Day 81 – 23 Sep 2012 – At Smoky Bay

Like last night, although unable to get TV reception we did get the ABC radio coverage of the Hawthorn/Adelaide AFL semi-final. Ian was quite relieved when Hawthorn just scraped through to win by 4 points.

Following the strong winds all day, it was windy all night, but not gale force like the night before. Some of our fellow ‘campers’ had left early once more and we left around 8.15am. First town was just 14kms – Nullabor.

Just outside Nullabor was a sign saying you are now entering the Nullabor Plains – the treeless desert. They were right – not a tree in sight for quite a long time.

The Nullabor Plains – ‘treeless desert’

We then drove through Nullabor and, 14kms further on, turned off on a 12km road to an area called ‘Head of Bight’. This is a whale spotting cliffside walkway which has been well set up for tourists to come and see the Great Southern Whales which come here to calve and raise their calves in the quiet and safe waters here. This facility is on Aboriginal Land – Yalata Community – and there was a small cost of $10 each. Well, it was more than worth it.

Female Whale and her calf

All up we spotted 12 whales and their calves. Some were very close to the shore – the walkway goes out over the cliff so you get a good look down on to the water. Just MAGIC. At one stage one of the youngsters was quite frisky in the water and then his mother followed suit so it was lovely to see. Most of the time they just swam very slowly together. It was absolutely amazing.

Part of the viewing walkway at Head of Bight

While we were there Ian got talking to another couple who wanted to know all about our Traveller Caravan as they were going back to Geelong to up-date their own Van and were interested in the Traveller Brand Van. Naturally, Ian told them they were going to the right place and pointed them to Caravans-R-Us at Geelong where we bought ours, but to try to deal with Leon Blackney, because we found him much more approachable and knowledgeable than Kean the other part owner. We let them have a look inside our Van and they were ‘sold’ immediately.

We spent over an hour watching the whales and then headed back to the Highway and stopped at a small township called Penong where Ian re-fuelled while I went in to the take-away section and bought us some lunch as we did not have any fruit and could not buy any until after the Quarrantine Check Point at Ceduna. We then drove a few kms. out of the town and parked on a slight hill and ate our lunch. The countryside was now becoming more agricultural and we were seeing more and more cropping, although they did not look to be growing all that well.

We then drove to Ceduna where we went through the Quarantine Check Point. The chap just looked in our fridge, asked me to show him where I would normally put potatoes and onions and had a look at that empty space and said ‘OK. You’re right to go’. We were surprised. We had heard they often went over the van and car very thoroughly. Maybe they can judge people and choose who and who not to check out more fully.

We then drove into the town of Ceduna and went to the local supermarket and bought up on enough fruit and vegies to last us for the next 4 days or so. It is a lovely little town right on a harbour – the main street actually looked right out on to the water.

We had decided to drive a bit further on to a place called Smoky Bay for the night so drove the next 38 kms to that spot. This is such a pretty little beachside town. The caravan park is right on the beach and after we had parked the van, we went for a walk along the beach and saw they had a long, long jetty so walked along that as well. The view was lovely and it was certainly picturesque. The only drawback was that the wind was blowing quite strongly and it was quite cold so we just sat at a wind shelter for a while. This is an oyster production area and we saw a couple of strange, quite shallow type boats take off from the boat ramp and head out to the oyster farm area, so that was interesting.

We asked the chap at the Park Reception why is it called Smoky Bay. He said he could not remember which explorer was sailing by way back in the 1800’s, but when he did sail by there was a big bushfire and all the bay was filled with smoke. Makes sense!

During our travels we have seen some interesting road ‘warning’ signs and today there were signs warning ‘wombats, camels, kangaroos’. At one stage there was a sign which soley said ‘Wombats’ – What a shame to know how right they were. We must have seen over a dozen dead ones in quite this small stretch of road. Apart from them, we saw no other road kill all day considering yesterday was quite some carnage.

Quite a few times during our trip we have also passed signs saying ‘dog fence’ so today I was finally able to get a photo of it. It is worth ‘googling’ just to see what an amazing fence this is.

The dog fence on the Nullabor

This was a fence built way back in the 1880’s and starts in the Darling Downs in Queensland and ends on the cliffs of the Nullabor Plain here on the Eyre Peninsula. It is one of the longest structures in the world and is the world’s longest fence – 5,614 kms long. It was built to protect sheep flocks from dingoes and has been reasonably effective but of course over the time since it was built many holes have occurred and dingoes have been able to access these areas. We guess it would also be some deterrent to other feral animals. It would be a major job to keep it in reasonable condition!

In making plans on further travel we noticed there was a ferry which crossed Spencer Gulf from Cowell to Wallaroo so thought we would look into the cost of doing that voyage. But the cost is a little too prohibitive – $30 a metre for a car and van (13 metres all up), plus $29 each for the 2 of us. Such a shame as it would have been an interesting way to travel. Maybe one day.

We are pleased to be in a Park tonight because it is quite cool and we can at least put our electric blankets on before going to bed. We are getting soft in our retirement!

Lots of love, Janese and Ian

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