Aroona Dam, Beltana and Parachilna

Our exit from Leigh Creek brought us to a beautiful spot just out of town, that we’d missed on our way in. We’d heard of Aroona Dam and thought it would be in the middle of town, so might have completely passed this gem by.

The road in is dirt, but would be ok if you were towing. I think it might be 5km and it was scenic. We were not expecting the size of the dam or the range of things to do and wildlife.

There’s an old concrete BBQ setting but I didn’t take a close look to see if it still worked. I’d definitely recommend taking food and spending some time here, as you could fill hours, easily. Don’t forget hat, sunscreen and some portable shade could be good.

We left and decided to make a stop at Beltana, as we had heard a tourist operator talking up the town, as having been rebuilt from ruin and the model upon which Furina was based. It wasn’t far from Leigh Creek, but the road from the highway was pretty rough at the meeting of waterways and if we had been towing it would have made for plenty of careful crossings. No water in sight, of course.

Beltana is occupied and we expected a shop or some signs of life, but there were none, so we ate our lunch, used the excellent facilities and drove on to Parachilna.

the Flinders Ranges in the background

What, you might ask, does the ediacara capital of the world, mean? Quoting from

” In 1946, geologist Reginald Sprigg discovered fossil imprints in rocks in the Flinders Ranges at the old Ediacara minefield. This discovery was the first time the fossilised remains of an entire community of soft-bodied creatures had been found in such abundance anywhere in the world. ”

The Ediacaran period is 94 million years between Cryogenian and Cambrian Periods.

There is an area just after Parachilna, heading north, called Nilpena, where it is very easy to pick up Ediacaran fossils. Had we known…

There is a great hotel at which to stop here and plenty of information.

From here, it’s still about 5 hours to Adelaide, so pace yourself and plan ahead where you’ll stop and for how long. We made several stops before home, including Orroroo and Auburn.

Safe travels.

Maree, Furina and Lake Eyre South

The other drive we took from Leigh Creek was to Lake Eyre South, in hopes of seeing the lake filling.

En route to Maree, we stopped at Farina, a town that is being rebuilt from ruins and friends had advised us to get there early for the cream buns! You see, the first building to be rebuilt was the bakery , which runs on wood as it did in the day, and is underground. This doesn’t seem to be uncommon, as a hotel in the town had an underground bakery, too, so maybe it was to provide a cool spot in the Summer. I should have asked!

A super idea having a working bakery, as the town is only a little detour from the main road and the place was packed with visitors, all checking out the ruins, recovery and yeast goods. A team of people come here from May to July each year, to work on rebuilding the town which they have researched heavily. We think we might join them when we retire. There’s a campground for anyone wanting to stay.

At Maree, we stopped for a great coffee at the Oasis Cafe and heard that the road to William Creek was pretty awful. From Maree onward it was dirt. Having a bite to eat by a rest area, we saw a memorial to the early cameleers, who were present throughout the desert in Australia in colonial times and their part in the country’s growth is only recently being acknowledged.

We let down our tyres (for the first time ever) and had a great drive. A spot along the way caught our eye and we stopped to catch the sentiment. I think it’s nature is artistic.

It was some time before we reached Lake Eyre South Lookout and it was pretty easy to find, with a huge carpark and many attending. The water had only just started entering this part of the lake and we had been warned that it was a good walk out to see it, but 100m didn’t even provide more glimmer. We’re glad we did it, though.

From here, I was keen to go to the hot springs, but Alan wasn’t, so we returned the way we had come. We paid closer attention to the closed coal mine and got some nice sunset shots.

Hue – Vietnam

Pronounced Whey, this city in Vietnam felt very European. A woman we had met in Ha Noi said that she didn’t get a good vibe from Hue, but I felt very comfortable, here. The streets are wide and clean and the housing was generally better. There are fewer people wearing traditional dress and many Vietnamese laughed at my bamboo conical hat, but it is very effective.

view from our balcony

Not being seasoned travellers, we found the 3 star Festival hotel quite intimidating and more like 5 star. Don’t get me wrong – our room was enormous, the laundry service was amazing and the pool provided welcome relief from the humidity.

The front desk suggested we use one of the many local companies to book tours and pointed us in the direction of the ‘tour area’ with excellent detail. We chose a company that resulted in a good one.

They advised a private car and stopping at 4 places. It cost $27 for the day. He took us to the Citadel and said he’d meet us in 2 hours. We questioned that, but he said in his little English that we would need it. We did. In fact, we didn’t really see all of it.

four of the nine cannons

Then we went to Thien Mu pagoda, Thế Miếu temple, The Tomb of Khải Định and another that I can’t recall. They were picturesque or intimidating and just massive. Lots of stairs that are usually vertical.

We were taken to lunch at a place near the temple and it was fantastic – tucked into a hill and great seafood. It appeared to be owned by friends of the driver so that’s good. We tipped well.

The driver also stopped at the incense village and James and I made incense and then we bought some. Lemon grass, cinnamon and sandalwood.

We were taken to an extra place by the driver and we appreciated his enthusiasm and help. We didn’t have the right amount of money to enter so he spoke to his relatives, there is some scuffling about and the next thing, a woman who looked ninety years old turned up on a scooter, offering to take my husband to an ATM. In the end, the driver took out cash and lent us the money, which we repaid on the way back to the hotel.

It was good to return to the hotel and the pool and have a pre-dinner drink.

We decided to have a walk to the church that is visible from the hotel and then dinner, so booked at the hotel, but found so many suitable places along the way, that would have been pretty and interesting, at which to eat. We couldn’t find the church in the dark, even with a map, and argued about where we were and in what direction we should go. There was a canal or river that appeared unexpectedly and threw our direction. Luckily we made it back safely.

We all loved Hue and I would strongly recommend it to Westerners.