The Eyre Peninsula

Sometimes the loveliest places aren’t in the guide book and Arno Bay, halfway down the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula, is one of them.  With a shop, a post office, a playground, a pub, a caravan park and a jetty, Arno Bay has everything you need without the crowds.  Population: 500.  The main occupation seems to be fishing.

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Lee getting ready to ride the dune

The man at the front desk of this friendly park lent us sand boards and told us where to go sandboarding on the dunes at Point Gibbon.  He also mentioned we may see some sea lions.  I wasn’t holding my breath.  Scientists estimate that there are only about 14,700 Australian sea lions left in the world—they were hunted nearly to extinction in the 19th century. 

After some exhilarating rides down the dunes, I wandered over to the rocky point with R, and, sure enough, right in front of us was a large brown Australian sea lion, basking on a rock in the sun.  Then we saw two more.

I turned around and waved my arms to get K’s attention—she and Lee were a hundred meters away and would never be able to hear me shout over the sounds of the sea.  I signed “sea lion, here”.  K ran over and we watched them for a while before the three large creatures ambled awkwardly into the water, “walking” on their back flippers, and then diving gracefully into the waves.

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K with sea lions on the Eyre Peninsula

 

courtesy of Lizpenfold.com

 

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The Flinders Ranges

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Mount Remarkable National Park, SA

Mount Remarkable National Park is located 238 kilometres north of Adelaide in the Flinders Ranges.  This mountain range began forming about 800 million years ago, when Australia was still connected to Antarctica and the area was a shallow sea.image

The creeks here are dry in summer and the landscape is hauntingly beautiful.  Massive red river gum trees shine silver in the evening light.  I walked to Hidden Gorge, where jagged orange rock walls rose up around me.  It certainly felt hidden—I didn’t see another soul on the 18 k walk, excepting a few kangaroos and emus.

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Hidden Gorge, Mount Remarkable National Park

 

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Baroota Homestead Ruins

We also visited the Baroota Homestead Ruins, where early pioneers tried their luck at running sheep from the 1850s.  And mostly failed.  First came draught, then floods.  These settlers had been told the area could support 50,000 sheep; realistically, it could only run about 2,200.  We tried to imagine their isolated life: no shops, no doctors and that relentless South Australian heat.

Our stay was comparatively comfortable.  Mambray Creek Campground has hot showers, dishwashing facilities, and flush toilets.  And, after paying for an $85 SA parks pass, we can stay in any national park campsite for no extra charge for two months.  Bargain.  We love South Australia.  They even gave me a library card that I can borrow books on and return them to any SA library along the way.

Next stop: The Eyre Peninsula.

 

Adelaide

The capital of South Australia has a population of 1.2 million, but everyone insists it’s just ‘a big country town’.  The major grocery stores are open from 11-5 on Sundays and all grocery stores here will be shut for three days over Easter.  The pace is slow; people are friendly.

But it’s HOT.  The beauty of cooking outside in a camp kitchen vanishes when it’s 40 degrees.

We’ve paused in Adelaide for a couple of weeks because K is going to a fabulous school: Klemzig Primary.  It’s public, but it looks like a posh private school.  There’s a new wing, purpose built for deaf students with windows for walls and plenty of space for circular tables.

There are about five other deaf kids in K’s class.  The rest are hearing, but many of them are CODA (children of deaf adults) so Auslan is their first language.  Everyone signs.  The teacher is deaf and signs all day.  K is in heaven.  Many of the lessons include something hands-on—they walked around the school for math the other day, finding things that were odd and even.

Adelaide seems very deaf friendly.  We went to Kids Weekend at Writer’s Week, which was all free, and all the readings under the big red tent were interpreted.  K, who is a voracious reader, sat there, mesmerized (from 9.30-4.30) by author after author talking about the inspiration for their books and reading and just generally being funny in the case of Andy Griffiths.

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Andy Griffiths

During the day, when Dad’s at work and K’s in school, R and I escape to the Art Gallery of South Australia (my favourite) or the Museum, with its famous giant squid (R’s favourite) or the library, where they’ve given us a temporary library card, all of which are air-conditioned.

And when it gets too hot, we hop in the car of an evening and head to one of the beaches.  Glenelg is pretty, with an amazing playground and a cool sea breeze.  Ahhhh.

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Glenelg
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Ethel Wreck, Innes National Park
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Pandalowie Beach, Innes National Park SA

Last weekend, for the three day weekend, Cup Day (only in Australia do you get a public holiday for a horse race) we drove down to the southernmost tip of the Yorke Peninsula and camped at Innes National Park.  There was a stunning surf beach where we went boogie boarding, but not too far out as it’s a bit ‘sharky’ here.  There were quiet blue bays and ruins of shipwrecks.  It was lovely to get away from the crowded city caravan park.

Next week we’ll leave Adelaide and head west, back to the bush!