Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 49: A Cool Change

January 2, 2011

Somewhere in the night, the noise of the high wind knocking the tent about disturbing our sleep, I pull the spare blanket over me. A cool change has finally come. Flashes of light pop on the horizon and I worry about rain but none comes.

Sadly, today we leave the outback of the centre – the undisciplined wildness of the deserts of Western Australia, Northern Territories and South Australia. Port Augusta at the tip of the Spencer Gulf marks the small portion of South Australia that’s been civilized, with Adelaide, its only city, to the south.

Port Augusta also has some interesting history about the early explorers, particularly Matthew Flinders, a young English navy officer commissioned to explore the great southern continent in the late 18th century. His boat sailed up Spencer Gulf and anchored, near the mangroves where we overlook the bay and the Flinders Ranges beyond. He never lived in Australia, but the names he gave to hundreds of places along the coast have stuck. Apparently even the name “Australia” was first penned in his journals. He died at age forty, after being imprisoned by the French for six years on his return journey from Terra Australis.

Port Augusta has a festive beach town flavour on this second day of the new year. We eat lunch on the north side of the river with views of the town on the south side. Four-wheel-drives, decked out with recreational gear, towing boats, trailers and quads, begin to clog the roads. Everyone’s out for a holiday.

As we leave the town, the first sign for “Perth, Western Australia” appears. We turn west; it’s time to go home.

Mangroves on Spencer Gulf near Port Augusta, South Australia

 Camp near Lock on the Eyre Peninsula

Sultan of chic...

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