This leg of our South Australian adventure saw us arrive on the Fleurieu Peninsula by ferry before finding ourselves at the stunning Rapid Bay for a few nights. We then headed North to catch up with some friends, before visiting a unique roadside cafe. Our arrival in Whyalla saw us finally on the Eyre Peninsula after dreaming of it ever since we were last there 6 years before. To mark the occasion, we were met with a pod of dolphins.
So, get your snacks, get in the van, and buckle up for our latest story!
After saying goodbye to our friends in Meningie, we found ourselves on a ferry across the Murray River at the town of Wellington. Willow wasn’t much concerned with the rumble of the ferry engines as it laboured across the water. Like most short crossing ferries in Australia, this ferry uses cables to both guide and pull it across the river. There is enough slack in the cables so that other vessels can safely pass over it when the ferry isn’t in use.
We stretched our legs at the lovely town of Port Elliot then moved onto Victor Harbour. We love visiting fruit markets on our travels, and Victor Harbour had one of the best, Veg Out. We stocked up before heading on to Rapid Bay. We could have spent a lot more time exploring this area, however we were keen to get to Rapid Bay to relax for a couple of days.
Now, I absolutely hate paying for camping, but the reality is that sometimes we have to make an exception. As we sat on the beach with a cool drink watching the sunset I could almost forget that we had paid $90 for three nights there. When you’re talking about camping within 100km of a capital city, sometimes you just have to fork over the dollars.
But was it worth it? Yes and no. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any great weather and the wind and rain was howling. This meant that our plans for snorkelling were thrown out as we made the most of what we got. The facilities are very limited for a paid site; a toilet block and no showers, but there is drinking water.
However, what we did get was an absolute waterfront campsite where we could enjoy the views of the sandy beach that sits between the towering cliffs. There is a nice walk along the jetty and there are ample paddle board and kayaking opportunities. I took our SUP along the base of the cliffs and discovered stunning sea caves ready to explore.
Being parked right on the beach reminded me of photo I took of Willow in Western Australia back in 2016. I thought it was time for an update so I recreated the scene there at Rapid Bay. Would you believe these photos were taken in two different vans 7 years apart?
A lot has changed since then but Willow is still with us, enjoying every day.
We’re not big on cities, Willow, Steph, and I all prefer the quieter destinations. We bypassed Adelaide on our way onwards through to a little town in the Barossa Valley called Tanunda.
Tanunda is a town I know well having spent quite a few months there in 2017. We got a takeaway from Mr J’s Chinese before staying at the Greenock Centenary Park for the night for a small donation.
The next day we got to catch up with Janet and Mark who I first met in 2017. It was really nice to see them again as they were both a big support when I was in the area last. At the time I was writing the manuscript for my book and they would drop by to give me some company and say hi to Willow.
They would often bring us some treats and this time was no exception with some food for Willow and some bottles of wine for Steph and I. How nice!
Back in 2017, they gave us this picnic rug which Willow loves to sit on to this day, though I primarily use it for my yoga workouts!
Another Rec Ground
Hamley Bridge Rec Ground was the site of a nights free camping, and Willow saw it as a great opportunity to have a sniff around the grandstand at the footy oval. She was particularly interested in this bench. I wonder what she was smelling?
Free Cat Food?
We then drove to the coast and the town of Wallaroo. Funny story, we nipped into the local supermarket for some supplies and saw that they had chicken necks. We often buy one for Willow as a treat to keep her teeth healthy, but on this occasion as the girl was weighing it, we saw a puzzled look upon her face – it seemed their scale was under-weighing with the neck coming in at -0.006kg and $0.00 when usually they’re about 50c each.
The girl gave up trying to remedy the situation and gave it to us at that price. Though, queue even more puzzlement as we went through the tills!
I did wonder if I went back and asked for 1 olive, 1 slice of salami, 1 sun dried tomato if they would stop me!
The great thing about road tripping is all the quirky roadhouses, roadside cafes, and produce stalls you discover along the way. One of the best is Harry’s Homemade situated on the A1 Highway about 5km North of Port Pirie.
Along with a small market selling pickled seafood, relishes, jams, and small goods there is also a takeaway famous for their unusual burgers.
On the menu were kangaroo, camel, crocodile, and buffalo burgers along with their fish and pizza menus.
Steph and I ordered a camel burger with chips and picked up some Turkish Delight camel milk icecream for afters. It was so good that we went back inside to pick up a bottle of the relish they use, and also some beautiful dry aged salami.
Did you see Willow trying the icecream in the video at the start of this story? She loved it!
After lunch, Steph and I took a walk down the Port Germein Jetty, which at one point in time was the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The tidal bay is so shallow that the jetty had to be built over 1,600 metres long to enable boats to load wheat from the harvest. It took us over a kilometre before we saw the water. This photo was taken looking back at the shore.
Dolphin time in Whyalla
The next day we got moving early so we could stock up on supplies in Port Augusta. This involved the usual laundromat and supermarket visits and ensuring we had enough camp stove gas to last us until Port Lincoln.
In the early afternoon we arrived in Whyalla and headed straight for the harbour.
Whyalla is an industrial town located on the top of the Spencer Gulf. I guess you could say it’s the gateway to the Eyre Peninsula. Anyway, the area is renowned for its marine life and is a great place for dolphin watching.
At the harbour, pods of dolphins await incoming boats and will swim with them as they make their way to the boat ramp. The dolphins hope to be thrown a fish, something which, unfortunately, is harmful as it alters their natural behaviours and makes them reliant on humans.
It’s best to let wild animals be wild, even though the dolphins’ presence in the harbour delights visitors as they rush down to see them. I do hope that people will stop feeding and trying to touch them. I’m sure they’ll come back to visit every so often even if there isn’t a fish in it for them.
Willow sat on the dashboard watching the crowds and the splashing in the harbour. The sun was getting low and the sky painted orange. Willow curled up on her blanket as Steph and I cooked dinner. With no more boats coming in, the dolphins had disappeared for the evening.
The next day we would travel further down the coast and truly start our Eyre Peninsula experience – weeks and weeks of beaches, sunsets, and a sandy little cat!
In total, it took us 10 days to travel from Meningie to Whyalla over a distance of about 800km. That might not seem very fast, but I can tell you that we are very keen to slow things down even more as we enjoy our time on the Eyre Peninsula.
We look forward to sharing it with you!