Winter beach combing near Robe

  
South of Robe is an ocean beach with wild waves.

  

 As the waves crash and spray on the rocky outcrops, the receding tide throws up treasures from the ocean: kelp, plastic trash broken and distorted, bottles encrusted with cockles, feathers, driftwood.

  
  
As we basked in the noontime glare, we noticed some translucent opaline shapes that may be shark eggs?

  
Behind the dunes is a freshwater lake where hoary-headed grebes, black swans and musk ducks feast on the underwater grasses.

  
  
It’s a soothing contrast to the charged energy of the ocean waves.

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Coorong walk after rain

  
The Coorong is a system of lakes behind the dunes in the southeast of South Australia. It includes samphire swampland and melaleuca. This morning, we pulled into the Coorong National Park at Chinamen’s Well, which we had visited six weeks ago coming over from Victoria. Suddenly the rain stopped and we leapt outside to tackle a nearby walk: the Nakun Kangun, which runs for 27km along the Coorong.

  
Some of the walk was through melaleuca forest (see above), past samphire lakes.

  
There were delicate orchids if you looked carefully.

  
Correa:

  

We continued to Kingston SE, which has a cool historic lighthouse.

  
Finally, we are in Robe, where we have caught up with family in the first house we have been in for nearly seven weeks.

Windswept Wikicamp inspiration 

  
After a cheery roadside coffee break opposite a fertile field of some vegetable north of Adelaide, we took turns driving with me steering the ‘rig’ south to just outside Adelaide and David taking over for the tricky urban section through the suburbs of a capital city.

  
This meant a late lunch of packet soup and cheese toastie on a side road, near Murray Bridge. The sky looked ominous (see above) and we thought we’d better settle into a sheltered campsite soon.

Using the useful app Wikicamps, we located an old alignment and driving through high winds and rain, finally nestled in behind a large sand dune. It provides shelter from the traffic noise but the dune is in the leeward side, so we still are buffeted by wind. 

  
Our gas fridge wouldn’t stay alight, so Dave has rigged up a fix using a canvas cover he purchased to keep heat (!) off the back of the fridge.

  
Putting on my raincoat, I couldn’t resist playing with the creative function on my compact camera to get some interesting effects: windswept tree, our lonely campsite, a child’s abandoned Croc.

  
  
The rain has now abated and a herd of cows is staring dumbfounded at us. So it’s not as lonely after all. A camper’s life is full of surprises.

Remarkable walks

  
Mt Remarkable National Park, just south of Port Augusta in South Australia, is well named. Although it is on the Goyder line and turned out to be unproductive for grazing, it supports huge river red gums. Apparently, the secret is Mambray Creek, which only flows in wetter periods, has underground counterparts which the deep-rooted gums are able to access and siphon upwards.

We did three walks and the first was among the gums, which continue to thrive even after they are hollowed out by fire and termites. Can you see David, cleverly concealed inside this one?

  
Along the river were native pines as well as gums, affording a pleasant shade.

  
After a caffeine fix, with sandwiches in our backpacks and we headed off on a second walk, this time to Sugargum Lookout.Ironically, the view from the lookout was almost obliterated by sugar gums!

However, a historic shepherd’s hut proved a pleasant lunch stop.

  
The spring wildflowers were beginning, including this native hibiscus:

Bulbine lily:

  
In the late afternoon we tackled a short walk to the ruins of the original homestead, where generations of lessees had struggled to make a living grazing sheep. The cemetery provided a moving reminder of how harsh life was for families, with several graves of children.

  
Threatening clouds and the lure of King Island Blue Ash cheese with a pre-dinner drink called a halt to play and we returned to the caravan, but not before I had uploaded yesterday’s blog near the park entrance, which had 3G connection.

Nullarbor musings with bikers

  
Departing late from our bush camp, (due to the time change), we returned to Border Village to fill a gas cylinder. While there we met a couple who had ridden a motorbike with trailer from Devonport in Tasmania. 

Further down the Eyre Highway, while pulling into a lookout to check out the Merdayerrah Sandpatch at the start of the Bunda Cliffs, we met them again. The trailer opens out to a double bed. They carry a small icebox for perishable food and  the bike is equipped with a GPS. When they got wet, they checked into a cabin for the night to dry off. They weren’t enjoying the windy morning, but overall were having a great trip.

The next lookout was over the Bunda Cliffs, which come abruptly out of the sea and stretch as far as the eye could see.

  
The word Nullarbor is Latin for ‘no trees’, but the Nullarbor Plain only lives up to its name on the Eyre Highway for a few, monotonous kilometres. The rest is scrubland and mallee (multiple trunked eucalyptus).

  
Once again, we visited Head of Bight, where hundreds of Southern Right Whales come annually to give birth and nurse their calves. I took some more photos, but it’s hard to zoom in and snap them at the moment they do something interesting. Most of the time they just lie flat in the sea, but occasionally they blow water or stretch a fin.

  
This evening we have found a lovely camp in Mallee bushland. The coastal dunes are visible on the horizon, but here it is sheltered with blue bush and little flowers. Once again we had a beautiful sunset.

  

Caiguna golf finale and Variety meeting

  
We awoke to a brilliant sunrise with the moon setting over the mallee scrub.

First challenge of the day was the Nullarbor Links hole at Caiguna. Called ’90 Mile Straight’, it is a par 4 course traversing saltbush, with trees in the fairway and the green out of sight around a bend. Usually, we are the only players, but this time another couple were ahead of us and they’d already played two holes at other roadhouses.

  
We have now completed the ‘World’s Longest Golf Course’ and have only to pick up our certificate once we get to Ceduna.

We then had to turn our clocks forward three-quarters of an hour to a special Nullarbor time zone that only applies to a few roadhouses in the east of Western Australia. 

The caravan park at Eucla was booked out by 120 vehicles of the Variety Club, who were doing their annual ‘Bash’ from Sydney to Bundaberg using creatively decorated vehicles. One was a refurbished hearse. There was also a large support vehicle with group equipment and supplies.

  
We crossed the border into South Australia where more decorated Variety Club vehicles were queuing for the quarantine check.

  
Nine kilometres further, we found a bush camp that was listed in Wikicamps. It isn’t far from the coast. We are loving our third night camping out in this beautiful wilderness.

Seduced by Ceduna and the longest golf course in the world

On Saturday night we watched the sun set as the galahs gathered in the treetops in the Ceduna shopping centre.

  

  

  

   
  This morning, after we checked out of the campground, we called into the visitor centre and registered for the World’s Longest Golf Course. this18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres across the Nullabor Plain in the south of Australia. The first two holes were at the Ceduna Golf Course and the next at the town of Penong, seventy-odd kilometres away.
   
   We proceeded here to Fowlers Bay and clambered over vast sand dunes as the sun lowered and a fisherman with his son returned on his quad bike. Our footprints were shared with the wave-like patterns carved by the wind. The township clustered at the bottom of the dunes.

   
   The caravan park lit a campfire and a family toasted marshmallows.