Monday, September 28, 2015

Port Lincoln - The last leg

Leaving Coffin bay for Port Lincoln wa a pretty casual affair as we had only about 50kms to travel. So with a bit of time up our sleeves we walked up to the local store next to the caravan park and had some breakfast. Pretty good fair and not expensive. We ambled off around 10ish and were set up in Port Lincoln before lunch at the Port Lincoln Tourist Park. This is well placed and right on the water with terraced sites. The staff were very friendly and helpful. We are here for a week but I think it will be pretty lazy one with little really planned. Tuesday we are swimming with the sea lions with Adventure Bay Tours. We are also waiting for Chris, Sam and Oliie to arrive. We went into Port Lincoln after lunch for a bit of a look and some stores, and of course a bit of fishing. The luck hasn’t been all that good with the fishing since Venus Bay so we live in hope.

Statue of Makybe Diva

Port Lincoln looking south from Old Mill Lookout

Old Mill Lookout
So it was just relaxing until Tuesday when we had to be at Adventure Bay Tours by 7.45 for our Sea lion experience. The crew from Adventure Bay tours were fantastic and after an 1 ½ hr boat trip they put us amongst the sea lions. There weren’t that many but as with most things wild there are no guarantees Being so early in the season they are also a little wary and flighty so it took a while for them to come around. The trip out an back was a little rough and a few of our fellow travelers suffered on the trip, but spirits remained high. I must say I felt great getting back into the water. It been a while since we have done much snorkeling etc and I miss it. Sure it was cold but wet suits are always a help. The cold headache took a while to bring under control though. Back on dry land the rest of the day was pretty quiet. Tomorrow we are heading up into the Lincoln National Park for a spot of 4x4 action.
We packed a lunch and the whole team into the 2 4WD and headed off. For a couple of our clan this is there first experience at 4x4 driving.
The "crew" on the Wanna sand dunes

Wanna Sand dunes

adding to the pile

Cape Donington Lighthouse

Looking east from Cape Donington lighthouse

 We turned of at Mary Ellis beach and headed up the Seaford – Wanna track. This had a few different technical drives including rocky outcrops, steep tracks, jump ups and sand dunes. We are not hard core off roaders but it was great fun and we came across many fantastic sites and scenery. From Wanna we headed across the national park to Stamford Hill for lunch. Lunch over we retraced some of our tracks and headed NW up to Cape Donington Lighthouse. Di was a little disappointed because it wasn’t really your traditional lighthouse as it was made from sandstone and not painted white and blue!!! Another great day with lots of tied but happy people.

Thursday was our last full day before heading home and was pretty quiet, with coffee and cake, a bit of fishing and not much else. Port Lincoln has a strong maritime history but is also famous for producing a champion weightlifter and Melbourne Cup winner (Makybe Diva) who is been acknowledged with a life size statue on the water front. Tomorrow we head for home after another great (if not short) trip. We have had a great time as usual, with great travelling companions and few new ones. 

Coffin Bay - What a great place

It was only about 160kms to Coffin Bay so there was no urgency today. We packed and got away about 10ish and though we would make Coffin Bay in time to set up and head into Pt Lincoln for lunch. Not so we lost a little time not far from Venus Bay when Gaz had a small mishap with his van which took us a bit of time to fix. Wasn’t too bad though we made Elliston for coffee and Coffin Bay for lunch then headed into Pt Lincoln for some stores. The van park (as with most we have stayed at) is pretty good directly opposite the bay. We had a bit of a planning session for the next few days and if the tide is right tomorrow we will head up into the Coffin Bay national park. There is a 6hrs return trip to Pt Sir Isaac. About half way along the track you need to do about 6 kms along the beach which can only be done 1hr each side of low tide.
On our way to Pt Sir Isaac Coffin Bay NP

Pt Sir Isaac beacon

Beach drive to Pt Sir Isaac

More of the Beach Coffin Bay NP

So the day broke as a pretty good one so we headed of early. We had to be at the beach entrance for the run up the beach, do the inland leg to the point and be back on the beach an hour after low tide. Now that may sound easy enough as the last leg, once we got off the beach on the outward leg, was only about 24kms round trip. However this is a 4wd track and had just about everything from sand, rock, steep ascent and descent, wash a ways etc. I was all 1st and 2nd gear work. We made it to the Pt Isaac light. The national park has some magic places to stop off and take in the scenery. We had a ball and would have loved to stay a bit longer but the time (and the tide) were against us. Once of the beach on the return we stopped for lunch at a great little rest area which looked back alone the bay a rocky out crop.
Our lunch spot

view from our lunch spot

 How lucky are we that we can do this. Coffin Bay national park is a fantastic place.

Friday was just a lazy day sitting around talking with a little fishing thrown in. We didn’t put the yak’s in as there has been a white pointer sighting in the bay and best not to tempt fate. Only sort of downer for day was while fishing off the pier, had a bite which took rod and reel into the drink before I had time to react. Not fussed about the rod but it was one of my good reels. Tomorrow is our last leg as we head into Pt Lincoln for a week then home.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 8 & 9 Beautiful one day blowing a gale the next - Venus Bay

So we left Streaky Bay for a short hop to Venus Bay by way of Murphy’s Haystack’s. 
Murphy's "Haystacks"

More "haystacks"

Friendly inhabitant 

Haystack's have some great colours and pattens
Not your ordinary hay stacks these a actually rock formation which has evolved by erosion, subsidence and the ravages of time. They are none the less a great side track and the site is well maintained and has easy access. We spent about an hour wandering the site. The textures and colours make for some very interesting photos. Back on the road to Venus Bay and what a great spot (well at least it was on this day). The park operators were fantastic and very accommodating. Gaz and I decided on a spot of fishing in the afternoon so after launching the Kayaks we headed out into the fray. The water was flat, not all that cold and no wind to speak of. Sometimes you have he luck and other times not on this day I did and Gary didn’t 3 nice size Australian Salmon and I dropped 1 good size one. Gaz just had no luck – ah well tomorrow may be his day. Di and Wendy had the fillets for dinner (thanks to Gaz’s expertise with a knife). Tomorrow is another day.
And indeed it was and it’s blowing a gale but still warm. We have decided on a quiet one today just sitting around, a bit of reading and a spot of fishing.
Well it’s almost like Melbourne weather we woke this morning, after yesterday’s blow, to cold winds and colder temperatures. We decided to head down to Ellinston for a bit of a run. Ellinston is a tad bigger than Venus Bay but not much. The weather was a little better but not much. We had lunch at the cafĂ© which was enjoyable and decided to head back to Venus Bay via the scenic route and follow the sculpture trail. 
Entrance to woolshed cave

Some more of the coast line

and more

and more

One of the sculptures

Along this dirt road, apart from some great views of the coast, are sculptures of various forms. They are, unfortunately, falling into some disrepair but none the less add a different dimension to the trip. It was then back to Venus Bay.

The next day dawned as a pretty reasonable sort of day. Venus Bay has been a bit of relax for us in that we planned to do very little other than, well relax interspersed with a little fishing. We took the kayaks ut this morning and Gaz managed to hook up pretty quickly and landed a pretty substantial Australian Salmon which turned out to be it for the morning fishing session. The afternoon session was less productive, as was our search for squid that evening. Ahh well at least we had some sun and exercise, on to Coffin Bay tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 5, 6 and 7 Streaky Bay – Ahh the serenity

So we made Streaky Bay and our original plan was to stay 3 nights but we have decided on an extra night as there are a few things to see around here. Day one was a bit of a late start as we caught up on a bit of housekeeping. Into town for a few groceries and, of course, a coffee. 

Sunrise over Streaky Bay
Streaky Bay has a pretty good shopping centre for a town this size and the people are friendly. It was decided we would do the Cape Baeur loop in the afternoon. This is a small tourist loop which follows the coast just out of Streaky Bay. Although it was dirt it was pretty easy and could be done by 2 wheel drive. We had a couple of small  4x4 sojourns but nothing to difficult.
Umm humans
We saw quite a few great sites and interesting flora and fauna. We made it back at a reasonable hour and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.
Thursday we retraced our steps along the loop road to a 4wd track into the mangroves. It turned out to be pretty mundane and reasonable short.
Cape Bauer Loop

More of the Cape Bauer drive

We retraced our steps and went out to back beach which was a bit of a surprise with some great coastal scenery. The afternoon was spent out on the bay in the Kayaks. It was like a billiard table and just brilliant. We managed a few Australian Salmon but all were returned unharmed. A fitting end to a great day with coffee and port for Gaz and I. We will sleep well tonight

Friday we headed off to Sceale Bay and onto Point Labett and the resident seal lion colony. It was a fantastic short trip (bit over 100kms) with a mix of sand, dirt and bitumen roads. It lived up to expectations with some amazing scenery, landscapes and coastal features. It amazes me the number of people who “don’t stop to smell the roses” and proceed to say there was nothing there. We have multitudes of pictures, ahh moments and great memories. 
Westall Way loop road

Granite Rocks

More Granite Rock pools

Moving sand dunes

Sea Lion colony

Pt Labett

And quirky stuff like the toilet at Sceale Bay which is named Camelot and built out of local rock and in the traditional stone laying techniques. Fair enough not all that quirky, except that when you sit you are facing a pillbox widow facing out over the bay. Not too many houses can boast a view like this. The seal colony at Pt Labett was lazing in the sun with a few you seals frolicking in the rock pools. We were afforded a pretty good view from the viewing platform and made the trip all that more enjoyable. On the trip down and indeed on our return we were amazed at the number of Stumpy Tail lizards out and about. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 3 & 4 Whyalla and on to Streaky Bay

Restored bedford truck and Franklin Van


We spent a day exploring the surrounds of Whyalla, with Gaz and I heading out to the Whyalla museum. The most striking feature is the “ Whyalla” a world war II mine sweeper. The museum has the history and story of the Whyalla. 

The "Whyalla" 

The ship was built in around 1940 and commissioned in 1942 not bad when you consider the work team building it was about 25 people. It was built in Whyalla and was the forerunner to the construction of many ships at the Whyalla ship yards. Whyalla had 2 main industries – ship building and iron ore. There is only iron ore left which is a really shame because the skills these workers had was immense. After the war the “Whyalla” was sold to the Victorian Govt for maintenance work around Pt Phillip Bay and renamed the “RIP”. At the end of its service with Victoria it was sold back to the City of Whyalla and returned to Whyalla. A project then moved the ship from its moorings 2.5 kms inland to where it now sits at the museum. The museum houses many other interesting artefacts and the biggest working model rail system I have seen.
99, 100 that'll do for today

Looking back from the old gun placements across the ore factories
After lunch a trip to the lookouts overlooking the Whyalla township and bay area. Originally the lookout area was the gun placements to protect the harbour during WWII and the area has now been converted to a parkland and lookout. The lookouts provide a fantastic and very diverse view from the crystal clear oceans on one side the ore processing plants on the other.

Tuesday we left at reasonable time to head for Streaky Bay. It was to be a 360km trip over, mostly, country we have already seen and was pretty uneventful except for “Ms Sat Nav”. Gaz I both have then in our vehicles and I don’t know how you can put the same destination in and create such confusion. Each satnav had its own idea of the fastest route with mine wanting to go via Pt Lincoln when I wanted to go via Iron Knob. I have often thought it would be great to program in a voice that would say “bugger you, you haven’t listened to my last 3 commands I’m switching off now” and see what the reaction would be. We made Streaky Bay, in spite of the satnav, in reasonable time. 
Sun setting over Streaky Bay Caravan Park

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day 1 and 2 – I’ve travelled this road before

Well we have embarked on the start of our holiday for 2015. Three weeks of the Eyre peninsular and the seafood coast, I hope it lives up to the seafood bit for Di’s sake for me as long as I catch a few then all will be good with the world. There is not a lot to say about our first few days as it’s over “old” ground as far as Pt August which has got me thinking about how many towns seem to be a fulcrum point. Point in case Pt August heading west from Victoria to the Nullarbor or WA or down the Eyre Peninsula or North to Woomera, Coober Pedy, the Alice or Darwin you guessed it you have to go through Pt Augusta. It’s a bit like the flux capacitor on the Delorean from the Back to the future movie, you need it to get anywhere. Not that I have anything against the place but its, potential, going to feature in our 2016 and 2017 blogs. So if you by chance end up in the flux capacitor be sure to visit the arid gardens we is not a bad spot to lose a few hours. We missed the Sturt Desert pea but you can’t have everything.
We stopped at Murray Bridge the first night at a van park on the banks of the Murray. Nice park and would be worth a few nights stay if you had the time.

Sunrise over the Murray


Camp at Murray Bridge

So we made Whyalla Sunday and had a quiet day waiting for Gaz and Shaz to arrive. The van park here is right on the shore line and seems well run, clean and quiet. First impressions are it’s an industrial town built mainly in the early days around ship building and steel. These days the ship building has gone but the steel is still here. It’s the only place in Australia were railway track is manufactured. It clearly has suffered a down turn and I hope things turn around for them. This coast has so much to offer and is quite diverse.

Have to love the Sturt Desert Pea

The "Wyhalla" Tide went out quick
The travelling caravan fraternity are an eclectic bunch with the fact you have a van (or tent) the only prerequisite and the great leveller. For most it doesn’t matter the age, condition or value, of you accommodation it’s just a great chance to socialise, swap stories and generally enjoy life. I’m beginning to dislike the term grey nomad as it conjures up images of elderly citz’s traversing the country spending the kid’s inheritance. Whilst there is an element of that, increasingly we have encountered people of all ages and persuasions each with a different story and more than happy to share them with you. We need to consider how lucky we are to be able to have the freedom to do this in relative safety.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday to far away - again. Seafood coast here we come

Howdy all well we are fast coming to the next adventure. As usual Friday to far away.
Preparations are well under way and "Dougal" is raring to go. For those of you who don't know we take Dougal with us. Dougal is the Daffodil Day mascot and accompanies us on our travels.

This year Dougal is dressed as the holiday bear very appropriate. So if you have a few spare coins throw then Daffodil Day Anti Cancer way.

As for the travel blog well it will start in earnest next Saturday.

Keep in touch.
The Tagalong Tour Crew

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our next trip - Eyre Peninsular in September

Well time to start planning the next Tagalong Tours trip. September (with a bit of luck) will see us retrace some of our WA tour. At least to Poochera then we head across to Streaky Bay and down along the Eyre Peninsular.
With a bit of fishing, snorkeling, Kyaks and a dip with the seal lions are planned. Will keep you posted