Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tunarama – Port Lincoln

We arrived in Port Lincoln, deliberately timing it for the annual Tunarama festival. Port Lincoln is the home of Australian Tuna fishing and the launching point for Great White Shark fishing trips.


We arrived on the Sunday, dropped the camper trailer at a park and dashed back into town to witness the tuna tossing grand final. Andrew Ettinghausen, ex-Sharks NRL player was there with his film crew and he decided to give it a go. He showed that chucking a 9kg tuna is not as easy as it might seem. The winner already had 3 titles under his belt and he unleashed a 24m throw, almost twice as far as his nearest rival!

Prawn peeling came next and Amanda had registered early to make sure she was in it. The competition was to peel two prawns, dress with lettuce and salad and then eat it as fast as you could. Unfortunately Amanda picked the windy end of the table for her heat and lost her plate and prawn to the ground a couple of times before trying to eat hers with half the shell on to catch up! Good attempt though and we decided to call it a day. We checked out the sandcastles competition as we walked home.

Next morning saw us up early for Australia Day breakfast and for a gold coin donation we had an absolute feast, with fruit, cereal, and full cooked breakfast. The kids went back or seconds too so we were more than willing to throw in some more gold coins. Next to the breakfast tent we watched the Bunnings boat race competition start. Given two pieces of marine ply, some 4 by 2 lengths, 20 nails, wire and lots of tubes of silicon, glue and paint each team had two hours to build a boat that they were to race in the afternoon around a course. Some interesting designs emerged and people started choosing the winners before the boats had even got in the water.

The Greasy Pole competition was our next spectacle. Out on the jetty a pole was greased up ready to go. With age restrictions applying the kids were gutted they couldn’t try. Despite all manner of tactics a young girls “frog” approach paid off being the only one to make it to the end of the pole without slipping off. This was very popular and hilarious to watch.

The afternoon boat race was similar too, rapidly degenerating into a wreckage site as most teams swam with the remnants of their boats around the buoy and back home. Only one boat didn’t sink with both of the team paddling to glory in their boat the SS Sink. The rescue boats circled ….. just in case, but everyone was laughing and no-one gave up or needed assistance.

The kids all entered the Watermelon eating contest and with both Xavier and Hannah qualifying for the finals the scene was set. Hannah had the tactics set and quickly grabbed a spot with a slightly smaller piece of watermelon but she left the field behind chomping her way to victory, almost finishing her quarter melon in the one minute. She is now the Port Lincoln reigning champion watermelon eater for 2015. She won 25 dollars for her troubles and may have to return to defend her title next year.

Xavier came so close to a podium position too, but had been given a bigger chunk of melon to start with, and just finished out of the prize money. He did get the rest of his melon as a consolation prize.

Fifty Toes gives Port Lincoln a massive thumbs up for the entertainment of Tunarama – highly recommended for all.

To top it off we even got leafy seadragon and great white shark tattoos in one of the stalls.

If that wasn’t enough Xavier then found a fossilised sharks tooth back at the campground near the beach. An action packed couple of days in Port Lincoln that will be remembered for a while.

Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Tumby Bay – fishing extravaganza

We stopped for a couple of days on the way down the Eyre Peninsula at a quiet town called Tumby Bay. The big jetty and favourable weather conditions found us spending quite a bit of time fishing.

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Oscar started getting excited when he saw me catch a squid, but when he stepped up the next day he couldn’t stop catching mackerel, one after another. So many in fact I was having trouble getting a line in. At the end of two days we had caught mackerel, tommy ruff, trevally, snook, garfish and had a bag full of bait for future expeditions squirrelled in the bottom of the freezer.

Categories: Beach, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Port Augusta and car conundrums

Ever since our car was serviced at Portside Mitsubishi the fuel consumption has gone from 15l / 100km to 17-20l / 100km.

We stopped at Port Augusta for a check up. The pre-filter had worked a treat and air filter was as good as new, so I had the fuel filter checked. Port Augusta Mitsubishi were excellent, provided us a loan car to visit Wadlata cultural centre while they had a look. The told us that the software had been upgraded (thanks Portside Mitsubishi for warning us) that results in degradation in fuel consumption. It wasn’t good to hear that it was not reversible either. I’m sure they could change a chip somewhere! Despite cleaning the oil filter fuel consumption still remains much poorer than previously. Anyone got any thoughts on this.

Nevertheless the Wadlata centre was very interesting covering aboriginal heritage and dreamtime stories in South Australia, through to the early explorers, Sturt, Eyre, and co, then on to more modern developments such as the European pioneer farmers, pushing the overland telegraph line and rail development, even through to modern mining. We spent several hours digesting it all and it was very hands on for the kids.

Categories: australia, Car, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, South Australia | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Heading South again, Coober Pedy and Woomera

Next stop was Coober Pedy, and nice to be back driving on bitumen again for a while. Coober Pedy is famous for its opal mining. Opals can only be found in Coober Pedy in SA, Lightning Ridge in NSW or Boulder in QLD and people come from everywhere to see the unique town where many habitations are underground to escape the heat at the surface.

As you approach the town huge piles of mining rubble shape the landscape in different sized conical mounds. Pits can be excavated up to 30m deep. We found somewhere to stay, visited the big winch, and underground church of St. Peter and Paul on the high street. This church was built in the 1970’s and worth a visit.

On the opposite side of the road a film prop, looking like a derelict spacecraft, sits in a car park. Who can name which movie it comes from?

We tried the public opal noodling site and found only some fragments, but back at the caravan park the manager showed the kids to a bucket of stones to “noodle” in. They found better specimens in there, Oscar even found an opalised fossil shell that was quite impressive until he broke it. There was plenty more to see but it was still too hot and we retired to the pool. To do the town justice we need to return and spend a bit more time, visit one of the mines and come at a cooler time of the year.

Next day we hit the road again with Woomera in our sights. We loved the road sign at Glendambo (see picture above) en route, then marvelled at the snow-like appearance of the Lake Hart salt lake. A massive outback train hauling coal to Port Augusta, with over 60 carriages passed in front of the lake just as we arrived.

When we got to Woomera we were looking forward to seeing the museum and watching the night sky from the observatory, but the whole town appears to close in Summer. The museum was closed but luckily there is a lot of the missile and satellite paraphernalia outside that can be seen, including Blue Streak, the first Australian (third nation) satellite in space. It took some 30 years to find and retrieve the components on display from the Simpson desert. The observatory told us they only opened on Fridays, not the widely advertised Tues/Thu so when Woomera had nothing else to offer (even the Visitor Info was closed) we pressed on to Port Augusta.

Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Oodnadatta Track – part 3

Past more ruins of the Ghan railway’s former glory and then we arrived at Algebuckina Bridge.


After a quick look at the bridge, because it was 42 degrees again and late in the day, we headed for the waterhole, less than a kilometre away on the other side of the road. This campsite got the big thumbs up from 80% of Fifty Toes due to the fact no-one else was there, we were right next to the waterhole, gorgeously deep warm water, fishing, and yabbying. Ok, admittedly there were a lot of pestering blowflies, but there were heaps of fish, even pelicans circling above. This was an oasis in an extremely arid place. Little prawns nibbled our skin as we lay in our inner tubes in the middle of the waterhole. Even as we left the waterhole only a few mosquitos were present.

Overnight a refreshing strong wind blew most of the night providing some relief from the heat, but as I emerged from the canvas in the morning the largest, most vicious cloud of mosquitos lifted from the outside of the canvas and within seconds threatened to engulf me. What followed was a record time decamp with everyone dressed in full length clothing. I missed the photo of Amanda in waterproof jacket, long pants in 33 degrees. No breakfast until we stopped at Dutton Ruins further up the road.

Our stop at Oodnadatta itself was brief. The sign says Australia’s hottest driest town and with 40 degree heat we were not about to dispute the fact. The Pink Roadhouse is the iconic establishment in a rather run down town. Back into the bush we encountered road hazards, flagged to warn oncoming dangers, then the Angle Pole. The bent pole, a few kilometres out of Oodnadatta, indicates the point where the Overland Telegraph Line and the Ghan both changed direction turning north.

From here we pressed on to Marla and witnessed a beautiful sunset and jumped in a pool to cool off. A bit rushed but a first glimpse at the Oodnadatta was fun and gave us a true insight to the hardships endured by early settlers and pioneers and the people who established both the Overland Telegraph Line and the Ghan railway.


Categories: Adventure, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Offroad, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Oodnadatta Track – part 2

The next major milestone before William Creek was the Overland Telegraph Line, a milestone for communication with the rest of the world and particularly London. Completed in 1872 it headed north to Darwin then ultimately to London. Whilst very little of the original telegraph line exists, there are a couple of the original cypress pine poles by the side of the road. It was aligned with the new Ghan railway in 1891 but remained the main telecommunication link with the outside world for some time.

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William Creek is a small town with a population of approximately 20 people and owned by Trevor Wright who introduced himself as diesel mechanic, pilot, waiter and other stuff. His days are busy keeping the place going, flying tourists and journalists over Lake Eyre (due to the recent flooding) and the second day we were there he was interviewing with ABC News about installing Optus Micro Cell telephone technology. He claimed that shortly after he arrived 25 years ago, on a brief flying post, everyone left and sold it to him.

A macabre tree “Pussy Willow” stands at the entrance to the campground, with a dozen carcasses of feral cats, the ones who didn’t make it!

The hotel originates from 1887 and is adorned with plenty of interesting paraphernalia and graffiti contributed by visitors for a donation to the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Look out for our contribution and send us a photo – we forgot!

Just over the road lie some historical artefacts, including some rockets from nearby Woomera, worthy of a browse.

The next day Xavier and I took to the air with Trevor, flying over Lake Eyre and getting a good view of the water entering in brown plumes from Warburton river system to the north. Unfortunately for Xavier air sickness got the better of him and he fell asleep missing the magical calmness of the lake mirroring cloud reflections below us.

Mid afternoon saw us back on the ground and left William Creek behind and hit the dirt again.



Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Mitsubishi, Offroad, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Oodnadatta Track – part 1

The road from Marree to William Creek had now opened for the first leg of the Oodnadatta Track so we continued north. Amanda’s trepidation was clearly visible.

The first stop was Parachilna, home of the feral food or “Roadkill Café” at the Prairie Hotel, but it was closed for summer! Next stop the aboriginal ochre pits where the rock for painting is taken. Quite a few colourations were visible from white through to red and orange.

Farina ruins lies just north of Lyndhurst and is the ghost town of what once was a flourishing township of 600 people, with two hotels, stores, an underground bakery (restored and used once a month these days), church, stores and much more. Covering quite a wide area it is worth spending some time exploring. The campsite was uncharacteristically green and luxuriant for the area and had we not been on a mission we would have stayed there. Onwards to Marree, the start of the Oodnadatta Track.

With the temperature approaching 40 degrees we pressed on to the Marree Hotel, where we met locals from Roxby Downs, Tim, Tony, Rachel and Sandra with whom we shared a few too many drinks and got some great local knowledge regarding swimming holes along our route. The Marree Hotel was great – we even had dinner there but soon enough dawn arrived and we had to leave.

The Oodnadatta Track is 600km of unsealed road from Marree, via William Creek, Oodnadatta to Marla best suited to 4WD vehicles that follows the course of aboriginal trading routes and the old Ghan railway. The track passes many remnants of the railways former glory days and the springs that made the route passable on foot for aboriginal traders.

Shortly after we started the track we witnessed brolga cranes, then some fantastic metal sculptures strewn across an artists property (in the middle of nowhere), then our first proper stop was to view Lake Eyre South and we could clearly see water fairly close to shore – it was starting to arrive again after local rains and storms in Queensland which feed the lake from the north.

Next stop was the waterhole at Margaret Creek, flowing quite quickly towards Lake Eyre South. The fun here ceased pretty quickly when the kids went under the road, on inner tubes donated by Tony and Sandra, and flushed out a swarm of mosquitos that appeared to have been fasting and awaiting our arrival. If that wasn’t bad enough Oscar dived in hit a rock and gave himself a massive “egg” on his forehead that made him look like Cyclops. Before we left though we had time to witness the hordes of fish and prawns relishing the renewed water flow. The kids were picking them up in handfuls. We left with mozzies in hot pursuit.

Mound Springs were set in an unusual, almost lunar looking , white landscape devoid of plants. The springs emerge from mounds that sit in this landscape that present little oases amongst what appears to be barren surroundings. Desert gobies dart for cover amongst vegetation in the rivulets that emerge from the springs. The Big Bubbler belches up mud rings from its centre and water cascades down it’s rocky sides, whilst nearby the Blanche Cap seeps quietly through the sides of the mound. It was getting hotter by the minute so we drove on to Coward Springs. This turned out to be one of our favourites. A little walk through the bush, squeeze through a hole in the bushes and you arrive at a 2m square spa backing on to wetlands. In the close 40 degree heat this was a lifesaver, but I’m not sure how it would cope with a full campsite trying to access. No mozzies there. Onwards to William Creek.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Offroad, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brachina Gorge, Flinders Ranges

We took the dirt road through Bunyeroo Gorge to the middle of Brachina Gorge, stopped at a couple of the lookouts then entered Brachina Gorge. The gorge is a geological showcase for many rock formations/types over 130 million years from 620+million years to 500 millions ago over a 20km drive. In 2004 a new geological period, the Edicarian, was determined based on fossil beds found in the gorge, that documented many primitive life forms not previously documented (we’d seen these in the museum in Adelaide). We camped nearby at the Trezona campground by the river. Once unhitched from the trailer we explored the gorge and found the recent rains had washed away sections of road, nothing the Pajero couldn’t handle fortunately. The highlight for the kids was Youngoona waterhole where they found enough water to submerse themselves and cool off, catch the enormous tadpoles and watch the birdlife that congregates around the river. My favourite was the rainbow bee-eater, but there were also kingfishers and nests in the cliff that looked like swifts or swallows – anyone who can identify please let us know. Wedgetail eagles frequent the gorges in abundance too.

The morning brought Xavier scampering up from the riverbed with a bat roosting in a curled piece of tree bark.

As we drove out of the gorge we found a mob of yellow footed rock wallabies, the cutest we have seen yet with their hooped tails.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Offroad, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure, Walks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

Following serious rainfall many travellers had abandoned the Flinders so there were not many people around the campsite.

We climbed the hill behind the campsite to watch the sun set over Wilpena Pound then early to bed in preparation for a walk the next day. We chose the Mount Ohlssen Bagge walk so everyone could make it (Mary’s Peak walk had only re-opened that morning) but also it is renowned for all the reptiles that can be found along the walk – a big drawcard for the kids. A reasonably challenging walk for the kids was rewarded at the peak with outstanding views across Wilpena Pound, views all around and as promised many different lizards, dragons, skinks and goannas. It was also fairly surprising to see feral goats running along a ridge just below us, bleating cautiously as they edged along the cliff edge. Even here there was still ample evidence of the rain, with a significant water course flowing past the campsite.

The hot afternoon saw weary feet being soaked in the swimming pool. Checking in at the Information Centre the roads further north were starting to open up again, and the one I was immediately interested in was the road to Brachina Gorge. Time to edge further north. The Oodnadatta Track was still closed though.



Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Camper Trailer, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Great Ocean Road, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure, Walks | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Port Hughes & Magnetic Hill

Due to the rain up north and cooler weather there appeared to be a window of opportunity to head further north than originally planned at this time of year so we headed north with the Flinders in our sights.

First stop Port Hughes, as the kids said they were keen to see the blue swimmer crabs that they had been told about. With raging winds keeping everyone away from the jetty, Xavier, Oscar and I braved the elements, armed with crab nets and carp for bait. Soon enough we had enough blue swimmer crabs for dinner and one bonus catch was a Port Jackson shark that came up with Oscar’s net.

Blue Swimmer Dinner

Blue Swimmer Dinner

Next day saw us heading north for Wilpena Pound. Further north had just experienced 3 years worth of rain in 3 days so Amanda was stressing about going up there – I had started talking about doing the Oodnadatta Track by now as the outback with rain is spectacular as it initiates a new boom-bust cycle of life.

Magnetic Hill was a necessary diversion on the way, according to many write-ups and first hand recommendations was a must see. Fifty Toes felt strangely drawn to Magnetic Hill but ended up a feeling a little let down. The optical illusion appears like the car should roll forwards, when in fact the hill takes you backwards. Thumbs down from us. Onwards to Wilpena Pound.

Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photography, South Australia, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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