You’d think that falling asleep before 7pm would have seen the pair of us wide awake before the dawn, but the sun was struggling through thick white clouds by the time either of us stirred. Obviously nights of mosquitos and Blair Witch woodlands coupled with so much fun and excitement was taking its toll…either that or we’re getting old. Eek!!
Thursday was the last day with dear Cheapy as she had to returned to Jucy HQ by 5pm. The planned route included a tour of the Mclaren Vale wine region, remaining inland and approaching Adelaide from the East. As we packed up Rowdy came over to wish us good morning, and offer a few tips for the day, including a route which involved a free punt across the Wellington river…now doesn’t that sound fun! Breakfast complete and camper packed for the final time we hit the road, plowing through the mists towards Kingston in search of coffee and an opportunity shop…basically an Australian charity shop where we could buy cheap jumpers as it was bloody freezing.
We’ve seen many townships along the way in Victoria and South Australia which from the map appear to be rather sizeable, but on arrival turn out to be more like hamlets or small villages. Kingston was a classic example; a tiny beachside town with nothing much more than a cafe, supermarket and collection of houses. A quaint corner cafe drew us in with promises of fresh coffee and free wifi, not to mention the delectable smell of toasted raisin bread from a neighbouring table. Second breakfast? Why not.
The last day really was a case of hitting the road hard with minimal stops, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t still lots to see. Somewhere outside Kingston the roadside gifted us with several random sights, including artistic tractors on top of telegraph poles and a GIGANTIC lobster statue…seriously, you don’t see this everyday.
Most of the South Ocean Drive consisted of low lying brush scrubland with occasional glimpses of the waters of the Corong on the passenger side, and an overwhelming smell of stagnant salt water. Yum. With little to see other than flocks of pelicans overhead (not that I don’t love a pelican) we were left to devise our own entertainment…
On our search for somewhere sheltered from the wind to cook lunch we past through Meningie on the shores of Lake Albert, the largest town in the area with a whopping population of 940. Having so far seen kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras, koalas and emu’s on our travels it seemed worth pausing to discover exactly why Meningie was home to a lakeside ostrich statue.
Legend has it the Coorong was once home to John Francis Peggoty, an Irishman who only grew to the size of a seven year old boy. Peggoty made use of his stature, making his living by climbing down the chimneys of wealthy Londoners robbing them of their gold and jewels. He is reported to have often enjoyed parading around his boarding house, with gold chains draped around his neck…now the mark of a good robber is laying low afterwards, and having failed to do this Peggoty had to keep moving, going onto spend some time in South Africa before migrating to Australia in 1890. Here he continued his scrupulous life of crime by robbing lonely travellers who passed through the Coorong, making daring escapes across the dunes on the back of an ostrich! Eventually of course he crossed the wrong person, and was last seen wounded and escaping into the dunes. His body was never found, leading many to believe it lies out there somewhere still covered in the gold chains he so often wore. An excellent legend, which has apparently done wonders for the Meningie tourist board who had been previously struggling to attract tourists to its lakeside shores.
Time was marching on, and as once again the sun wasn’t on our side we merely waved at the spectacular lake which turns pink due to a concentration of algae common in South Australia.
Had it been sunny I’m sure we’d have stopped…but just for you, here’s what it should look like on a good day!
Our next stop was Wellington, and the punt across the mighty Murray river that Rowdy had told us about. Unlike toll ferries these punts are operated by the government to provide 24 hour crossings over the River Murray; the friendly staff wave you on, then the whole kit and caboodle is punted across using a cable which runs from one side of the river to the other. You can just see it coming out of the water below. We waited for three punts before commencing our two minute journey across, but it made a nice change to get out of the car and stretch our legs for 10 minutes before the Fleurieu Peninsula.
A few more miles through scenery mimicking the lake district, save for the limestone wall rather than dry stone ones and we begun to see signs for several familiar wine regions, including Fleurieu and Mclaren Vale. Our trip to see Emma and Dan included a day of wine touring, so we weren’t too upset to not have the time at this point, especially considering the grey clouds and strong winds. The forecast promised sunny days and blue skies ahead, so we trundled on through the winding roads and hills of the wine country to the outskirts of Adelaide.
From here everything becomes decidedly administrative as we stopped at Woolworths (oddly more like a Sainsbury’s!) to pick up breakfast requests for our housemates in Adelaide and made plans for the Buck and Hen do’s we’d be attending that evening. Cheapy was topped up with fuel, given a good once over with the dustpan and brush and reluctantly handed back to her chums at the Adelaide depot. You can read more about our lovely camper in my Jucy review here, but if you’re ever planning a trip down the GOR I would highly recommend this little gem.
For the next five nights we’d be settling into a more fixed abode on the beachfront in Henly; enjoying the view of pink sunrises, orange sunsets and pods of dolphins swimming back and forth. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it 🙂