Port Pirie

Monday 31st March.

We had a trip around the southern Flinders Ranges today and were rather disappointed. It seems South Australia has a problem putting up signs to direct people, tourists, to places. It started in Adelaide with the very noticeable lack of street signs, there were signs on the side of the road warning of a, main, street approaching but when one is at the intersection street signs are a rarity. Speed limit signs are also very few and makes it hard to ascertain the limit on a road when joining it mid length. They are generally a lower speed limit than other states on comparable roads, so either assume 60k, or 50k if on a minor street.

The problem we had on the ranges was that we had a booklet telling us what was around to see, but we had trouble seeing any signs telling us how to get there. After finding a couple of these sites I decided that the main reason, perhaps, of not signposting them is that they are not really worth seeing, or there was a long bushwalk to get there. If it was because of the walk, then I assume the info would be available from National Parks.

One gorge we were looking for, and found eventually, took us about 25k from a particular point when we first tried to get there, to find when we got there that we were only 5k from when we were at that particular point via another route. There were lookouts on our locally produced map, but we could not find a direction sign to any of them. This was the most disappointing thing as it is this type of photo that I mostly look for.

We may be rather glad to get away from Port Pirie, it is a very nice place, but the mosquitoes aren’t.

Port Pirie

Saturday 29th March, (Port Pirie).

Must remember to wind back the clocks tonight as it is the end of daylight saving.

We moved yesterday from Adelaide to Port Pirie, about 220k. We plan on being here for 5 days or so as it will be the last chance to relax for a while due to us doing a lot more travelling and only stopping overnight or for at most 2 nights. This is until we reach Alice Springs at least and we intend staying there for at least a week or so, and then we will be back to large amounts of travelling once more until we reach Darwin, unless we turn right at Tennant Creek for the east coast.

There seems to be a bit to see around this district so it won’t be hard to fill in our time. We won’t be doing all the day trips that are on offer because we will be back here one day with a lot more time to look around with more detail. A familiarisation with the town, a visit to the tourist centre and a short walk around town taking photos was the order for today.

We have been wondering why there are a lot of places around here with the prefix ‘Port’, and the answer is obvious; almost every township on the coast is a port with wharfs. Port Pirie also has a lead smelter actually built on the edge of the local wharf, which is the main employer of the town folk.


Tuesday 25th March, (Adelaide).

Linda is back home, arrived Saturday, and seems to have gotten over her jet lag so we have decided to move out on Friday on our venture up the centre.

We are at present having a few relaxing days before we head off and getting things ready for the trip.

I am wondering at the moment if we have done some damage to the caravan, but it may not be anything. We had a flat tyre while sitting at this park and with all the weight normally on the tyre being distributed to the front and rear legs the van then began to sag in the middle. The adjustment on the door catch indicated that it was sagging. I have since pumped up the tyre, after replacing it with the spare, and would you believe it has stayed up. I have taken some steps to overcome this problem in the future by buying some jack stands, threaded adjustment for continuous adjustment, and placed a pair of them under the chassis next to the wheels, to actually support the wheel weight, and another two at the rear where the stands would provide support. I am not going to use the leg supports at the rear in future as the stands provide better support anyway. I have been worried that the strain on the chassis with the flat may have caused some structural damage, but it may not be any different to normal and just seems that way.

Plans: it seems we may have to change our travel plans this year as it seems that Matts parents, Nell’s Matt, won’t be going to Perth for Christmas so it now seems more appropriate to have Christmas at Albury. This way Nell and Matt will be able to share it with both sets of parents, and we may also be able to get Matt and Lou over from Tassie as well. If this change eventuates we will just have to leave our Perth trip for after Christmas, or maybe the next year. In the meantime we do intend going up the centre to Darwin and then we should know what we intend doing afterward.


Wednesday 19th March, (Adelaide).

I have now decided that this caravan park is in fact better than Levi park as it is still reasonably close to most places that one wishes to go, it is close to the beach, which I’m sure Linda will enjoy on her return.

I have for the past couple of days been thinking again that I have been rather slack in not putting fingers to keyboard once again, but the past couple of weeks have been rather ordinary with not much that I would consider of a nature to put in words: That is until last night, and what a busy night and day today.

We seem to experience extremes in weather conditions wherever we go, and here is no different. Last evening we had one of the worst storms they have had in Adelaide for a fair while. It broke at about 2:30am this morning with such force that the awning started coming down, then I am not really surprised though as I had taken a few short cuts in erecting it to create situations like an easier parking spot by placing the ropes, pegs, close to the base of the poles. This resulted in not being enough strength in the poles and ropes to withstand the force of the wind. I was fortunate, I guess, that I was up at the time watching the world cup cricket semi-finals when the storm did break and I managed to dismantle the awning and store it away before any damage was done.

If I had any doubt as to what I would be doing today it was soon overcome, as I was rather busy re-erecting the awning. This wasn’t a very easy task as the wind was still blowing and I was attempting to do the task on my own, I did manage but it wasn’t extremely easy. I spent some time making sure that this time the erection was completed more effectively, placing ropes further away from the poles, providing more ropes on the ends of the awning and tying ropes from pegs to the bottom of the poles to prevent them from sliding away at the bottom.

One thing I have learned from this is to erect the awning on every occasion to expect the worse situation and then it should withstand a fair wind strength if it does occur, believe me it is no fun dismantling the awning in the middle of the night and trying to store everything somewhere out of the weather without folding anything, especially when one has to do it on his own.

It is only three days until Linda returns from the UK and I can’t wait so I can have a break from such things as cooking. I have booked in here for another week so it will give Linda time to get over her jet lag before we move on.

I have over the past couple of days been pursuing information on software and cable for data download from a new blood testing machine I recently purchased so I can download to my PC. After getting the info that I did today I have decided to forego the idea. The machine has infrared capabilities, as does my laptop, but according to them the infrared system used is not a standard format so the purchase of a cable to convert the infrared to a serial port is essential and at a cost of $250 or so for the cable. The software is apparently only available from the internet and they expect an up front fee of $25 and an annual fee of the same for continued use of it. This seemed to me to be too costly for a system that they are dictating the expense and how one should use it and also too costly for the intended use I would give it, so the idea of a purchase is now a no-go. I guess I will just have to keep records in the old fashion of pen in a log method.

I have just seen on the weather report that we are not the only ones with bad conditions: apparently Melbourne has extremely poor visibility due to dust storms, being topsoil from drought-affected areas.

Adelaide/West Beach

Wednesday 12th March, (Adelaide/West Beach).

I have made a move today to Adelaide Shores at West beach, another Big4. I was fed up with the lack of sunshine at Levi Park, especially now that I want to experiment with another theory I have with the low output while the solar panels are on the roof. I am suspecting, and rather hopeful, that the brackets they are mounted on may be acting as a big heat sink on the panels and resulting in a reduced output. Now I am here I will be able to find out, I have run everything on 12 volts all night tonight to reduce the battery charge in readiness to do the checks so the panels will supply continually.

I have almost formed the opinion that this park is better than Levi Park. There are in fact new bike tracks along the coastline, not shown in the bike track maps, so this should keep me up with exercise. It seems to be easily accessible to everything, and is on the beach, which will make Linda happy when she returns. The site I have been given actually has a double sized concrete block for van and annexe.