Friday, May 31, 2013

1000 Words About ... Corrugated Iron!

Corrugated Iron, Eurelia Railway Station Goods Shed, South Australia



While a penchant for neatness, order and logic most likely explains my affinity for corrugated iron, the unkind would probably attribute it to the inflexibility and pedanticism of a full-blown control freak!

Whatever it is, corrugated iron's neat rows and precise undulations with their resultant patterns of light and shade hold an artistic appeal that actually increases as the decay inevitable in Australia's harsh climate starts breaking it down.

Inside the Eurelia Railway Station Goods Shed


To me, anyway.

Tiny and nearly deserted railway siding Eurelia, in South Australia's mid-north just south of Carrieton is symptomatic of the decline and fall of the rural railway network once linking remote outposts and delivering mail and supplies across the country.

The decay of the unused structures at the station now rusting, falling apart and succumbing to dry rot echoes the decay of a rail system once the life-blood of rural Australia.

But the other side of decay is its unexpected beauty.

Eurelia Railway Station Goods Shed, South Australia


The fading paintwork on the corrugated iron of the Eurelia goods shed ruin, overlaid with the graffiti inevitable to a large, deserted and empty building is a stunning patchwork of colour, light and shade. And the crumbling cut-off 44 gallon drum is a prop I couldn't have bettered in a million years ...

Eurelia's inadvertent art installation owes much to the fine properties of corrugated iron in decay. And while it's unlikely the rail network will be resurrected in my lifetime – if ever – the clean-lined rusting beauty of its decay overlaid with fading colours and random signatures will just get better as the years roll on.

Eurelia Railway Station, South Australia


But maybe that's just my inner control-freak talking!

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For different takes on beauty in decay from around the world by the City Daily Photo community click HERE! (AFTER 4:00pm 1 June, Australian Eastern Standard Time)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ride the Ragged Ranges: Arkaroola's RED-HOT Ridge-top Tour!


Coulthard Lookout View, Arkaroola Ridge-top Tour, South Australia

 
'Now we'll see some REAL scenery!' Doug announced, herding us away from the spectacular outlook from Coulthard's Lookout towards our convoy of two vehicles.

I was sceptical.

The ragged mountain ranges (yes, I'm channelling Aussie poet Dorothea Mackellar*) glistened and glowed in a glorious 360° panorama in the perfection of a clear Outback day. I thought Doug was joking.

Split Rock Lookout with Freeling Heights in the Background, Arkaroola Ridge-top Tour
He wasn't.

Our guide, commentator, driver AND Arkaroola's most wanted man (if the caption under the photo of his younger self in the dining room spoke the truth), Doug rocked the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary's ultimate 4WD adventure Ridge-Top Tour and elevated it from excellent to extraordinary.

Ridge-top Tour Road, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
If mining company Exoil hadn't followed up on the wartime uranium exploration in this area (with the only radioactive spring in the world!), and 'developed' this 'road' in the late 1960s, it's unlikely we'd have been jolting our way deep into the otherwise trackless wilderness through this more remote, wild and sensationally beautiful South Australian landscape.

Scarily, carving – and then USING – this rugged road from the edge of civilisation into the ragged mountain range wilderness was logical to someone.

Even more scary, once the uranium exploration was done it was logical to someone else to turn this rugged road into a tourist drive!  Despite the $AUD40,000 it costs to restore the track after each of the 1-5 washouts it gets each year.

Is that a road? Arkaroola Ridge-top Tour
And scariest of all? $AUD120 gets you a berth on the 4WD bus.
 
Yes, tourists actually pay for the privilege of 4 hours of jolting in an open tray-top on this track with its near-vertical climbs and plunges across sheer rock seams interspersed with creek beds full of boulders, wheel ruts the size of irrigation drains and ridge-tops so exposed the strong gusts of wind could suck the unwary into oblivion.

Not the best choice of tour for acrophobics, back-seat drivers or vertigo-sufferers!  And if wide-open spaces give you the heebie-jeebies?  Maybe you're better off on an air-conditioned bus ...

As our vehicle shuddered over a particularly large rock, the seatbelt round my waist the only thing preventing an ungraceful slide into the tailgate - or beyond - my experimental photography technique – developed especially for this tour – was working surprisingly well, all things considered.

Driving through the Creek, Arkaroola Ridge-top Tou
But I wouldn't have taken that morning walk of several kilometres if I'd known just sitting in the back of the truck on THIS tour would give me a full body workout!

As an added bonus, being the odd ones out in our two-vehicle convoy with a 10-camper group who must have vowed never to be separated by more than 100 metres at any given time made each stop an fascinating anthropological experiment. But I didn't need the childish thrill that wandering into random strangers' group photos gave.

Travelling through the stunning scenery, varied land forms, unusual rock formations and unique vegetation in these wild mountains provided enough thrills for a lifetime. But following the track past the imposing Mt Painter, and Mt Gee – composed of quartz crystals – was gasp inducing on several levels. These aren't even particularly high mountains, even by Australian standards. Why bother building a road in lazy curves when perpendicular gets you there faster??

The ascent to Sillers Lookout, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, South Australia


After an ascent so steep I was starting to think we couldn't possibly return this way without dropping off the face of the earth, we reached the final climb to the ultimate pinnacle of the tour – Sillers Lookout. Named, as I should have guessed, for then-chairman of Exoil.
 
Ragged Mountain Ranges, Sillers Lookout, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
 

Luckily, Doug could turn the vehicle on a dime because the 'space' on top of the lookout left no margin for error. High atop a rocky knoll overlooking the rugged grandeur of the Freeling Heights that drop suddenly and completely away to a vision splendid of sunlit plains extended (AB Paterson said it first and best**) WAY out across Yudnamutana Gorge to the vast salty expanse of Lake Frome, I leaned against the (thank god someone built one) fence feeling a little weak at the knees. Strangely not from the hair-raising ride, but from the vista of such awesome and utter FAAAAABULOUSNESS I was struck by the uncharacteristic feeling of being lost for words.

Superlatives, anyway.

The Freeling Heights from Sillers Lookout, Ridge-top Tour, Arkaroola

'Does the drive ever make you nervous?' I inanely asked the driver of the 2nd vehicle – with 20 years experience of regularly making this drive twice a day – as we enjoyed an Aussie lamington for afternoon tea.
 
At Sillers Lookout, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
He looked at me with a strange mixture of confusion and pity that clearly indicated nervousness wasn't part of his psyche.

'Sometimes it's difficult when it's wet,' he conceded.

Wet? People drove on this road when it was WET????
 
Insane.


But, after establishing there was no alternative route back, I realised being scared witless was pointless.
 
Blasé was WAY better.
 
After a while, negotiating steep slopes, deep ruts, sheer rock surfaces and a road surface so uneven the pedantic would call it a paddock just became commonplace. Ho hum, another minute, another sheer wash-away. Or descent down a rock wall. Or major wheel-wrenching boulder slick ...
 
The descent from Sillers Lookout, Arkaroola, South Australia


So, the return trip became uneventful, unless you count the strong gust of wind that lifted Pilchard's hat giving us both a nasty Green Island flashback. Oops, it was happening again. But this time, the chin strap caught and held. Now all he had to worry about was whether saving the hat was worth being garrotted …
 
Minerals at Mt Gee, Arkaroola Ridge-Top Tour, South Australia
 
After calling in at Mt Gee to view a selection of minerals and an unscheduled stop to admire Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, we arrived back at Arkaroola Village exhausted AND exhilarated by our extreme 4WD adventure. 

South Australia is often overlooked as an Aussie tourist destination in favour of better known natural attractions like … well, YOU know.

Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, Arkaroola, South Australia
But for the ultimate, jaw-dropping, unforgettable, super-sublime Aussie adventure? Trust me – and take the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary's Ridge-Top Tour***!
 

* Dorothea Mackellar's great Aussie love-poem My Country

** Andrew 'Banjo' Paterson's classic Aussie lament Clancy of the Overflow

*** Yes, I'm still struggling with appropriate superlatives. No, they're not paying me. More's the pity. But if they did, I'd trade it in for another go at the tour. Yes, it really IS that good!

Read AND See MORE:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Death-Trap Dam Wall Dunny – Australian Scenic Loo #35, Blowering Dam


Blowering Dam Scenic Public Toilet - the RED circle marks the spot!  Via Tumut, New South Wales
 



The chances of the overly excitable, the imaginative and the paranoid of finding their Blowering Dam Wall public amenities experience more than a little stressful are better than average.


View from the Blowering Dam loo, via Tumut, New South Wales
While answering nature's call in this relief station's unusually picturesque setting amidst the heavily wooded Tumut River Valley is a positive pleasure, its placement is a potential death trap.

And while considering the possible perils would probably only occur to the excitable and/or imaginative and/or paranoid, that doesn't make them any less real.

Because behind the 114 m (374 ft) high dam wall towering above the amenities and stretching for 747 metres (2450ft) is holding back 1.6 MILLION megalitres (sorry, Imperial measurement countries, you're on your own with this one) of water! When it's full, that is.

And this little loo in the picnic area below the dam wall is right in the firing line!!

Blowering Dam on the Tumut River 13 km upstream from the small town of Tumut in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in the New South Wales Riverina Highlands isn't Australia's biggest lake, nor is it a natural one. Completed in 1968, it's not even the biggest lake in the Snowy Mountains Scheme for irrigation and hydro-electricity of which it is a part.
 
Blowering Dam from Dam Wall, via Tumut, New South Wales
 
But the staggering view from atop the dam wall is a fitting place for the successful World Water Speed Record attempt on 8 October 1978.

Although it's doubtful that still current world record-holder Ken Warby was taking in the view while travelling at 511 kph (317.6 mph) in his boat 'Spirit of Australia' … there's an 85% chance of a fatality amongst those who have attempted this feat!

See that white speck?  Yep, that's a camper ... Blowering Dam, New South Wales


Nowadays, there's plenty of room for camping, fishing and water sports around the edge of the dam's 44.6 km2 surface area. As we saw on our March 2012 weekend visit. But the picnic area below the dam remained strangely devoid of visitors … did the locals know something WE didn't know??


While the odds of a dam wall failure delivering a 1.6 million megalitre Royal Flush instead of the 12 litres usually required for loos of this vintage are pretty long, low risk isn't quite the same as NO risk, is it?!
This local was sitting tight in the Blowering Dam loo ...

Not to the neurotic, anyway!!

Or is that just me?

Read MORE:


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Bizarre Back-of-Beyond Bakery – Farina, South Australia

Is that a Bakery I see before me?  Farina, Outback South Australia


The sign shimmered through the haze of dust and heat like a mirage. Or the product of too much wishful thinking. Or the BEST kind of fantasy ...

Old bottles, Farina Ruins, South Australia
Whichever it was, the Bakery Baking Today* sign at the Farina turn-off in the middle of the South Australian Outback just HAD to be too good to be true.

Because over 600km (370+ miles) north of Adelaide, the last stretch of continuous bitumen for several hundred kilometres had receded into the middle distance behind us to the south.

We'd already passed the beginning of the tyre-shredding Strzelecki track, a notorious stretch of dirt through the Strzelecki desert connecting tiny Lyndhurst with Innamincka, 469 km (291 miles) to the north east.


The Underground Bakery, the Marquee and a random ruined fireplace!  Farina, South Australia

And now, we were travelling north towards Marree, a remote outpost at the southern edge of the Lake Eyre basin and home of legendary Outback mailman Tom Kruse. Yes, that's his real name.

Farina Bakery Marquee from General Store Ruins, Farina, South Australia
From Marree, the only way out was either east along the Oodnadatta track, a 607 km (377 miles) dirt track through the remote Outback that joined the Stuart Highway at Marla; or the fabled Birdsville track to – you guessed it – Birdsville, 519 km (322 miles) further north.

Yes, we were on the outskirts of Australia's Boys Own Adventureland – a 4WD and/or motorcyclists' heaven traversed by groups of three (WHY ALWAYS THREE???) blokes – and we would, for the first time, visit the start of each of these iconic tracks in one day. 

Now, en route to Marree, Farina was a ghost town full of ruins.

Wasn't it??

The white marquee rising incongruously above the partially restored stonework of the Farina ruins in the distance suggested otherwise.

Bron and Syd, Farina Bakery Volunteers, Farina
As did the banner indicating South Aussie icon Laucke Flour's personal interest in this little bakery in the middle of nowhere.

Clearly, further investigation was required, so I turned to Pilchard – but the car had already swerved towards the turn-off. No bakery-seeking-sensor required in THIS car!!

As we drew closer to the knot of vehicles gathered around the cluster of old buildings surrounding the marquee, the smell of freshly baking bread gave the game away.

Yes, there really WAS a fully functional bakery in this remote ruin. And judging by the roaring trade being done with the constant arrival of incredulous visitors from both north and south, a Back-of-Beyond Bakery was just what the doctor ordered.

Martin, Farina Bakery Baker extraordinaire!
In a masterstroke so civilised it should be made mandatory, the underground Bakery was the first building to be restored to full working order by the Farina Restoration Group Inc (FRG).

Ironic, given that Farina is, of course, the Latin word for flour. And the town was so named in expectation of it becoming the 'Granary of the North'. Sadly, the unpredictable climate, remote location and lack of water ultimately meant its decline, despite its one-time position as the railway head for all northern lines.

But in one of those undeniably symmetric coincidences, Farina is finally living up to its name, with the Bakery (open for ~6 weeks during May and June) now a focus for fund-raising, publicity and – of course – a completely unexpected opportunity for an excellent Back-of-Beyond Bakery pig-out.

Bakery Props, Farina, South Australia
This was one of those times that sacrificing myself for the sake of my blog became not just a duty, but a pleasure**!

Bron and Syd, volunteers from FRG that keeps the Bakery operational for 6 weeks in May and June, expertly fielded queries, served customers and – in my case – mopped up the coffee I overturned in the excitement of finding this bizarre bakery.

All while posing for photos!

The FRG, now about 5 years old, was founded by Tom Harding who with current station owners Kevin and Anne Dawes, saw Farina's potential as an historic site and set about restoring it as a tourist attraction.

Apart from partnerships with various organisations and professional stonemasonry, all work is done by volunteers.

Those who are planning a similar venture should not underestimate the effectiveness of the Bakery drawcard … word of mouth is already working its magic as winter's onset signals the start of the Outback Adventure season and all sensible travellers head north for warmth.


Farina Campground, Outback South Australia
Of course it helps that Farina station has also set up an excellent campground with barbecues, fire pits, toilets and hot showers, all for $5 per person per night. It's an excellent staging post en route to the rough stuff of the tracks further north. But it's an attraction in its own right with walks along the river and no-longer-used railway tracks, and story boards detailing the history of the town's rise, fall and restoration.

Farina Railway Bridge - part of the old Ghan Railway, South Australia


The Group's volunteers stay on site in the campground for the annual restoration activities while the bakery opens in May and June – some are reportedly the bakery's best customers – and work on a roster system to ensure the bakery stays open.

I almost joined up on the spot!


Bron with the Goods, Farina Bakery
Of course it also helps that the Bakery goods are absolutely top shelf – the old Scotch oven in the underground kitchen turns out an astonishing array of sweet, savoury and plain bread rolls, sausage rolls, individual and family sized pasties.

Martin, the baker du jour, dexterously whipped trays of superbly baked goods out of the oven while telling us he'd co-opted a few of his baker buddies to volunteer for a stint at Farina.

'Well, they USED to be my friends,' he laughed, while proving – at least to MY satisfaction – that 80 years of disuse didn't seem to have affected the oven's effectiveness.

Its underground location probably also helped to preserve it – one of the many storyboards produced by the FRG and dotted around the ruins mentions the destruction of outside dunnies in violent storms … which means no Scenic Public Toilet pic from the Farina ruins.

But I digress ...

A Portal to Paradise?  About to descend into the Farina Bakery depths ...

After a particularly dry summer and autumn, driving to and from Farina across the arid lands of the South Australian Outback – driest part of the driest state in the driest continent on earth – there's no mistaking the hardships faced by the early settlers in towns like Farina where today's green and fertile pastoral country could be tomorrow's dust bowl.

But the FRG's hardy bunch of volunteers are putting Farina back on the map for 6 weeks every year by offering their unique Bakery at the Back-of-Beyond experience!

And that puts it well and truly on the map for THIS Aussie traveller!


Read MORE:
* PLEASE NOTE:  The Bakery is only open for 6 weeks in May/June.
** Oscar Wilde said it first, and best

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Weird Stuff #9 - Magnetic Hill, South Australia


The Magnetic Hill Magnet, via Orroroo, South Australia

Discovering the Daleks of Khancoban in a remote Snowy Mountains hideaway was, I thought, the pinnacle of my paranormal participation in the world of real-life Australian sci-fi.

But that was before South Australia's Magnetic Hill struck back.

Pushing for a place in the paranormal pantheon, and surrounded by this mid-North peaceful pastoral panorama, the sign promised a strange and bizarre extrasensory experience.

Magnetic Hill sign

And raised a few questions ...

Like would we be able to stop the Magnetic Hill tractor beam from sucking the car off the face of the earth and into some interplanetary vortex?

Or at the very least, off the edge of the hill??

Which way would a hip-replacement recipient roll???

And … perhaps most importantly – what WAS our car really made of????

Ready to ROLL, Magnetic Hill, South Australia


Putting aside the real possibility of being beamed into another dimension, we followed the instructions carefully.

In the interests of full disclosure I offer the following disclaimers:
  • Pilchard SWEARS he didn't touch any of the car controls
  • The angle of the shot doesn't fully capture the slight incline behind the car
  • Out of the force field the car behaved quite differently
  • The tremor visible on the footage is caused by either the magnetic force field OR the excitement of this extraordinary experiment ...
  • The resulting video quality may mean some features of this exciting moment have been lost forever ...




Just between us - my first thought was that the car must really be made of plastic ...

SO ... is Magnetic Hill an elaborate prank?  Or a real touch of the Paranormal??  Or is the explanation a little more prosaic???  YOU decide!!


Read MORE:

Friday, May 10, 2013

RED Alert #9: RED turns to BLUE in Geneva!


Kath and Sapphire ... in Spain, so they can't be goofing off, right?  RIGHT???

I first 'met' my RED Alert guest KATH through her blog Gone Chocco, now sadly inactive BUT required and compelling reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the wonderful world of chocolate. Of course this led me to her non-food-related blog, Blurb from the Burbs, which with a enviably cunning and deft sleight of hand was reborn as Goofing off in Geneva when she, husband Love Chunks and daughter Sapphire moved to … well, yes, I'm sure you get the picture.

Of course I 'followed' her halfway across the world to see what happened. And when Kath commented that I'd made her cry on a blog post about South Australia's Yorke Peninsula (I hope due to homesickness, rather than poor photo quality) she became one of my muses. Not that I deliberately try to make her cry.

But I DO sometimes think of Kath when I'm choosing photos …

RED:  Kath, welcome to RED Alert. What's your favourite colour?
KATH:  BLUE!

RED:  Thank you! That concludes today's interview!!! Only kidding … I guess we can take a break from RED if you want, so selected this one especially for you …

Port Clinton Public Amenities Block, Yorke Peninsula


RED:  Although I'm sure you'll agree the touch of RED sets it off superbly! As do the roses in your pic of Sapphire's FAB BLUE fingernails!  Do you find it disturbing that she MAY be moving away from RED?

No WAY is this Goofing off in Geneva!!!

KATH:  She’s always been a green and blue girl and her bedroom (which is very tastefully done) is testament to this. Perhaps red clashes with her blue eyes...? Plus, what teenager wants to wear a colour that her MOTHER favours?

RED:  Hahaha … and yet your favourite colour is … what was that again?? Maybe BLUE is the new RED! Or maybe combining them is the fashion statement of the twenty-teens?? Why ISN'T RED your favourite colour?
KATH:  RED always seemed too bright and commanding and, being so white, it always highlighted any time I blushed or felt hot or had a new pimple forming on my fluorescent face....

Fashion Accessory? Or Going CHOCCO?!?!  YOU decide!!
RED:  So it's logical that you'd choose Easter Eggs as a fashion accessory! Would you recommend them?
KATH:  Yes, but only in cool climes. As someone who once ‘forgot’ that she had a bag of mini eggs in her pocket, it only ends in tears and a poo-brown coloured crotch that’s impossible to explain.

RED:  Hahaha, I bet LOTS of other people found an explanation! What made you choose Cadbury Creme Eggs as your alternative eyes?
KATH:  They’re rarer than chicken lips over here and were bought during Sapphire’s and my weekend jaunt to Edinburgh back in February.

RED:  (Note to readers: make a KILLING in Europe with black-market Cadbury Creme Eggs) Is it any coincidence there's a Nestle poster in the background?
KATH:  None whatsoever. Sapphire found an advert from my birth month and year (November 1968) (RED: Surely not!) featuring Swiss-made Nestle, bought it on e-Bay and had it framed.

RED:  If you can narrow it down, what are your 3 favourite RED chocolates??
KATH:  Kit Kat – who doesn’t want to eat one of those when they clap eyes on the wrapper?  Foil-wrapped cherry liqueurs. Possibly an embarrassing relic from the 1970s, but I love ‘em.
RED:  Me too!
KATH:  Lindt Lindor in all its sizes, forms and boxes. Melt in the mouth heaven.

RED:  And what's the best RED thing to eat or drink in the cold?
KATH:  Vin Chaud (hot, spiced red wine). The perfect drink after skiing, especially if seated in an outdoor cafe with your puffy jacket and pants still on.

A hard day on the ski slopes doesn't count as GOOFING, does it?!


RED:  Now that you've got us all salivating, did you buy Love Chunk's FINE RED jacket??
KATH:  I did indeed – it’s a good colour to stand out in on a white ski field and I bought it second-hand for only 25 francs, a saving of 375 francs!


Killer RED Watch!!
RED:  Bargain! Do you wear a lot of RED?
KATH:  I never used to, but since Love Chunks brought me back a bright red Casio watch (RED : I'm SO jealous!) during his work trip to the US last year, it’s become an excuse to move from striped everything or black. I now have two pairs of red shoes, several red t-shirts, a spotted red handbag, a red jacket and several scarves.

RED:  Before you know it, you'll be breaking out into RED all over! Does he appreciate your RED fashion sense?
KATH:  Bless him; he wouldn’t notice if my face was on fire most of the time! I’ve had my hair coloured, make up on, new top and he’ll just say, ‘why have you got lipstick on, I can’t kiss you now.’

RED:  For how long did Love Chunks hold that teapot pose?
I'm a little ... Love Chunk!
KATH:  Not very long – he detests having his picture taken. 

RED:  For how long could YOU hold it?
KATH:  I’d be able to do it for ages but usually wind up face first in the snow or shut my eyes at the exact second he presses the button.

RED:  Hahaha! Maybe that's a better alternative to photographic 'Red-Eye'?! Is RED a factor in your relationship??
KATH:  Yes. We selected the previous house and current apartment’s RED accessories together, he bought me a RED running watch and makes me laugh until I’m RED in the face.

RED:  What else makes your face RED without fail?
KATH:  Laughing loudly. Being embarrassed – we natural blondies have a hard time disguising blushes!And running. Even several hours later after cooling down and showering, I glow.

RED:  Glowing is SO Australian! Is Australia the REDdest country you've been to?
KATH:  Nothing beats the dirt of Central Australia or seeing The Rock at sunset.

RED Glow from Running!
RED:  Where are your favourite REDs downunder?
KATH:  Port Douglas (Queensland) – RED sunset and often RED , sunburned skin; Adelaide (South Australia) – the RED brick of Beehive corner, RED roses in Eastern suburbs (where we used to live), the red stripe in the Crows’ uniforms, big red wines; Melbourne (Victoria) – the big ‘RED comb’ on the City Link tunnel (because we lived very near it in Flemington); and Victor Harbor (South Australia) – the REDish pink flowers in my parents’ garden!

RED:  That's a GREAT cross-section! Just goes to show you can find RED everywhere … Have you visited many European countries since moving to Geneva?
KATH:  England, Scotland, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Austria and Germany!

RED:  In terms of distance, I guess that's like saying you've visited all the states in Australia! Which was the best?
KATH:  Seeing my two most favourite people in the world see (and love) London for the first time and other times since.

RED:  And the worst?
KATH:  Marseille, France. Ugly, dodgy and very unwelcoming. A frightening place to take my parents to.

RED:  Remind me not to go there … who is praying in Spain?
KATH:  My goodly self. We were in the 11th Century Moorish gardens in Ronda, in the underground tunnels carved out of the cliff rock overlooking the river. The beam of sunlight beckoned me over and I couldn’t help but sing a ‘La la laaaaaa’ as Sapphire quickly snapped the moment with her iphone.

Kath in Spain
RED:  Silly me. I was thinking it was something serious. But speaking of serious, what made you start blogging?
KATH:  In 2005 I was at home recovering from a complete mental and physical breakdown after working far too hard, for too long for people who didn’t care what was happening to me. A friend started one up and I realised that it might be a good thing for me, too. The first entries are appallingly bad – as are a lot after that – but somehow I got into the groove of it and felt that I might have something to say that could entertain or inform or just make people feel better about themselves and their own stupidities and failings.

RED:  Well, take it from me you've succeeded. What keeps you blogging??
KATH:  A good question... It's a way of keeping friends and family up to date without the need to sit down every week and write a ‘Dear All.....’ email. I’ve also made some really good friends (some I’ve met in person, others I haven’t) whose feedback and opinions mean a great deal to me. Plus, my brain and fingers get itchy and an idea strikes at the strangest of times and tells me that it needs to be blogged about. I think too that when you become a regular blogger your writer’s ‘eye’ becomes sharper, noticing conversations or trends or events that should not be forgotten. All that and the need to look like I’m busy when really I’m on Cute Overload, D-Listed and better blogs than mine!

RED:  Who inspires you to blog?
KATH:  EVERY BLOG that I follow. Which reminds me, I need to update my ‘Links I like to lurk at’ column on the right hand side of my blog.

RED:  I'll be checking that right after I hit 'publish'! What are your 3 blogging pet hates?
KATH:  People who, despite you visiting their blog and regularly commenting, never repay the favour.  Articles that are advertising. Keep it separate, people! And too many films, GIFs and dooflanger widgets that take ages to download and usually crash.

Milly at Bath Time - she'd rather be goofing off ...
RED:  (Note to self: DON'T do these things ANY MORE!). Along with many other readers of your blog, I love hearing about your dog Milly's adventures in Geneva. How would you describe her colour?
KATH:  Technically she’s a white and tan Jack Russell/Corgi mix (we call her a ‘Jorgi’) but in the sunshine she’s orange, so I often refer to her as my little orange.

RED:  That's RED enough for me!! How did she get her name?
KATH:  She was at the dog shelter at six months old, handed in because the old lady had died and her husband clearly wasn’t fond of her. They had apparently called her ‘Caro’ (presumably due to her caramel colouring), which we hated. Driving back home with new ‘little orange’ in the back of the station wagon, tail wagging eagerly but making no sound, Love Chunks said, “I think she’s a Milly.”

RED:  How does Milly react to RED?
KATH:  It’s all around her. Her bed is red, her blanket is red, the rug in the lounge room that she likes to sun herself on is red, her bath time towels are red. I guess it means ‘home.’

Rhapsody in RED


RED:  HHHMMMmmm... Are you SURE you don't want to re-think that favourite colour? Do you have any final RED words of wisdom for our readers?
KATH:  Hopefully one day, a RED carpet will be laid out for all of us!

RED:  It's what I live for! And I hope my readers follow the RED carpet right over to your blog Goofing off in Geneva!!

Read MORE RED Alert Interviews (take it as read that they've all got an exclamation mark after the title ...):

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Life on the Edge ... Carrieton, South Australia

Horseshoe Range from Carrieton, South Australia


Live on the edge from just ten bucks a night.

That's all it costs for a powered site at Carrieton's Horseshoe View Caravan Park with the Stay-2-nights-Get-2-nights-FREE deal*.
Horseshoe View Caravan Park Campsite - on the edge in Carrieton



And that's a small price to pay for a chance to explore Carrieton, perched on the edge of the vast expanse of the Minburra Plain stretching east with virtually nothing civilised to stop it until it hits the Barrier highway en route to Broken Hill.

Although that doesn't really count as civilisation either!

Three hours north of Adelaide on the alternative route to the Flinders Ranges, Carrieton is a TOP Aussie town - and a hidden jewel in South Australia's mid-north that's often ignored in favour of the big ticket items further north.

But bypass Carrieton and you'll miss some of the least well known, but most intriguing and delightful Outback scenery in South Australia!
 
It's no hardship to stay for 4 nights – necessary to get the full benefit of the Horseshoe View's special deal. The superbly set up AND quiet little caravan park off the main road in the old school grounds the community purchased when the school was closed a few years ago has everything.
 
Anglican Church, Carrieton, South Australia
And if you aren't a camper, you'll LOVE how the locals have converted the old school buildings into cottage and bunkhouse style accommodation …

The locals are used to living on the edge. Yanyarrie Whim on the outskirts of town is all that remains of the watering point on the 1800s North/South Stock Route and mining trail responsible for putting Carrieton on the map.
Carrieton Rodeo and Campdraft Posters
Partly responsible for keeping Carrieton on the map these days are the annual December night Rodeo – one of the largest in South Australia – and April/May Campdraft and Gymkhana.

On the wrong side of the Goyder Line, surveyed in 1865 to determine the boundary of cropping land, the district's low and inconsistent rainfall drove many from the land leaving only a legacy of stone ruins behind.
 
Later when the Prince Alfred mine closed in 1907, then the railway in 1981, followed more recently by the school, Carrieton faced an uncertain future.

Johnburgh Ruin, via Carrieton
But also taking responsibility for keeping it on the map is a determined and forward-looking progress association who refuse to let the town die.

Community owned and run, the caravan park is just one innovation to keep the town afloat. The excellent and well stocked general store – also a community initiative – means visitors don't have to leave town to purchase fuel or food.

But the REAL reason to base yourself on the edge in Carrieton is to explore this amazing part of South Australia that many Aussies haven't even heard of, let alone seen!

A selection of sightseeing options will make up several day trips – and don't forget to factor in some time to relax in the beautifully kept school grounds, and chat to the friendly locals.

So here's one version of how to spend 4 days on the edge in Carrieton:

Day 1: Eat and Explore

Drive 44 km north to the Cradock Hotel for lunch. Sightings of the ghost of former publican 'Lawrence' aren't guaranteed, but you WILL get a great meal served up with country hospitality!

Catholic Church, Carrieton

When you return, explore Carrieton's attractions like Yanyarrie Whim and the excellent 12 metre Mosaic Mural depicting the town's history on the Public Toilets (!). Ask for directions to the creek behind the caravan park and walk up the creek bed where massive river Redgums and high RED cliffs tower above you.

Sunset at Carrieton Creek bed, South Australia
Then set up a date with the sunset over the Horseshoe Range ...

Day 2: Ruins and Redgums

Oladdie Road, via Carrieton, South Australia


Take a picnic lunch and drive 20 km west on the Oladdie road to Johnburgh.  The superb mountain scenery includes farmland, many ruins and unusual rock formations. 
 
After looking around almost-ghost-town Johnburgh, take the Belton turnoff and follow the marvellous Bendleby Ranges to the Weira Creek crossing.
River Redgum Random, Weira Creek via Carrieton

The massive River Redgums are locally known as 'widowmakers' because a branch big enough to crush a house can fall without warning …
 

After lunch, return to Carrieton via the Belton road – and watch for the clouds of pink dust billowing behind you on this oddly coloured road surface.


Rhapsody in Pink: Bendleby Ranges from the Belton Road, via Carrieton, South Australia

Oh! And the scenery's not bad either ...

Day 3: Lookouts and Landscapes


Magnetic Hill Sign, via Orroroo, South Australia
Drive 35 km south to Orroroo then further south via Pekina (check out the Pub and Coffee shop!); to Magnetic Hill, an intriguing natural phenomenon.
 
Return via Black Rock and take a detour to the Black Rock Lookout for superb views across the valley to the Pekina Range.

In Orroroo, the Tank Hill Lookout has superb views to the north and a superb cafe in the main street. Then check out South Australia's largest River Redgum, the old Railway Bridge and the historic buildings in town.

On the way back to Carrieton, stop at Walloway, site of a nasty train crash in the early 1900s then the Eurelia railway siding for a sample of the area's history.


Black Rock Magic, South Australia's Mid North
For a total heritage experience, take a detour and return via the historic town of Hammond.

Day 4: Ranges and Rocks

Take another picnic lunch and drive 28 km west through the superb countryside of the rocky Horseshoe Range towards Moockra Tower. When the road gives out, hike to the Tower for splendid views over the Range and Willochra Plain to the west.

Ranges behind Carrieton from Belton Road, South Australia


Back in Carrieton, after testing out the golf course circumnavigating the town, make another date with that sunset ...
 
Old seeder at Yanyarrie Whim, Carrieton, SA
And thank me – along with the locals!! – for introducing you to this little-known wonderland. It won't take much to make Carrieton part of your South Australian Flinders Ranges, Mid-North or Outback experience.

Although my stay in Carrieton undoubtedly assisted the local community in a small way, it didn't take long to realise the locals were doing ME a favour by making it easy for me to stay and enjoy life on the edge!
 
* Subject to availability; 10% Seniors Discount also available


Carrieton Sunset

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