The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

29 January, 2017

Eyre Peninsula and Tunarama


On the Australia Day weekend Port Lincoln hold the annual Tunarama, a festival over 4 days to celebrate the tuna industry in Port Lincoln. The weekend has a lot of activities which include a street parade, a local produce market, art, music and cultural entertainment and the famous tuna tossing event. Approx 25,000 people enjoyed the experience this year.

Rosie and Bill took us in for the Saturday parade and we stayed for the Tuna tossing. We caught up with Rosie and Bill's daughter who had a prime spot under a shady tree to watch the parade which consisted of mainly local clubs and businesses floats, all of which entertained us and the younger generation with lollies thrown their way.

One of the many floats in the street parade, this was a Variety Bash float called Runaway Brides

This may look like a large tea pot, but was actually a caravan. 

This was one bad boy John Deer tractor

The female winner of the tuna throwing competition

The Tuna tossing was a first for me and quite a different event - in short you throw a tuna weighing approximately 20 lbs as far as possible (quite a few different throwing techniques to achieve the longest distance).  In the past a few Hammer Throwers have won the event. There were 2 divisions, male and female with the winners being presented their trophy by the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull. This year, both winners had come from out of town and did an amazing job of throwing the tuna. The female winner throwing greater than 12m and the male throwing more than 18m.

From Port Lincoln we said our goodbyes to Rosie and Bill and headed along the west coast of Eyre Peninsula. Our first stop wasn't that far along, we stopped at Coffin Bay for a couple of days with Jenny and Frank. As we had visited Coffin Bay previously didn't feel the need to look around  but just enjoyed catching up with Frank and Jenny and being a 40 degree day, enjoyed being inside with airconditioning! They have built a lovely home and I enjoyed participating in tasting Fank's home brew Whisky, which was really good. Was lucky enough to be given a bottle to take with us and with Helen not being a fan of Whisky, I had it made!! We also enjoyed another feed of whiting and I was able to do a couple of early morning bike rides into the Coffin Bay National Park. We had a great catch up and thanks to Frank & Jenny for their wonderful hospitality.

Leaving Coffin Bay we travelled on Flinders Highway en route to Elliston. Called into Cummins Lookout where there is a memorial to Leo Cummins, Cray fisherman, who lost his life when a boat was wrecked. Had the sea on one side and Lake Hamilton on the other.  Stopped at Lake Hamilton Eating House which was used as a stopping place for coaches & travellers passing through until 1880s (built 1851-1857). Also stopped in at Locks Well but didn't stay long as caravans had to park in top carpark and it was a long way down to the beach.

View along coast from Cummins Lookout



Lake Hamilton Eating House, was used as a stopping place for coaches and travellers built in 1851-57

Little Bay Elliston

 Arriving in Elliston we HAD to stop at the Bakery for lunch (great bakery), then called into the local pharmacy to introduce ourselves to Helen's 2nd cousin, the pharmacy is known for its opening hours being from 12.30pm to 5.30 pm because he allows the morning for a surf. We then settled into the Elliston Waterloo Bay tourist park where we will stay for a couple of nights.

In the mornings I went for a bike ride around the coast - great bike track, then later we went for a drive around the area. First drove down Esplanade and around Little Bay Clifftop drive - fantastic scenery. Back into town drove to the jetty (one of the few screw-pylon structures), however it was closed due to storm damage then walked up the lookout, drove out to golf club (bit neglected) then back to donate more money to the bakery!  Drove the Anxious Bay Clifftop drive which was great - a few sculptures, great cliffs, nice bays. Ate our bakery delights on top of a cliff overlooking the surfing area (Black Fellows) then back to town again. What a good drive with spectacular scenery.


Waterloo Bay, Elliston is on the southern side of the bay.

Elliston Jetty, damaged by the storms

Elliston lookout overlooking Waterloo Bay, showing the damaged jetty.
Thong sculptures took my fancy. ...... tooo big though.


After Elliston we headed east stopping at Lock where Helen put some flowers on her paternal grandparent's grave which the family had recently restored. Had lunch at Cleve then camped at Yeldulknie Weir approx 5km east of Cleve.  Really nice camp area and well maintained by Lions Club who planted over 3,000 trees when originally setting up area for the locals to enjoy. Now opened to campers - donations appreciated.

Locks Big Thing - Wheat Lumping Scene. Lock Centenary Monument

Yeldulknie Recreation Area and reservoir 
Continued on Birdseye Highway to Cowell, then onto Whyalla for stocking up and refuelling. Stopped for a night at Fitzgerald Bay only to find Lyn and Graham still in "our" camp spot so camped down the track a little, was ok for one night before we continued on our way to Adelaide.

Resident lizard sunning on the timber rail.

25 January, 2017

Koppio Smithy Museum

The Koppio Smithy is a great museum. The thing that impressed me was that the collection contained a lot of every day things that we had seen as children growing up. From the ornaments we had seen on shelves either at home or relatives houses to magazines dating back to the 1950's which you could carefully flick through and remember the fashions or TV programs.

The collection had a strong farming influence from the area which I thought was also unique and a credit to the local community and the Jericho family for their donations. The large collection of stationary engines,  tractors and other machinery used around the farm was fascinating. Items on show were donated by families from the area and volunteers have restored items to original condition.

When you entered the store you step back in time immediately with the old cash register sitting on the front counter.


The Museum is set in the Koppio Hills and houses the original Blacksmith shop and a 2 bedroom cottage known as "Glenleigh" which is a lovely thatched cottage from 1890, the 1 teacher school (1934-1970), 1910 Pt Lincoln tailor shop, Heritage Hall showing a wonderfull collection from the home of the Jericho family, plus a range of display sheds housing tractors and farm machinery, stationary engines, Shearing, Grain and Hay story, vehicles and a Print Room.


The collection of memorabilia donated by the Jericho family

A great collection of 1960 mags.
The blacksmith's shop and cottage was built by Thomas Brennand in 1905. This was the perfect place for a blacksmith as it was the crossroads to all of the district. Also being the local Post Office, it was a great gathering place. The Brennand Family donated 2.5 acres of their farm to the National Trust. Locals restored the blacksmith shop and cottage and it was opened to the public in 1968.


Bank of Adelaide & White Flat Post Office - reportedly the smallest in the State 

One of the many restored wagons on display.

So many tractors, at a guess in the 100s - Hart Parr tractor featured. 

A great collection of stationery engines

This Hornsby 7hp 1910 amoung the large to small collection

The old classroom with original desks and inkwell.
We met a couple of young girls in the class room and I told them how the boys would get the girls pigtails and dip them in the ink wells (not me of course!!). I don't think they believed me and had a look of disbelieve as the left the room - what an earth is this old man talking about!!!)

Helen's Auntie is pictured in this photo of the 1924 Poonindie class which is displayed on the wall in the school room


The barb wire collection was good, not as extensive as the collection at the Spalding Hotel though.


The Brennand Cottage 1903
Main bedroom in the cottage
Helen and I spent a good couple of hours at the Museum and we thoroughly recommend to visit if touring the Eyre Peninsula.


21 January, 2017

Eyre Peninsula


Sunrise looking across Spencer Gulf towards the Flinders Rangers
After leaving Port Pirie we traveled around the top of the Spencer Gulf to Fitzgerald Bay. On the way through Port Augusta we had to empty the toilet cassette at the local Dump Point, a pretty normal operation on most occasion ..... however this time I happen to find a mobile phone left on the post next to the Dump Point, I called the last number and spoke to the owners sister who informed me the owner came from WA and was traveling around Yorke Peninsula.  We decided to have a coffee and see if they returned for the phone.  Unfortunately they did not return so I decided to leave the phone with one of the other caravaners at the site, with my contact details. We headed off towards Whyalla and about an half an hour down the road we received a call saying they had picked the phone up and was also heading in the same direction. We turned off highway to Pt Lowly then drove down to Lighthouse and Pt Bonython but wasn't keen to stay there so continued onto Fitzgerald Bay where we found a great camp spot overlooking the water  (needed to be self sufficient). 

As we came over the range this was our first view of Fitzgerald Bay

Our camp at Fitzgeald Bay only 20 m from the waters edge, I'm standing on the Shingle Ridge to take this photo.

Our camp was just on the sea side of the Shingle Beach Ridges which is a geological phenomenon of moderately sorted rounded pebbles which form flat topped ridges. These have been traced over some 50 kms from near the head of Spencer Gulf and can be easily seen here at Fitzgerald Bay.

Shingle Beach Ridges
Stayed at this great spot for a couple of nights and during our stay we had a little Suzuki pull up and a lady asking about camping in the area, and noticing WA number plates, I asked if her husband had lost his phone. Much to her surprise we explained we were the ones who found it - we all found it astonishing that we have met up and they were very thankful.  Lyn & Graham were travelling in a bus and towing a trailer and when we said we were leaving next day they were keen to take our site. They were there before we had packed up next morning!  They called themselves 'the travelling circus' - the bus was towing an enclosed car trailer with a small workshop and quad bike plus the Suzuki, with a boat on top! What other toys would a man want?

Reluctantly we left Fitzgerald Bay, called into Whyalla for supplies and another eventful stop at the dump site - thought the concrete was black however upon emptying the cassette I discovered it was covered in black ants!! This made me jump around alot, Hels thought I had lost the plot. From Whyalla we turned onto Lincoln Highway and called into Cowell for lunch then onto Pt Gibbon where we found a great spot overlooking the ocean.

The main street of Cowell

Campsite overlooking Spencer Gulf near Pt Gibbon only enough room for the chairs to take in the view.

View from 'our' beach to Pt Gibbon

Looking north along the beach as the storm rolled in.
Our spot was wonderful until late afternoon when a storm was brewing and we had a million flying ants surround the van - they shed their wings and died. As the wind got stronger, we wound the awning up including all the dead flying ants!! All of a sudden this great spot was not so great afterall as the wind picked up and all night we were being rocked around in the van and listening to a roaring sea.  In the morning we had sea salt residue all down one side of the car and van and with a storm warning issued, decided to leave.

Continued on Lincoln Highway calling into Arno Bay, Tumby Bay before deciding we were sick of the wind and drove inland to Cummins where we stayed a night at the Caravan park.  Were able to put the awning out and wash off all the ants - did a bit of drive around the town with Hels doing a lot of reminiscing of her childhood. Had dinner at the pub and got a great night sleep with no howling wind or waves crashing, much to Hels relief!

Leaving Cummins we took a dirt track to Kopio where we spent quite some time in the Kopio Smithy Museum (refer to separate blog entry). Continued past White Flat to Poonindie, then onto Helen's cousins house overlooking Boston Bay at Pt Lincoln. They have a stunning garden and we had a fantastic time with Rosie & Bill - really appreciated their wonderful hospitality.

Front garden of Rosie & Bill at Pt Lincoln, just see the van on the RHS.
We cooked bacon and eggs Australia Day breakfast for them before setting off on a sightseeing tour including lunch at Coffin Bay down by the jetty, tour around Coffin Bay, drove to Kellidie Bay taking the track through the shacks, visit to Pig & Antique Shop at Wangary (interesting!!), visited Dutton Bay, drove along Farm Beach where people were enjoying Australia Day. Back home for a terrific feed of Pt Lincoln whiting and yellow belly - what a great Australia Day!


Coffee at Pig & Antique Shop, Wangary

18 January, 2017

Yorke Peninsula

We had coffee before leaving from Auburn as needed to try the new coffee machine purchased for my birthday! Worked a treat! Drove to Pt Wakefield and arrived around lunch time just had to visit the Bakery for a curry pie. Travelled through Maitland and onto Dave & Shelly's property before Balgowan and set up in bush camp with short drop toilet (due to limestone close to top soil!), and a great outdoor shower over an old bath. Nice and quiet as only ones there apart from the very, very friendly flies.

Mallee Bush Camp with outdoor shower

One of the old trucks, great photo opportunity


Next day we drove to Balgowan to stay with Naomi & Kevin where we parked the van on the footpath.  The next day we hopped into their 60 series Toyota and drove through tracks to Cape Elizabeth, followed by pub lunch at Moonta then Icecream & Coffee at Gelati Cafe (a must to visit!!).

Camped outside on the footpath

Balgowan across the bay

Stopped at an old building on our beach drive to Elizabeth Point

After a wonderful stay - huge thanks to Naomi & Kevin for their hospitality, we left and headed to Maitland, then across to Ardrossan for lunch another Bakery! Stopped into Pt Vincent before arriving in Stansbury and catching up with good friends for a few hours in the afternoon.  The Caravan parks were full (as we anticipated at this time of the year), so drove to Yorketown where we stayed at a nice quiet Park for 2 nights.
Port Vincent
Drove back to Stansbury next day to visit the Markets then in afternoon drove to Point Turton to visit a lady Helen used to work with in Adelaide.  Helen and Brenda had a great catch up then it was back to Yorketown for dinner at the York Pub (great meal).

Once again a leisurely departure before taking a scenic drive to Marion Bay via Corny Point, where we had lunch at a picnic spot overlooking the sea.  Arrived late afternoon to Marion Bay where we pulled into John & Gayle's driveway, staying for two nights.  Went for a walk around the streets and over the headland to the beach - sighted a couple of dolphins which made Helen's day.

Stenhouse Bay jetty
Cape Spencer light house

Over looking the Ethel wreck, you can just see the boiler remains on the beach.

Some of the dolphines

Next day we drove to Innes National Park stopping at Stenhouse Bay for a walk along the jetty, drove passed Chinamen's Hat, stopping at Cape Spencer where we walked up to lighthouse and took in the fantastic scenery. Next it was Ethel Beach to view the wreck which was more exposed than when we were there 30 odd years ago, West Cape, Pondalowie beach, then walked along the boardwalk to Pondalowie Surf Break where we were entertained by a pod of dolphins. The Scenery along this coast is fantastic and with the brilliant green colour of the sea completed a picturesque drive. From here we headed back again calling into Inneston Historic Township but did not walk all around as the weather was very hot and the march flies were particularly nasty biting everyone except Gayle!  Back to Marion Bay where we had a great feed of locally caught whiting.  Thank you Gayle & John for your wonderful hospitality - we had a great time!

Port Rickaby jetty damaged from the storms
Time to head off - we drove back to Warooka to the dump point, then onto Minlaton for lunch, temperature 40 degrees!  Drove out to Port Rickaby where we set up at the Caravan Park for the night.  Had a swim which refreshed us - looking forward to the expected cool change later in the evening.  Very windy - Helen nagged to get the awning down early and glad we did as wind became very strong and most people in the park finished up pulling their awnings down.
Port Victoria jetty, also damaged from the storms
Artherton Bike Lane

Much cooler in the morning but still windy which made it interesting towing the van and didn't help the fuel consumption.  Called into Port Victoria for a look then onto Maitland and Arthurton, arriving in Kadina at lunchtime (handy again as they have a nice Bakery!).  Temperature again was 41 degrees so decided to stay at Kadina Caravan Park and put air conditioner on!  Later in afternoon I rode around the town on the bike, checking out the sites!  From Kadina we called into Wallaroo for a look around then stopped at Port Broughton for coffee - nice spot overlooking the jetty with plenty of people heading down for fishing.  Continued onto Port Pirie where we stayed in Pt Pirie Beach Caravan Park - arriving in 42 degree heat!  Stocked up with shopping before heading to Ursula & Michael's for tea - great to catch up with Tyson, Lu and baby Ted for a short time.  After a lovely meal, many laughs and a few reds and whisky Hels drove back to Caravan Park in steamy weather as rain had come but did not cool things down.  In the morning rain continued which did drop the temperature but decided to stay another day - Helen seems to think it was because I was a bit sluggish in the morning!!