South Australia lifted its regional travel restrictions at the start of May. With the Premier not just allowing people, but encouraging them back into regional areas. So, I’ve served my civic duty on three occasions since then. No mad multiday overland here, just a few nights under the stars, a few familiar places, some not so much.
So, once we knew restrictions were going to be lifted there was a scramble to book somewhere to camp. With many commercial operations still shut, and me only getting onto it a day after the restrictions were listed, most places were already booked out. I managed to get a spot at Newland Head Conservation Park, mostly because the camping there is not suitable to caravans or camper trailers. Anyway, this is only a couple of hours south of my home town Adelaide, and would allow a couple of easily reached good spots on the way there.
The Accountant responded to the call, having been cooped up himself after being quarantined, then finding out he didn’t have COVID 19.
Driving south, we stopped at a few country towns. There was almost a carnival like atmosphere, overflowing with visitors. The fear and caution that had pervaded our lives for the last few months seemingly abandoned. I had my concerns, but I understood the desire to reconnect with a key part of the Australian life. Enjoying our amazing country, and no doubt the regional businesses could do with the cash injection.
First proper stop. Rapid Bay.
There are many good coastal views down this Fleurieu Peninsula, the best are from a boat, and I really need to man up and bring my kayak down here (ocean, yo). Anyway, even from the land, still nice
We wondered over to the old jetty. More interesting than the modern one with the crowds on it.
Having broken up the journey, we headed down to an old favourite. Deep Creek. Last time we were here together, I was in a Range Rover Classic, and the Accountant was in a P38 Range Rover.
It’s an easily accessed spot, but it has its charms.
The light was starting to fade, time to bolt to our exclusive remote bush camp...
One of the reasons this was so busy was there is a popular surf beach next to the campsite. So we checked that out before heading out.
We then took some back roads.
Back around to Blow Hole Beach, that we had skipped yesterday as the light was getting away from us.
A highlight as we hiked down to the beach was watching a young dolphin playing amongst the surfers.
It’s a pretty spot.
We hiked out and started to meander back. Including a bit of actual off road.
Cobwebs blown out. We said our goodbyes and headed home.
Next up was an overnighter in the Riverland. This time an old lady kept me company.
I didn’t plan this trip, I was just tagging along with a couple of mates. Not much happened. My sleeping in the Cruiser experiement continued. I was trialling this after it being recommended to me by that Dirt Sunrise chap. Enough of my gear is at the point it needs replacing that I’m keeping an open mind on future set ups.
Next up was a two night excursion to the Mid North of South Australia and the Southern Flinders Ranges. Team Rufant was in full attendance this time. With The Accountant also tagging along.
The plan was just for a couple of nights winter camping, camp fires and run a few roads I hadn’t run before.
The first camp was at Appilla Springs, we had stopped here for our very first night heading out around Australia. It’s a beautiful spot and about the right distance from home. Any concerns about this being as busy as the previous couple of trips were dispelled as we were the only ones there. Coming the weekend after the long weekend, and not a great forecast for tomorrow probably helped.
The Accountant rolled in, having evolved the set up on the Rangie somewhat. He was also trialling sleeping inside, and now had a rear awning.
The clear skies would make for a cold night. So we got the fire going, and cooked dinner on it while we were at it.
The dogs thought sleeping in the car was great. The humans were still undecided.
We packed up and headed out.
First up was one of many abandoned ruins. All throughout this region are the tell tale signs of times before reliable cars, trucks and road network existed. This used to be a school.
Hopping back in the Cruiser I said to N, it’s reassuring to see the building still standing despite the large cracks in the walls (our house is over 100 years old and has cracks, as old buildings tend to), amazingly she wasn’t very reassured...!
Next was an abandoned church and its graveyard. These skies were really adding to the desolate feeling of these places.
I wonder how old this piece of wood is? 50 years, 100 years, more?
We rolled into the town of Wilmington. Got some hot drinks and took the obligitory Land Rover photo.
More pretty back roads, the rain was starting to come down now. So we got off the ‘Dry Weather Road Only’ and took the bitumen to the town of Quorn. Then headed out to check out Waukarie Falls. We didn’t really have any firm destination in mind so we were just following our noses.
Being South Australia, even in winter the falls were just a nice bit of rock really.
The road on the way in here had necessitated a touch of oppo as the Cruiser skated through a muddy corner. Only to be expected with the state of my tyres, new tyres are on the agenda, just not an agenda before this trip.
Back to Quorn for a tailgate lunch, the rain was persistent now, so we utilised the facilities.
Back out onto some more back roads. We came across this grave. Poor bugger drowned if you can believe it.
The views from this were spectacular, no doubt. But, they’ll have to wait for another day.
However, seeing the water run in the desert is always special. When you come here so often and it is dry and barren.
The roads were starting to get treacherous. The grip levels were impossible to pick, if the road had standing water it probably had more grip than if it looked bone dry (I guess standing water = hard bottom. dry top = mud slick underneath), and no grip meant no grip. At least for me on these tyres, the slides were getting past the point of amusing so I finally found somewhere to pull over, where I could let the tyres down and have at least a chance of getting going again.
The Accountant following me in the spaceship reliably informed me he “wasn’t going too badly” with much fresher KO2's and a raft of electronic aids, that was no surprise.
20psi out of each tyre in the Cruiser and centre diff locked in. Off we went. I immediately said to Naomi “that’s so much better, now we have some grip”. Approximately two kilometres later the Cruiser is broadside to the track at about 60km/h, with the rear wheels up the embankment, and I’m chucking everything I have at it to stop us becoming passengers in a rearward facing accident - there isn’t much to hit out here, but there are some nasty holes, rocks and drop offs to catch you out if you completely lose control.
I’ve got a few theories about car control. A sliding car on the dirt or the bitumen might seem like different beasts but for me the same principles apply:
- Don’t give up - it will go through your head that, this is it, you’ve lost control and this is out of your hands - you should adopt the crash position and hope for the best - don’t, keep at it, it’s amazing how often you get it back under control.
- If what you are doing isn’t working, do something else. Split second decisions here but if you’re just winding on more oppo into a slide, eventually you’re going to run our of steering lock, so do something different - ease off the brake if you’re on it, get on it if you’re not, or...
- If in doubt, flat out. This is a cliché, but boy does it work on the loose, if you need to regain control, as counter intuitive as it sounds getting back on the gas will tend to straighten the truck up and give you some steering control back. It won’t decrease your momentum but it is probably the lesser of two evils. If you can get reasonably straight, braking and steering will be much more effective.
Well safe to say I used all my own advice that afternoon. Eventually the road got a bit drier, but the concentration was draining, next abandoned building I stopped for a break. The sun came out in recognition.
This was a substantial building, with a larger shelter behind it to. Someone had put a relatively modern bathroom on the back with plastic plumbing. So that much have beeen what 70's? 80's? As usual I wish I knew that backstory to these buildings.
With some relief we eventually got back on the bitumen. Refuelled the Rover at the town of Hawker, plus some refreshments and reinflating tyres for me. It was time to start thinking about a camp. I suggested Laura, a town not too far from here, and one I hadn’t stopped at before, but driven through many times.
The Accountant said there was a good camp he had heard of near Burra “That’ll be Worlds End” I said. One we had stopped at a few times, last for me was in the Mid-North trip in an old BMW, but I had never stayed there. So we pushed on.
The light falling across the landscape was beautiful as we tracked south-east towards Burra. It also made me realise it would be solidly dark by the time we got there. I flashed down the Rover and we agreed it was too far. We tried Orroroo but it was all booked out, so we pushed on to Peterborough, where I had stayed when I came up in the 635CSi, back into the rain storm. Luckily it was mostly moving on by the time we set up camp. The old boy here is a good sort and allowed us to have a fire in the firepit despite fires not really being allowed. No staying boozing half the night this time. We were all pretty tired after a big day and headed to bed early (or normal time for me).
Cold but clear the next morning. We stopped at the ghost town of Terowie, on our way down to Burra for a spectacular salt bush burger breakfast.
After Burra, we swung through Worlds End Gorge, as it’s a pretty spot anyway.
Close enough to home to push through. We said our goodbyes. Till next time.
Thanks for reading.