Monday, July 29, 2019

Day 1 - Thu 15/8/2019

An uneventful three hour flight landed me in Adelaide on time at 8.30 am local.  Was an early start in Brisbane - up at 3.45 am, and my booked Uber arrived right on time.  Collected my rental from Avis and took a little time setting it up and getting familiar.  Drives beautifully despite its massive size.

Took nearly an hour to clear Adelaide suburbs.  Made good use of cruise control once on the highway, 110kph all the way to Port Pirie.  Rolling plains of pasture and crops, everything looking a lush green (even more so when seen through sunglasses!).  Driving north one has a row of low hills to the left, inland from Spencers Gulf.  Nearer to Port Pirie for several km these hills are home to many wind farms, their blades turning lazily as they catch the wind coming off the gulf.  South Australia prides itself in producing 100% of its electricity from renewables.

Still a small working port on Spencers Gulf, the town has retained many of the old stone buildings that date back to the late 1800s.  The tall chimney stack of the silver/lead/zinc smelter dominates the skyline.  The ore comes by rail from Broken Hill.  Port Pirie is the administrative centre of the catholic diocese that takes in over half South Australia and up to places like Uluru in the NT.  The 1870 cathedral church was burnt down 40 years ago and replaced by an ugly cement block building which they keep locked up!  I was ready for a light lunch and rest stop, kindly provided by Hungry Jacks.  I then took a stroll around the central area and admired the many old buildings there.  Must have been a city of churches once.  Most of them now are shops or offices or museums.  Was a chilly venture with quite a gale blowing.

An hour further north brought me to this small town that sits at the top of Spencer Gulf.  As I drove on the Flinders Ranges appeared quite close to my right.  They look very scenic in the afternoon sunlight.  The town also has kept many old stone buildings from the past.  It’s seaport origins are evident in the layout of the central city:  narrow lanes (one way only) rather than streets designed for modern traffic.  Found the hotel/motel I was booked in to.  It’s website certainly makes it look much more attractive than the reality shows.  The motel part is a half dozen rooms tacked on to the back of the ancient pub.  Clean but cold!  The advertised “free wifi” doesn’t exist.  Top marks for the dining room food though.  I enjoyed a plate of grilled Spencer Gulf King George Whiting with Vegs.

After a brief nap mid-afternoon I went down to the major attraction here, the Wandlatta Tunnel of Time.  Attached to the town’s tourist information centre, it has been developed to tell the history of the area from creation until today, using many Dreamtime stories from local indigenous peoples.  A really creative mix of dioramas, videos and information placards.  I spent over an hour wandering through the display and would return tomorrow if time allowed.  Drove up to the Water Tower lookout after that and managed to conquer the 65 steps to the top of the tower where one gets a good 360 degree view of the city.  Then a quiet drive around the newer part of the town before the dinner bell called.

That is the longest leg of the journey completed.  Following days will be less tiring from a driving point of view.  Very chilly tonight, with a possibility of showers tomorrow here near the gulf.

Today’s photographic record can be found Here for Port Pirie. And Here for Port Augusta.

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