Saturday, April 20, 2013

Destination Ardrossan, on Yorke Peninsula

Destination: Ardrossan, the beautiful grain port on Yorke Peninsula...

... Ardrossan, with its signature red beaches and humongous jetty --

That's Ardrossan, South Australian, with the monster grain loading wharf --

-- with Australian silver gulls working the shallows at low tide... 

-- and welcome swallows diving and weaving for sand flies over the tidal zone...

...and somewhere for a great pub lunch, perhaps? This is the Royal House Hotel, just above the beach.

But to get to Ardrossan from the top of the Gulf St. Vincent, you have to drive through about
half of Yorke Peninsula, where burning off is in full swing, in late autumn.

Yorke Peninsula's main roads are all exactly like this, and they go on, and on, and ... on.

In 1879, when the Kulpara Hotel was built, it would have been the original, genuine
"pub in the scrub." It's still "the pub in the middle of nowhere!" And it looks like it's up for sale, too.

Yorke Peninsula: you might not be in Kansas anymore, if indeed you ever were,
but some of the time you might easily think you are.

At last, the ocean! After all that dust, and the smoke of "burning off" which is so common on Yorke Peninsula,
catching a glimpse of the sea was so nice. We're seeing the Gulf St. Vincent from the opposite side,
from an Adelaide resident's perspective, at least.

The signature red cliffs really are this red. Nothing's been done to the color of these images...

Above Ardrossan beach, a tumble of Martian rocks -- rich in iron, and the color of rust. And --

Above the rocks, in the cliff face, we noticed a big flock of nesting birds. On a loooong zoom --
they turn out to be European pigeons, which came to South Australia with early settlers ... and went aquatic.

Looking past Ardrossan's red cliffs, you can't exactly miss the grain port...

The Vitarra grain wharf, across the bay from Ardrossan Jetty.

And here's the wharf itself -- this long, because it's such shallow water on this coast...

Moored there, the Pilot's boat, which you can see like a little toy boat in the long-shot, above.

Ardrossan's other signature is its immensely long jetty -- favored by fishermen and crabbers.

The Ardrossan Jetty information board is weatherbeaten, but
you can still read most of the story.

We took a walk about halfway out. The heat was intense -- sizzling your lips and
making your eyes sore with sheer brightness, but we wanted shots like --

This angle on the bay, looking south, with Vitarra silos, grain wharf and red cliffs, seen from mid-water.

Turn right around from the view of the grain wharf, and it's beaches, tidepools and cliffs...
very pretty at low tide, if you can ignore the dumped tires! (Somebody, get rid of them!!)

Silver gulls abound, taking their ease right on the tidal zone, right alongside --

--flocks of welcome swallows. These birds are tiny, and they rarely sit still. The picture above
is full-size ... best you could do from the jetty, at 730mm zoom.

A piece of history on display in the carpark: a barge-loading crane. We've seen one of these before,
on the jetty at Lake Alexandrina, at Milang. (We'll take you there soon.)

Leaving Ardrossan, we just had to get a shot of this sign: the pig races at the Maitland Show. O...kay. 

And, after passing right through Maitland without stopping, here's a typical shot of Yorke Peninsula:
turn right for Moonta. Lunch coming up soon.

Friday -- and after breakfast in Balaklava, the next destination was Ardrossan. As mentioned in the previous post, the plan had been to take the coast road and fly straight there in about 20 minutes. This was not to be, because literally as we were about to slide back into the car, a low-loader came by with a transportable house on the back, and a police escort, quickly followed by a couple of cars and a big, big semi towing two trailers (check out this pic -- in the background, left hand side). If we'd followed that convoy, we'd have gone to Ardrossan at about 25mph!

So we took the Copper Coast Highway to a tiny outpost of humanity called Kulpara (where there's nothing much to be seen except the pub at the crossroads -- see above!) and hung a left. This headed us pretty much down the very middle of the Yorke Peninsula, and we seemed to drive right into a spacetime warp. The road signs tell you one thing; your instruments tell you something else. A sign will say something like "Arthurton 20," meaning, you'll be in Arthurton in 20 kilometers. Well, at 100kph, you ought to be there in about 12 minutes, right? Wrong. Watch the clock, and be bemused. It takes a lot longer to get where you're going, at speeds measured by Mitsubishi technology! It was the oddest thing. Yorke Peninsula kilometers seem to be two or three miles long. Something like Irish miles, one images.

But the roads are actually quite reasonable; some are a bit uneven, due to being built on top of ancient dunes which tend to sag under the weight of traffic (not to mention those big trucks), but others are not too bad at all. Good enough, in fact, for us to pick one that was utterly endless, and utterly empty, smack in the middle of the Yorke Peninsula spacetime warp, and see what Lola, the Mitsubishi Magna, might be able to do if required to in a case of emergency. (Waaaay under the beginning of the red zone, still accelerating fast and smooth, effortless and sweet, with 40% capacity left before she even started to think about revving out, we simply ended the experiment because -- well, enough is enough, already. Don't ask. She also brakes smooth as silk. We're impressed -- after decades of driving GM (Holden and Pontiac), we're extremely impressed with Mitsubishi. Suffice to say, Lola has more than enough "grunt" to get you out of trouble that would likely spell doom for a lesser vehicle. We're very happy to know this.)

After the timewarp, it was marvelous to see the Gulf St. Vincent, blue-green and shimmering! Welcome to Ardrossan ... with its huge jetty, and the grain wharf that dominates that part of the coast, and the silver gulls, welcome swallows, and the "aquatic" pigeons. It was the middle of the day and hot. If it had been any less roasting, we'd have walked the jetty right out to the end, but you could feel your lips and eyeballs sizzling. One thing about slathering up with sunblock: it stops you sweating properly, and although you don't burn, you feel like you're cooking like a potato in its jacket.

The thought of ice cream was on our minds as we headed back to the car, but ten minutes in the air conditioning made us start thinking about lunch instead. How about a cafe or pub in Moonta? Sounded like a plan, so --

Tomorrow: Moonta, Snowtown, and sunset in Clare.

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