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In This Issue........
Head of Bight Report
New motel Pt Augusta
Burra Railway Station
Flinders Ranges history
Anna Creek Station
Trip itineraries 2013
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Issue: 28November  2013
Dear Subscriber,

With our trips for this year now almost complete, we have set about planning our program for 2014.

Details can be found at the foot of this newsletter under "Trip Itineraries 2014" and there is also a link on each picture to a full itinerary.

In the last couple of months we have taken trips to
  • Birdsville and the Channel Country,  
  • Head of The Bight (and saw the whales!) 
  • Gawler Ranges   
  • Tumby Bay and Eyre Peninsula.

Each trip has gone well, despite experiencing a mini cyclone on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula during the Tumby Bay trip!


I will be leaving in the next couple of days on a Yorke Peninsula trip with some visitors from Italy!


I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter!



Koppio Hills - Eyre Peninsula

The rolling hills of Koppio at the bottom end of Eyre Peninsula are part of a standard tourist drive for any visitor to nearby Port Lincoln. This is classic farming country with good rainfall, and plenty or top grazing land.A number of orchids flower from August to late October.

On our recent Tumby Bay trip, we travelled through the Hills to to Cummins, on our way to the west coast of the Peninsula.

A $2.5 billion Fusion iron ore project on the Eyre Peninsula, which is a joint venture between Centrex Metals and China's Wuhan Iron and Steel Co. is about to be developed in the Koppio Hills.The project involves a magnetite iron ore mine which would feed into a 20 million tonne per year port at Port Spencer near Tumby Bay. The port is a separate joint venture between the two companies.Fusion is not just 3 mines but potentially 11 mines and more to come.

A "bigger picture" of the mining operation can be viewed on the graphic here.

The mining could effectively result in the closure of the Koppio Museum

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Port Augusta Ecomotel

Port Augusta and Flinders Ranges tourism will receive a significant boost with work starting  on the Ecomotel at Port Augusta West.


The new hotel will provide 42 four-star rooms in a development spanning three stages.


The Ecomotel motel will be made of rammed earth and will boast a number of environmentally friendly features including a solar-powered vehicle recharge station and rammed-earth walls, giving visitors a sustainable outback experience in premium accommodation.




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Kangaroo Island 's  Glossy Black Cockatoo


Numbers of the South Australian glossy black-cockatoo, which are currently restricted to Kangaroo Island, are on the rise. Prior to the Natural Resources Kangaroo Island's recovery program, the glossy black-cockatoo population was estimated at approximately 200 birds.


Since establishing ecologically sound objectives in the recovery plan, undertaking appropriate research, and conducting effective on-ground activities with the support of passionate volunteers, glossy black-cockatoo numbers on the Island have been steadily increasing.


An example of these activities is the recently conducted glossy black-cockatoo census. For three nights (September 27-29), 33 people contributed a total of 160 hours to the annual census, monitoring the bird numbers of three of Kangaroo Island's six flocks. The other three sites were monitored by Natural Resources Kangaroo Island staff. Assisting with the census was the newly formed Friends of the Glossies group.


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  The Yacht that sailed to Birdsville

It's not often you see a yacht in Birdsville, much less
one that has sailed here. Yet, Max Tunbridge, Brenton Curran and Theo Kuiters docked theirboat outside the Birdsville Hotel after a four-day'sailing' voyage on the Birdsville Track from Marree.

When the three sailors were told that they weren't
allowed to sail on Lake Eyre, they thought of alternatives that would combine their love for sailing with the Lake Eyre and Birdsville region. It took them a yearto develop and test their 'land yacht' and they're hoping to make the voyage an annual event, attracting land yachters from all over Australia to raise money for the RFDS.

"Land yachts are going to come up the Birdsville track next year by the thousands," joked Max. "I used tosail a lot, but I'm too old for that and now I'm a land yachter."
With two four-wheel drives to carry their gear, the three men took it in turns in the boat. Accidentally,they chose to travel during a characteristically windy month and the
land yacht often reached 50 kilometres per hour, which, apparently, feels like flying.

"Those speeds feel like 300 mile an hour," Max says. "We can go back to Sydney now and say that we'vedone it; we've sailed the Birdsville Track."

While the yacht does a have a smallelectric motor that they used forcreek crossings and washouts on the rough outback track, their journey is a remarkable and unusual feat.

I wish them all the best in their landyachting adventures and hope thatthey can, in fact, encourage moreland yachters to join them next year. What a spectacle that would be



Alexander Tolmer ......raise a glass!

STRANGE as it may sound, Adelaide as we know it today may well have never come about had it not been for the achievements in the 1850s of a resourceful Police Commissioner who not only saved the city from bankruptcy, but also the potential abandonment of the entire fledgling colony of South Australia.


And yet despite such seeming heroics, not only was he never accorded any official recognition, rather he was demoted and ultimately sacked.

It was only a public Testimonial with funds given by appreciative South Australian businessmen and others that accorded him any praise at all - while now, 123 years after his death, a winery in the State's famed Coonawarra is giving fresh kudos to his deeds by naming a ripper new drop of red after him.


Alexander Tolmer was born in England in 1815, ran away to sea as a teenager, fought in Portugal's Civil War, and once back home joined the 16th British Lancers... all by the time he was 17. But he quit the Lancers after a few years too, and in 1840 with wife and son sailed to far-off South Australia, where his cavalry skills saw his quick appointment as a Sub-Inspector of Police to establish a much-needed Mounted Police Branch.



He and his men quickly threw themselves with gusto into hunting down cattle thieves, bushrangers and sly-grog makers, while also settling land disputes between squabbling settlers and Aborigines; so successful was he in fact, that in just twelve years he was appointed Commissioner of Police.

But the colony by then was in deep financial trouble. With the discovery of gold in Victoria, 20,000 men (most of the male population) had fled Adelaide for the goldfields,  and with no workers farms and coal mines closed, shops and other businesses tacked "Gone to the Diggings" signs to locked doors, and the fledgling colony's banks were drained of deposits as hopefuls withdrew whatever they had to take to Victoria.



Repayments to banks for business and housing loans collapsed, and one observer summed-up Adelaide as "a ghost town resembling the cities of Southern Europe during siesta."

It was then that Commissioner Tolmer had a brilliant idea. Why not provide a gold escort service to safely bring back to South Australia the gold that miners were winning from the ground in Victoria, so that instead of it going into the banks of Victoria, it would revitalise the South Australian economy?

Governor Sir Henry Young enthusiastically agreed, and a month later Tolmer and a party of mounted troopers set off with a sturdy spring-cart for the near-600km journey to the diggings at Mt Alexander outside Bendigo, arriving there just ten days later.



Within a day of setting up camp, Tolmer and his party had accepted gold from a near-300 South Australian miners, and when after several more days they felt their spring-cart could carry no more, they departed for Adelaide with 5,200 ounces of gold worth an estimated 18,356 pounds ($36,712,) a then-precious fortune.

And over the next two years a total of eighteen "gold escorts" brought an amazing 28,502 ounces, or almost ten tons, of gold from Bendigo back to Adelaide. It was valued at the time at 1,182,000 pounds ($2,364,000) and was enough to avert both the threat of Adelaide's bankruptcy and the abandonment of the Colony of South Australia - prospects already in consideration in the highest quarters



But while Commissioner Tolmer's ingenious scheme had saved Adelaide and South Australia, his absences leading the first few gold escorts had seen management of the Police Force collapse into disarray. Enemies, and he had plenty with his renowned short-fused temper, plotted against him, and were joined by those from Adelaide society's Old Boys' Network miffed at the up-start Tolmer's appointment as Police Commissioner in the first place.

Within months they had him demoted and then dismissed, accused of neglect of duty.

Tolmer subsequently dabbled in several other government appointments, and even unsuccessfully tried his hand on the land. He died of kidney disease aged 74, and was buried in a pauper's grave at South Australia's Mitcham Anglican Cemetery.



awarra's Penley Estate has now released a premium 2010 Tolmer Cabernet Sauvignon in recognition of "the extraordinary feats of an extraordinary man in saving Adelaide from bankruptcy.


123 years after his death, Alexander Tolmer's grand achievements are recognised today in this Penley Estate Tolmer Cabernet Sauvignon. (Penley Estate.)












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Personalised 4WD trips 2014

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

                 CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW Itineraries 2014 !



            Yorke Peninsula
           & Southern Flinders
         Saturday 25th October 

                   (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
                           on demand    

                        (2 days)  





  Gilbert Valley, Terowie, Peterborough (overnight and we visit Steamtown's  Laser Light Show), Franklyn, Ketchowla, Dares Hill, Mt Bryan, Clare Valley.





          Kangaroo Island
       Wednesday 12th March 
       Thursday   5th November   
                (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  

             Saturday 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

            Tuesday 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
          Tuesday 14th 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
                   on demand
                      (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 22nd March  
                   (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           
             Friday 9th  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  
           Tuesday 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
               Monday   2nd June
               Monday16th  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 
              Monday 21st 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
             Monday 11th August 
                    (9 days)

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


            Flinders Ranges
       Wednesday September 17 
                    (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
     Wednesday 24th 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
                   on demand
                  (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
           Friday 14th November
                     (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         Friday September 5   
          (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 
            Alpana Station
       Wednesday 27th August  
                 (4 days)                                          $1600pp  

 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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