kids.  Before we knew it, it was time to eat and as it was getting quite cool, the hot, roast dinner was delicious and warming.

Next day we decided to do the walk to the actual Wilpena Pound as the sun is shining and it looks to be a beautiful day.  There are several other walks, more like mountainous hikes, that we may do later on.  For the most part, the walk is

Bronze cairn at Stokes Hill Lookout

Geological formations

along a gravel road/track so it’s pretty easy-going with some more challenging sections as you get closer to the old Homestead.  The walk takes you through some beautiful

Brachina Gorge

trees and a bit of a gorge as well. There are a few story boards along the way with information about flora and fauna and some general information about the area too.  The walk is about 8.6km return so we took some lunch with us which was yummy roast beef wraps and some snacks too.  We decided to walk up to the lookouts first and then come back down to the homestead to eat lunch on the verandah.  We climbed to the first lookout and got a good idea of the size of the pound but the next lookout was higher and gave us a magnificent panoramic view of the pound and surrounding

Aroona Valley

Spot the wallaby

ranges too.  It was just gorgeous and the weather was still nice and sunny, so managed to get some really good photos.  We headed back down to the homestead for lunch and ran into the couple we had met earlier from the Cape York trip, who are staying at Wilpena Pound as well, so they lunched with us on the verandah.  We headed back to camp for a rest then decided to go for a drive and have a look around.  We stopped at Huck’s Lookout and then Stokes Hill Lookout for some brilliant views of the Pound and

Yellow footed rock wallaby so cute

surrounding ranges.  At Stokes Hill Lookout there is a bronzed, 3-D cairn of Wilpena Pound which sits on a rock table and has directions and distances of significant ranges, peaks and towns.  We continued on to the Brachina Gorge track and turned onto the gravel just as the rain was starting to fall.  You can follow a geological trail through Brachina Gorge which is like a ‘corridor through time’ as the rocks exposed along

Dad and chick emus on road

Brachina Gorge 2

the gorge are between 500 and 650 million years old. There are about 12 different rock formations or rock units and there are signs and boards of information at the boundary of each one.  The scenery is just amazing and very beautiful, if you like hills and rocks:).  We continued along the bed of the Brachina Gorge marvelling at the sheer beauty and ruggedness of where we were.  It was getting on to late afternoon and the clouds were still rolling in when we spotted a most unusual-looking kangaroo/wallaby.  It turned out to be a very rare yellow-footed rock wallabywhich has yellow paws, feet and a yellow and grey/black striped tail on a grey body.  They also have a distinctive white stripe on their face and are much smaller than a kangaroo. They were so cute and as it was so late in the afternoon we saw heaps of

Brachina Lookout

Amazing rock formations

Bunyeroo Gorge Rd

them as they came down to drink from the creek bed in the gorge as we drove along.  They were so beautiful!  We also saw heaps of emus and several emu families; that is dads and chicks as mum lays the eggs, then dad stays to sit on the eggs and then rears the chicks while mum goes off to find another bloke and start all over again. We also saw heaps red and grey kangaroos and some of the reds were pretty big too. We drove up to Brachina Lookout and stopped to soak up the scenery, grab some snacks and drinks out and continue driving through Bunyeroo Gorge.  It’s still very overcast but we get glimpses of sunshine every now and even thunder

Track through Bunyeroo Gorge

Where we've been

Sun after the rain

and lightning at one of the lookouts, which cracked pretty loudly and close to where we were.  The scenery was still stunning and on a clear, sunny day I imagine it would be magnificent.  The trees and landscape changes from eucalypts to pine trees and more sparse shrubs then closer to the end of the track it changes back to eucalypts.  Sunsets would be amazing on this track but alas we are not going to see any. Maybe better luck tomorrow.  We rocked back late to camp and had leftovers for tea.  Luckily the van isn’t under any trees so the solar panels must have got enough sun from this morning to give us power! The Wilpena Pound

Start of the Arkapena Track

Elder Range in Background

Crazies at the wheel

Resort campground has lovely amenities and the showers are very nice and warm at the end of the day.

Next day we headed down the road about 40km to Rawnsley Park Station to get a permit for the Arkapena Track, which is a self-guided track and costs $40 to do both the AWD and the 4WD sections.  We ummed and ahhed about whether to stay at Wilpena Pound or Rawnsley Station and we basically decided on WP because of the pound and they had Next G service but next time through we would definitely stay here at Rawnsley Park Station.  They have heaps of information about a lot of the 4WD tracks around here, not just their

Views on Arkapena Track

Chace Range

Wilpena Pound view

Dry but beautiful

own! We paid a $10 key deposit and headed off to find the start of the track.  You also get a small booklet which describes the track and various places/things along it in numerical order.  The kids were entrusted to find the numbers and read out the relevant information as we drove along; sort of like a treasure hunt.  It managed to keep them amused ad engaged for a while. The track takes you along the Chace range which is very beautiful.  The rocks are predominantly red-brown Bonney sandstone and orange-red Rawnsley Quartzite.  The different coloured layers are due to the sedimentary layers that were deposited 550-850 million years ago when this area was covered by a shallow ocean.  The first part of the track is AWD and not too bad so we let the kids have a go at driving.  Wade went first, with me in the car with him and Joel out front on video. OMG! There was a steep decent and at an angle which he wasn’t quite able to see over the dash so after a near heart attack by me, he made it safely down the other side.  Then it was Daniel’s turn.  He has been practising every opportunity he gets and actually did a really

Still happy vegemites

Rest time

Prelinna Ascent

Arkapena Track

good job.  Trouble is they just want to do it all day and it would take us forever to finish this track.  Joel stayed on the video and camera and I took the driver’s seat for a while and managed to get in some good 4WDriving myself. We found a tree with some good shade along a creek bed on the side of the track and stopped for lunch. After some more very picturesque and steep 4WDriving we stopped at the Prelinna Lookout which has the most magnificent, panoramic views of many of the ranges in the Central Flinders Ranges.  We signed the visitor’s book that is kept in a road-side mail box, took heaps of photos then swapped back for Joel to drive the rest of the 4WD track so I could take more pictures.  The landscape changes from scrub to eucalypts to native pines.

Prelinna Descent

Awesome place

The remainder of the 4WD section was mostly through native pines and the views just spectacular as the day was lovely and sunny. We stopped at Pugilist Hill Lookout on our way out for some spekky views of both the Chace and Elder Ranges and the Wilpena Pound. The e clouds are rolling in so we headed back to drop off the key at Rawnsley Station then back to camp.  Pugilist Hill would be a fantastic spot for sunset photos but with the amount of cloud rolling in there just wouldn’t be any sky to colour!  Back at camp the kids went for an explore around the huge park on their bikes, Joel went for a run and I went for a walk.

Pugilist Hill panorama

We woke to rain so decided not to stay here for another day but to head over to Willow Springs Stationfor a few nights as there is another 4WD track there to do.  We filled our water tanks at Wilpena while we dodged the rain then drove a whole 15kms to Willow Springs Station. At the entrance to the property there is a huge wing made of steel and what looks like the blades from an old windmill.  It is quite striking and beautiful in a rustic sort of way. We were lucky and managed to snag a great caravan site near the toilet block and the nicest camp kitchen I have ever seen!  It even has a stove so I might even get to cook a cake

Willow Springs Station Entrance

Camp at Willow Springs

Very cool eagle sculpture

this afternoon. There are a number of other metal sculptures around the station which are very tasteful and interesting.  There are no powered sites but we are allowed to use the generator, which is good as there is so much cloud cover and rain that the solar panels won’t be giving us much in the way of power tonight.  We decided to go for a drive out to Blinman and we stopped at the General Store for some yummy home-made beef pies and I tried a warm quandong pie.  They were absolutely delicious! The quandong is often called a wild or native peach but cooks up like rhubarb and is often used in pies and jams.  Yummo!!  It’s still quite cool and

Blinman-Glass gorge track

Parachilna Gorge

Flat, flat, flat to Parachilna

FMG - feral mixed grill at pub

raining but we decided to continue on to Parachilna via Glass Gorge.  The track was a clay sludge but then the rain stopped and the clouds cleared a bit so we could see some of the beautiful scenery and

Prairie Hotel at Parachilna

See almost no cloud

Start of Morelana Drive with clouds

gorgeous views.  We drove out through Parachilna Gorge, passing some campers camped in the creek bed which looked like a nice spot. As we drove out of the ranges the change in countryside was amazing; just flat, flat and more flat!  We passed a sign for the Prairie Hotelat Parachilna that serves the famous FMG = feral mixed grill, which is a  mixed grill of kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon and camel sausage served on a bed of mash.  We

were keen but once we got to the pub and saw the serving size, we opted for smaller burgers instead as we were still full from the pies.  Across the road from the pub is the railway

There's a mountain in there somewhere

rain, rain and mud

Great mud puddles

line with a few history story boards of the line which were quite interesting.  It was as sunny as with little-to-no-clouds in the sky when we left the Prairie Hotel but by the time we had driven 45kms to the Morelana Dr turnoff the clouds had returned.  We set off along this gravel dirt road which passes between the southern side of Wilpena Pound on the left and the Elder Range on the right-hand-side.  It is absolutely gorgeous country here but as we kept driving we noticed it getting very dark.  We stopped at Black Gap to get some shots of the Elder Range but the clouds had come in so fast and low that it started to rain and boy did it rain.  We drove

Skytrek gorge start

5 mins later-sunshine

Stokes hill lookout

Water ripple rock

nice and slow for a while as it was raining cats-and-dogs and the road was getting very wet and boggy.  Another 10 mins and 10km later and the sun was back out shinning and the rain gone.  The weather is having a lot of trouble making up its mind today!!!  Back to camp and after a chicken fettuccini dinner we showered in the semi-outdoors showers which have an amazing view of the night sky.  The next day we had planned to do Skytrek but with low cloud and rain we decided to wait another day and see if the weather improves as it’s cold and crappy today.  The boys made us pancakes for brekky and we spent most of the day watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I made a white chocolate cake mix that had been in the camp box since the cape trip and cooked it in the oven in the camp kitchen. It was very yummy too! We drove up to Stokes Hill Lookout as it is the only place with phone reception so I could ring my twin niece and nephew, Abby and Harry, for their birthday and the sun was out for a visit. Everyday we drive around we have seen heaps of emus and wallabies – it is truly a nature-lovers paradise.

Old shearers' hut

Carpets of yellow wildflowers

Kids take on a Toyota ad

They blend well

The sun came out nice and bright for us in morning so we jumped up early to get started on Skytrek as it will take about 8 hours to complete it.  It costs $75 to do the trek and we’d already paid and got the

Rocky landscape

Some good 4WDriving

lunch break on Skytrek

Ascent to Mt Caernarvon

key for the gates so off we went.  There were a few other cars doing it today as well whom we met at a few of the stops along the way.  The Reynolds family owns the Station and run the Skytrek as well which runs mostly on their property but some of it runs across a privately owned section as well.  You get a great

Cairn at Mt Caernarvon

Down we go

Fantastic views on way down

folder about the trek which has points of interest and lots of information about the drive, landscape, local flora and fauna and history too.  The kids were ‘tour-guides, following the travel guide and reading out the information on each of the points of interest and view stops until we stopped for lunch.  They lost a bit of interest after that and we didn’t push it as we had left at 8:45am and returned at 5pm so it was a long day!  We stopped for lunch at the recommended place, cooked sausages in bread and soaked up the ambience of the

Yukkas - grass trees

Another view of Wilpena Pound

Adding our rocks to the pile

place.  It was an incredible drive with a lot of it not accessible unless you have a low range and high clearance 4WD. The track is one-way which is a good thing as some of the ascents and descents don’t really allow much room for one vehicle let-alone two! We stopped at the top of Mount Caernarvon where we met up with our fellow travellers again.  The views were breathtaking and the weather just perfect.  Daniel was happy as we had Next G service so he could post on Facebook! The track tends to run along the top edge of the ranges with magnificent views then the last of it coming back down.  We decided to take the short detour drive and walk

Skull rock

Camp kitchen at Willow Springs

Rawnsley Bluff panorama

out to skull rock, of which the mud-map is included on the rear of the Skytrek notes. For all the phantom fans out there is a

Mt Caernarvon panorama

place called skull rock, which is a calcium build up between two rocks that resembles “skull rock’, home of the phantom.  Back on the track and headed back to camp. We checked out the van, pumped up the tyres on the car and got ready for heading out tomorrow.  The kids are off playing snipers and army games with their nerf guns while Joel and I work on planning the next part of the trip.

We packed up and headed back to Port Augusta.  We stopped at the Rawnsley Lookout and managed to snap some lovely shots of Rawnsley Bluff and the front side of Wilpena Pound. We got to Port Augusta just on lunchtime, booked in, put on some washing, left the kids to do some schoolwork while Joel and I arranged our trip to Kangaroo Island.

Till Next Time

Ciao`.

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