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Adelaide and some more of South Australia

Adelaide

On February 1st we left the beautiful, peaceful Barossa Valley for Adelaide. We had to cross the Adelaide metropolitan area to reach the Marion Holiday Park. It was not a lot of fun, towing a large caravan through busy traffic on unfamiliar roads in heavy rain with a bursting bladder. However, we arrived safely, albeit with frayed nerves and crossed legs. Since leaving Perth, the caravan had travelled 3,500 km and the car approximately double that.

Adelaide greeted us with cold, wet weather - the coldest February afternoon in 50 years, according to the newspaper. The next day we visited the centre of Adelaide and were initially overwhelmed by the volume of traffic and people, having spent the last two months in little country towns. For us, smart suits and ties were from a previous life. In the afternoon we drove up to the peak of Mount Lofty to look down over Adelaide. The temperature was 10° Centigrade and it was hailing. In summer!

Anyway, lets get back on to familiar territory . . .

Q. Who discovered and named Mount Lofty?
A. Matthew Finders discovered and named Mount Lofty.

This time our boy spied it through his telescope from Kangaroo Island. C'mon, Matt, isn't this pushing it a bit?

Good thing he didn't have satellite technology, he'd have 'discovered and named' everything on the face of the planet. Wonder who Lofty was? His girlfriend, perhaps?

Adelaide

Adelaide from cold and wet Mount Lofty. The plaque (inset) is mounted
on Flinders Column, a structure resembling a lighthouse.

But back to Adelaide city. Notwithstanding the weather we really liked this well laid out, vibrant city which has retained many of its attractive old buildings and managed to blend the modern buildings with them. We found Adelaide easy to navigate and the road signs were clear, plentiful and well-placed. The city is centred around attractive Victoria Square, a diamond-shaped park with lawns and a fountain.

Victoria Square

Unfortunately a lamp post divided my chosen view of Victoria Square (above left)
but a quiet word to the City Council did the trick (above right).

Rundle Mall was great fun. A relaxed atmosphere with lots of shops, street performers, a few pigs, a bear and plenty of places to eat and drink.

Pigs

There were four bronze pigs - don’t know the story behind that - but Pam found a bear to cuddle.

Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall in Adelaide centre, and a very talented escape artiste who kept the crowd amused.

The escape artiste in the picture very nearly came unstuck. He had pulled an Asian girl from the crowd to assist him, giving her three very big knives. He then told his audience that he was going to get her to throw them at him as hard as she could. As he spoke he was standing in front of some children. Without warning she threw a knife at him. The whole thing was a joke, he never intended her to throw the knives - the girl misunderstood. Fortunately he caught it but it could have been tragic.

The Adelaide Hills were fun to explore, having lots of little villages, many of which have a German influence. Having hammered the adjective 'picturesque' well nigh unto death in these pages, I'm reluctant to use it again. Alternatives such as scenic, quaint and charming apply equally well to these villages. One of them, Birdwood, is home to a fabulous motor museum with hundreds of old cars and motorcycles on display. We spent hours there.
Hahndorf

Another village, Hahndorf, had - as the name suggests - a very strong German influence. It was originally settled in 1840 by German Lutherans. The name Hahndorf means Hahn's Village; Dirk Hahn was the captain of the ship which brought the Lutherans to Australia. He was so impressed with his passengers, who were fleeing religious persecution, that he sought out some fertile land on which they could settle. To show their appreciation they named their village after him.

Hahdorf

The Leafy Avenue at Hahndorf

In 1885, after much consultation between the residents, the main street was planted with three hundred leafy trees to add a new charm to our pretty village. And it did! Some of the trees were unsuccessful and were replaced with different kinds. Today, thirteen different varieties of tree are to be found there. In 1974, when the power lines were put underground, branch lopping ceased, allowing the trees to grow naturally and form an arch over the road as they had before the days of overhead cables.

Below is a mish-mash of pics from Hahndorf. Sorry about the quality, sometimes the file size must take priority over image quality or you'd die of old age waiting for it to download. What about the centre picture at the bottom - what's a Bavarian Bum Burner, I wonder?

Hahndorf collage

During our stay at the Marion Holiday Park we met up a couple of times with Lyndon and Ann, two very nice people we’d become friendly with at the Tumby Bay caravan park. We spent a pleasant evening with them at the Marion Hotel. We discovered that the hotel’s car park had been the scene of a rather nasty incident a few weeks earlier when a woman allegedly threw petrol over her husband and set fire to him. The husband died of his burns. I kept a very close eye on Mrs Bucket until we were safely home again.

Ducklings

She looks harmless enough feeding the ducklings in the picture but . . . well, you just never know, do you?

Note the tenuous link to justify the picture which is there for no other reason than to make Pam’s sister Janet say, “Ahhh, look at the ducklings, Jimmy!”

While in Adelaide we also met up with Don, a friend of long standing, and his wife Lois. Don was a work colleague of mine for many years. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon and evening with them. Good to ‘catch up’ Don.

On a completely different subject, I dragged poor old Mrs B. to the Jet Fighter Museum which is situated at Adelaide's Parafield Airport. (Parafield would be the equivalent to Jandakot in Perth, or to Barton in Manchester.) Mrs B. was less than enthusiastic and declined to sit in the cockpit of any of the fighters, a reticence I certainly didn't share.

The restoration work on many aircraft was in full swing. It was fascinating to look at a pristine fighter after seeing photographs of it as a twisted, corroded wreck that had been dragged out of a bog on some faraway tropical island.

Apparently they had run up a jet engine just before we arrived. What bad timing!

Below are two views in the museum's hangar. Those who are interested will need no help in identifying the types; those who aren't won't give a damn anyway.

Jet Fighters

A Selection of Aircraft at the Jet Fighter Museum at Parafield Airport

All too soon it was time to leave Adelaide (at least for the time being) and move on to our next destination, Victor Harbor.
Victor Harbor.

We'd heard a great deal about Victor Harbor, all of it good, and we were not disappointed. Situated on the shores of Encounter Bay, the town was originally named by one Captain Crozier in 1837. He named the town Port Victor after his ship, H.M.S. Victor. Some time later it was changed to Victor Harbour because, according to legend, a ship's captain confused Port Victor with Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula. Imagine the scene in the harbour master's office:

Come in Captain. Shut the door, there's a good chap, keep the flies out. Now what can I do for you? . . . No, not here, mate. Yes, I'm sure. Let's have a look at your docket . . . It's Port Victoria you want - this is Port Victor . . . No, not that far, just round on the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula . . . Well, I dunno mate - in that tub of yours and with the wind as it is, two, perhaps three weeks . . . No need for that, Captain. Ain't my fault, now is it?

And so, rumour has it, Port Victor became Victor Harbour.

Around 1912 the 'u' in Harbour was somehow misplaced and the town became Victor Harbor. So where did the 'u' go, we wanted to know.

Station

We enquired of several learned people and received a different answer from each. The most plausible explanation is that there was a spelling mistake in a communication to London from the Surveyor General's office and the spelling 'Harbor', thereafter, was set in stone. We had all but decided to settle for that but . . . then we found it. As you can see in the picture, it was on the railway station all the time! So there we are, mystery solved.

Of course, there's another question to be answered. If Matt Flinders, with his penchant for naming everything in sight was around the area in 1802, long before Captain Crozier, how come he didn't name the town? The answer is simple; there was no town in 1802 (though, admittedly, that never stopped old Matt before). The bay was there, however, and Matt lost no time in naming it.

Encounter Bay was christened after a chance 'encounter' between Matt's sloop, Investigator, and the French corvette, Géographe, captained by explorer Nicolas Thomas Baudin. Matthew Flinders went aboard Géographe on 8th April 1802 for a chat with Nic Baudin. The meeting between these two world-famous explorers took place just 6 nautical miles from the mouth of the Murray River - yet neither of them discovered the Murray. Despite England and France being at war, the meeting between the captains was reported to be cordial. And if that was the case, don't you think Matt could have given Captain Baudin a turn at naming something for a change? Baudin Bay has a certain ring. But . . . that's our Matt. Who knows, perhaps he had a premonition that in the not-too-distant future he was to become a prisoner of the French for many years.

Victor Harbor started life as a whaling town but whaling ceased in 1872. These days it is probably South Australia's foremost holiday destination. It is only an hour's drive south from Adelaide and as a tourist resort, has much going for it. A short distance offshore there is a small island connected to the beach by a causeway along which run trams drawn by beautiful Clydesdale draught horses.

Tram

Granite Island possesses an excellent restaurant and is home to a colony of fairy penguins which are a major attraction after dusk.

A One Horsepower Tram

To the west, within easy reach by road, is Cape Jervis and the car ferry to Kangaroo Island. (Oops, sorry, that should be ‘K.I.’)

To the east is Goolwa on the lower Murray River and a marvellous tourist railway runs from Victor Harbor, alongside the surf beaches of Encounter Bay to Goolwa. Restored steam engines are often used to pull the trains.

Just a quick 'aside' here . . . and I must stress that what follows is my understanding of events. Finding anything in print is not easy because litigation is still proceeding and the whole business is very political.

Goolwa has a new bridge (shown behind the paddle steamer, Oscar W, in the picture below) linking it to nearby Hindmarsh Island. The construction of the bridge was a joint venture between a developer and the South Australian state government. It was held up for about fourteen years by protests from the Aborigines - some claim about Secret Women's Business.

The Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs declared a moratorium of twenty five years on the construction of the bridge. The State government called a Royal Commission which required the Aborigines to 'prove' their Secret Women's Business claim.

Hindmarsh Bridge

The bridge was given the go ahead by the Royal Commission and rapidly completed. By this time many millions of taxpayer's dollars had gone into the pockets of the lawyers and the cost of the bridge had blown out from $3 million to $15 million. A development, including a marina, worth about $250 million is now well advanced on the island which was previously mostly farmland. But noses have been put out of joint and it ain't over yet . . .

However, back to the railway and its origins. In the early 1800's, paddle steamers and barges carried inland produce such as wool and grain to Goolwa via the river systems of the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers. This freight was destined for Europe and America but it could not be efficiently transferred to ocean-going vessels at Goolwa due to a sand bar across the mouth of the Murray River.

In 1854 a railway was built to transport the freight along the coast to Port Elliot. The people of Port Elliot were delighted but their joy was short lived. Just ten years later, after one or two ship wrecks, the line was extended to the safer port at Victor Harbor. By linking the Murray River to a sea port, it captured for South Australia river trade from as far away as Queensland. Both goods and passengers were carried on the trains which were pulled by horses. The railway was designed for steam locomotives but until it was linked to Adelaide in 1884 the trains were horse drawn.

carriage interior

It was Australia's first public railway - in fact, the first government railway in the British colonies. On reaching Victor Harbor the track was extended out along the town's jetty so the trains could come alongside the lighters which ferried the freight to and from large, overseas clippers moored in deeper water. Very soon the little jetty struggled to handle the volume of traffic until some bright spark had an idea. The jetty was extended out all the way to Granite Island, becoming a causeway. On the island, two new jetties were constructed in deeper water and the railway lengthened to service them. Now the larger ships could come alongside and load directly from the trains, speeding things up no end.

So there you have it, a potted history of the railway which, to this day, extends out to Granite Island, though the trains terminate at Victor Harbor (or Harbour?) station. The causeway section is still serviced by horse drawn trams.

The line between Victor Harbor and Goolwa is maintained by the SteamRanger Heritage Railway - a volunteer organisation which operates the famous Cockle Train between the two towns every Sunday. And, naturally, we went on it.

That journey was an experience that we wouldn't have missed for quids. People on the beaches and at the level crossings waved and smiled as we passed and, drawn into the spirit of the occasion, we all waved back and the engine whistled loudly. The interior of the carriages had been beautifully restored, as can be seen from the picture (above).

207 on crossing

207 leaves Victor Harbor, hauling the Cockle Train to Port Elliot and Goolwa.

And just to round off a perfect day, the train dropped us back almost on the doorstep of the Anchorage Hotel where we had already boosted profits and established a good rapport with the bar staff. The Anchorage is different to most South Australian hotels in that there are no 'pokies' (slot machines), no TAB (betting agency) and no video screens covering the walls, simultaneously showing racing and every other imaginable sport and all with the sound turned off.

Anchorage Bar

In short, it's a place where you can have a nice, quiet glass of red.

The Anchorage, a bar with a difference.
Granite Island

One afternoon we caught the last tram across to Granite Island. It was a smooth and pleasant ride, rolling along at walking pace behind the Clydesdale draught horse. The water beneath the causeway was so shallow that even Mrs B. was relaxed. The tramcar, which runs on the old railway track, was built in 1986 but had recently been so beautifully renovated that I thought it was brand new.

On arriving on the island, and having our priorities correct, we booked a table at the restaurant for six o'clock. This gave us about an hour and a half to wander around and work up a thirst and an appetite. (Since when did we need an island to do that?) Granite Island possesses a network of good walking tracks, where necessary raised on boardwalks to enable the little penguins to pass unhindered. So we took a walk around the island which (the sign said) took forty minutes - and arrived back an hour and a half later in perfect time for the restaurant. We'd half expected, being somewhat cynical tourists and the restaurant having a monopoly on the island, to be ripped off and given indigestion for our trouble. But, surprise! It was exceptionally delicious, the service was good and it was reasonably priced! As was the statutory bottle of red wine.

At 7:30 pm we walked over to the island's Penguin Centre to learn about fairy penguins. We found we were just two of a crowd of about fifty people and we all sat in a darkened room and looked at a glass display case in which were two penguins standing outside their burrow. Not real penguins, but life-sized models that moved occasionally to add to the effect. Suddenly, from inside the burrow, walked a bright, attractive young lady but she was only half the size of the penguins! She chatted as she walked around the birds, telling us all about them. How it was achieved I don't know, but it was so effective that it would be worth visiting the island to see that alone.

Rock Outcrop

On leaving the Penguin Centre - it was fully dark by then - we gathered outside the nearby restaurant and divided into three groups. The guides had torches which gave orange-coloured beams so as not to spoil the penguin's night vision.

The home of the penguins - the granite cliff by day. The tram terminus is on the right.

We trooped around behind our guide and she first showed us a seal splashing around near the island's jetty. We then walked along the bottom of a large, granite outcrop as she searched for penguins that had just come ashore for the night.

At first we only saw a few possums but as our guide explained, the penguins are wild creatures and so finding them was pot luck. Then, finally, there they were. None were very close and it was hard to make out detail in the orange light, but nevertheless we saw them. Most of their burrows, on or around the granite cliff, are man-made but the penguins don't care, they adopt them regardless. One burrow, high on the rocks, is known as The Penthouse. Unfortunately, my faithful digital camera refuses to focus in the dark so I wasn't able to take any pictures, but - hey, you know what a penguin looks like.

Another attraction that we visited during our time at Victor Harbor was the Wild Rose Garden and Miniature Village. And, yes, you're quite correct, it was Mrs B. who wanted to go there and I only went to keep the peace. However, I was amazed, nay, astounded, to find that the miniature buildings were constructed, like the full-sized ones they emulated, of individual stones and bricks cemented together. The little bricks were all individually made and fired in a kiln. The corrugated iron, where used on the roofs, had been specially pressed and was to scale.

Mill

One picture can't do the model justice. There is much more at the back of the mill including
the engine house which was used when the stream was too dry to turn the water wheel.
The top of the engine house chimney can be seen above the roof of the mill.

The amount of work that had gone into these models was astonishing and if you think I'm exaggerating, the plaque next to the mill states that it took 1,000 hours to build. Try the maths; 40 hours per week for six months without an RDO, a sickie, a day's holiday or - for that matter - a pay packet! The model stands a little over a metre tall.

Alcohol Sign

Road Signs

Now a little frivolity. While wandering around Victor Harbor we repeatedly came across the sign on the left which appears to be total gobbledygook. Clearly, having or drinking alcohol at any time is banned except between 3 p.m. and 8 a.m. on New Years Eve when having or drinking alcohol is . . . banned. Huh?

And, if you really want to be pedantic, if the 3 p.m. referred to is on New Years Eve, then the 8 a.m. can't be. Unless, that is, time goes backwards. And still on the subject of signs, the ones in the picture on the right made us smile. The origin of ‘booze buses’, perhaps?

What really worries us is this apparent predilection of the authorities to prevent the consumption of alcohol. Could our partiality for the occasional drop of red be under threat here?

Our stay at Victor Harbor coincided with a large airshow at nearby Goolwa. Or was it such a coincidence? Either way, we were one of the first to arrive at the show and one of the last to leave. It was a fabulous day. All day long three helicopters were giving joyrides from an adjacent paddock and on our way out of the airshow we found that the last helicopter just needed one more passenger for the final flight. Pam had always wanted to fly in a chopper so, as it was clearly meant to be, she hopped in and went. When she came down it took hours for her huge smile to fade. There is a picture in her journal for March.

Of all the aircraft at the show, my favourite was a Douglas DC-3 (also known as a Dakota, a C-47, a Goonie Bird and many other affectionate nicknames). This Dakota had been built in 1942 and maintained in flying condition until 1979 when it was retired and mounted on a stand in the carpark at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. It remained there for eight years before being rescued by some of the staff of Australian Airlines who, with many volunteers, worked tirelessly to restore it to flying condition. In 1988, registered VH-AES, it flew again!

Dakota

The very distinctive lines (and sound) of the Douglas DC-3 Dakota. Back in the air aged 63.

I have to confess to having tears in my eyes as she flew over. As a lad (back when the earth was still cooling) I went to a school directly under the flight path for runway 24 at Ringway (now Manchester) Airport. Almost every aircraft that droned overhead in those days was a Dakota and, while I can't remember my teachers' voices and little of what they said, I will never forget the sound of those Pratt and Whitney engines. Many's the time my brothers and I cycled to Ringway to watch them land and take off. Ringway, in the post war years, was still more a fighter aerodrome than an international airport. But enough of the reminiscing. (Dabs eyes with handkerchief, moves on.)
Kangaroo Island

While camped at Victor Harbor we visited Kangaroo Island - K.I. to the locals. Visiting K.I. is something you do; it is almost mandatory. We decided against taking the caravan or car and stayed overnight in a very nice hotel, the Wanderer's Rest, (highly recommended) situated in an area called American River. The name is curious because there is no river. The 'American' part of the name came from a crew of American sealers who stayed on the island for several months in 1803. They killed so many seals that they couldn't fit them all in their brig, Union, so - ever resourceful - they built themselves a 35 tonne schooner from island timber, named it Independence, loaded it up and sailed away. Today the seal population has recovered and they are to be seen in large numbers on many beaches.

seal

Phew! About time I had a shower . . . but I'm too tired. Think I'll just go back to sleep.

Americans, too, are to be found in large numbers. We took two very interesting and informative SeaLink bus tours around the island and American accents were predominant, followed by French, German and English . . . but only one or two Aussies. (Pam and I were taken for Pommie tourists because of our accents.) There was an American woman in the bus seat behind ours who spent half her time using a mobile phone in such a manner that everyone on the bus heard every word. We really liked her.

Okay, who discovered and named Kangaroo Island? Yup, good old Matthew Flinders. When Matt and his crew arrived in 1802, they were surprised to find that the native animals had no fear of humans. That was because the Aborigines, who had once inhabited the island, died out two thousand years ago leaving no predators for the kangaroos to fear. Unfortunately the arrival of the white men soon changed all that. Even in these supposedly enlightened times, the slaughter continues. There are sixteen hundred kilometres of road on the island, about a quarter of which are sealed. The verges are littered with dead animals. Without exaggeration, we saw hundreds. Before our very eyes a wedge-tailed eagle, swooping on a fresh carcase in front of our bus, met an untimely end. Violent evasive action by both our driver and the eagle was in vain. There was not a thing the driver could do to prevent killing the bird and he was evidently quite distressed.

Pam on stone 'sun lounger'

Mrs B. relaxing on a 'rock lounger' at Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island.

There is, however, an altogether different aspect to the welfare of the island's animal population. Kangaroo Island still has about 47% of its area covered in native vegetation, and marsupials are found in abundance. Too much in abundance in the case of koalas, and farmers want them culled to reduce the damage they are doing to the trees. Shooting koalas is always an emotive subject and, not surprisingly, there has been an outcry. Strangely the Taiwanese are the loudest objectors; predictably the British are in there too.

An article in Adelaide's Sunday Mail illustrated how irrational the issue has become, highlighting some pertinent points:-
  1. The koala is not a native of Kangaroo Island. Twenty were introduced in 1920. Today they number thirtythousand.
  2. Koalas only eat one type of eucalyptus. Thirty thousand koalas consume or destroy 60 tonnes of foliage every day.
  3. Farmers are prevented from removing certain types of tree, including this particular eucalyptus, yet are not allowed to protect it from the koala.
  4. An alternative, and very expensive, program to sterilise numbers of koalas has not solved the problem.
  5. Farmers can obtain permits to control the numbers of native kangaroos, wallabies and possums - but not the introduced koala!
The arguments against culling are almost entirely emotional because koalas look cute and cuddly. On the other hand, the warty, ugly cane toad introduced to Queensland is breeding out of control. Every effort is being made to exterminate it. Can't hear any protests about that, can you? Okay, time to step off the soapbox.

Paddle Steamer Marion

The Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa

We delayed our departure from Victor Harbor for a few days so that we could attend the Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa. The Murray River was alive with steam powered boats of all shapes and sizes from the Paddle Steamer Marion (shown in the picture) to small craft not much larger than rowing boats with little funnels belching smoke and passengers with huge smiles. If a larger steamer blew its whistle, all the others would join in.

On one occasion the arriving steam train from Victor Harbor added its own whistle to the cacophony. The little railway station was right in the middle of the festival.

To add to the atmosphere, James Morrison was there with his band and his music could be heard everywhere. We were standing on top of that bridge (to Hindmarsh Island) when a paddle steamer gave a long blast on its whistle, drowning out what James Morrison was saying. We heard him pause then call to the steamer, “We're in the key of F over here”.

To round off a very pleasant day we stopped off for a farewell dinner at our favourite watering hole, The Anchorage, in Victor Harbor. The time had come to move on further south.

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