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Col's Big Trip (17/Final) Penola to Barmera.

Discussion in 'SA Trip Reports' started by BIGCOL, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. BIGCOL

    BIGCOL Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the final report from my big trip.


    My last report ended with me having just stopped at Cactus Beach and Port Sinclair.


    Twenty ks north of there on the main Highway is the town of Penong, it may be small but it punches well above it’s weight when it comes to things for the traveller to see. Located 75 ks west of Ceduna it has become a destination in it’s own right, especially now that the towns Windmill Museum is up and running.


    Around the area there were always plenty of windmills, they were used to pump water up from a water basin deep underground, due to the town and the surrounding district being so dry.

    Most of the windmills were being replaced by solar powered pumps and it was thought that many of the very old and quite unique windmills would be lost for ever, so the locals banded together to save them, and along the way created an open air museum which has attracted tourists to the town.


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    At a number of places across Oz, there are claims that they have the biggest windmill in Australia, some even claim in the southern hemisphere. Well here is another making that claim, but this one may be ridgy didge!


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    That Comet Windmill was one of only 15, 35’ windmills ever produced in Australia, it is thought that there are only 3 left. When it was restored the blades had to be rebuilt and apparently they made them a bit bigger than the originals so that this one is the biggest mother of them all!

    It has the capacity to draw water from up to 152 metres deep at a rate of over 1,000,000 litres per day!!!! pretty impressive I reckon.


    Now this next one in comparison looks quite funny, now us blokes know that it’s not the size that matters, but how it’s used or works that is the important part!!!!!


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    There were quite a few weird and wonderful designs on display as well.


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    This next one was one of my favourites, it was a home made job thought to have been built nearly 90 years ago.


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    Whilst travelling a back road heading towards Ceduna I spotted these ruins so pulled up to take a squiz.


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    They were the ruins of a homestead and other out buildings built by William Mckenzie (Mac) in the 1880s. They included a Blacksmiths Shop, Post Office, Saddlery, Slaughter Yards, several cottages and a Police Station. The whole complex was so grand it became known as Macs Town, apparently his dining room could seat up to 50 guests at one time!!


    He was a pretty industrious dude as well, not only was he a founding settler in the Denial Bay area, but at different times he was a wheat farmer, blacksmith, builder, harbour master, haulage contractor and even a justice of the peace!


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    Denial Bay has a lot of history, originally discovered by the Dutch in 1627 it wasn’t until 1802 that Mathew Flinders gave the area it’s name, when he was denied the opportunity of finding a fresh water river nearby.

    In 1840 Edward John Eyre met the cutter the Waterwitch in Denial Bay, it supplied him with fresh water to help him with his expedition to the west. I have mentioned that vessel in another report, it was the first European craft to enter the Murray River via it’s mouth. Built in Tasmania in 1835 she sunk in the Murray and was lost for nearly 150 years until it’s re discovery in the mid 1980s.


    The Denial Bay Jetty.


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    I needed to punch out a few more ks so I drove late into the day and bush camped about a 100 ks west of Kimba. The next morning before 7.00am (my second last day of this trip) I drove down the main street of that town, it was very quiet at that time on a Sunday morning which suited me fine. The first thing I photographed there was the recently completed mural on the side of the towns Silo.


    Just as well it was so early as you could not get close to or get a reasonable spot to photograph the silo with out going where a number of signs said you shouldn’t. Maybe later in the day the sun would help by being in a different spot, but at that time this was the best I could do, even though I was a metre or so inside the restricted area!!!!! (I think) Ha!


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    Another object that stands tall in town, I don’t tend to take these sorts of “things” usually but hey, I’m a bird lover/twitcher.


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    Just north of town I stopped at the Whites Knob Lookout to check out the Edward John Eyre Sculptures. The 3 metre high figures erected in 2011 are an artistic tribute to Eyre and his indigenous friend Whylie whose bush skills he so often relied on.


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    Most people travelling east from Kimba to Port Augusta would take the main highway, but not Big Col no way! On my maps I saw a dirt road heading towards Whyalla so another 100 ks of dirt was about to be done.

    Time and time again by taking those back roads, the roads and tracks that few venture on, I come across little gems of places. Sometimes they are scenic sometimes they are of an historical nature but more often than not I come across some sort of interesting place to see and enjoy.


    This time I came across a place called Secret Rocks and nearby Refuge Rocks. Secret Rocks were discovered and then named by Eyre as on the night he camped there he counted 11 individual Aboriginal campfires nearby, so he understood the importance of the area to them. He also named Refuge Rocks as when they were found, it was at a time when Eyre and his party had been without water for some days, at the base of those rocks he found a spring and so had found refuge from the dry land they had just crossed, hence the reason he named them Refuge Rocks.


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    As the surrounding area was quite sandy there was no surface water to be found anywhere so when pastoralists moved in they tried to maximise the water holding capacity of the natural hollows on the rocks by creating small dams.


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    The way Aboriginals tried to preserve water in these hollows was by often placing branches etc over them to help stop evaporation. On smaller deeper holes sometimes they would place a flat rock over the hole, like a lid. I was rapt to discover such a hole with it’s lid still visible. This hole was some distance up the round smooth rock face where no flat slabs or rocks were evident or nearby, so this lid had been carried some distance to it. It was on it’s edge in the hole, still very obvious what it was, it was again great to see such a connection to our native peoples history long before the coming of white man.


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    When I arrived in Port Augusta the weather was far better than what it was on my first day of this trip, so I decided to revisit a couple of spots and photograph them in better conditions.


    The main road bridge over the top end of the Spencer Gulf.


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    Although I featured what remained of the No. 4 Barge in my first report, I thought I would show you it again, this time featuring it’s construction. It was built in the 1880s at Morgan on the Murray, all the timbers used were Red Gum. I’m a chippie by trade and are fully aware of the weight of that timber, so when you see the size and amount of timbers used in it’s construction, the barge would have been soooo heavy!!!


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    Port Augusta was founded in 1852 as it was thought to be an ideal location for a Port. In the 1840s so called civilisation had extended into the Flinders Ranges and beyond, the need for pastoralists and graziers to get their crops and wool clips back to Adelaide easier than over landing it, was addressed by building a wharf there.


    Today there are many beautiful old buildings around town and it is worthy of a far longer critique than what I can do here. Previously I hadn’t spent much time there as I was usually on my way to far distant destinations and just passed through, never doing justice to it, so this time I decided to spend half an hour or so there!!!!!


    I saw far more than what I’m showing you here but this report is long enough any way so I thought a snap shot of the town would suffice.


    This is Seaview House, built by the Bank of South Australia as a bank in 1881, it ceased being a bank just 10 years later.


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  2. BIGCOL

    BIGCOL Well-Known Member

    Saint Augustines Church, 1882 and their Anglican Church hall.


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    The old Court House, 1884.


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    This Rotunda was built as a memorial to those who lost their lives in WW1, at the end of WW2 an additional plaque was added to remember those who lost their lives in that conflict.


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    The original Waterworks Building (1865) and then the administration building right next to it that was built a few years later, and another lovely building nearby.


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    There was heaps more I could have shown you, a beautiful town with many historical points of interest for those so inclined, as you can imagine I took heaps of pics but I have to move on with my travels and this report.


    My next stop was at Crystal Brook, as I entered town there beside the road was this Cairn.


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    The plaque in part read, “Edward John Eyre discovered and passed through this district in 1839, naming the Rocky River and Crystal Brook”.


    Our paths continued to cross!! There were quite a few lovely old buildings and some beautifully restored and maintained homes there, here are just a few for you to get the gist of what you can see in this town.


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    The Crystal Brook Hotel was established in 1875.


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    Just east of Crystal Brook I crossed over the Rocky River, as I did so I looked down and saw the original crossing. A natural Rocky base which had been enhanced a bit to allow for drays and the like to be hauled across by bullocks or horses.


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    In time that was not reliable due to rain events which made it difficult if not dangerous and so with increased traffic in the area, a new swisho state of the art bridge was built in the late 1800s


    The bridge and a photo showing the original crossing with the bridge in the distance.


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    But even that eventually couldn’t cope with increased traffic and so a newer one was built, the modern day bridge is so sterile and uninteresting.


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    I briefly stopped at Spalding to admire these old buildings, one being a church!! The first pic is the towns first school built in 1884 and the next the Saint Augustine Catholic Church.


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    I pushed on as I wanted to camp some distance from there that night (my last of this trip), As I was driving along I spied a unique tree on the side of the road, commonly called the Boot or Shoe Tree (Bootus Onfootus) it is called that due to the unique appearance of the flowers. If you look closely they look a lot like footwear that humans wear!!


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    A couple of shots taken beside the Murray near the Overland Corner Hotel.


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  3. BIGCOL

    BIGCOL Well-Known Member

    I had planned months earlier that on the last night of this trip I would camp on the northern shores of Lake Bonney, just near Barmera. Although I had never camped there before, I had passed through on numerous occasions and new it would be a great location to witness a sunset and sunrise over water, there are not a lot of locations where that can be easily done.


    A few pics from near my intended camp.


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    Maybe 50 metres from where I would pitch my tent were the ruins of the historic Lake Bonney Hotel. The original 11 room hotel started trading in 1859 and in addition to selling grog it was used as accommodation by stockman and travellers as it was right on the then Overland Stock Route between Adelaide and the eastern states.


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    If I had a good sunset, I knew I would be busy photographing it so I set up camp early and did some preparation my tea to be consumed later. Some say I do it pretty basic with my cooking but this being my last night on the road, I decided to pull out all stops and do one that would have most of you salivating over.


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    And the sunset was absolutely stunning.


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    And the stars above my camp that night were absolutely stunning.


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    And the sunrise that greeted me on my last day was again, absolutely stunning.


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    With the last of the colour just about gone, I packed up my camp and prepared to drive the final 700 ks back home to Melbourne.


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    Before leaving I stood alone at that spot for some time, reminiscing on what had been one of the most rewarding enjoyable trips that I had ever done in my lifetime. My feelings at that time were a mixture of exhilaration from what I had experienced over the past 5 weeks, and sadness as it was now just about over.


    I hope you enjoyed these reports, my trip was and I have said it before, absolutely stunning, a 14,500 kilometre journey through many diverse and beautiful parts of our amazing country.


    With a tear running down my cheek I hoped in my car and headed for home.


    Col.
     
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  4. 2002GU3

    2002GU3 Active Member

    well done Col, I've enjoyed reading about your trip (and learning a bit about Australia's history along the way) thanks mate !
     

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