Mon 08/09/14 Slow out the gates this morning. K treated herself to some opal earrings, have to have some opal from CP; on the road by 10am. 37oC and 45km/hr winds....not a comfortable driving day ... tail wind for some stretches, then van/car blown around by cross winds on others. Landscape still empty nothingness in all directions for hours. See some large inland salt lakes, which are about the only change of scenery we get. Turn off the Stuart Highway for 6kms to visit Defence Force Town of Woomera. Built after the war to develop and test self guided rockets and missiles in response to Germany's bombing of London using V2 missiles. The allies had no such weapons to retaliate, so had to send ground troups in to locate and destroy the launch sites which were in the Nederlands. Test range area covers a massive part of inland Australia; the 'line' running from Woomera directly towards Eighty Mile Beach on the WA coast and 160kms either side. If you take a close look, maps still have "Woomera Prohibited Area" marked on them. Again bit ghost townish upon entering...old disused baracks / housing boarded up....only other people we see are tourists, though Defence force still operates here.. Displays quite interesting ... find Jindivik target planes & Ikara anti-submarine craft in the outside display.... built at GAF / ASTA in Port Melbourne, M & K both remember these projects being operational when starting work there many years ago. Took a look through the history museum....really interesting....you just don't realise what's happened/ing in your own backyard! Quick stop for some groceries, then push on 2 more hours to Port Augusta Big4. Kelly & Al already there and kindly take tired kiddies off our hands while we setup in the dark. After kids put to bed, we enjoy a last evening chatting with them (through a thunder storm) as they are leaving tomorrow morning.
09/09/14 Bright, sunny morning gives lovely views of The Gawler Ranges to the west and The Flinders Ranges to the east...beautiful. Laundry done early (bailed up by Johanna, a grey nomad interested in the kids travelling, home-schooling etc) then time for LBA to say goodbye to their buddies - very nice people...maybe will get to meet up again some day...see ya Nicholls family! Need a break from driving, so head into town to take a walk around the place. PA sits right at the tip of the Spencer Gulf and the town lines both sides of the inlet. Nice waterfront area, new skatepark / kids zone and a large jetty along one side of the inlet is popular with fisher-folk; views of both mountain ranges in either direction, it is very picturesque. Mangroves for mudcrabbing too! Kind of has a Queenscliff feel - old buildings, narrow streets, near the water etc. Counter meal at The Old Hotel for lunch, bit of shopping then have to hightail it back to the van - winds are up again, BLACK clouds, a storm is coming fast. Manage to get dry washing off line (Johanna checking I got it all in) and throw everything that's not tied down into the car just before the storm breaks. Bunker down with DVD's and heater on for the evening...hope van doesn't take off "wizard of oz" style as we take a buffeting.
Wed 10/09/14 Wake to another lovely sunny morning...yay! Upon J's recommendation we head out to the Arid Lands Bo-tanic (Lukas's pronunciation) Gardens. Very well organised and presented. Tour guide Chris does a great job explaining and involving the kids.; if only my garden at home looked like this! Hardly any water required, will have to take some tips home. Lovely, relaxing morning cruising these gardens that are looking out to the Flinders Ranges....LBA quite chuffed to find Sturts Desert Pea growing here - see it on all manners of advertising / tourist brochures. They take MANY photos and buy some seeds to try out at home; think our frosts are no good though. Next we grab some lunch and then visit the Wadlata Outback Centre; didn't go through the time tunnel - kinda seen it all a few times over now & pricy. Back to the van for free time. Kids scoot, bikes, playground. Johanna & hubby Tony invite us to see their collection of gemstones & minerals that they fossick for - they very generously give the kids a tub of all sorts to take home for show 'n' tell at school (hematite, crystallised gypsum, amethyst, iron ore, magnetite, pyrite, copper etc - all bagged & labelled!). Dinner & DVD for MLBA while K yet again tries to catch up on blogging; hang in there girly!