Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thurs 13th June 2013 - Meningie - Salt Creek - Narrung - Meningie

We again looked at the rain radar to work out where our adventures would take us, and figured the eastern side of Lake Alexandrina would be preferable, so we headed south along the Princes Highway, taking us alongside the narrow strip of the Coorong National Park to the west, and green farmland to the east. It was a nice 60km+ drive, then we turned back at Salt Creek as we figured it would be more of the same where we wouldn't be able to get out and explore with the boys.

We then to the long way back to Meningie via West Meningie, and took the Narrung ferry back, passing the Malcolm Lighthouse, Australia's most inland lighthouse. It would have been nice to have stopped to have a closer look and take some photos, but it was starting to drizzle again, and the track to the lighthouse was blocked by a couple of utes and workers revegetating the nearby slopes.

We got back to Meningie, and went to both the local butcher and bakery, and sat in the sun for about an hour until the mandatory drizzle kicked back in again. Paul and the boys had a nap while I spent some time on the computer catching up on trip notes. We then took the boys for a slow walk around the lake's edge, then Paul set about getting a fire ready in the allocated fire drum.

The expected drop in wind didn't eventuate, and the fire turned out to be a bit of a fizzer as the drum was positioned too high for any meaningful heat to radiate out, and we couldn't see it either. So we sat shivering with a dog on each lap to provide a bit of warmth, drank our beers and gave up when it stated to spit again. Oh well, we tried.

Wed 12th June 2013 - Murray Bridge - Meningie

We woke up to a bit of fog and a fine misty drizzle, but were determined to move on regardless. West to Goolwa or East to Meningie - the rain radar made the choice for us, with some heavier stuff moving from west to east.

Looks like wet weather provides a strong incentive to move quickly, and we were packed up just before 10am, and into the Lake Albert Caravan Park at Meningie by a bit after 11, another record for us. Now that it wasn't raining, we did a full set up of all awnings in just on an hour, had some lunch out of a coolish breeze, then walked the 1km or so into town to check it out, once again under a light drizzle. When we arrived back, the drizzle set in some more, and we were glad to be fully closed in, unfortunately not taking full advantage of being mere metres from the lakeside.

Also unfortunately, we were not making the most of the powered site as it appeared the battery charger wasn't actually charging the batteries. After a bit of investigation, Paul discovered the mains power was in fact pushing out over 240 volts, so the battery charger was giving off a fault light. This is not something wrong with the charger, nor something that can be fixed easily as the power surge is coming from the power supplier. But it means our batteries aren't being charged, basically negating the extra cost of getting a powered site in the first place to do this, as well as running Hades.

Tues 11 June 2013 - Murray Bridge - Wellington - Tailem Bend - Murray Bridge

Another drizzly day equals another day in the car, but it held off long enough to have a good walk around the wetlands area opposite the park. We then stocked up on some groceries and got some lunch, then went to Sturt Reserve to eat it and be treated by the scary noises of the Bunyip in the bunker. Fortunately, someone else got to spend their hard earned coin for that.

We then drove down the western side of Lake Alexandrina to Wellington, and took the ferry across to Jervois, continuing this time a little way down the eastern side of the lake in the hope of seeing where the Murray joined the lake. Sadly, all roads led to private property, and I was chastised by a friend who questioned our adventurous spirit for not trespassing anyway!

The upshot of this day trip was that we had identified spots where we may have stayed - at Wellington and Tailem Bend - as being ones we wouldn't have enjoyed particularly. The general plan prior to departure now gave us a couple of days up our sleeve, and it's better to be ahead of schedule than behind it. So we decided, pending the next few days weather report, to either go to Goolwa as planned on the western side for 2 or 3 days where the mouth of the Murray exits the Coorong, or around to Meningie on the eastern side, which would also allow us to go further south as far as a day trip would allow, and also back around to Goolwa for a day trip but not stay there.

Mon 10 June 2013 - Purnong - Murray Bridge

We were in the process of packing up when a 4wd came in to see us, and we were told that we were definitely on private property. We advised we were just leaving and apologised, but felt no remorse for staying there anyway!

Again, we did our little duck ins to every track to every flat along the river as we headed downstream, until we got to Mannum. There were two recommended sites across the river to Mannum where people were starting to pack up from the long weekend, but they didn't look that appealing to us being right on the road and next to the ferry.

So we got some lunch and ate it in the park next to the big paddle steamer moored near the ferry crossing, and continued on to Murray Bridge through dairy and sheep farms, and some more little weekender villages that looked very nice to duck into. It was all very picturesque, but not forthcoming for sites to camp. We found another dog friendly caravan park on the outskirts of town that had barely half a dozen other set ups, and, whilst not right on the river, it was overlooking a reserve and wetlands area and had a lovely view of the water.

I had bought some cubed steak in Renmark for another camp stew that needed eating, so Paul cooked that up on the stove top. Whilst it was good, it lacked that smoky camp fire essence and that something extra only a good seasoned cast iron camp oven can give. Never mind.

Sunday 9th June 2013 - Morgan - Purnong

We decided not to spend the whole weekend at Morgan, so headed off with the intention of taking every little side track down to the river that we could find to free camp it. Again, there were more flats along the river that would make ideal camp sites - if only people weren't already there, or was private property. Phooey.

Another recommended site towards the end of the day at Walker Flat turned out to be a dud, and we wondered whether our expectations were a bit too high for free camping in South Australia along the Murray, perhaps due to the close proximity to lots of little towns. And that it was still the long weekend. We did get to see the lock at Swan reach, however.

We were just about to settle for the caravan park at Purnong, south of Swan Reach, when Paul spotted a track on the escarpment above the caravan park about half an hour before sunset. There were no signs or gates, and a big cleared area like a quarry that seemed perfect, with a spectacular view of the river and the cliffs behind. It was a beautiful clear night and we could see what appeared to be the distant glow of light from Adelaide, or at least the Adelaide Hills.