Soft rain and grey skies greeted us on Wednesday morning. The pet chilli plant was able to feel the elements for a while and I went for a swim in the lovely motel pool before we packed the car, went shopping for things we had forgotten to bring, such as straws for our Pimms, and then meandered out to the Arid Botanic Gardens for lunch and a walk amid the plants. We love this place.
And then it was back on the road and south down Eyre Peninsular to the steel town of Whyalla. It was a mighty mecca in its day and it is still a really striking place, its red-roofed industry juxtaposed against a vivid azure sea.
The shallow bay lured us down for closer examination: those colours like nowhere and nothing else; a well-tended foreshore, perhaps too much so; a lot of cement paving and strange zig-zagging roadways onto the beach; playground and exercise machines; an elaborate sculpture of a diver beneath a school of fish; a white sandy strand with moderate seagrass; indifferent seagulls. We ordered a cup of tea at the cafe and sat in the brisk breeze enjoying this very different view before using spotless loos and and resuming our drive, noting as we went the darling old workers' cottages.
There followed a long, straightish drive down a beautiful road through undulating scrublands with the plan to hit Cowell with plenty of daylight.
Cowell's great claim to fame is as an oyster-producer. It used to be a major grain port but times have changed and now its exquisite, pristine waters are home to big, beautiful, delicate oysters - knee-tremblers, if you are an oyster-lover of my ilk.
We booked a table in the pub for dinner and went off for an exploratory walk down to the jetty, looking out to where the oyster beds sit in the clear sea, finding a lovely mangrove boardwalk. It was a pleasant walk which gave us a strong sense of the place.
The feeling was very laid-back and quiet and yet the caravan park was crowded and the town's other pub was rocking with merry tourist business as we walked past.
Funnily enough, our pub was very, very quiet indeed. It would seem to be out of fashion, patronised more by locals than tourists. We ate at a side table in the dining room, fascinated by the quaint old salad bar with its lace-motif plastic flaps to protect the food from the famous Aussie flies.
I had Cowell oysters, of course. A dozen. Presented in four different ways; specialty of the house. The food was not gastronomically remarkable. It was strictly country-pub. And off we trotted to our great big house to stretch out in the upstairs living room and watch the telly.