Day 9. Sunday 6 Aug.
At least four big freight trains plus numerous BIG trucks through the night. D counted the trains: T says her earplugs kept disruption to a minimum. So why does she complain about D’s snoring?
A long, windy (as in strong breeze – the road was pretty straight) drive to Peterborough (formerly Peterburg) for a coffee at a delightful retro café in the old Capitol picture theatre. Not only was the venue atmospheric but it was set up as a sort of museum, or perhaps more accurately a collection of diverse memorabilia, ranging from the movies to military hardware. D was taken by a Ford Prefect, which reminded him of the family car back in Blair Athol days (he later remembered that it had been a Ford Consul, not a Prefect – a slightly larger car for a family of five! It was the Consul that D helpfully refueled using the water hose; surprisingly this was something that Alec took well, and there was no punishment.
Another long stretch to Hawker, with even stronger head winds. As we travelled ABC news was advising of gale conditions in Adelaide and the southern parts of SA. It wasn’t that bad, but it was certainly unpleasant outside. Hawker is another ‘cute’ town, trying hard to attract tourists, although there weren’t many around. Visited the Jeff Morgan panorama gallery, which was excellent, reminiscent of the one in Broken Hill we’d visited several years ago. Jeff has achieved his dream purpose, painting God’s creation within a building which had also been built with the hands of God. T was taken by the reference to Psalm 65, with the desert hills clothed in green…
Dropped into the Wilpena Pound Visitors Centre, to confound the attendant behind the desk as we tried to pay for park and camping fees.
‘Where are you camping?’
‘Don’t know – somewhere north of here’
‘North of here’
Is there anything else?’
‘What about these spots on the map?’
‘Yes, you can camp there’
‘Ah, good, we’ll choose one of those’
‘ok, that will be $25 total. Which one?’
‘We don’t know yet. We’re on our way to Blinman and we’ll just stop along the way’.
‘If you’re going through to Blinman, then you don’t need to pay, because you’re just passing through the park’
While this conversation was happening, T was filling out the registration form, and D handed over $25.
The conversation continued:
‘Well, we’re not sure because we thought we might go on a bit further’
‘Is this your first visit?’
‘No, we’ve been several times. Last time we camped at Parachilna Gorge’
A light bulb went off!
‘Parachilna Gorge. Yes. Stay there. Then you don’t have to pay anything.’
He then scrubbed out the registration form, handed back the $25, and smiled at a job well done, explaining that he was just acting as the agent for the National Parks service. In all that exchange he was unfailingly polite as he dealt with these obviously deranged visitors.
In the end we left without paying anything, in the understanding we’d stop at Parachilna, outside the park, as he’d recommended, so no user (as we were transiting) or camping fees.
As we passed Dingly Dell we thought we might as well check it out. A camper already there, who was travelling in from the north, informed us that he’d intended to camp at Parachilna but had changed his mind because of the trees and strong winds. Sounded sensible, so that’s where we parked too. Our fellow camper said he’d sort out the camping fee tomorrow. We’d love to be there to see that!
Day 10. Monday 7 August.
Our skill as drought breakers continues. A drip…drip…drip woke us both up during the night. A light but insistent derizzle had set in, and we (re)awoke in the morning to an overcast, heavy sky and the remnants of the drizzle. The decision was made to push on to Maree to start the Oodnadatta Track.
Coffee at Blinman, and the sun peeped through, but the wind was still pretty cool. As we passed through the Flinders, the conditions eased, and T took some shots of the gorge at Parachilna.
Posting this at Leigh Creek, where its clear and sunny. It’s unlikely we’ll have internet connection for the next few days. This is a sad, sad town: everything so closed up that we thought today must be a public holiday. But no, the explanation is that the mine has closed, and industry in Port Augusta has also closed, so there’s nothing here to warrant the shops.