Iron Knob

A Land of Sweeping Plains and Flooding Rains (Part 2)

Have you ever dreamt of driving across Australia? Seeing her vast open plains, massive wheat fields that spread as far as the eye can see over the horizon. Watching kangaroos hopping iconically alongside your car as you whizz along the highway.

I was born and raised in Sydney (on the east coast) and now live on the outskirts of Canberra, but my son and his wife live in Perth, (on the west coast). We have flown over to visit many times. The flight takes about 5 hours, but to have the opportunity to take the time to drive across was a dream come true. To drive across comfortably, you need to prepare for at least a week. Last week I began the story of our journey across this magnificent vast country of ours. If you missed it, here is the link to catch up -

We had just left the clear blue skies over Mildura and were headed directly towards South Australia and the biggest storm they had faced in decades! Of cause, I didn't believe it. That is, until the clouds inevitably rolled in across the plains. It grew darker by the minute. Eventually the rain hit. Thunder and lightning struck. The rain became so torrential it was almost impossible to continue to drive.  We did manage to drive through some gorgeous old country mining and wine growing towns, their architecture dating back to the early settlers of the 1800's. Not old in terms of most overseas countries I know, but great to see here. The plains and grazing lands gave way to rolling hills and winding roads.

Eventually the weather appeared to calm down and we came unexpectedly across an incredible find. In the middle of a farmers field was a natural wonder! A rock formation aptly named 'The Haystacks." Visitors were invited to walk around them after leaving a gold coin donation in the box at the gate. Mind you, we could still see more storm clouds on the horizon, so decided upon a brisk walk rather than a meander. The wind howled and buffeted our path but we had fun among the natural standing stones non-the-less. Then it was a race back to the car as the rain began to pelt down once again. I did make a quick stop on the way back to purchase a jar of the farmer's honey by leaving $5.00 in the box in place of the jar. I love the honour system of doing business in the country.

On reaching Port Augusta, our destination for the night, we discovered that the entire state was now in blackout! 'Don't worry" the hotel manager assured us. "it will be back on in a couple of hours. In the meantime we have the restaurant still open for dinner for our guests only." On the menu for the evening was curry and rice or curry and rice. They were only able to cook one dish on the gas burner. At least it was a romantic candle lit dinner for two.

By morning, still no power. a candle lit breakfast for two of bacon and eggs or bacon and eggs. Not even any cereal as they could not provide fresh milk, which also meant black tea or coffee! What a start to the day! Then the realisation hit, no power statewide, meant no petrol station open. Fortunately we were in our 4WD with two petrol tanks. Hubby assured me we had enough to make it to our next pre-booked destination. It was a bit of a gamble but we decided to give it a go!

We made a quick detour into the old mining town of Iron Knob. Very remote! Population of less than 200. It seemed like the entire town (6 people) were holding a meeting about the lack of power, in the General store. Couldn't offer us any hot food or petrol, (and it was rather cold, so a hot cuppa would have been nice.) Even the local museum was closed due to lack of power. We were offered a free tour on our return visit. Thank you very much, but I think we'll give it a miss!

A bit further down the road we encountered the tiny town of Kyancutta. To say the local business owner was not happy is an understatement. In fact, he pretty much summed up the feelings of most South Australians at the time. It is amazing how a power blackout after a storm can bring an entire state to its knees.

Fortunately we did find a small country town where the service station had a generator, so as long as you could pay with cash, he had a working petrol pump. He was doing a roaring trade. Cars, trucks and caravans were lined up the length of the street. The local bakery was also doing great sales, probably the best they had done in years. They were rushed off their feet unable to keep up with the demand. No sooner were meat pies out of the ovens they were all sold. It's amazing how successful a business can be if it has a backup power system and word of mouth.

Finally, we reached the coast and made our first sighting of one of many long jetty's that appeared at every coastal town along the bottom of South and Western Australia. Streaky Bay was a really pretty spot, very well looked after, obviously quite a holiday destination for South Australians. I'd be happy to have a quiet holiday there one day. It would be easy to fill the day with fishing, walking, reading and of course a bit of writing. 

We made it into Ceduna that evening to once again stay in the only hotel with power. Our room directly overlooked the jetty, which was amazing! Fortunately, South Australia awoke to electricity the next morning so it was back to business as usual. After topping up the petrol tank once again, and a visit to the visitors information centre we were finally on our way heading across the Nullabor.

Have you ever dreamt of driving across the Nullabor?

Or have you managed to fulfil a lifelong dream like this?

Please leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear about your experience or dream.

Next week : - an unusual museum, golf on the Nullabor? and in search of whales at last!