Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater

The above photo of the Spiny Cheeked H0neyeater was taken at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta. It is a great place to view and photograph birds. For this shot the bird was only visible through an opening in the foliage. This is how it turned ot.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Return to Port Augusta and the Pichi Richi Railway.

The engine driver checks the piston steam engine and linkages that will drive the wheels on the old steam Locomotive.
The Pichi Richi Railway's restored old Ghan steam locomotive - NM25 and its 1930's wooden carraiges at Quorn railway station ready for the return trip to Port Augusta.

Return to Port Augusta and the Pichi Richi Railway

This morning the sun shone through at Leigh Creek but there were still storm clouds on the horizon and the wind was just as strong as it had been yesterday. The only difference was that yesterday, the wind came from the north and today it came from the south. I still had concerns about travelling on to Arkaroola so the decision was made to return south into the Flinders Ranges. I planned to cut through from Parachilna on to the back road and down to Wilpena Pound. After eleven kilometres on this dirt track, we turned around and return to the main tar sealed road. This put the second plan for today out the window so it was now continue on to Port Augusta for tonight. The car and caravan were covered in thick mud. Soon after we encountered a creek crossings on the main road where gravel and large rocks had been washed over the road and we had to negotiate a track through this build up. A little further on it was creeks flooding across the road from the overnight rain. The road had been clear when we went through yesterday. We took the opportunity to stop at one of these creeks and wash the thick build up of mud off the front of the caravan.

We made it to Quorn at 2.05 pm and it was raining fairly heavy. I had hoped to photograph the Pichi Richi steam engine which was due to pull out of Quorn station at 2.30pm. I wrapped my camera in a towel and went out on to the railway line to try and get some shots. You would not believe it, within five minutes it had stopped raining and the sun was out enabling me to get my photos. Ten minutes later it was raining again so it was back to the car and caravan and we pulled out for the forty kilometre trip to Port Augusta, our planned stop for tonight.

The Pichi Richi Railway operates on the old Ghan line that runs over the Pichi Richi Pass between Port Augusta and Quorn. It is run by a voluntary group of steam enthusiast between the two towns. At present the steam train runs on Saturday and Sunday and the return Adult fare is $44.00. The original Ghan steam Locomotive – NM25, and 1930 wooden carriages have been restored from the original Ghan rolling stock and the steam engine looks as good today as the day it was first put into service. It is kept clean and spotless and is the pride of the collection. There is also an original 1927 Barwell Bull Rail Car that is also used on this rail track by the group.

Note. While listening to the news tonight we heard that they were getting the car ferry out of mothballs where it had been for the last 25 years and putting it back into service on one of the rivers near Marree. It was expected that some properties in this area could be cut off by road for six months due to the rain. To think that we had to plan our trip into this area to coincide with this weather pattern.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Port Augusta to Leigh Creek

The walking gear on a 1951 BE Dragline at Leigh Creek. A bit different from todays designs.
Inside the hoisting and engine house on a 1951 BE Dragline at Leigh Creek. Very small to the unit on site at Ulan.
An endangered Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby at Warren Gorge near Quorn
Port Augusta and Leigh Creek

I had been told that the Arid Lands Botanical Gardens at Port Augusta was the place for birds so it was up early on Thursday morning and down to Port Augusta. We were there by 8.00am and drove in to the Matthew Flinders lookout. The first birds were all ready there so it was out with the camera and start shooting. From here it was on to the Information Centre which turned out to be a cafe in a large expensive building. Again the birds were here. It was out with the camera and on the hunt. Some of the birds that I photographed were:

White Browed babblers

Southern Whiteface

Singing Honeyeater

Spiny Cheeked Honeyeaters

Nankeen Kestrel

Yellow Throated Miners

Chirruping Wedgebill

White winged Fairy Wren (Female only)

Sadly the overcast sky did nothing to enhance the photos but I did manage to get some good shots. We loaded up with supplies and fuel in Port Augusta before returning to Quorn. Around 4.30pm we headed out to Warren Gorge looking for the endangered Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby. We were lucky and saw a total of 7 including a baby that was just out of the mothers pouch although I think it was still using the pouch when it wanted to.

That evening we made the decision to go to Arkaroola the next morning, known for its aridness and dry conditions, so we set off early to cover the 340 kilometres trip. Sadly someone forgot to tell the God of Storms and Rain that this piece of dirt was out of his domain and he gave it heaps. He even sent the wind to try and blow us away. By the time we got to Leigh Creek we got the message and booked into the local caravan park. Our fuel consumption for the trip from Quorn to Leigh Creek was the worst for the trip. I could not get the reading below 20 l/100kl. At 3.00pm we got a break in the weather and jumped in the car and headed for the coal mine at Leigh Creek. We managed to see the old dragline and a view of the old Open Cut before the weather turned nasty again. Back at the caravan the wind continued to blow and the rain came down. Tomorrow we will return to Port Augusta or Quorn and I think the Flinders ranges will be missed out for this trip. We will not try to drive north again while these strong winds prevail.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gluepot to Quorn.

Our car and Caravan at our camp site at Gluepot.
Water covers the road from Gluepot. Dark storm clouds are the signs that there is still more rain to come.
The old crane winch at Mt Bryant that was used to unload rail freight in the days when the original Ghan ran through this settlement.
The ruins of an old hotel stands on it own as a sentinal of the past when the Old Ghan Rail Line passed this way.
A layer of cloud reminded me of a section of floating ice shelf in Antarctica.
Gluepot to Quorn.

The electrical storm from the previous night had proved to be the start of the bad weather that was about to hit South Australia. Tuesday morning was dark and overcast and the rain from the previous night had left pools of water covering much of the camping area. We decided to set up at the nearest bird hide to see if any birds turned up for the water. Sadly for us the abundance of fresh water had removed the need for birds to go to the water points to drink and no birds arrive. The rain continued occasionally allowing the sun to glow through the cloud cover for a few minutes at a time between the showers. Back at the camp site we heard birds at a pool of water beside the caravan and a family of Chestnut Crowned Babblers were bathing and drinking at the pool. I managed a few photos and these were the only bird shots that I would get for this trip into Gluepot. Not having any communications with the outside world, we were unable to get a forecast for the weather. We debated whether to stay or go and by lunch time we had made the decision to go. Driving out the 50 kilometres of unsealed road, we had to continually drive through long pools of water. Lucky for us, the road was sand based so we were not in any danger of getting bogged, even with the caravan behind. We noticed the tyre tracks of at least four other vehicles on the track in front of us.

Back on the sealed tar road we headed for the old Murray River port town of Morgan and then to Burra. Burra was one of the towns on the Old Ghan railway line. Our route from here was to take the road that followed sections of the old line. Night was closing in fast with the bad weather, so we made camp 16 kilometres further down the road from Burra at a Mt Bryant, another station stop on the Old Ghan line.

Light rain continued through the night and the morning sky still maintained the angry storm clouds. Driving north we started to see clear sky and then a strange cloud form that looked like a section of the ice shelf in Antarctica floating in the sky. The edge of the cloud was like a vertical white wall. Also along the road, the ruins from old buildings and homes were scatted through the paddocks. The new eyesore on the horizon was dozens of large wind generators along the ridgeline between Burra and Jamestown. A new set of transmission towers carry this supply over to the gulf.

Our arrival in Quorn before lunch was the end of our trip for today. We booked into the Quorn Caravan Park where I had stayed before. The storm clouds and conditions had caught up with us again and the afternoon was spent exploring the small town and relaxing. Conditions were very poor for photography.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mannum - Barossa Valley - Gluepot

Autumn colours with fog in the background.
Autumn in the vinyards of the Barossa Valley
The Chateau at Yalumba
Autumn colour in the Barossa Valley
Coba on one of the garden paths at Yalumba
Fallen leaves at Yalumba. These covered the ground in parts of the Estate

Mannum - Barossa Valley – Gluepot.

Monday the 24th May and it is time to leave the Murray Princess. Breakfast is served at 7.30am and this is the opportunity to say farewell to new found friends. We docked at 9.00am and soon after we had picked up our car and were on the way to the Barossa Valley. The first place that we arrived in was Mt. Pleasant, a place to take more photos. The weather was again bad for photography and to make things worse, fog had started to descend on the area. It was then on to Angaston, another place I had never heard of. Just before reaching the town we came across Yalumba’s winery. What a picture this place was, the autumn leaves were in their best colours and we could not believe the beauty of the place. We had not expected to get this type of a display considering Hahndorf’s trees had all lost their autumn leaves. After walking around and photographing almost from every angle, we drove into Angaston which was a pretty town. The fog was now rather thick and Visibility had dropped to around 100 Metres. From here it was on to Tanunda where we had lunch and visited the Chateau Tanunda Winery but what a disappointment after the Yalumba experience.

From the Barossa Valley it was back to Blanch Town to pick up our caravan. We did stop on the way for supplies as we were again heading bush for a couple of days and there were no shops where we were heading. With the caravan in tow, we went back to Waikerie and then on to Gluepot. I felt it was too good an opportunity while I was in the area not to give Gluepot another go. We arrived back in the Bird Reserve just on dark and set up the caravan. An hour later we had a severe electrical storm which dropped around 15mm of rain and left large puddles everywhere. I hope that this does not play havoc with the birding in the morning.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Murry Princess Cruise days Two & Three

The Murray Princess under power at Walker Flat.
Some of the Cliffs that the Murray River flows past.
The Murray Princess at Craigmoor
The Murry Princess in the early morning light at Craigmoor
The captain dressed up for the cold, stears the boat from the docking station in the fog

Murray Princess – Days Two and Three.

With the clocks back half an hour on NSW time, I was no surprise that I was up at 4.45am and ready to start taking photos. A heavy fog had enclosed the boat and visibility was restricted to less that 50 metres. I dressed and went ashore, the only silly person on board except for the night watchman. I set up the camera and took a series of photographs of the Murray Princess as daylight tried to penetrate the fog. I had to be back on board by 7.15am ready for a 7.30am departure.

We left on time but visibility had decreased even further and to steer the boat. It was controlled from outside the bridge or wheelhouse using the docking controls This way we were able to see the river bank but very little else. The captain was totally rugged up and it could have been a terrorist at the wheel. By 9.00am we had reached the Port or Town of Murray Bridge and tied up on the north side of the bridge. The princess was too high to clear below the bridge.

Murray Bridge was known as Edwards Crossing up to the time the bridge was built in 1879. This was the first bridge built to cross the Murray River in South Australia and the place became known as Murray Bridge. After tying up, we went ashore for a short bus tour of the town. Leaving the bus at the shopping centre, we walked back to the boat via the main street. Before dropping down to the river we visited the Round House, built in 1876 as a residence for the manager in charge of building the bridge and at the approach of the bridge. From there we walked on to the bridge to get photographs of the Murray Princess. We were back on board by 11.30am and well underway by the time lunch had been served. The afternoon was spent leisurely cruising back upstream past Mannum to our overnight stop at Craignook where we arrived under flood lights from the paddle boat at 7.30pm. The river gums looked spectacular under the flood lights with the dark night background.

The Sunday morning sleep-in allowed me to stay in bed a bit longer this morning but I still managed to beat the sun up and take shots of the boat at its mooring. There was also a colourful sunrise but not as good as some we have had. Today there was no fog but the weather was still cold. After breakfast we started on a bush walk buy Coba turned around about 200 metres after leaving the boat saying it was too cold to be out walking. I continued on but the photography subjects were poor and lacking. I returned to the boat as they were about to bring in the gangway.

It was a couple of hours run up to Walker Flat where we turned around and started back towards Mannum. Around 3.00pm we arrived at our camping spot for the night and were meet by the “Dragonfly” a small boat that takes 20 people for a nature trip of about 20 minutes. Then it was back to the Princess for nibbles and drinks before dinner which was served at 7.00pm. Tomorrow morning it is back to Mannum where we will disembark at around 9.00am and all go our own way.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Return to South Australia

Reflections - A Black Duck at MurrayBridge Wetlands
Murray Bridge - First Bridge across the Murray River in 1879
The Murray Princess at Murray Bridge
The Murray Princess under lights tied up at Mundurra SA
Return to South Australia

It was 5.00am on Thursday morning the 20th May 2010 when the alarm went off. It was time for a quick shower and to put the luggage in the car and head for Newcastle where we were leaving our vehicle. From there it was a three hour train ride to Sydney airport where we caught our flight back to Adelaide arriving at 2.30pm. We had just spent six days at home so I could go to work for three days. Our lifestyle is to travel in our car and caravan and come home once a month to work for three days and then return to the car and caravan to continue our travels.

After paying the car parking fees at Adelaide Airport, we set the GPS for Murray Bridge and drove around the southern edge of the city into the Adelaide Hills. We could not resist the opportunity to leave the expressway and detour through Hahndorf. It was just over a week since we were here and the trees had almost lost all their autumn leaves and the autumn tones that had been there, were now dead leaves on the ground, the colour drained from them. From there we followed the back road to Mt Barker where we rejoined the expressway. Arriving in Murray Bridge we booked into a motel for the night before a quick drive around the place and a visit to the Bunyip down beside the river. Dinner that evening was at the Riverview Hotel as the motel did not have a restaurant.

Next morning we had to repack our suitcase for the river boat trip before leaving the motel. Then it was back into town for some supplies and breakfast. Leaving town, we stopped at the Murray Bridge wetlands to check on the bird life and photograph a couple of the birds before heading north to Mannum. After lunching in Mannum, we spent some time walking down town and tracking back along the river to where we had left our car. This gave me some more opportunities for photographs.

At 2.30 pm we boarded the Paddle Boat “Murray Princess” and were shown to our cabin before we did an exploratory tour of the boat. After drinks in the lounge, we left the wharf at 4.30 and, driven by the large paddle wheel, powered out into the Murray River heading downstream. The sunset was again spectacular. Dinner was served at 6.30pm in the main dining room and at the same time we pulled into the river bank for the night at a place called Mundurra. The crew lit a fire using Malley Roots and after the meal people were invited ashore to share the fire. Leaving Coba in the cabin with a book, I went ashore with my favourite toy, my camera, and captured the Murray Princess under lights at night. She is a wonderful sight when she is lit up like a Christmas tree.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Fleurieu Peninsula - Nothern Section

The beach at Horseshoe bay - Port Elliott.
One of the parks in Goolwa in South Australia.
The Hindmarsh Island Bridge at Goolwa.
Heidi Ing in the underground wine cellar of the historic Victory Hotel.
Fleurieu Peninsula – Northern Section.

Thursday the 13th May 2010 and our last full day at “The Links” resort. We took the opportunity to visit the northern section of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Our first stop was McLaren Vale, an area very similar to the Branxton vineyard region of the Hunter Valley. After coffee at one of the Coffee Houses, it was on to Goolaw on the Southern shoreline. This is the point where the Famous Hindmarsh Island Bridge has been constructed to access Hindmarsh Island at the mouth of the Murray River. This was the bridge that was embroiled in controversy involving Secret Women’s Business with local aboriginal people.

From Goolwa it was down to Port Elliot and Victor Harbour. We then crossed the Peninsula to Yankalilla just north of Normanville where we were staying.

This evening we had arranged to meet with Heidi Ing for dinner at the Historic Victory Hotel which overlooks Aldinga Bay and the settlements of Sellicks Beach and Aldinga Beach. This hotel has an underground cellar and when you purchase a bottle of red wine you go down into the cellar and select the bottle that you want. Prices start with bottles for several hundred dollars and go down to twenty five dollars. You then take it up to the bar, pay for it, and they open and decant it for you. Heidi is doing the Janz family history for the family that arrived in Adelaide in the 1870’s and I am descended from the family line that set up their new home in Mackay in North Queensland. We are comparing notes and trying to tie the two families together. We believe that there is a tie there but to date we have not been able to find it. The information has come down through the line of descendents verbally but we are hoping to find documentation to confirm it.

Tomorrow we fly back to Singleton for a few days before returning to Adelaide next week to pick up our car and caravan to continue our trip.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Victor Harbour - South Australia

The One Horsepower Tram with Clysdale Power at Victor Harbour.
The Anchorage in Victor Harbour.
The Grosvenor Hotel in Victor Harbour.
The Whale Tail Fountain at Victor Harbour.
An old disused bridge at Glacier Rock west of Victor Harbour

Victor Harbour

It can be said that in South Australia all roads lead to Adelaide. It can also be said that those roads that do not lead to Adelaide lead to Victor Harbour. Driving around the Fleurieu Peninsula all road intersections have Adelaide one way and Victor Harbour the other.

Victor Harbour is on the southern coastline and the shore line of The Great Southern Ocean. Rocky Islands help to protect the coast line in this area from the large waves that come up from Antarctica. It is a popular summer holiday destination for South Australians. It is also the end of the rail line but I do not know if it is still in service. A tramline runs out along an old wooden jetty type bridge to Granite Island where there is a colony of Little Penguins. This tram is powered by a one horsepower Clydesdale, a truly reliable form of power for this tram. Southern Right Wales visit Encounter Bay which was named by Matthew Flinders in the “Investigator” after encountering French explorer Nicholas Baudin there. Whales are a focal point of the town with a whale centre to teach people about these large mammals. There is also a Whale Tail fountain in the park opposite. Leaving Victor Harbour we stopped at a place called Glacier Rock where there was an abundance of bird life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hahndorf - South Australia

Elm and Plain Trees line the road through Hahndorf.
Falling Autumn leaves make a carpet of colour
An old buckboard stands in the garden of a home in Hahndorf
The Old Mill in Hahndorf, now the front for a Motel
The German Arms Hotel in Hahndorf.
An old home in the main Street of Hahndorf
The Old Buckboard - Hahndorf.
Yours truly in an old german chair in Hahndorf


I have always heard people talk highly about the old German town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. Today was the day we were to check the place out and we were not disappointed. Hahndorf tourist area is basically one long street which was formally the Princess Highway before the new expressway went it bypassing this community. It has not stopped the traffic from coming as it is one of the most popular tourist stops in South Australia as well as being a South Australian State Heritage Area. The 100 year old Elm and Plane trees lining the main street were dressed in their brilliant autumn colours for our visit and the falling leaves form a carpet of many shades where they had fallen. Light showers of misty rain which took turns with bright patches of sun to create the weather pattern for today, helped bring out the colours of autumn. Relics of the past were common site around the town which is proud of its German heritage. Many of the buildings are over 150 years old and are still in use today. We lunched on German food at one of the hotels that still cook and serve meals in the German tradition. One of the favourite sons of the town was Hans Heysen, a painter who made his name by painting bush scenery in South Australia, after whom the Heysen trail is named. We also visited Mt Barker nine kilometres down the road but for us Hahndorf was the main attraction.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lady Bay

The Plaque to HMSA Hobart at Lady Bay
HMAS Hobart Anchor and Memorial at Lady Bay
The Old Mill at Second Valley
An Old home at Second Valley
The Old Jetty at Second Valley
The Old Limeworks at Rapid Bay

Lady Bay

One of the places visited yesterday was Lady Bay on the Spencer Gulf side of the Fleurieu Peninsula. This area is claimed by some to be the most beautiful part of South Australia. It was first explored by Colonel Light in the “Rapid”. Leaving Normanville the first point of interest is the memorial to “HMAS Hobart” which now rests on the sea-bed in Lady Bay. At the south end of the Bay is Second Valley which is a beautiful small settlement having two sections, one on the main road where the Old Mill stands and the Old Jetty about a kilometre away on the rugged coast. A short drive further on is the turnoff into Rapid Bay which is another forgotten place off the main track. The old Lime Mill stands on the coast where the jetty starts. Houses are from the past and the old store has closed. A pleasant place to visit.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gluepot to Normanville

The old Truro Pub. Est. 1863.
Old Truro Building
The Old Bank of Adelaide building at Truro
The Old Queen (Murry River Queen) Paddle Steamer now acts as a Cafe.
The view of the water trough as seen through the opening in the Birdhide at Grasswren
Gluepot to Normanville

Leaving Gluepot we travelled to Blanch Town via Waikerie and booked into the Riverside Caravan Park to charge batteries on the power supply and to have a very welcome hot shower. This is where we will be leaving our caravan in storage for the next two weeks as we have accommodation booked at The Grand Mercure Resort “The Links” at Lady Bay near Normanville for the next five nights. I thought that we had packed a separate case for this part of the stay but Coba had to repack before we could leave for Adelaide.

Adelaide used to be called the City of Churches but I believe it is the City of Traffic Lights and none appeared to be co-ordinated. It was not uncommon to wait at one red light and when it turned green, have a light 100 metres down the road turn red. The roads were busy probably because it was Mothers Day and people were visiting their mums. On the way through Adelaide we visited Heidi Ing, formally Janz, who is doing research on the Janz family in Adelaide. This is the first time that we had meet although we had exchanged e-mails regarding family history. I did research on the Janz family in Mackay and I bought down my information and what I had gathered from others for her to copy for her records. (My Mother was a Janz).

Normanville is approximately 70 Kilometres South West of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsular. We arrived mid afternoon and booked into our accommodation. Our unit is self contained so it was down to the local Foodland store for some supplies for our stay. The Resort is part of a Golf Course and does have a restaurant attached which we will use during our stay. Tonight however was eat in for us. Our room has views out over the water of Spencer Gulf and we were treated to a great Sunset. The evening was catching up on sorting photos from Gluepot that will continue for several days having taken hundreds of shots many of which will end up in the recycle bin.