Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moonta and lunch - Wallaroo - Snowtown - sunset in Clare before dinner

Green grass at last! Queens Park, in the heart of Moonta, looking between the huge
Moreton Bay fig trees, toward the 1873 church, one of several lovely historic buildings on the park.

The golden sandstone really is that color, and was quarried locally.

A detail closeup shot of the fountain in Queens Park, which was was presented to the town in 1893 by its first mayor.

Moonta Town Hall ... from virtually the only angle where you can get the public toilets, bins and
overhead power/phone lines out of the way. Lovely building -- tough to photograph!

Another historic building on Queens Park, but we weren't able to identify it. It could be any one of
about four items of interest listed on the Copper Coast 'Moonta Walking Trail' page.

Check out the tree framing the right and top of this angle on Queens Park...
Here's the tree itself: an old Moreton Bay fig, like something right out of Fangorn Forest! 

Another Moreton Bay fig in all its considerable glory ... Queens Park, in the heart of Moonta.

A little history: murals on George Street, Moonta, tell a little of the town's story.

The caption reads, "Unloading wheat sacks at Railway Yards, Moonta, 1927." 
After lunch we took a look at Moonta's foreshore and the strange "L-shaped" jetty... that's Spencer Gulf.

 Moonta Bay, on Spencer Gulf, by afternoon light, showing some of the rocks that necessitate that long jetty...

Moonta Jetty ... we walked a little way out, but it was much too hot to go the whole way.

European pigeons turned aquatic and living on the beach among the silver gulls...

The beach equivalent of crop circles, no doubt! Very cool.

The sign says "Fire Danger Season, 15th November to 30th April ...
and right behind it, a plume of smoke from "burning off." Makes sense. Right?

"Burning off" is so common in the mid-north and Yorke Peninsula, the plumes of smoke loom
right over the towns, like Wallaroo... what's this doing to the atmosphere? Climate change --?

Wallaroo ... and check out the forest of TV aerials! One for every house, and they have to be thirty feet high!
The sign on the left points to the ferry, which crosses Spencer Gulf  to Lucky Bay, on Eyre Peninsula.

Approaching Wallaroo, you have to be impressed by the size of the grain silos ...
they're bigger than the town, and built like a fortress.
Viterra grain silos dominate the landscape on the way into and out of Wallaroo ...

Wall art illustrates Wallaroo's historical identity ... little has changed. Add electricity, TV and cell phones!

The Wallaroo war memorial, and, adjacent --

Wallaroo Town Hall.

On the road to Snowtown out for kangaroos, next 5k. Kangaroos are mostly nocturnal,
however. You don't often see them in daylight, much less on the road. Never saw one on this trip.

Heading across the hills and back in the direction of the Clare Valley. Picturesque countryside.

Wind farms provide a healthy percentage of the power used in the mid-north of South Australia.
Wind generators are strung out along the hills, in a region where the wind rarely stops blowing.
Top of Gulf St. Vincent, South Australia.

Welcome to Snowtown! We were ready to stretch the legs, so...

Snowtown's main street. You're looking at most of the town here. The railway is just out of shot at right.

The Snowtown Soldiers Memorial Hall, in late afternoon light. 

Leaving Snowtown ... cross the train tracks, and then -- Clare in 47 kilometers...

Got to chalk up some points to the local government and highways departments in the north:
the roads are absolutely endless, and the authorities keep them in excellent repair.

Follow the signs ... hang a right for Clare. Dinner, soon. Please?

A glorious sunset brewing. With daylight saving over, sunset is way before dinner time...

Moonta, on Spencer Gulf, is the biggest town this side of Quorn and Port Augusta -- and a lovely town, too, with a main street loaded with every kind of cafe, takeout, and couple of pubs. For lunch, we were spoiled for choices. The town is on the western fringe of what was known as "Little Cornwall," for the number of Cornish folk who came out here to work the mines in the nineteenth century. Main street is George Street, passing by the beautiful Queens Park (not Queen's!). We strolled the length of it, looking at one cafe and restaurant after another, and finally we settled on...

The Moonta Hotel. And we didn't get a picture of it! It was sizzlingly hot, bright, busy, and we were hungry. We dove inside and opted for a couple of Coopers ... their pale ale, and their lite ... while we read down the menu and decided on the seafood Caesar salad (for Dave), and the roast beef and locally grown fresh vegetables (for Jade). It was some of the best "pub grub," as they call it, that we've had, and the hotel itself is an original colonial building, refurbished, and with very friendly staff. The Moonta Hotel has its own chef, too. The photo, here, was captured from Google's street-view maps.

The wine list read like a who's who of this part of the world. If the day hadn't been so hot, and if we hadn't been driving, we'd have indulged in a glass or two. Alas, we were actually trying to cool down, and  there were many miles left to cover, today, so... Coopers to the rescue. Coopers is local South Aussie, at least.

From the hotel, we checked out the beach ... hats, sunblock, 100% UV glasses. Actually, there's a lot in Moonta. You could spend a whole day there, or even a couple of days. We were essentially just passing through, but a trip back there isn't out of the question.

Then, it was onwards to Wallaroo, which is dominated by grain silos and, on the day when we visited, shadowed by plumes and palls of smoke, from the "burning off" which is so common in the agricultural region at this time of year. We were actually looking for a maritime museum which was listed as being open in Wallaroo, but we drove the town a couple of times and couldn't find it! So next it was on to --

Snowtown, "gateway to the Barunga Ranges," a sleepy little town on the railway, which seems to have been used as the construction center for the windfarms that march across the ridge lines. Snowtown's greatest claim to fame is actually a string of grizzly murders, known as the "Bodies in the Barrels" murders, which took place back in the 1990s. If you're really into your Tim Burton movies, check this out. Beware: it's nasty ... while the little town itself is sun-drenched, drowsy, dawdling along the railway line.

Leaving Snowtown, you pop over the aforementioned train tracks and follow the signs. We were headed back to Clare now, and starting to think about dinner. We'd be checking out in the morning, and heading home, so it was wonderful when Mother Nature turned on a glorious sunset to finish out the day. Actually, that sky is giving you clues: the weather was changing. We were about to lose the blue skies and warm temperatures. Well, leaving being the heat wasn't going to be a nuisance, but dull conditions don't make for such brilliant photos, so it was lucky we'd had the bright skies for the previous three days.

Tomorrow: Mr. Mick's for lunch, Martindale Hall, for a brush with a very, very haunted house, coffee in Mintaro (to put the color back in your cheeks), and then ... headed for home.

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