Inside the cabin there was just a bed and a chair. There wasn’t
even a side table and a copy of the bible, let alone a TV and a
wash basin. After having spent a night there I moved to the
motel just up the road. It must have been low season, as most of
the motels had signs out the front attempting to encourage
prospective customers with discounts. Most were in the range of
$45 to $50 a night. With such good deals going on motel rooms it
was time to get down and do some work. I took a room for two
nights at the Pine Grove Motel at $48 a night. I switched on the
air-conditioning and got out my PC and set up a little office
for the next two days. Once I connected to the internet and
opened my emails, I found that nobody had noticed that I wasn’t
in the office. I replied to clients’ emails, always apologising
that I was a day or two or sometimes three days late in getting
back to them. I’d just tell that that I’d just come back from a
three day get-a-way and had had a fantastic time. At least I was
telling them the truth although it may be somewhat fudged. I
wondered if at times I should tell them the truth, that I was on
a trip around Australia in a classic car and did my work by
stopping off at motels and connecting to the internet every few
days. There was always that nagging thought in the back of my
mind that if I told them the truth they may not take me
seriously and not want to do business with me. Life, work and
business are serious things to most people. As if one is not
supposed to have too much fun while they are working or doing
business. If you do, it is often thought that you are not
serious about work and business. Maybe in time to come attitudes
will change, but while cheques were still arriving from my
clients I took no chance in trying to convince them otherwise.
the main highway around Australia runs through to Port Augusta
via Wudinna. The alternative number one, the Flinders Highway,
runs along the coast via Port Lincoln and Whyalla. My wish was
to see more of the Eyre Penninsular, so I kept to the coast
stop was the small town of Streaky Bay, an hour and half’s drive
from Ceduna. As I drove into town a headland jutted out to sea
on my right hand side. Two story homes were being built
looking the ocean. Streaky Bay seemed a long way from the real
estate boom that was happening in the big cities, but it had
obviously reached here. Similar to just about all seaside towns
in South Australia Streaky Bay was at one stage a port for
shipping grain. But today the grain all goes by truck. But the
wharf is used by the local fisherman. As usual, it was a fine
sunny day, a Sunday and all the shops and businesses were
closed, except the take-away food stores and the pub. Families
were taking a walk out along the wharf while the kids swam and
paddled about in the enclosed swimming area. The town had a
sense of character and a feeling of years gone by. I purchased
fruit and bread from the local grocery store and sat under a
tree down by the wharf to enjoy the atmosphere of the place
while I made a cup of tea and ate my lunch.
I stopped by
the local service station and filled up with petrol and chatted
for a while with the book keeper who was doing her books at one
of the tables in the restaurant.
I told her I liked her
town very much. She was keen to tell me of her dislike for what
the council were planning to do.
to pretty the town up for tourists. You won’t believe it but
they want to plant Norfolk pine trees along the waterfront! This
is mallee country, Norfolk pines look nice but they aren’t a
natural part of the landscape. I think towns should be as they
are, so that when tourists come in they can see the people and
the place as it really is instead of covering the town with
make-up. Anyway, tourists spend time in town not just because of
its beauty but also because of the people who live there, its
character, the atmosphere or whatever that secret ingredient
is,” she said.
agree more with you. The natural feel of the town is its true
blessing and the want to ruin it. Are you having a real estate
boom here? I saw the new homes being built on the headland when
I drove in,” I told her.
retired people in their sixties who are building them. Why on
earth would anyone in their sixties want to build a two story
home beats me. I’m nearly fifty and sometimes I think the world
is going mad.”
come over to the east coast!” I told her.
She was one
of those people that I could’ve talked to all day if I’d had the
chance. But she’d come in to work on the books, not talk to
tourists, so I bid her farewell and went on my way.
I made a
stop at the small town of Port Kenny
before stopping the night
at the hotel at Elliston. The hotel had a dining room with the
usual fish and steak dinners with salad and chips. The menu
seemed a bit too filling, so I ventured out across the road to a
small fish and chip shop. They had the usual fare of cooked and
fresh fish, and the owner was working the shop when I walked in.
He took my order for a piece of fish and no chips.
you try some of our battered oysters?”
“That’s not something I’ve heard about or seen
before in fish shops. It sounds sacrilegious to coat something
that is so delicious taken straight from the sea and dip it in
batter and fry it in cooking oil,” I told him.
plentiful around here. Here, try one.” as he dropped an oyster
covered in flour and water into the hot cooking oil.
“How do you
get them to hold together?” I asked him.
a secret that I solved after much research.”
He left it in the hot
oil for a minute and pulled it out with the wire scoop and
placed it on a piece of paper and passes it to me. I let it cool
and took a bite.
bad, tastes good but I still prefer the uncooked variety. But
you can cook a few up for me I’ll have them with the fish” I
felt a little conned by his manner on how he’d sold me the extra
oysters. But hey, who cares the guy deserved the sale. He was a
With a piece
of fish and three battered oysters for dinner I walked down to
the old jetty and found a picnic table under some Norfolk pines
and ate my dinner as the sun went down. The sea gulls scurried
around fighting over the little crumbs of oily batter.
Next day I
drove into Port Lincoln, a two hour’s drive, arriving there
before midday. I set up my tent at the Kirton Point Caravan Park with a perfect view over Boston
Bay looking out to Cape Donington lighthouse and Boston Island.
I felt rather proud of myself, I’d found a camping spot with the
best view since leaving Ballina. With my tent set up, I got out
my camp cable and set up my kitchen and dining room. I stood
back with the camera, tent, camp table and Hewie with a
great background. It all made a nice picture.
discovered by Matthew Flinders in 1802, Port Lincoln originally
started out as a resting place for sealers and whalers. As more
grain growers settled in the Eyre Peninsular, the town gained
importance as a grain shipping port. A jetty was built in 1875.
But today the town is known for tuna fishing and multi
millionaire tuna fishermen. The Japanese have been known to pay
up to $40,000 a tonne for specially handled top quality tuna.
I drove into town picked up some food, had a
haircut and went down to the jetty to inspect the tuna boats
moored alongside the grain handling facilities. The large size
of the steel vessels was in a direct contrast to the small
wooden vessels that fished for prawns along the east coast of
Australia. This was certainly big business!
While on the wharf, a gust of wind and rain
washed the wharf and boats down. I wondered if the gust had hit
the caravan park as I
stood sheltering from the wind and rain in
a workers shelter. I drove back to the park. I found my tent
that I had tied between two trees with the tent pegs pulled out
of the ground and the canvas blown around and around the rope
that held it up. The mattress, chair, camp table and stove were
all blown over into the next camp area. Everything was soaking
wet, including my sleeping bag.
I went back to the office and booked into a
cabin just a little way passed the camp site. Pure luxury
compared to what I been used to and I now had my own kitchen and
a room containing four bunk beds.
The cabin was comfort to which I quickly
became accustomed. I spent the next few days in Port Lincoln
before setting off, this time to the steel city of Whyalla. It
was wet and chilly the on morning I left and almost thought
about staying another day. But once I’d packed up and was back
on the road again, I felt at home. I drove north along the
Lincoln Highway, the rain clouds soon disappeared and I was left
with a cool, bright sunny day. I’d covered about 80 kilometres
when I started to feel tired. Rather than nod off at the wheel I
turned off the highway into the small town of Tumby. There were
a few shops, including a bakery where I bought an apple slice
and drove down to the town jetty. I sat in Hewie and looked out
over the waters of the Spencer Gulf. The sun was still rising
from the east. It was quiet, I was warm and comfortable and so
I was asleep for an hour when I awoke with a
fright. I thought I’d fallen asleep while at the wheel. A scary
experience, but still better than waking up in Morrie heaven.
Back on the highway again, I spent the rest
of the day heading north to Whyalla arriving there in the mid
afternoon. I’d thought the main street of Whyalla would be a
busy shopping and business centre, much like other Australia
steel cities, such as Wollongong and Newcastle. But it wasn’t.
The main street was quiet and on the extremities of the town,
many stores and hotels had
closed. There weren’t many people
around. Everything was covered in the fine red dust, the residue
of the iron ore mined at Iron Knob fifty kilometres northwest of
Whyalla and railed into the steel works in Whyalla. I headed up
to the lookout at the back of the town to overlook the
steelworks. And an impressive site it was. The buildings are all
red brown, in fact everything was red brown. This red brown
human creation contrasted against the brilliant
blue clear sky.
I sat there for an hour or so appreciating and taking pictures
of the view. I suppose some people would see the steel works as
ugly. But to me, the whole scene was beautiful.
I headed around to the Kirton Point camping
and caravan park and set up my tent overlooking the Spencer
Gulf. As the sun set the wind that had
in strength during the day was now blowing at near gale force
from the east. I tied the tent between Hewie and a tree.
But the wind blew hard in off the Spencer Gulf during the night.
I thought at times it would pick up the tent.
By sun up the next morning the gale had blown
itself out to a light breeze. I set off and arrived in Port
Augusta on the northern extremity of the Spencer Gulf after an
80 kilometre drive. The city of
Port Augusta is the crossroads
of Australia with roads heading north to Alice Springs
and Darwin, west to the Nullarbor and the Eyre Peninsula and
Perth and east to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and of course,
south to Adelaide.
time I was in Port Augusta was back in 1969. I’d hitch-hiked
over from Sydney and had decided to continue my journey to Perth
by train. At that time the transcontinental standard gauge
railway had not long been opened. Back then, I was keen to ride
on the new crack passenger train the Indian Pacific. I’d arrived
in Port Augusta two days before the train was due to depart, so
I set up “camp” in the passenger waiting room. On my way into
town I stopped by the station to relive old times. Nothing had
changed, it appeared as if they hadn’t even given it a coat of
paint since the last time I was there 35 years ago. The small
café was still in existence. I sat down at a small table,
covered with a plastic tablecloth and ordered a railway pie and
a cup of tea.
In the middle of town I found the Flinders
Hotel and stopped by to ask about a room for the night.
their own shower and toilet are $25 a night and rooms with
shower and toilet are $45. The $45 a night rooms are in our new
motel section” said the barman.
I went out to
the motel rooms and found that they had been built on the back
of the old hotel. Not only were the rooms new, so was all the
linen and furniture. There was also a phone sitting on the side
table next to the bed. It was a stinking hot day, so I thought
I’d bring my PC in and do some work in air-conditioned comfort.
“I’ll take that
room thanks mate,” I said. I then paid him the $45. I went back
to the room and set up my PC and tried to connect to the
internet. But it wouldn’t dial out and I kept getting the error
– no dial tone. I probably just need to get them to connect me
to an outside line, I thought to myself. I called reception, but
didn’t get an answer. The barman was basically doing everything
from running the bar, collecting glasses, and acting as a
receptionist, answering the phone and selling accommodation. I
walked back around to the bar and asked him if he could connect
my phone to an outside line.
“Nah mate, can’t
do that. The boss had the phone system disconnected so that
people couldn’t call from their rooms. There’s a public phone
over there if you want one” I looked down the hallway to a
public phone hanging on the wall.
“Why’d he do
that?” I asked.
“Too many people
staying in the rooms ran up big phone bills and then pissed off
without paying, so he just had it all disconnected”
“Easy as that?”
“Yeah mate, easy
That was a
lesson. If you really need a phone, check to see that it works
before handing over your money. If it had of worked I’d had
stayed an extra day and caught up on my work. I spent the
afternoon doing a walking tour of the town, finishing the day
with a steak dinner and a pint of beer on special for just $5 at
one of the other pubs in the town. There were no lack of pubs in
the town and when you add together the other clubs that also
sold food and alcohol, it was obvious that the pubs were selling
their food for as low as they could so that people would come
in, eat and hopefully spend the rest of the evening there
Next morning I
continued on down the eastern side of the Spencer Gulf to Port
Germein which is about 20 kilometres north of Port Pirie. Port Germein now has a population of around 200 people. The town was
once much larger as it was a major wheat shipping port up until
the 1940s. The wheat was loaded aboard the sailing ships from
the towns jetty which is said to be the longest in not only
South Australia but the whole southern hemisphere. I stopped at
the parking area in front of the jetty looking out over the
Spencer Gulf. Some locals came over to have a look at Hewie and
ask if I’d come all the way from the east coast in “her”. I told
them that “she” was a “he” A Dutchman told me how he’d emigrated
to Australia from Holland back in 1963. He’d lived in Sydney for
a few years before moving to Brisbane, then down to Melbourne,
Perth, a while in Darwin, then Adelaide, Port Pirie but had
finally come to settle in Port Germein
“I’m like you,
I’ve been everywhere” he said.
“What bought you
to Port Germein?” I asked.
“I was in
Adelaide and landed a job in Port Pirie. We, my wife and I
lived there while we were working. But when I retired we moved
up here. Port Pirie is only 20 kilometers away. It looks a lot
further looking at its skyline from here.”
towards Port Pirie where the large chimney of the smelter stood
and a faint outline of the city could be seen.
After they’d all
told me their stories of how they all once owned a Morris Minor
or they had a relative who did, they wished me the best of luck
with my trip and moved on. Just behind me was a caravan park and
campground, I checked in and set up my tent and then walked to
the end of the jetty, returning to the only pub in town, the
Continental Hotel for a meal in their classic old dining room.
Next morning I
drove down to Port Pirie. The city’s reason for being is based
on the huge quantity of ore which comes from Broken Hill and
which is smelted into lead, silver and zinc. The other major
industry in this industrial city is the storage and transport of
wheat. Most travellers would probably give this industrial town
a wide berth. The chimney that you can see from miles away, is
the first sign that you’re headed to what could be a busy
industrial city. But the town has some interesting history and
some classic old architecture on the city’s main street. I
called in and spent a couple of hours at The Railway Station
Museum. That was the first railway station in the city, a new
one having been built at the opposite end of town in recent
years. But this didn’t last long as a railway station. Since
buses took over from trains it’s now another museum and houses
the tourist information centre. The station has the last
passenger train between Adelaide and Port Pirie still sitting at
platform one. The city was having its annual Christmas parade
and the station was being used for a covered market, local craft
and industry display center. Members of the local Classic and
Vintage Restorers Club were there with their cars which included
a 1953 Morris Minor. I couldn’t find the owner, so I didn’t get
to find out if it was powered by a side-valve engine or not.
done a tour of the town, it was time to move on again. Adelaide
was just 230 kilometres away. I thought that I’d drive until I
got to the outskirts of Adelaide then find somewhere to stay or
camp for the night. After a two and an half hour’s drive I
reached the outer suburbs. Hotels and campgrounds were few and
far between. I stopped off at a couple of pubs and a motel but
they were all full. I continued on and soon found myself in the
middle of the city. I didn’t have a good map of the city but
found a sign pointing to the seaside suburb of Glenelg. I headed
in that direction. Glenelg is also a popular holiday
destination, so there’d be plenty of places to stay. It was now
well after dark so a motel or a room at a pub was on order. But
every motel I came across had the “No Vacancy” sign lit up out
front of their establishments. I stopped by a pub and asked
about a room.
mate, in fact I think you’ll find it hard to find a room
anywhere in Adelaide this weekend,” said the barman.
occasion, school holidays?”
cricket is on.”
I went back out
to Hewie and did another spin around the suburb - just maybe
there was a motel I had missed. I came across one with a large
sign out front “Corporate Rates” I walked up to the main
entrance and rang the door bell – no answer. Then I rang it
again and again. A woman came along and stopped, got out of her
car, came over and also pressed the button. Nobody came out. She
said she’d made a booking there, rang a few more times, then got
back into her car and drove off in disgust. I went back to
Hewie made myself as comfortable as possible and went to
sleep for the night.