On the ‘toe’ of Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, lies the small town of Corny Point. It was named by Matthew Flinders, who thought it resembled a growth on the toe of the peninsula, which is shaped, like Italy, in a boot.
Corny Point is a popular destination for surfers – body and board, and for many people it is beyond phone range, making it the ideal getaway.
The caravan park is accessible in terms of transport and price and there is a range of accommodation options, good facilities for all the family and excellent advice on surfing, fishing and touring. If the cockies wake you in the morning you can catch a lovely sunrise through the sheoaks and gums.
The nearby beaches of Berry Bay are the best in the area for body boarding and board surfers aren’t usually disappointed. It is usual to see between three and five dolphins cresting the water and coming in quite close to catch their share of the waves. Nearby coastal access also provides anglers with plenty of salmon and other fish, although without a boat I haven’t, personally, had much luck.
The area near the lighthouse has a lovely sheltered bay, suitable for individuals and families, to explore, swim or fish. The way down is a little steep, but a well-worn path exists and we go there every year, to be delighted each time by the colours and limestone formations.
The 15m high lighthouse was occupied and lit in 1882 and became automated in 1920. It provides important navigational aid to the coastline.
Corny Point was established in 1881, in response to the lighthouse being built, with the first settler being in the area 40 years earlier. It is an agricultural area, with mostly barley, lentils and chick peas grown there, now. In its early days, the successful dairy produced milk for the whole peninsula and it was carried by dray to Moonta, about 150 km away. In the heat of Summer, the condition of the milk upon arrival was not always great and it was not uncommon for people to try and waylay the load before journey’s end.
No dairy exists today and there is a tennis club, cricket, surf school, general store, church shared by three denominations and a pub. Nearby towns such as Warooka and Point Turton provide easy destinations for food and sight-seeing, but you can’t go past Innes National Park, Gleeson’s Landing and Pondalowie Bay for dramatic coastline, good surf for the experienced and endless fishing and camping.
While good highways and roadways get you to the main towns, there are plenty of dirt roads, some corrugated, and little development – this is a true escape.
Take a hat, sunscreen and water. Pack your board, or hire it from Neptune’s Surf School.
We have only travelled outside of Australia once, and that was in response to our critics, who challenged us to look beyond our beautiful shores and have a different experience. So we booked to go to Vietnam in our fortnight of school holidays.
Our excellent travel consultant, Joan Newbery, from Phil Hoffmann Travel, advised us that if we planned to attempt the whole country in 11 days, we would go far and see little. She advised us to do the north, the south or a region. Researching weather and places of interest, we decided to do the north. Ha Noi, Sa Pa, Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An.
Day 1 – 10 hours of flying to Ha Noi, then familiarisation
Day 2 – Tour that included temples, lakes, museums, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Centre of Ethnicity, the Temple of Literature and an on-the-spot art gallery. Water puppets in the evening.
Day 3 – Hoan Kiem Lake, Museum of Revolution, St Joseph’s Cathedral, walking Ha Noi, overnight train to Cao Lai .
Day 4 – Drive to Sa Pa (most marginalised region of Vietnam), guide through the town and villages, then back to Cao Lai and overnight train to Ha Noi.
Day 5 and 6 – chauffeured to Ha Long Bay, via Dai Vien factory (worked by victims of Agent Orange), for 2-day cruise.
Day 7 – chauffeured to domestic airport in Ha Noi, via Dai Vien again and a massive Catholic Church. Flight to Hue.
Day 8 – Hue. We walked to the tourist operator area and booked a driver for 4 places, at $27. We went to the Citadel, Thien Mu pagoda, Thế Miếu temple, The Tomb of Khải Định and another that I can’t recall. We were taken to lunch at a place near the temple and the driver also stopped at the incense village where we made incense and then we bought some. We were also taken to Khai Dinh Tomb. Much more than the agreed destinations so we tipped him well.
Day 9 – Drive to Hoi An with a guide, via a roadside stop at the birthplace of the last queen, also known for eucalyptus oil manufacture, then Hai Van Pass, fish farm, Red Beach for lunch, arriving at Hoi An. The Central Markets were an interesting haggling experience and then food choices were plentiful.
Day 10 – Old town, tailors and lanterns.
Day 11 – Private car to My Son. 11th Century buildings. Took a shuttle to the beach in the afternoon – pretty chilled.
Day 12 – A morning at the pool, then flights from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City, then to Melbourne and then home.
A lot of distance, a very different experience from Australia, so much colour, so many people.
I’ve tried to keep this blog short, so if you have any questions or want more detail, please let me know, as I am happy to add anything if I can.
Make sure you tip. Wear a hat, do tours and shop in the remote areas.
Would we go overseas again? Vietnam is unforgettable.
For this week’s Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorites I have selected one from our trip to Tasmania. It was the only State in Australia that we hadn’t visited and we kept putting it off, believing it would be cold. It was a stunning place to photograph and explore. As this photo shows, on the Enchanted Walk in Cradle Mountain National Park, it is truly enchanting.
Even for an amateur photographer, using a phone, you almost can’t help but take a good shot.
Equipped with a new (secondhand) Prado and a full tank of diesel, we wondered how long it would take us to perform that iconic trek across the Nullarbor. It took two days, but we could owe it all to three mulberry sandwiches and four chocolate/raspberry brownies – thanks Jude.
Where you measure this epic journey from is contested, but we used the RAA touring map and the west and east signal points were Norseman, WA and Ceduna, SA. The upper boundary is the Indian Pacific railway and the lower boundary is the coastline. Therefore, we decided to tour from Perth to Wave Rock, then on to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, before completing the Nullarbor.
Norseman, our starting point, was neat and had adequate facilities for an overnight stop, but I’m not sure if anyone stays there very long.
The motel room we took was very comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. Perhaps this is where I mention the 3 sleeping bags and tent, that remained snug in the back of the new car, as the drive had been long and the caravan park had shaded sites with plenty of red dirt, but no grass in sight. We’ll never know if it was level ground.
So what can you expect on the great journey? Lots of straight road, but plenty of well-equipped rest areas, signalled by the blue P signs or others showing trees, cars, maybe trucks and possibly two people, indicating toilets.
They are good places to get out and stretch, change driver, or break out another brownie for a spurt of energy to complete the drive. One had water but that was rare. You can park there for the night but, as the signs say, they are not equipped for overnight stays if there are no toilets. Contrary to popular belief, there is a variety of foliage along the way and a huge surprise when coming from WA is Madura Bluff, where the flat plain just drops away from under you.
Some people attempt to drive by night, but we’ve heard a few stories of the camels, cows, emus, kangaroos, horses and goats that step out of the shadows into your path, requiring intense concentration. So we do between 6 and 12 hours driving a day, alternating roughly every two hours. On this journey we stopped the first night on the Plain at Eucla, almost at the border of WA and SA, and about half way .
Eucla is very small although it has been settled since the late 1800s. Edward John Eyre and his exploration team are said to have camped in the area in 1841. For Australia, that is very early for white, or European people to have been in South Australia, the last state settled by non-Aboriginal people.
There is a monument to the people who made the town and an old telegraph station that had me wonder who had the job of fitting the lines and poles in the isolation of the Nullarbor Plain. The standard room took me back to the 1970s but it was clean and the window had a screen, so we could have it open at night. It was also reasonably priced.
monument to the people who had built Eucla
the road we had travelled
views of the sea and old telegraph station
monument to Eyre, Baxter, Wylie, Joey and Yarry who explored the area and camped nearby.
The excuse for not camping this time was the gravelly caravan park with no grass and no blow up mattress. There is a restaurant here, a bar and a small shop.
There are also many fuel stops along the Nullarbor, or notices to tell you how far to the next one. They usually have food and drink and signboards to tell you where you are going and where you’ve been. Some service stations offer repairs. They all have water.
The road between Norseman and Eucla contains the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, but the scenery does alter, from thick and varied vegetation to ‘treeless plains’.
A breakfast of the last brownies, and no prospect of mulberry sandwiches for lunch, began the second day. Only a few km took us to Border Village, where the facilities looked somewhat newer and we stopped for fuel and a cup of coffee.
We left the border kangaroo holding the jar of Vegemite and headed off, stopping at only one of the many lookouts to see the Great Australian Bight. The paths are dirt but wide and we have previously taken our two wheel drive and caravan on these without mishap. The Bight’s rugged sea cliffs are the longest stretch in the world and the longest line of south facing cliffs in the world.
The Bight is home to more endemic marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef ( https://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/great-australian-bight) and is home to more than 36 types of whales an dolphins. However, there is oil deep beneath the ocean and the natural environment could be ruined forever if it is mined. There would be other side effects for the rest of Australia, too, both good and bad.
At some lookouts there are platforms over the cliffs (with warnings) which give you a much closer look, enjoyed every year by whale watchers in particular, and the following photos were taken three years ago at some of these.
In another blog I talk about the weird things you see on long stretches of road in Australia. Well, on your way to or from Ceduna you may come to Penong, where they restore and maintain windmills. It makes sense in a place where you’d need bore water, but we didn’t find the “Big Windmill”.
Home was on our minds and there were, after all, no mulberry sandwiches or brownies left, so we took our first big stop at Ceduna, just too late for the hotel restaurant meal we had been discussing, to celebrate our journey’s end.
Ceduna is a pretty place and large enough to find accommodation, food and every kind of facility. However, the disappointment at not scoring a schnitz was too much, and we pressed on toward home and Kimba. There is another way to go, toward Streaky Bay, which is by the sea, but we had gone that way last time and wanted to compare the road across the top of Eyre Peninsula.
Out came the tent, the beer garden and a great big Schnizzy. In case you’re wondering, that’s a schnitzel in South Australia, very popular from our German settlers. AS pub fare goes, it’s fairly unadventurous, and the waiter asked if my husband would like to have the gravy on the side, just to be on the safe side. I had a superb chicken breast marinated in lime and chili and cooked to juicy perfection. I’d like to think it was a magnificent meal and not the absence of food since breakfast that led to such a good response.
The beer garden afforded a view of the painted silos – wheat silos that had received a pleasant picture.
The grassy knoll upon which we placed our tent wasn’t quite as smooth as we had thought and we woke to birdsong and joint-ache, but a golden sunrise.
More long stretches of road, with Iron Knob rising ahead, the Gawler ranges to the left and the Flinders Ranges in the distance. Beautiful driving.
A few salt lakes outside of Port Wakefield
And before we knew it we were home. We live in the north, so this was a half-day’s trip.
So, why 2,3,4?
2 – days to drive the Nullarbor
– ice packs to keep the cooler bag ready
– drink bottles filled with water
– fuel stops (1.5 tanks used @150L/tank)
– nights in motels
– dinners from a cooked chicken
3 – mulberry sandwhiches
– sleeping bags (two for padding underneath)
4 – chocolate/raspberry brownies to restore energy
The weather was pretty mild (around mid 20s) for the most part, so long driving days were possible. I think I would advise someone to put aside 3 days to complete the Nullarbor Plains comfortably. We had anticipated that length. If we had been towing it would have taken longer. Many seasoned travellers say that it is faster to go from WA to SA as there is usually a tail wind, rather than the other way, where you have a head wind. I’ll have to research that extensively when I am retired.
There are really nice places to stop, like Streaky Bay and Elliston, beside the sea, in SA. There are interesting sights that we didn’t stop for – Pildappa Rock in Minnipa, before Kimba, for example, which is compared to Wave Rock.
I would have liked to include my Niece’s recipe for the chocolate/raspberry brownies but, incredibly, she won’t share the secret! So if any of you have a good, sticky, slightly tart around the raspberries recipe for brownies, please share it!
Wave Rock, in Hyden, is the image that always features in articles about Perth and WA, although it is quite a distance from the city centre (3 – 4 hours) and pretty isolated as a tourist destination, even by Western Australian standards. The advice by any touring posts is to include it in another journey or destination, rather than making it a feature of your day and I can understand why.
The erosion which caused this 15m high granite rockform has been slowed by the small fence on top of the rock, that detours the water to create a reservoir. I am glad to have seen it and not sorry for the detour in our route, but as an example of erosion, it can be replaced by less off-the-track or isolated examples, such as the coastline of Kalbarri or Streaky Bay, or the formations near Kimba, to name a few. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but it is also reminiscent of Uluru.
The colours of the minerals were lovely, as was the texture and overall effect. You can climb to the top and then do a short (150m) or long (850 m) walk. We walked the short distance to Hippos Yawn, nearby, and our day was done.
The yawn is believed to have been caused by salt and graphite in the area, and the fissure is called a ‘tafone’.
The paths are good and a wheelchair could easily make it to Wave Rock, although you’d need a 4WD equivalent to get to Hippos Yawn.
The area is populated by melaleuca and colourful parrots, with the only disappointing feature being the little information about the original custodians of the area and what significance they placed on the formations.
We drove through country roads to Merredin, the largest town in the Wheatbelt of WA. As with many long stretches of road in Australia, we came upon an unusual sight created as a diversion, I believe, by bored motorists. A sign said ‘shoes wanted’ and for about 1km the fence was decorated with an assortment of sandshoes/sneakers/runners (we have many names for them in Oz). It WAS diverting.
In Australia, the Summer holiday season is approaching. Amidst the excitement and bustle of Christmas and the emotion of the school year ending, a corner of our minds steals away to plan an escape.
This week’s photo challenge, Serene, has taken a lot of people to the water. Australians appreciate that – we are a big island where most people hug the coast. Personally, when I lose my inner calm I head to the beach and watch the water lap at the edges of the sand. Refreshing and dangerous. Ever-changing. Timeless.
On the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia lies Stansbury, a town of less than 1000 people with excellent seafood, delightful streets and views, and a great caravan park where you can get a site right on the shoreline (as the photos taken at dawn, above, show). Only an hour from Adelaide, it is excellent for kayaking, fishing, crabbing, swimming or just being silent. As with a lot of this Peninsula, the water can be quite shallow for a long while, but it does make it very safe for small children, and families love it.
The town has all the facilities you need and is part of the Walk the Yorke project, where it is planned to have 500 km of walking trail along the coastline. We took our bikes and ended up in some interesting places, on some death-defying goat tracks and eventually a beach. Still here, though! There are good places to explore the shoreline and the limestone cliffs.
Whatever is going on in my life, the tide will rise and fall, regardless, connecting every continent and every person, with all of our joys and cares. Today, tomorrow and always. And this moment will be forgotten, is small by comparison. Very little really matters in the big scheme of things. .
I tried to position this destination at mid-morning, to optimise any sampling opportunities that might arise. Only a few minutes out of Healesville, on the Old Healesville Road, lies the Yarra Glen Chocolaterie. What is that? A place where chocolate is made and sold and you will get more than good chocolate.
Gorgeous ranges roll around the establishment and splashes of art and gardens delight the eye.
Most of it is edible or leads to such.
3. Chocolate exhibits
and samples. People took handfuls and came back for more.
4. Hot Chocolate with extra chocolate
5. Ambiance and other trappings for the chocolate-lover
Loads of gifts and produce are available and I defy you not to leave with any. Extraordinary varieties and diversions – we even bought chocolate lip gloss for a dieter. Plenty of staff on hand and we went on a Sunday when there was a constant flow of people of all ages.
Many people walked through the vineyards and orchards that the cafe looks out on to. Families played or set out picnic blankets in the sun, creating a festive mood.
Safe, chocolaty travels. Take a hat, but the shopping bag will be supplied.