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enews@desertskytours  Top  Gray
In This Issue........
Head of Bight Report
National Parks SA update
Burra Railway Station
Flinders Ranges history
Anna Creek Station
Trip itineraries 2013
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Issue: 26November  2012
Dear Subscriber,

A few kilometres travelled and two great trips! - one to the Head of Bight and the other the Gawler Ranges.

I have included a report on the Head of Bight in this issue, and there is a link to view the itinerary.
A summary of all itineraries for next year is at the foot of this newsletter!

I will be at the 4WD Adventure Show in Perth 8th to 12th November on behalf of the VKS737 Australian 4WD Radio Network. If you happen to be at the Show, come and say G'day!
I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter!



Head of Bight  trip news

The Sea SA Ferry from Wallaroo to Lucky Bay (near Cowell) would have required a very early start on this particular trip, so we chose instead to drive around Spencer Gulf, taking in Port Germein, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Cowell has Australia's only commercial jade mine and produces rare black jade as well as the more common greens and also some very colourful marble. The showroom has relocated to the Cowell Jade Motel, and we stopped for a visit!

A couple of pleasant detours to Arno Bay and Port Neil, then on to Tumby Bay and our accommodation at the friendly Sea Breeze Hotel (en-suites).

This is an ideal base from which to leave next morning as we travel along Trinity Haven Scenic Drive - (by the way  the Whibbley Wattle was in flower!) to Poonindie and St Matthew's Anglican Church.
The little church was built in 1850 and survived the 2005 bushfires, which swept through the area.

A tour of Port Lincoln included the homes of some of the city's wealthy tuna fishermen, Lincoln Cove Marina and a scenic outlook from Winters Hill.
We picked up a key from the Visitor Information Centre and travelled south to the privately owned Whalers Way.

Here, a track runs for 14 km around the coastline and offers excellent views of blowholes, bomboras, dramatic crevasses, (Theakstone Crevasse) capes and cliffs. The whole coastline is pounded by the waves from the southern ocean and the area is home to substantial numbers of kangaroos and emus.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch, visited many of the attractions,  then made our way back along the track to Sleaford Bay, returning to Port Lincoln and the road to Coffin Bay.

A well timed visit next morning to:

visiting the lookouts at Templetonia and Golden Island, Point Avoid and several other roadside stops along the Avoid Bay coast. These lookouts offer spectacular views of  limestone cliffs, islands and rugged beach reefs.

The biggest industry in Coffin Bay is of course the oyster farms, and we were fortunate to be able to arrange a tour of the Pure Coffin Bay Oyster shed to talk with the Leading Hand and learn about how the oysters grow on the water.

It did not take much tempting for us to taste a variety of freshly shucked oysters and we reluctantly bade farewell to Steve and his staff before our journey up the coast to Mt Hope, Sheringa and Elliston.

We are now seeing rugged and scenic coastline - the 12-kilometre stretch of coast north of Elliston, known as Elliston's Great Ocean View, is said to rival the landscape of Victoria's Great Ocean Road, but on a smaller scale!

Between here and Port Kenny are the Talia and Woolshed Caves and the "Tub" - a huge round hole in the ground about 75 ft in diametre & 20-30 feet deep. At the bottom of this hole is a tunnel that leads to the ocean.

Next an area next of Inselberg rock formations and in particular  "Murphy's Haystacks". They obtained their name because a traveller in a coach saw the formation in the distance. He asked how a farmer could produce so much hay. As the farm was on a property owned by a man called Murphy, the rocks became known as Murphys Haystacks.

Point Labatt has the only permanent breeding sea-lion colony on Australia's mainland and we arrived there via Calca to watch a number of pups learning to swim, play and rest on the beach, then made our way through Sceale Bay to Streaky Bay and an overnight stop.

Anticipation was high next day as we made our way closer to Head of Bight!

Smoky Bay is a beautiful coastal village on the Western Eyre Peninsula,and it is home to over 20 different oyster operations.
Oysters from Smoky Bay
are renowned throughout the world for their sensational "Sweet Ocean" taste.
And talking again of oysters - we arrived in Ceduna as they were preparing for the "Oysterfest".

A large blackboard in the main street caught our eye - "Whale sightings today 150" - wow!!...it was looking good!
We decided to have a cup of coffee in a cafe nearby, and on returning to the car afterwards, found the sign had been changed to "50 whales". Still good!

Nullarbor, the world's longest golf course is an 842-mile trek through the Nullabor Plains, starting at Ceduna in the state of South Australia and finishing at the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.The seven holes taken from existing golf courses include some with sand greens that are raked, oiled and then rolled to maintain their smoothness.

Now, we decided to take a 20km detour out of Penong to "Cactus Beach" for no other reason that one of our ladies had heard from her son that it is a fantastic surfing beach. The road although unsealed was not too bad, and went across a number of shallow lakes.
It certainly looked a great beach with the surf rolling in.

A road sign at the causeway of one of the lake crossings to Cactus caught our eye, and I thank Carol for the pic!

We found a connecting road from Cactus Beach to Fowlers  Bay - a place described in many brochures as having "sun, surf, sandunes and sensational fishing".
It was a little windy and we were grateful of the old church BBQ shed for shelter as we had lunch.

Back on the main highway at Nundroo,
we passed by Yalata Roadhouse (now closed as all information has transferred to the  Whale Centre) ) and up to Head of Bight.

photo courtesy of Carol

There are several vantage points on the boardwalk from the Visitor Centre to the cliffs, and that afternoon we saw a number of whales - some with calves which were "showing off" perfecting the art of tail slashing while mum kept a close watch. After a couple of hours whale watching and taking photos,we drove the short distance to Nullarbor Roadhouse and our overnight accommodation.

Bunda Cliffs - courtesy of Carol
Approximately 50km west of Nullarbor Roadhouse there are tracks off the highway heading to the coast. Several of these provide excellent vantage points to view the Bunda Cliffs.
These daunting 65 m high cliffs stretch for 200 km along the Great Australian Bight.

Wirrulla Jetty - courtesy of Carol.
After another visit to the Head of Bight Centre, we headed back to Ceduna and joined the Flinders Highway to Wirrulla - the inland town with a jetty!

Our overnight stop at Minnipa enabled us to visit both local attractions (Pildappa Tcharkuldu, Rocks ) and also Mt Wudinna and Polda Rock and Farmers Monument  at  at Wudinna.

The choice to stay at Minnipa also allowed us next day to take the Yardea Road into the Gawler Ranges National Park and via old Paney Homestead to the Kolay Mirica Falls.
Kolay Mirica Falls - courtesy of Carol

Although there was no water at the falls, the site has one of the best examples of "organ pipes".
These octagonal columns are made from the volcanic rhyolite, formed after volcano eruption some 1500 million years ago.

Ash and lava created a solid rock up to 1500 meters thick, which after cooling formed what we now call organ pipes. After climbing one of the nearby cliff faces, we took the road past Buckleboo Station to Kimba for lunch then on to Iron Knob and Port Augusta.

On the Bridle Track - courtesy of Carol

Next day into the Flinders Ranges via Horrocks' Pass to Wilmington and Melrose, where we picked up the scenic 4WD Bridle Track to Port Germein.

When the Germein Gorge was used for transporting grain and wool to Port Germein from the eastern
farm country, it would have been very busy with wagons, horse teams and bullock teams, so this track was used to drive stock over.  
From Port Germein we took Highway One back to Adelaide.

The Head Of Bight Trip was most enjoyable and I look forward to doing it again!

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National Parks Update
 Desert Parks Bulletin 440 - 22nd October 2012
  The following is the status of several Outback Roads:

 Coongie Track - Open to 4WD.  !!

Walkers Crossing Track - Closed due to floodwater damage and major ponded water from rains.

15 Mile Track and Access to Cooper Creek -Open. 15 Mile Track is closed beyond Wills turn off.

Cullyamurra Track and Burke's Grave - Open to 4WD. Burke's Grave - day visitors only.

Old Strzelecki Track (on Innamincka Regional Reserve only) - Open to 4WD. Caution at washouts

Lake Eyre - Halligan Bay Track and Level Post Bay Track Open to 4WD with caution.


The Parks Bulletin may be viewed here. 

Burra Railway Station

After many years of neglect, the Burra Railway Station is being restored and a State Government grant of $200,000 to assist with the work was provided in March 2010.

There is still work to be done, and the Burra Railway Station Fundraising working group has requested two events be advertised.

One is the Burra Bumper Quiz Night on Friday 16th November, and the other is a Station Tour and morning tea
on Saturday 17th November.
(Click links to view flyers)

It is intended the restored building will be redeveloped as a palaeontology and archaeology museum and would showcase remains of mega fauna discovered in the nearby Redbanks Conservation Park. A research and educational centre there would also promote local Ngadjuri culture.

The Burra Railway Station was built in 1883 to replace an earlier wooden structure,

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Flinders Ranges History

Funding through the South Australian Tourism Commission has enable Flinders Ranges and Outback SA Tourism to establish a website with historical information on the Flinders Ranges.   


The FLINDERS RANGES contains information about the discovery, how people lived, mining, transport and communications, and other interesting information.  

 There is even a tab on "Walking the Flinders Ranges"!    


Anna Creek Station


After almost shutting down during the drought, the world's biggest cattle station is back in full production.  


Four years ago Anna Creek Station, which stretches over 24,000 square kilometres between Coober Pedy and Lake Eyre in South Australia's far north, was down to just a few hundred animals after destocking.  


But after three years of better-than-average rains, the famous pastoral property has rebuilt its herd to almost 17,000 head of mainly Santa Gertrudis and Brahman cattle.  



  "It's just good to see cattle back on the place," said head stockman Gordon Warren, who has spent more than half his life working on the remote station.  


The once bare sand dunes that drifted freely are now secured by scrub, that may not look particularly lush but is nutritious.  


"Whatever grows here is beautiful cattle feed," Mr Warren said.

"Strangers come here and have a look and say what the hell are these cattle eating, but we've trucked some good cattle out of this place."  


In the last financial year more than 5,000 calves were branded at Anna Creek and around 4,000 animals sent to slaughter.

"It's good to put steers up the race and have a look at their weights," station manager Norm Sims said.

"You turn them off young, you know you're making really good money on them."  


Anna Creek is part of the S Kidman and Co pastoral empire, a family-owned company which has a dozen stations.

The revival of the largest one has come at a good time.

It has also been used to add value to cattle from the company's northern stations, that had nowhere to go after live exports to Indonesia were temporarily stopped last year.  


"We've put weight on them, we've been getting a calf or two out of them and then sending them on," Mr Sims said.

"If they didn't have this place and other places in the channel country, they'd be feeling it pretty hard."  


While he is relishing the revival of the desert country, Mr Sims is also realistic about the chances the good run will continue.

"We haven't had a rain for the last four months since the end of February," he said.

"So if we don't get a rain, like a summer rain, it could be back dry again within the next six months."



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Personalised 4WD trips 2013

These trips are in a Toyota Landcruiser vehicle with a maximum of 4 passengers:

                 CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW Itineraries 2013


            Yorke Peninsula
           & Southern Flinders
           Sunday 3rd February

                   (5 days)  





Ardrossan, Port Julia, Port Vincent, Edithburgh, and Wool Bay. Scenic drive to Troubridge Point and Marion Bay. Innes National Park includes Cable Bay, Cape Spencer and Pondalowie Bay. Corny Point, Warooka and Yorketown.

Moonta and Wallaroo.  Banking museum Kadina.

Southern Flinders Ranges, Alligator Gorge, Melrose.

Bridle Track to Port Germein. 


es Hill Circuit
           Monday 11th February  

                        (2 days)  


Gilbert Valley, Terowie, Peterborough (overnight), Franklyn, Ketchowla, Dares Hill, Mt Bryan, Clare Valley.






          Kangaroo Island
       Saturday 16th March
       Thursday 31st October   
                (4 days)

     (Includes Sealink ferry)


Penneshaw, Antechamber Bay, Cape Willoughby,    

American River, Kingscote, Flinders Chase National Park,  

Cape Borda, Admirals Arch, Cape De Coudic, Seal Bay, Emu Bay, Stokes Bay, Snelling Beach, Western River Cove.  




            Wilson's Promontory  

               Friday 1st March 

                     (9 days)  






Grampians NP, Halls Gap, Penshurst, Mortlake, Colac, Queensciffe Ferry, Sorrento, Meeniyan, Tidal River, Waratah Bay, Walkerville, Agnes Falls, Strzelecki Ranges, Tara Bulga NP, Grand Ridge Road, Skenes Creek,  

The Great Ocean Road, Mt Gambier, The Coorong.               




            The Sapphire Coast

             Monday 15th April  

                      (8 days)



Portland, Great Ocean Road, Otway Tree Top Walk, Apollo Bay, Metung, Lakes Entrance, Eden, Twofold Bay, Pambula, Merimbula, Bega, Victorian coastal towns, Meeniyan, Camperdown, Dunkeld, The Coorong.   

          The Gawler Ranges
          Sunday 13th October 
                   (5 days)          

Port Wakefield, Port Germein, Port Augusta, Iron Knob, Corunna, Siam, Nonning, Mt Ive, Lake Gairdner, Yardea, Hiltaba, Paney Station, The Organ Pipes, Pildappa Rock, Tcharkuldu Hill, Minnipa, Wudinna, Kimba, Wilmington, Melrose, Gladstone, The Clare Valley.

                Lake Eyre
               Friday 10th May 
                      (3 days)
      Includes Plane Flight!


 Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, One and a half hour plane flight over Lake Eyre, Farina Ruins, Ochre Cliffs, Hawker, Orroroo, Terowie, Burra. 

               Back O'Bourke       
          Saturday 27th April 
                   (9 days)
Broken Hill, Mutawintji NP, White Cliffs, Wilcannia, Tilpa, Louth, Bourke(accommodation Bourke Riverside Motel), Lightning Ridge, Gilgandra, Cobar, Balranald, Murrayville, Pinnaroo.

           The Painted Desert           
             Wednesday 15th May 
                       (9 days) 

Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, William Creek, Coober Pedy,
The Breakaways, Painted Desert, Woomera, Roxby Downs, Andamooka,
Port Augusta, Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, Horrock's Pass  to the Flinders Ranges, Orroroo and Burra.

            Mungo and Hattah  
             National Parks  
           Monday 8th April 
                   (5 days)  
Pinnaroo, Kow Plains Homestead and Cowangie, Murrayville, Pink Lakes, Underbool, Mildura, Wentworth, Old Zanci Station, Mungo Woolshed, Walls of China, Grand Canyon, Vigar's Well, Perry Sandhills, Paddle Steamer through Lock 11 Mildura, Red Cliffs, Lake Hattah, Lake Victoria, Rufus River, The Riverland.


           Coongie Lakes

        Coongie Lakes
       Saturday   1st June
        Saturday 15th June
             (7 days)

Old Strzelecki Track, Innamincka, Coongie Lakes, Cmp LXV, Cameron Corner, Sturt NP, Tibooburra, Broken Hill, Loch Lilly and Quandong Stations, Burra.


          Birdsville & Innamincka 
              Saturday 20th July
                       (9 days)  

Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, Mungerannie, Birdsville,Innamincka, Cameron Corner, Sturt National Park, Tibooburra,Broken Hill,
 Old Pastoral route to Burra, Adelaide.

             Birdsville & Windorah
              Saturday 10th August 
                    (9 days)

Clare Valley, Leigh Creek, Marree, Mungerannie, Birdsville,
Betoota, Windorah, Quilpie, Toompine, Thargomindah, Cunnamulla, Bourke, Cobar, Broken Hill. 


            Flinders Ranges
      Thursday 5th September 
                    (4 days)
Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Willow Springs Station, Skytrek, Bunyeroo Valley, Brachina Gorge, Blinman, Parachilna Gorge, Moralana Scenic Drive, Melrose, The Bridle Track. Port Germein, Laura, Orroroo, Burra, Eudunda, Kapunda. 

           Flinders R
     Saturday 14th September
                  (5 days)
Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Bunyeroo Valley, Brachina Gorge, Blinman, Arkaroola,  Ridgetop Tour,  Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole, Gammon Ranges, Moralana Scenic Drive.

             Flinders Ranges 
                    & Outback
            Tuesday 26th March 
                  (8 days) 



Rawnsley Park, Wilpena Pound, Bunyeroo Valley, Brachina Gorge, Blinman, Arkaroola,  Ridgetop Tour,  Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole, Gammon Ranges, Moralana Scenic Drive.
Marree, The Oodnadatta Track, William Creek, Coober Pedy,
The Painted Desert, Woomera, Roxby Downs.

             Tumby Bay  
           The Eyre Peninsula
         Monday 21st October 
                    (5 days)                        

Port Germein, Arno Bay, Port Neill,Trinity Haven Scenic Drive, Poonindie, Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Whaler's Way, Tod Reservoir, Cummins, Mt Hope, Point Drummond, Greenly Beach, Dutton Bay, Coffin Bay, Koppio Museum.
Enjoy a Clydesdale Horse and trolley ride!
Return is via Horrock's Pass 
to Flinders Ranges, Orroroo and Burra.

           Head of Bight
       The Eyre Peninsula         Sunday 22nd September                   (8 days)  

Port Germein, Arno Bay, Port Neill,Trinity Haven Scenic Drive, Poonindie , Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Whaler's Way, Coffin Bay, Lock's Well, Elliston, Talia Caves, Venue Bay, Murphy's Haystacks, Point Labatt, Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay, Ceduna,
Penong, Cactus Beach, Fowlers Bay,Nullarbor Roadhouse,
Head of Bight Whale Centre, Minnipa, Wudinna, The Gawler Ranges National Park, Kimba, Iron Knob, Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens, Wilmington, Melrose, The Bridle Track to Port Germein, Clare Valley.

         Coongie Lakes
      Mount Samuel 
         4WD Alpana Station
         Sunday 25th August      
                 (4 days)                                       $1525pp  

 Clare Valley, Wilmington, Quorn, Hawker and Oraparinna to Alpana Station. Using Blinman as a "base" we travel Glass Gorge to Oratunga Creek and Alpana Station.
Splendid views which include Mt Samuel, Mt Samuel Proper,
Lake Torrens, Nilpena Sandhills, Mt Buggery, Mt Deception and Patawarta Hill!
Picnic lunch Green well Creek before continuing to Valley Bore where it is common to see kangaroos, emus, feral goats.
The Parachilna Gorge Road takes us past Angorichina Station and back to Blinman.

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Thanks for your continued interest in Desert Sky Tours

Howard Humby
Desert Sky Tours
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