Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Post Flood

Well, we are nearly back to normal, although there are still plenty of finishing up things to be done and the list of minor improvements to the van is slowly being attended to.

The water is nearly all gone and we appear to have lost most of our lake frontage but with the receding waters we are able to appreciate how lush and green all the parks and gardens are. We have just managed today to mow the back lawqn which is still quite waterlogged.

So here are the photos as promised of the afters. The fence shows how high the water came and the debris which became improsoned upon it. The council workers were just removing it today so I quickly took a photo to remember how high it had been.

Now its only one month until Kate and Warwick have their baby so I my just sneak a photo or two up when that happens!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Home Sweet Home!

After our last blog we travelled onto Hahndorf and experienced another day of rain after which we decided there was no future in hanging around waiting for better weather and besides which the news from home was getting soggier by the minute.
So off we went and stopped the night just out of Mildura from where we travelled home not really sure if we could get the van in. Thanks to our trusty CFA friend Ray we were able to get in only to find that the road was closing shortly thereafter and that we would have to stay put for a while. Not a problem as we had plenty to do and plenty of action out the front as we have now acquired a lake frontage which would be an excellent selling point if we could only have open days where people could actually get in!
The water rose overnight but has now begun to subside and the TV crews have gone on to look for something more exciting to cover. Our caravan sits proudly on the nature strip and has featured in a number of broadcasts so we have had our moment of fame. It was not exactly how we wanted to finish our holiday but we were spoilt over the last four months and have nothing to complain about.
Just a few pics of our house taken yesterday and this morning. We’ll post again when the water subsides so you can see how we look after.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Shelter from the Storm

Boy oh boy what a day! We set out from Peterborough after a really wild night of wind and rain hoping for some improvement as we travelled on to Burra which looked lovely on the internet and somewhere we would like to spend some time.
Yes, well we would have had we came on a reasonable day when we could see where we were going. The drive was at the upper limit of driving as the van was being buffeted by the wind and the rain was getting heavier as we drove on. When we reached Burra we decided enough was enough as even Ian was feeling less than comfortable. We stopped in the caravan park for a very reasonable tariff of $20.00, actually they could have charged twice that much and we would have still stayed.
We quickly pulled in without unhitching the van, put out the electric cable and connected the water hose and retreated into the van with the heater turned on. The wind is still buffeting the van but at least we’re not on the road for now. We think we’ll stay put for at least a day and see what the morning brings. As we sit in the van we watch more vans pulling in obviously with the same thoughts.
We’ve checked the Roads guide on the internet and from the news today we can see that all the roads we used are closed behind us and are very grateful that we can go home via bitumen roads.
Our photos are a convoy of old army jeeps which pulled into our camp at Copley and set up just in front of us and looked quite unique in comparison to all the rest of the caravans and campers and also a photo of our wet and bedraggled camp at Burra.
PS. After I wrote the initial blog today we lost the heating and the television as South Australia is losing the battle to keep the electricity running in the severe storms we are experiencing. At least ten vans have been turned away during the afternoon and a large tree branch has fallen on a van site, luckily no-one was injured but it did turn our thoughts back to another windy holiday we had and Ian did request a site without a tree this time!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Leaving for Home?

After our fantastic day including our helicopter flight we faced a dilemma. We still have time before our anticipated arrival home sometime in the next two weeks or so but where to go? We have been watching the weather really carefully over the past few days because we knew there was a small window of opportunity to ensure we were able to get to Marree for our flight and probably more importantly get back as we knew the gravel roads would close if the rain came as forecast.
How lucky were we! We had tossed up returning to Grass Wren at Willow Springs in the Flinders but after a night with ferocious wind and waking to see that the van, despite having the wheels chocked had managed to move slightly and the sky looking just OK we decided to make our way to Hawker and then have a think about where to go from there as the track in to Grass Wren would not be possible with the van if there was rain as the van is not 4 wheel drive equipped, though now I’m up for a lot more challenges, just not the impossible!
When we left our camp at Copley it was 28 degrees and we were in shorts and t-shirts, yes we know you’re all freezing, well so are we as we watched the temperature drop down to about 10 degrees and back to tracksuits and long sleeves.
The bitumen road from Leigh Creek to Hawker which we came down on this morning is now closed as is the gravel road we travelled on from Copley to Marree. We certainly picked the best day and Ian says it was all just chance that we went yesterday. I think we must have been meant to go and I know how disappointed we would have been if we had missed out. All the people who travelled the Birdsville Track for the Birdsville Races this weekend will have a longer weekend than they planned, as the Birdsville Track is now closed.
All of this led us to stopping in Peterborough in a caravan park as it is cold and very wet and there is only one free camp nearby which we are not familiar with so better safe than sorry for which we are pleased as the park is nearly full.
So now after considering the Bureau of Meteorology web site and seeing the state of the incoming weather we think we will probably be taking a fairly conventional route home, but not yet decided ….. of course!!!
Our photos today are of the old Farina Homestead, one of many building like this which we have seen on the road to Marree and also these beautiful desert flowers.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Lake Eyre

Today we went on our much anticipated, and once in a lifetime, flight over Lake Eyre with water in it – and it didn’t disappoint at all. At great expense to the management we took a 2 hour flight with Phillip Island Helicopters, but caught the chopper from Marree which is at the south end of the Birdsville and Innamincka Tracks.
Marree is a small town which was for some time the head of the Ghan railway line from Adelaide before it went all the way to Alice Springs, and ultimately Darwin. When the standard gauge railway was built, it went by a different route which did not include Marree or many other small towns on the original route and they subsequently declined considerably. It was also the home base of Tom Kruse who was the renowned Birdsville mailman for so many years, including a few in this truck before there was even a semi serious road.
We headed off from Marree in a generally north westerly direction past Lake Eyre South, which is not generally filled from the north but from other rivers generally coming from the south, although when Lake Eyre North gets very full some water does flow into the other lake. The lakes are about 15 m below sea level, and are about 9 times more salty than sea water and often have a pink tone due to the presence of an algae. After checking out Madigan Gulf, the site of Donald Campbell’s world record land speed record, we headed off towards where the Cooper Creek enters the lake, and followed it back to where the Birdsville Track crosses the Cooper Creek via a punt. It has been a particularly busy few days for the ferry operator as the Birdsville Races are on this weekend, and there have only been a very few years when flooding in the creek has coincided with the races. The real challenge may come after the races as there is considerable rain forecast for the next few days, and how some people are going to get home after a longer than anticipated stay in Birdsville will be interesting.
Whilst the birdlife in the Cooper Creek was not as obvious as we had anticipated, it was a very impressive site and well worth the trip. An item off our Bucket List and a great day all around.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Walking in the Flinders

Part V
After our huge gastronomic experience we decided that a walk was in order for our last day and set off to walk around within Wilpena Pound itself. We settled on the walk to Hills Homestead which is just over 3kms from the Tourist office. The homestead was settled in the 1800’s and was run by five of the Hills children whilst their father and mother ran another homestead some distance (about 100 km’s) away. The boys were looked after by their 12 year old sister Jessie who was sent by her parents to care for them. What an experience it must have been for the poor girl. At the restored homestead there are details of how she and her brothers tried to make a profitable living on the holding through flood and drought, trying grazing and then cropping. There are details of the children joining the rest of the family at their parents’ property for Christmas during a drought and praying for rain. Rain they did get, but there was so much rain that when Jessie and the boys returned to the farm all the roads they had worked so hard to put in place to facilitate taking their grain crop to market were washed away. So no more cropping was to be attempted.
Finally after her father died all but one of the boys left the property and Jessie went to live with one of her sisters where I hope she had a better life than she would have endured on the station. There was also a magnificent carving of Indigenous men and that is the photo.
Our next stop will be back down to Hawker and then up to Lyndhurst ready for our exciting flight in a helicopter over Lake Eyre.

Feral Food in the Flinders

Part IV
We went for another drive, this time not quite as challenging as the Skytrek but nonetheless exciting. This time we drove from Wilpena to Bunyeroo Gorge, Brachina Gorge and up to Parachilna. The scenery through the Gorges was magnificent and we noticed the changes in the rock formations as we passed through them.
The drive up to Parachilna took us until lunchtime having started our journey at 8.30am. We had been told that the pub at Parachilna served Feral Food if we were interested and as we enjoy a culinary challenge we decided to have a try. The Prairie Pub is amazing, being the only building in Parachilna and has accommodation within the hotel and also some ‘overflow’ in ex railway relocatable huts. Within the hotel itself is an amazing gallery of Indigenous artwork which is always stunning and changes depending on which area you are in. If only we had a bigger house with huge established ceilings it would be really tempting. The Hotel has also been rated amongst the top 100 eateries by Gourmet Traveller. From the extensive feral menu ranging from burgers of emu, roo, goat and camel to deserts from local fruits the decision making became all too hard and we decided on the “Feral Feast”. What a feast it was. We began with antipasto consisting of emu pate, goats cheese, kangaroo pastrami and salami, served with a delicious wild tomato pickle and damper. That was just the beginning. I think at that point we realised dinner was not going to be necessary as there was two more courses yet to come. Our main mean consisted of a large plate to share of kangaroo so tasty it just melted in the mouth, camel sausage and fillet mignon of emu served with mashed potato, roasted tomato and gravy. The dessert which we didn’t need but consumed, was a quondong pie accompanied by vanilla bean ice-cream, and (Ian’s favourite!) panna cotta with stewed nectarine with lemon myrtle and other flavours which were completely new to us but magnificent. The publican suggested we might like to take a room to recover but we soldiered on without having coffee - impossible to fit in. I would like to ask if a hotel in the middle of nowhere can serve such a meal …… what’s wrong with everyone else. There were thirty at least also enjoying lunch on a Monday so that’s pretty good for any pub I would think!
We journeyed back via Glass Gorge, Blinman, the Great Wall of China to home after another beautiful day with lovely though cool weather.