Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Eyre today

Day 8

- in which our Eyre Peninsular road trip in honour of Australia Day takes us to KIMBA

It had grown cold during the night. My American quilt was too thin, even with two sarongs on top. What a weird summer it has been so far. Lovely mild days, albeit windy by the sea. But never more than about 25 by day and down to a nippy 11 or so in the early hours. Bruce, already at home in his new kitchen, makes eggs scrambled with chilis and asparagus for me and eats leftover bog sauce piled high on toast. We manage to liaise another snap of time on Nomadnet. Again given for free for whatever the problem has been with the servicce. This time, its strange limit is barely used. I catch up a bit but can't seem to read the Tiser. It jumps around the won't show pages. And this is not the Tiser App. Hmm.

A last quick swim in that glorious pool of the Streaky Bay Motel and Villas. We love this place. It is all class, beautifully appointed, everything thought of - and yet only $20 more a night than that abysmal dump up the road. I don't want to leave. I vow to return.

Off on the road, we strike inland towards Poochera. Long, straight roads with lush and beautiful scrub on the verges. Open farmland. Tiny settlements. Huge, prosperous stations. Vast acreages of wheat stubble, sometimes ploughed brown and maybe seeded. It is food bowl country in this big brown land. We don't see a lot of traffic. A car or caravan now and then. At Minnipa, we follow the signs to see Tcharkulda Rock formations. This requires yet more dirt roads. The car already is covered in the pale dusts of the region. It has seeped in to every join and crevice as well as all over the red exterior. Bruce has finger-written "Hi" on the back window. And here we go, creating another great plume of dust.

The rock formations are fascinating, but not so easy to see because of trees all around. There is a little ruined hut. We take pictures and wander a bit.

On to Wudinna which also is famous for its great granite outcrops, in this case, the sacred Turtle Rock. I was determined B should see it, so off we bumped, out of town on the unsealed roads. The novelty of dusty dirt roads wears off after a while, even with our purpose-built all-wheel vehicles.

Turtle Rock is no longer as easy to admire in its sleek scale as it was when I was there a couple of decades ago. It is on private land and one cannot get very close. But the landscape is stunning. But we drove out, parked the car and just relished the rock and timeless vistas. It was good for the soul, if not for the female bladder. Back in Wudinna, we had the devil of the time finding the public loo at the sportsground.

But what we did find in darling Wudinna was a chic little cafe for lunch. We chanced upon it in a backstreet. Alicia's. So inviting. So charming.

The perfect, welcoming watering hole for the traveller with a stylish outback theme inside corrugated iron walls. We ordered lovely fresh home-cooked chicken wraps and coffee. Oh, yes, could not quite resist the fresh carrot cake, served with a warm country smile by its maker.

Last leg of the day was to Kimba where we were booked into the pub for the night. Wonderful, sprawling old country pub it was, too. Our room was in the "modern" section out the back, a sort of motel room. It was not terribly nice.

In fact it was pretty dire. But there was a crude verandah where Blossom could sun herself. I had our own bedding and pillows so we made the best of things and headed off for an adventure walk to visit the famous Big Galah. It was big. And pink. We shopped in the Galah souvenir shop chatting with an extremely pleasant assistant. Back into the dusty day and down the road, we were a bit peeved to find the Kimba museum was closed, despite signs saying that at this hour it should be well and truly open. Oh, well.

Returning to the hotel, we hopped into the car to drive the dirt roads up to the town lookout correctly known as White's Knob Scenic Lookout. There zany irony sculptures remember the man it's all about - Edward John Eyre. He was the first explorer to cross the country from east to west. He discovered the Gawler Ranges and the Sturt Desert Pea. Lake Eyre and the Eyre Highway are named after him - and Eyre Peninsula.

And Kimba's great claim to fame is that it stands in the middle of Eyre's greatest journey. It is the halfway mark in a trip across Australia.

Of course, no such significant place would be complete without a golf course. And there it was. Befitting its location at the Gateway to the Outback, its "greens" were brown earth and the tees were bitumen. The arid option.

We drove around the wide streets of Kimba, getting a feel of the town. Once prosperous, it was not much of a happening place. The old pub was its most imposing feature. Therein, we had reserved a table for dinner.

It was all a bit disorganised when we got there. The pub was relatively busy.

I knew better than to try to order fish there. I was ready for hearty country steak and veg. Bruce ordered bangers and mash. It was a long wait. Then the food came. The steak was cold, small, tough, and awful. The veggies were unbelievably mean - a spoonful of mash, a spoonful of pea. Bruce's bangers and mash had almost no mash. All illusions of country pub and generous, man-sized serves went out the window. We were still hungry. I told the waiter I was a bit disappointed and he said the place was under very new management. We wandered off to see what else may be open in the town . Not much. Everything except the servo was shut. Crisps and crackers were about all there was to buy. How disappointing. We repaired to our quaint little room. The Internet was a failure so we watched something/nothing on the little TV.

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