Port Noarlunga and Happy Valley

The last 3 weeks have been very busy with work so we’ve been more static than usual. We were in Port Noarlunga South for a few days, then in Happy Valley for a couple of weeks looking after a lovely dog and cat, then back to Port Noarlunga South for a few more days. Finally we did another couple of Winnie Blues drives, 880 kilometres over 2 days to get to Albury where we are staying for the next couple of weeks.

Port Noarlunga South

Port Noarlunga Beach
Port Noarlunga Beach

We’ve found a fabulous little Airbnb in Port Noarlunga South which we have been to a couple of times now. It’s a self contained studio apartment style dwelling on the Esplanade, right across from the shore. It’s a quiet, calm place and a very good place to work. There’s fast wifi and a desk overlooking the sea.

Work haven in Port Noarlunga South
Work haven in Port Noarlunga South

The sunsets are amazing. One night I caught the scene below reflected in the window of our apartment.

Port Noarlunga Sunset
Port Noarlunga Sunset

Every day we went for a walk along the shoreline to get some fresh air and to stretch our legs. Every day this fella was there waving at everyone who went by, always in his boardies whatever the weather.

G'day mate!
G’day mate!

The weather was good to us, dry but cold. Not too cold for some folk to go paddle boarding it seems. They build them tough down here.

Can you see the paddle boarder?
Can you see the paddle boarder?
Paddle boarding a 2° Centigrade
Paddle boarding a 2° Centigrade

Sometimes we took our laptops with us and did a bit of work by the sea. What a delightful al fresco office Port Noarlunga South makes.

Working al fresco
Working al fresco

Happy Valley

All too soon it was time to leave this haven of peace and tranquillity. Our next stop was a house sit in Happy Valley where we are looking after Tilly the Border Collie and Essie the cat for a couple who are away on holiday.

One of the first things I did when we arrived was to light the fire. The animals approved.

Hurry up and get that fire lit
Hurry up and get that fire lit

The animals were two of the best behaved and easiest to look after we have encountered while house sitting. The family said Tilly loves to go the  “The Oval” for a play and a run around after the ball. We forgot to ask where “The Oval” was but needn’t have worried, Tilly knew exactly where it was. When we came out with the lead and ball thrower she came up to us and immediately sat and waited for us to put her lead on. We opened the front door and she lead us all the way to the park through winding streets.

We had great fun taking her there every day for hers and our exercise.

Exercising Tilly
Exercising Tilly

The cottage we were in was very comfortable and a great place to work. Essie also liked me working there and kept me company most of the day.

Essie the work cat
Essie the work cat

Clarendon

If you regularly read this blog you’ll know we were around this same region a few weeks ago. Vagabonding – South Australia.

At that time we drove through a beautiful little village called Clarendon with a friendly looking pub and vowed to return so this trip we did just that. One Friday night we went for a drink and dinner in the Royal Hotel. They had a great selection of beers and a pool table so we ordered a Cooper’s Stout each and had a game or two of pool.

Pool Shark Jenni potting the black
Pool Shark Jenni potting the black
The Aussie Alex Higgins
The Aussie Alex Higgins

After pool we bought a couple of raffle tickets, another couple of beers, got our table by the fire and ordered some food.

Royal Hotel Clarendon
Royal Hotel Clarendon

After about 6:30 the bar started to fill up with locals. We got talking to the guy who was selling the raffle tickets who spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the joy of living in this remarkable location. He is right, it is a beautiful part of the planet. As is common in Aussie pub raffles the prize is a meat tray, and we won. We don’t eat red meat so we donated it back, they were over the moon with gratitude and gave us a drinks voucher with the expiry date crossed out for the next time we pass through. The guy who won the meat platter came up and introduced himself and thanked us for donating it back and we ordered another drink. It was a great night of friendship, craic and conversation, it was a heartwarming experience. By the time our taxi came we were on first name terms with half the bar and were getting hugs and handshakes and best wishes from everyone.

Adelaide

We also had a couple of trips into Adelaide. One evening we wandered around Chinatown looking for somewhere nice to have dinner. Jenni was very interested in this place for some reason.

Big Wang's BBQ
Big Wang’s BBQ

As this was to be our last time in South Australia and Adelaide for some time we took as many opportunities to catch up with our friends. Although I’d been in Adelaide for some weeks I still managed to not be able to catch up with my friend Jo and her fiance Phillip but this time we made it. Jo told me she reads the blog so that’s why she gets a special mention, thanks Jo, see you back in WA.

Jo and Jim
Jo and Jim

The two weeks house sitting flew by. We took Tilly for a run and a ball chase every day and played “hunt the cat” with Essie who had a penchant for hiding.

Tilly catches the ball
Tilly catches the ball

Eventually we had to leave and with this look from Essie we bade Happy Valley farewell and went back to Port Noarlunga South for the last few days in SA.

Where are you guys going?
Where are you guys going?

Port Noarlunga South, again

We were very happy to be spending the last days in this fabulous and interesting state in our little work haven in Port Noarlunga South.

Port Noarlunga South
Port Noarlunga South

We did what we normally do when we stay here, go for a short reviving walk each day to clear the sinuses and recharge the work batteries.

On our final day here this little guy followed us along our walk then flew off never to be seen again.

Bye bye birdy, bye bye
Bye bye birdy, bye bye

On our final walk we saw a lady with a cute Border Collie pup which reminded us of a young Tilly. As these things do we started talking and told her we had been house sitting a Border Collie last week. She immediately offered us some house sitting for Jack, her Border Collie when they are away next year. Turns out they have a beautiful place right on the Esplanade and are planning a trip to Europe next year and were wondering what to do about the pup. Funny how these sort of things keep happening when you put yourself out there and start talking to people.

A few months ago and in a similar scenario in Kangaroo Island we got chatting to a local couple in a bar who Jenni immediately hit it off with and the lady, just as immediately, offered to put us up whenever we we returned if we looked after her 6 chooks. As we had just left a Tassie farm where we looked after 600 chooks, and we loved Kangaroo Island this was a tempting offer. Again, these things happen when you put yourself out there and talk to people. This, in a small part, is why we are on this Vagabonding adventure.

Tomorrow, it was time to leave South Australia on the next chapter of our Vagabonding adventure.

South Australia

Before we leave SA I should tell you how much we’ve loved this state. A lot, that’s how much. We’ve been on the road for about 5 months now and for about 3 of those we been somewhere in South Australia. This was not our original intention and completely unexpected. We’ve probably driven 6,000 kilometres or more around this state and every one of those has been a feast for the eyes. This is a very beautiful and photogenic state.  Some of our highlights have been;

  • Coober Pedy in the north of the state, other worldly, fascinating
  • Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, eye wateringly spectacular
  • Clare Valley, wine, food and scenery, the Reisling Trail
  • McClaren Vale, more wine, food and scenery
  • Fleurieu Peninsula, beaches and wine and food and scenery
  • Kangaroo Island, amazing, a complete revelation, we’re going back
  • Adelaide, a very friendly city
  • Clarendon, an even more friendly and welcoming little village
  • Victor Harbour and Granite Island, go there, you’ll not regret it

As we’ve travelled we’ve met many other travellers who have shared their experiences with us and have given us a lot more places we should go in SA, and of course other states. We’ve so many other places we’d love to visit and things we like to do I am sure, no certain, we’ll be back.

Road Trip to Albury

We’re doing another house sit in Albury for a couple of weeks. Albury is 880 kilometres from Port Noarlunga South and we’re stopping in Euston overnight on our drive there. That is approximately a 5-6 hour drive each day. Out first pit stop, after about 3 hours drive, was in Parilla where they have one of these weather forecasting rocks. If you are a veteran reader of my blogs you’ll know we last saw one of these in Donegal in Ireland. You can see that one in this blog. Walligans UK & Ireland Tour November 2017 – Part 6

Australian Weather Forecasting Stone
Australian Weather Forecasting Stone

To stretch my legs I did a bit of exploring. Beside the old railway line there was a vintage crane from the days the railway came through here and Parilla was a hub and before the weather forecasting stone was a thing.

Parilla in South Australia
Parilla in South Australia

I don’t like driving at night in the back roads through Australia. There are too many marsupials who don’t know the Green Cross Code. Our ability to get from where we are to where we want to be could be significantly negatively impacted by hitting a 200kg kangaroo. The final hour of our journey took us through an “Australian Flora and Fauna Reserve” in the dark and we didn’t want to deplete the reserve animal population too much so we drove at 60 kph. Thankfully we didn’t hit anything.

Just after dusk the full moon rose right in our direction of travel. For the last hour of our journey as we drove into Euston we were treated to the most spectacular moon rise. It is disputed that the moon is bigger when it is just above the horizon. It looks bigger but it really isn’t by when measured. I’m usually an advocate of the scientific method and accept the evidence of the results of controlled experiment but in the case of the  Moon Illusion, it is bollocks. Ptolomey thought it was to do with atmospheric refraction and Cleomedes proscribed it to atmospheric refraction and apparent distance. I don’t care if the evidence says its the same size rising as when its overhead I saw it and it’s bigger, much bigger. Whatever causes it, it was a visually memorable way to record the transition into our next Vagabonding chapter.

Euston

We arrived into Euston late, nearly 8pm, and checked into the Euston Motel. On our Vagabonding journey we have stayed in a lot of motels. This motel gets a 9.9 on Tripadvisor and deservedly so. Look at the room in this motel. I’ve stayed in worse 4 star hotels. “But Jim” I hear you ask, “How come you can take a picture and I can see your camera on the bed?”  By magic, that’s how and by using my phone camera occasionally.

Euston Motel - isn't it lovely?
Euston Motel – isn’t it lovely?

Euston is a small village and there was only one place to get some food. If the Euston Motel room had a microwave we’d probably have stayed in our room and warmed up some food Jenni had prepared for our trip before we left. It didn’t, so we had planned to eat in the Royal Euston Hotel. By experience we have found that many pub kitchens close at 8pm so we thought we were cutting it fine. Turns out we shouldn’t have worried. The Royal hotel had a roaring fire going and was a buzzing little place that served great food for many hours after we had arrived. In fact, the place was so popular there were no free tables, didn’t see that one coming. I spied a long table with a reserved sticker on it and a few people sitting at it but it had some free space at the end. I politely asked the ladies if the seats were free and they said that even though they had booked the table and there were still some people to arrive they’d bunch up and let us sit at the end of their table.

We gatecrashed this party
We gatecrashed this party

I’d Googled Euston. It said it was once a thriving port on the Murray River but had dwindled in importance and was now a freeway way point surrounded by vineyards. While I was at the bar getting some drinks Jenni had started to chat with the rest of the table. They were all locals and struck up an immediate rapport with Jenni. By the time I returned with the pint/not quite a real pint (see previous blog for explanation) of Carleton Draught and glass of Shiraz Jenni and the rest of the table were best friends.

Euston to Albury

Cafe in Balranald
Cafe in Balranald

Checkout from the excellent Euston Motel was 10am so we were up early and did a couple of hours work before packing and leaving. As always, I did a few different route checks and the Google Maps one was shorter in distance and 40 minutes shorter in duration, Google is never wrong so I locked this in as our trip and off we set.

Just outside  Euston I passed my favourite named place in Australia, Bumbang Island. I really must stop there sometime.

We stopped at Balranald for second breakfast. Across the road we spied a small produce market and as we needed some fresh veg we went visiting. We have a philosophy when we are travelling that we like to put cash into the local economy we travel through as much as we can.

Balranald is a frog obsessed town, there are frog sculptures everywhere.

Balranald Frogs
Balranald Frogs

We left Balranald with a sack full of fresh veg and set off for Albury. As we are travelling in a Mazda 3 and not a 4×4 I love a “Highway” as it’s guaranteed driveable. However, just outside Balranald Google Maps told us to to turn off the Sturt Highway onto a “Way”, the Yanga Way. Experience has told us a “Way” can be dodgy but it was OK. It then took us off the “Way” and onto the Balranald Road. Now, this is a lesson I’ve learned about Australia, the definition about what constitutes a “road”  let alone a {Insert big town name} Road does not indicate the state of that road. It was for that reason we ended up on the 36kms long dirt road called the Balranald Road.

The Balranald Road
The Balranald Road

This is now officially the longest dirt road we have driven along. Well done to Jenni for driving as I was pretending to work working on an important thing the laptop.

It was obviously agricultural country as we saw fields full of sheep and cows. Then some of those cows decided they didn’t want us to proceed.

Jim:Moooove!  Cows:Feck off!
Jim:Moooove! Cows:Feck off!

Just outside Albury dark storm clouds rose on the horizon. The sun set in the clear sky behind us was making the most dramatic light I’ve seen in a long while. At one point a couple of hundred shining white cockatoos were completing their mumurations for the evening. With the light behind us and the dark clouds in front and the blazing white plumage of the birds it was a sight to behold. They flashed across the sky with their hypnotic dance. It was the sort of natural phenomenon people travel across the world to see.

We arrived in Albury and quickly settled into our new digs that we’ll be in for a couple of weeks. Looking forward to exploring and learning more about this wonderful place.

Till next time.

 

 

 

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