Sunday, 13 October 2013

Here we are at our first night's camp in South Australia at Agnes Creek enjoying a bottle of champagne Gwen received for her birthday.  Only problem was the flies were so thick we had to wear our fly nets or be driven insane and it was a little difficult to drink through the net.
The next morning we stopped at Marla which consists of not much besides the roadhouse which is a petrol station, convenience store, pub and caravan park all together.  Marla did have this lovely green park over the road from the roadhouse and the galahs were having so much fun in the sprinkler.  When the sprinkler hit them they would put their wings out and dance around, trying to stand on their heads and rolling all around the grass.

They were making real galahs of themselves but were so funny to watch.
It was then onto the moonscape of Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy was quite different to what I was expecting.  It seems the opal mining is much more commercialised here then in Lightning Ridge.  The mullock heaps were much larger and more of them (they stretched for miles in every direction) then I was expecting.
Over looking Cooby Pedy.
Another skyline scene.  Note the water tanks and TV aerials - they are on top of people's homes (dugouts).
Inside the catholic church which is underground. 
Most of the buildings are underground although they are different to what I was expecting an underground dwelling to be.  As they are built into the sides of hills and have air vents down to them to let in light and air it doesn't really seem like you are underground.
As with these types of mining towns, they have a quirky sense of humour.  This is the sign to their cemetery.  One of the graves had a beer keg as a head stone and instead of flowers had empty beer and wine bottles.

These contraptions are called 'blowers' and they are like giant vacuum cleaners.  They are used to suck all the rock and dirt up out of the mine shafts.  Every mine has one.
I wouldn't mind picking up one of these rocks!  I am not sure if you can read the sign.  It was found in 1983 and is called the 'Painted Lady'; weighs 80 to 100 kilos and is valued at $30,000.
This is on the way out to the Breakaways. 

The Dog Fence which stretches all the way to Qld. 

The Moon Plain - also on the way out to the Breakaways.
 I can understand why they chose to make Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome out here.  They have made quite a few movies in this area - Priscilla Queen of the Desert was another one made around here.
The Breakaways


We went out to watch the sunset from the Breakaways but it wasn't terribly good and the flies again nearly drove us mad.
Anyone for some salt?

Walking on Lake Hart - a salt lake .
Lake Hart

We saw some of the cars taking part in the Darwin to Adelaide Solar Power Challenge.  The day we left Cooby Pedy is was very hot (reached about 45 degrees) and gale force winds.  This little bloke was getting blown about quite a bit.

I am not sure I would like to be in one of these passing a road train.

Another salt lake - Lake Gardiner  - the third largest salt lake in SA, apparently.

We were staying at free camps between Cooby Pedy and Port Augusta and the one we had chosen for this night was a lookout.  As we had gale force winds blowing all day we thought we might go onto Pimba as the free camp there was at the Roadhouse and we thought it may offer some shelter from the wind.  As you can see we were sorely disappointed.
These photos don't really show it but the dust blowing was unbelievable.  It reminded me of those movies you see when everything is dry and dust blown and there is no civilisation in sight.
The morning we were leaving Pimba.
As Pimba was only 9 kilometres down the road from Woomera we decided to go into Woomera to have a look.

All these rockets and planes were on display in the town.
It was quite surreal driving around the town.  There are a number of houses, a lot of unit blocks (two storey), large school, swimming pools, parks and paths and appears that there are only one or two people living in each unit block and only a few of the houses had signs of occupancy.  Back in the 60's and 70's there were approximately 4,500 to 5,500 people living here and back then it was a 'closed' town i.e. only military personnel were allowed in.  Now it is open to the public and we were told only about 180 people live there.  It is still owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Australia and anyone living there must work there.

Another salt lake - Island Lagoon.  Apparently it was on the edge of this lake where they launched the rockets into space.  That area is still closed to the public.
The view from the front of the Caravan Park we are staying at in Port Augusta.  That is a train from across Spencer Gulf with the southern Flinders Ranges in the back ground. 
There is a large number of trains which go through Port Augusta.  All the trains coming down from the mines up north and all the trains going to and from Perth and Darwin all past through Port Augusta.
Another view from the front of the Caravan Park.  This is looking up towards the end of the Spencer Gulf.
Taken from the jetty looking south into Spencer Gulf.
'The Barge'

Looking across Spencer Gulf to the southern Flinders Ranges.  The mountains may look painted but this is a real photo.
There is a road going south of Port Augusta along the shoreline of Spencer Gulf called Shack Road.  Down this road there are what they call 'streets' running towards the water and along the water's edge are built what is called 'fisherman's shacks'.  I wouldn't mind owning one of these 'fisherman's shacks' but I don't think my budget would stretch that far unless I win one of the Lotto jackpots.
At the turn-off into the 'streets' going down to the 'fisherman's shacks' are these signs.  Apparently they have all named their 'shack'.  Some of them are very imaginative like 'Footrot Flats'; 'Chubby's Cubby' and others have very fancy signs.

As you can see in the background the 'streets' are only dirt tracks.  Quite an interesting little area.
The Port Augusta power station - apparently it provides 40% of SA's electricity.
Today we went down to Whyalla for the day.  This is the lighthouse at Point Lowly.
Again today it was very windy, and cold, and there were a lot of squally showers around.  Quite a change from last week.

The HMAS Whyalla - the first ship built by the Whyalla shipyards and was commissioned in 1942.  It was a mine sweeper in World War II.
The Mess where the sailors ate, slept and socialised.  It was built to house about 70 sailors but usually had over 100.  I think it would have been crowed with 30 or 40 people in it.

A view of Whyalla from Hummock Hill Lookout.
A monument to Matthew Flinders and Claude Freyicnet both of whom explored and named a lot of the area around Spencer Gulf. 
I did not realise Spencer Gulf was so large.  Whyalla is not even one third of the way down the gulf and you cannot see the other side.

We found this fellow outside a Vet Clinic. It is a monument to 'The Loaded Dog'.  Anyone who is familiar with Henry Lawson's work will know the story of the Loaded Dog.
Iron Knob - Iron ore mine.  The township looks very neglected and derelict so I am not sure how much mining is still happening out there. 

Another little local who was lucky to survive crossing the road.  It is a shingle back lizard.  There are quite a lot around here.
We will probably stay in Port Augusta until next Thursday.  We are going down to Port Pirie to have a look around the eastern side of the Spencer Gulf tomorrow.  We are having the car serviced on Tuesday - we have driven a lot of kilometres since leaving home.  I suppose then we will have to start heading back towards home.















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