Adelaide and some more of South Australia
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
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,
Adelaide from cold and wet Mount Lofty. The plaque (inset) is mounted
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.
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.
There were four bronze pigs - don’t know the story behind that - but Pam found a bear to cuddle.
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.
Another village, Hahndorf, had - as the name suggests - a very strong German
influence. It was originally settled in 1840 by German Lutherans. The name
; 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.
The Leafy Avenue at Hahndorf
In 1885, after much consultation between the residents,
the main street was planted with three hundred leafy trees to
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?
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.
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
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’
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
Apparently they had run up a jet engine just before we arrived. What bad
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
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.
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.
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
, and the French corvette, Géographe
captained by explorer Nicolas Thomas Baudin. Matthew Flinders went aboard
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.
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,
, 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
Secret Women's Business
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs declared
a moratorium of twenty five years on the construction of the bridge. The
government called a Royal Commission which required the
Aborigines to 'prove' their Secret Women's Business claim.
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
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
The line between Victor Harbor and Goolwa is maintained by the SteamRanger
- a volunteer organisation which operates the famous
Cockle Train between the two towns every Sunday. And, naturally, we went
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 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.
In short, it's a place where you can have a nice, quiet glass of red.
The Anchorage, a bar with a difference.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.)
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,
so - ever resourceful - they
built themselves a 35 tonne schooner from island timber, named it
loaded it up and sailed away. Today the seal population has recovered
and they are to be seen in large numbers on many beaches.
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
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.
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.
illustrated how irrational
the issue has become, highlighting some pertinent points:-
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.
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
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
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, “
To round off a very pleasant day we stopped off for a farewell dinner
at our favourite watering hole,
, in Victor Harbor.
The time had come to move on further south.
below to continue.
Footnote: This re-working of Page 4 was completed on 18 February 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level3.