Friday, 25 March 2016

Booky Cliffs Campground in Murray River National Park

After about an hour drive, we began to look carefully at the road signs, so we would not miss a turn to the national park Katarapko (a part of Murray River National Park). Of course we passed by the required turn, and had to turn around and drive back a little. Endless vineyards began as soon as we left town. Juicy grapes were swinging on the branches practically next to the window of our car, and we really wanted to try the sweet berries. However we could not... as it was private property...

Endless vineyards with juicy grapes, swinging on the branches. Berri, South Australia

The road to the national park was going through some kind of dried swamp. Vegetation around the road was grayish and looked dusty. On both sides of the road there were deep tracks in the dried marsh soil, left by the off-road vehicles that enjoyed mud driving in the wet weather. Nasty swamp smell penetrated into the car through the open window. We even felt depressed for a little while: Oh, my God, where are we driving??? However Alex encouraged us, he said that,  we have not yet reached the end point, and it could be even more interesting then.

Riverland: Fresh Fruit Directly from the Local Gardens

Approaching the border with Riverland we looked for the road pointer to the quarantine bin, where travelers should dispose all their fruits and veggies, as they are not allowed to be brought to the Riverland. As we mentioned earlier in the other article, the import of plant foods to the territory of Riverland is forbidden to protect the local orchards from the fruit fly eggs, as this pest can destroy all the crops of the region. We knew about these rules, and did not carry any forbidden fruit, but we urgently needed to get rid of some apple cores and banana pills found in the car rubbish bin.

Riverland Visitor Information Centre with the Big Orange Tree

The Way to Riverland: Free Coffee in Barossa Valley and Chocolate Disaster

This March is full of "long weekends" due to public holidays. So we are going on a journey again. After the last off-road adventures in the Gawler Rangers National Park, we decided to take a break from long tiring driving on the highway as well as from off-road trails. This time we decided to spend the week-end in the Riverland - beautiful place at the junction of the three states - South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. This region, located in the valley of the Murray River is famous for its beautiful orchards and vineyards.

Campground in Katarapko River Murray National Park, which was chosen by Alex, by our standards, was very close from our home - just 240 kilometres, or a little less than three hours of driving. So we relaxed, left home around 11 a.m, and decided to drive leisurely and with pleasure. We have previously mentioned, that we are not the "racers". We get much more pleasure from that what we see through the window of the vehicle and during the stops than from the speed of the driving itself. We are sincerely sorry for those who miss so many interesting things driving at the highest speed.

Driver Riviver Free Coffee in Barossa Valley.  Nuriootpa, South Australia
Driver Riviver Free Coffee in Barossa Valley

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Once Again Meningie: Bushranger Astride an Ostrich

Children asked us to stop once again in the town of Meningie, on the same playground, where they played at the beginning of our journey. We readily agreed, mindful of the fact that across the road from this site was a little nice coffee shop, and we were dreaming of a cup of coffee for a long time. Alas, the coffee shop was closed, and in a small cafe just down the street the coffee machine was cleaned just before our visit. So instead of a cup of coffee, we had to walk along the lake shore.

Lake Albert foreshore. Meningie, South Australia
Lake Albert foreshore. Meningie, South Australia

From Robe to Kingston SE: Unexpected Turn Out to Wangolina SA

We left Robe and drove in the direction to Kingston SE. The distance between these towns is really short, less than 50 km, so we hoped to cover this way in half an hour. But the road has made adjustments in the form of a huge truck, that tailgated us. It chased us, and did not keep the distance.

It is necessary to say that here in Australia it is taught everywhere and constantly reminded (even on road signs along the roads) that the distance between the two cars should be kept at least 3 seconds. Certainly, that for heavy trucks this distance must be substantially longer.

This driver did not keep even these three seconds, forcing us to increase the speed of above permitted. It was pure hooliganism, because this truck could easily overtake us on the empty road. We could not even pull over to give him way. Such a maneuver requires braking, however a deceleration at the such distance from a heavy truck would be fatal for us...

Hidden Treasures in South Australian countryside, Wangolina SA
Hidden Treasures in South Australian countryside, Wangolina SA

Little Dip Conservation Park: Up and Down Through the Dunes

After the driving lesson we drove on through the dunes. We have already understood that there is nothing to do there without the sand flags - on the steep climbs and descents, they can be seen due to the pass and warn of oncoming traffic. So Alex pulled out and attached to the bull bar prudently stored fishing rod with a ribbon on the top. This flagpole was not too high, but nevertheless it already provided a certain safety. (Looking ahead, I want to say that  we were not the only ones went with a fishing rod. We met a few vehicles equipped in the same way. This was not surprising, if we compare the cost of the sand flag and of the common folding fishing rod ...)

Driving through sand dunes along the beach trail in Little Dip Conservation Park

Little Dip Conservation Park: Driving Lesson on the Beach

The closer we approached to the ocean, the louder and clearer became it's sound. However, all the time when we stopped for short photo shoots, it seemed that it was not an ocean, but the sound of the other car behind the dunes. After passing about a kilometre, Alex has decided to reduce the tire pressure, as the road became more rocky and sandy. While he was busy with the wheels, Victoria, along with the camera went to explore the dunes, and, when climbed several metres, joyfully shouted that she saw the ocean. In the gap between two dunes shining blindingly blue ocean waves crashed with foam and spray.

Another group of serious off-road rigs in Little Dip Conservation Park
Another group of serious off-road rigs in Little Dip Conservation Park

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Adventures on the Way to Stony Rise Campground in Little Dip Conservation Park

The next stage in our journey started with the fact that a paper map and the road sings did not want to be synchronized at all, and showed the entrance to the park at the completely different sides. As it turned out later, they were both right, but we first trusted the road pointer. It brought us out of town, directed along the salty-sulfurous lakes, where Alex still stopped for a short photo shoot. Soon we saw a turn on a country road, which, as we were promised, would lead directly to our campground, poetically named Stony Rise (in Little Dip Conservation Park).

Little Dip Conservation Park, South Australia
Little Dip Conservation Park, South Australia

From Meningie to Robe: Simple Pleasures of the Road

Rested a bit in Meningie, we have gone further. Looking through the car window, we watched the monotonous landscapes. By the way, in Australia monotonous landscapes for tens of kilometres is a common thing, but indeed they are incredibly beautiful - only if you want to see this beauty. But this time, the picture changed quite quickly. We arrived at the shore of a dried-up salt lake, the cracked bottom of which was  covered with whitish-pink salt crystals. There were many spectacular wooden poles and trunks of dead trees sticking out of the ground. Of course, Alex immediately went to take pictures of the breathtaking views. When he came back, he presented Sasha with a large salt crystal for his collection. Needless to say that all the kids tried the taste of this piece of mineral.

Dried Salt lake near Meningie, South Australia

Meningie: a Little Stop on the Lake Albert Shore

Any birthday in our family is not just a holiday, but a good reason to go on a road trip. It has become a tradition. This year Sonia's birthday successfully happened on Saturday. In addition,  a few days before nice guys from "MTQ Engine Systems"  finally diagnosed and treated mysterious malfunctions of our Delica, which no one could handle anymore. So, they gave us a great opportunity to travel in a healthy and vigorous vehicle.

Lake Albert foreshore in Meninge, South Australia
Lake Albert foreshore in Meninge, South Australia