We fell asleep pretty early as we were both tired from our travel, even though our body clocks were still on WA time. When we woke up this morning the sun was shining brightly in a very blue sky. The park was dark and quiet overnight, which is how we prefer it.
When we pulled out of Penong at 8:14 am the temperature was already sitting at 23 degrees, and the Eyre Highway now has significant shoulders in excellent condition.
We encountered a very friendly road train driver – twice – and he was happy to chat on the UHF radio. When Russ indicated the way ahead was clear for him to pass he called to say he was carrying 2.3 tonnes of fuel and would need a bit more time to get up to speed, and thanked Russ for the indication.
Later along the way we gave him the clear ahead signal and then slowed down as he proceeded past us, and he thanked us and wished us safe travels. He indicated that he would be home by nighttime.
We chatted to him later at Ceduna when we both pulled into re-fuel at the OTR, and then again as we repeated the process of passing us further along the highway.
We were heading in a south easterly direction when we arrived at Ceduna, and fuel was $2.17 a litre there. We also took the opportunity to change over drivers and I began my stint. We turned to the east for a short time before coming back to a south easterly direction.
By 11:00am the temperature was 28 degrees. I had to pull off the road completely at one stage to allow two very large semi-trailers to go past. They were transporting enormous mine trucks with ginormous tipper trays but without their tyres and took up most of both lanes of the road. They were being escorted by two pilot vehicles (one in front and one at the back) and two police vehicles. Russ took photos.
We travelled through typical grain and sheep country and some of the town names we passed were almost as good as WA ones. In no particular order we passed Mudamuckla, Nunjikompita, Puntable, Pimbacia, Wirrulla, Yantanabie, Cungena, Poochera, Yaninee, Buckleboo and Pygery.
Most of the Eyre Highway travelled has been in good order except for a couple of spots of wear and tear.
We passed a monument at Koongawa, via Kyancutta, (love the names) called Darke’s Monument. It is close by a small town called Darke Peak and takes its name from the explorer, John Charles Darke, who was injured in a spear attach by previously friendly local Aboriginal people whilst travelling through the area in October 1844.
He died the next day and was buried at the foot of the large peak. Governor Grey (of SA) expressed a wish that some landform in the region of the grave be named to honour him, so we have the town and a monument. Darke was the first European explorer of this area.
The monument reads, “Sacred to the memory of John Charles Darke, Surveyor, who was mortally wounded by the Natives when exploring in this locality. Erected by South Australian Government, 1910.” The grave site was restored in 1994.
Darke Peak was named by Thomas Evans who performed a trigonometrical survey of the Gawler Ranges in 1865. The Peak is 1,564 feet high.
We had lunch at a wayside stop outside Wudinna and changed over drivers again, then topped up the fuel in town. We have climbed steadily since Ceduna, got up to 148 metres above sea level at Minippa and at Wudinna we had come down to 89 metres. From there we climbed further so that by the time we arrived at Kimba Caravan Park we were at 272 metres above sea level.
However, there was a major disappointment – there was no white lion! (Brett assures me that only those born before 1990 will even get that reference).
We decided to have another early night and went to bed soon after tea.