Every summer we try to make a break for a short sojourn by the seaside. The weather forecast looked good for the day after New Year so we hooked the trailer up and went to explore the beaches of the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia. We had been that way some years before but the opportunity doesn’t always come to go out of the way places. A friend told us that as it was School and New Years holidays, all the beaches would be jam-packed with holidaymakers. Not so! Whilst the seaside towns were packed to capacity the outlying beaches were virtually deserted, apart from a few people, who were fishing.
We made for Port Broughton and after doing the rounds of a few Saturday morning garage sales there, and loading up with some perceived treasures, we set off along a tracks marked on my mapping for Webling Bay and beyond. The track stopped however, at the coast at a fisherman’s camp and we had to do a U-turn inside the camp to retrace our steps. So much for Government Mapping! So we took a road through Wards Hill and Alford to Kadina. The place was hopping and as luck would have it, we had to do some shopping!
From Kadina we took back-roads out past the old Wallaroo Mines heading straight to the beach. Once there, the wheel tracks followed the high tide mark of the beach. The track was hard packed and posed no driving effort. Evidence was clear that this was a favourite haunt of dirt bike riders as evidence of extreme wheel-spins on the ground were everywhere. This too was evident further along the coast and I am sure, that in time to come, all of the coastal reserves will be closed off to vehicular traffic due to the damage done to the dune habitat by careless riders and drivers. Areas have already been closed off and included in to Nature Conservation areas with designated camping spots behind the dunes.
Lunch was had on the beach looking towards Bird Island and we had a friendly chat to an old bloke who was patiently waiting for his brother who was out knee-deep in the water some 500metres offshore tending to crab pots. Some bike riders came by too and stopped for lunch. The tracks out of there were not all well marked through the coastal dunes and there was some soft sand. So we followed our nose.
At one place the track was overgrown and my short UHF antenna got snapped off at the base after surviving three years of travel out in the deserts. We came out on the beach again with Moonta Bay Village in the distance. A local fisherman was on the beach so I asked him if one could get through to Moonta Bay and he said, “Yes, just watch out for some of the seaweed as it could be a bit deep”. At that point in time another vehicle rocked up and asked the fella the same question, waved to us and drove off down the beach. I had been thinking of turning around and heading somewhere else but decided on the spur of the moment to follow the other vehicle, as the sand did not seem too soft. I was soon in Low Range 3rd gear and then down to 2nd making heavy weather of some of the seaweed. One has to be very wary of the seaweed as it could act like quicksand. The Jackeroo in front of me was bouncing along and I found out why when we reached Moonta Bay.
We came to a dead end on the beach right in front of all the holiday houses. I went for a walk to look for an exit point but there was none whilst the occupants of the Jackeroo went up to the houses to ask, “How do we get off the beach?” The reply was that there wasn’t an exit and that they had never seen 4×4’s this far up the beach. We had to turn around on very soft sand. The Jackeroo was struggling to turn around and I found out that its tyres were at 35psi. So I advised the driver to drop them lower to which he replied that he did not have an air compressor. I told him that I had one and would pump his wheels up again and so he did just that. We drove back along the soft beach until we saw a Private Property sign on a gate. We asked permission from the people at the house to get off the beach through the gate and that was granted. Then it was time to pump the tyres again. Moonta Bay and Moonta Town were buzzing with holidaymakers. We kept going though to get away from the crowds.
In the dim distant remnants of my memory I remembered staying at a campsite south of Moonta some years ago and we set off to re discover it. There are three designated camping areas within a small conservation reserve. They are called The Gap, The Bamboos and Tiparra Rocks. Most have beachfront or behind the dunes campsites. There are toilets at The Gap but other sites have no facilities. We camped further on along the Tiparra Cliffs down an unofficial track, as a strong sea breeze was blowing and we needed some shelter. We had the place to ourselves and the wind dropped after sunset.
On Sunday we packed up at our leisure and followed the cliff top track along for a short distance keeping well away from the crumbly cliff face and then on to the fishing village of Balgowan More fancy houses and paved streets. I am damn sure the money doesn’t come from fishing! A track behind the dunes to the south of Balgowan has been closed to make way for a conservation area and walking track. So from Point Warrene we took the road via Gortmore locality to Chinaman Wells where another small fishing village exists. Back out from Chinaman Wells there were tracks along the beach but leading to some rather white dunes and I decided that maybe it was better to give it a miss with the trailer in tow. We drove through the Aboriginal Community of Point Pearce towards Port Victoria.
Port Victoria is buzzing too with new housing and developers moving in. Can’t see a depression in finances here. The place even has a beachfront golf course. A track runs behind the dunes and out to a lovely little local conservation park set up by the Wauraltee Locality Committee utilising some disused farmland. There is a very narrow track leading in over the dunes and camp-sites provided, but with no facilities. There is a short walk over one row of dunes to the beach. Further along the dune track we found an access track to the beach and there it was, a prime position, absolute beachfront for a camp. No prickles, no flies, no mozzies and no bities…what else could you wish for? It was then that I noticed that Murphy had come along for the ride, as the right rear tyre was looking rather flat. Yep, a 50mm rusted nail had embedded itself into the tyre tread valley. No matter which tyres I have, punctures always seem to accompany me . We had Bushes Beach to ourselves with only 3 vehicles passing by slowly, whilst we were there. It was a good camp. We walked the rocks and shallows at the low tide and did some beachcombing and paddled in the cool waters of the early mornings’ high tide.
After Bushes Beach, a hard packed sand track along the waters edge leads to Port Rickaby, yet another new age development. But Oh!, what it is to marvel at the rich and famous. That is, if they are the rich and famous, not just with the credit cards full to the max! Still, a touch of jealously creeps in because I wouldn’t mind living there. Trouble is SWMBO has other ideas! Life is but a compromise.
Heading south we had a look at Barkers Rocks, a small conservation area with a sign pleading for bikers not to damage the area. That is all to little avail, as deep gouge single wheel scores were seen along the cliff face.
Next came the camping area of Bluff Beach, one dune behind the seafront. A hard packed track lead over to dune to the beach and I just had to take a look! So over we went. It remained hard-packed to the seafront where I noticed deep wheel ruts in the sand and decided that discretion was the better part of valour and started to reverse up and over the dune. Now, I have done a few reverse-down the dune runs in the various deserts of the inland but never a reverse over. Using the mirrors was the only way, keeping the gears in low range. I managed to get over the top of the dune but after that things went pear-shaped as the trailer got into soft sand on the side of the track and had a mind of it’s own, taking its own path. There were a number of forward and backward movements and a rather scary couple of minutes when it seemed that we could drop off over the steep side of the dune. But I made it out OK with no damage. One just has to be patient. It was nearly smoko time, so we drove to Minlaton where the wife saw a shoe shop and just had to replace her sandals! Smoko was had a while later in the shade of some roadside Mallee.
Then it was time to turn north again and head for the Southern Flinders vowing to come back in the autumn for another look around. We toodled home, calling in on friends along the way, to have a natter over a cuppa. Taking the back roads through Brinkworth, Yacka, Gulnare and Jamestown saw to it that there was little traffic and we were home by mid afternoon.