Day 200 – Saturday, 10 December 2022

Happy birthday, Brett. 

First thing this morning we sent birthday greetings to Brett who is having a BBQ tonight with some of his friends. He said he has cleaned the house from top to bottom. 

At 9:57am we drove out of Kimba and the temperature was already 30 degrees. 

As out travel had been hectic, and we actually have a booking at Burra for two nights, we decided to have a bit of a sleep-in and woke up with the alarm at 8:30am. 

There is a gusty and hot northerly wind blowing and a fire warning for both Kimba and Burra areas. 

We travelled a total of 366 kilometres today and a lot of the travel time was with a head wind with lots of climbing. 

We also had a bit of a scare today. A very large road train was approaching from the opposite direction (lots of wind remember) and as he passed us by a large piece of bark flew off one of the trees and hit our windscreen with a very loud bang. We almost had to change out underwear. 

There is also a lot more roadkill on this section of the Eyre Highway, but then, it is also in a more populated area so more road traffic. 

At 11:04am we drove past Iron Knob. The country here reminds me of some of Namatjira’s paintings. 

We travelled past a lace monitor crossing the highway and it was a point of interest as the tip of its tail was white. 

When we reached Port Augusta the temperature was registering 35 degrees. We re-fuelled here and noted we had descended quite some height down to three metres above sea level. 

Russ also checked the total kilometres travelled on this trip and so far we gone 23,473 kilometres with more to be added before we reach home. 

Horrock’s Pass begins shortly after you leave Port Augusta. It was even worse than the first time we came through going the other way at the start of this journey. The climb from the Port Augusta side is very steep all the way up to 480 metres above sea level, and with a head wind it made for interesting driving conditions. 

We concurred that if you have to travel this Pass it is much better to do it from the other side on the way to Port Augusta. In any future travel we will look at an alternate way to leave Port Augusta on the way home. 

Just outside of Port Augusta we came across another one of the interesting town names – Winnowie. IT appears that strange names were contagious in the early settlers’ days. 

When we had reached Port Augusta we had closed the circle of our travel for the trip. Horrock’s Pass was going over already traversed ground and I think of it as the handle to the loop (so to speak). From this point on the GPS positioning on the map will look like a squiggle. 

After Horrock’s Pass we ventured into new territory for us and took a different pathway to Burra, coming down to 340 metres along the way. 

We had held off lunch until we had passed through Port Augusta so now we ate our breakfast biscuits and had our coffee before stopping to complete our lunch outside the cemetery at Melrose. 

We had now changed direction to the southeast and had a much-desired tailwind, so fuel economy improved out of sight. 

Melrose is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges of SA. The town was once named Mt Remarkable as it rests in the mountains’ foothills, and we went past an awesome array of beautiful river red gums along the way. 

History has several explanations for the origin of the name Melrose for the town. One states that a surveyor named the town after George Melrose who had assisted him when he was ill.  

Another explanation offered is that a landowner, Alexander Campbell and his family, settled in the area in 1844 and named the region after his hometown of Melrose in Scotland. 

An historian, Geoff Manning, has found that the town was located on a property claimed by the Mt Remarkable Mining Company, and it was subdivided in 250 sections of 80 hectares each in the 1850s. However, he is convinced that a prominent director of the Mining Company, staunchly Scottish, named it for Melrose in the Roxburgshire. We may never know the true story. 

The Police Station in Melrose in those early days was not only the first permanent police station in the region, but the base of the largest police district in the world – a constable, two troopers and an Aboriginal tracker were responsible for an area that extended into the Timor Sea. 

After we had continued on our way out of Melrose we went past a Dust Bowl Road. It is probably a very apt description as we were travelling through grain country and at this time of the year is very dry. 

Murray Town was our next location on our travels. It is located on the east of the lower Flinders’ Ranges and was settled in 1883. It served as a rest stop for bullock and horse teams carting grain to Port Germain. 

Today, it has a population of just 58 people. The buildings are mostly from early settler’s period and have been well maintained and updated tastefully. 

The town was named for Alexander Murray who introduced the Murray Merino sheep breed. The local hotel has not been open for many years. 

On our travels Russ say a magpie kill a starling. 

We passed other town along the way – Wongyarra and Wirrabarra. Apparently the caravan park at Wirrabarra is excellent. 

While pulled over at the side of the road for a leg break I found a beautiful flower that will undoubtedly turn out to be a weed, and we watched a canola field being direct harvested, but I could not get a good photo as there were trees and bushes in the way, and without gaitors on I was not going into the scrub at the fence line. 

Further along the way we watched the cool change pass us with a few drops of rain in celebration, but it remained overcast although the wind dropped. The temperature was still sitting at 30 degrees. 

After the township of Spalding, we started to climb once more but it was a much gentle climb than Horrock’s Pass. 

Spalding is located north of the Clare Valley and has a population of 215 people. It is mainly a farming community and his home to a slate quarry. 

We then turned east before once again heading in a south easterly direction on the Barrier Highway. The surface is not good at all and has become even worse than the first time we travelled it in this journey. There are now huge potholes making it extremely hazardous to safe travel and is urgently in need of major repairs. 

We finally arrived in Burra around 2:00pm and set up quickly. The park is a long slender one without much shade, but I was warmly welcomed by Aaron in the office when we got here. 

The air conditioner went on as soon as there was power to the van. It is not worth putting the awning out for the remainder of the day and tomorrow as we would then have to pull it down again. 

We opened the van up after tea – we went out and Russ got a hamburger with the lot (no onions), and I got a chicken schnitzel with mushroom gravy and chips. It was a reasonable cost and tasted delicious. 

I then went through the photos I had taken and pulled out the best ones for later upload.