Tuesday 7 July 2020

Travel in the time of the Coronavirus Covid-19

Today we would have been starting our Camino walk, the last 120 kilometres of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
For the previous twelve days we would have been in Morocco and before that in Córdoba, Cadiz and Madrid in Spain.

Instead this terrible virus Covid-19 is raging throughout the world and we are fairly much housebound with state borders closed within our country and the government forbidding us to travel outside of Australia. With planes not flying that is easy to obey, the rest is not so easy.

Having to stay home in the winter is a depressing thing; I really hate cold weather and now there is nothing to do and nothing to look forward to.

The first seventy days of lock down were filled with quilt making, big jigsaw puzzles, lots of cooking including bread making, Italian lessons on Duolingo, garden pruning and daily walking a small loop close to home. As the weather has got colder walking has lost appeal, too much cooking equals weight gain, and there is a limit to how many quilts and jigsaws you can do. I am currently reading one book every day, travel books mainly.

I called this quilt # Stay Home

I have lost the urge to complete this quilt, called Bei Ricordi

1000 and 1500 piece jigsaws fill the evenings.

Cooking for special occasions celebrated at home alone, hand made bread and lots of old fashioned cakes & puddings. Very retro things like steamed jam pudding, slow cooked creamy rice and family favourites handed down through several generations. The slow cooker has produced some delicious new meals with exciting flavours, especially Middle Eastern. Cajun pork and beans was a winner!

Our olive trees have had a thorough pruning this year as we weren't rushing off overseas. 

I am grateful that in the country we are relatively safe, I am grateful that Australia has not had the same catastrophic numbers of deaths as many countries and I am grateful that we live in a country where we are well supported through disasters such as this.

I am very sad for the people of Italy, and especially for our friends in Panicale, Umbria many of whom depend on tourism for their existence. Life is tougher for them.

I pray that a vaccine will be found soon and that we can return to some sort of normal, the 'new normal' they are calling it. But how will that be and will we be able to do the things we had planned. With every week we are getting older and less able to travel the free-wheeling style of travel we love.

I saw a great quote from Sonia Pallai back in April.

    "We are stuck. Stop with tourism, stop with racing, walking, trekking and sport.
    Stop with our social relationships, those made of hugs, kisses, dinners, but also of gyms,
    meetings and conferences.

    What never stops these days are thoughts."

I am trying to be positive and I am certainly thinking ahead ... I am reading books on walking the Via Francigena! 

Monday 11 May 2020

Yorke Peninsula, South Australia (& some silo and street art along the way)

Our Travellers group had been a long time planning a three weeks plus excursion to discover the Yorke & Eyre Peninsulas in South Australia. Eight couples participated and departure from Benalla was on Monday 9th March.
Because large convoys of caravans are not appreciated on the roads, the plan was for all participants to find their own routes to South Australia and to meet up at Ardrossan  on the east coast of the Yorke Peninsula by 'happy hour' on the Tuesday.

We do not pull a caravan so were free to take roads less travelled. We went via Echuca to Gunbower then cross country to Nullawill to see more silo art.

A surprise at Gunbower was a wall art feature by DVate on the hotel.

At Nullawill Smug has painted the silo ...

... and at Sea Lake we were surprised to find a six silo work by Dralp & the Zookeeper.

In fact Sea Lake has many street art features to attract visitors and enliven the town.

After an over-night stop at Lamaroo we continued on to Karoonda where they have a different approach to their silo art. With a large area to work with Heesco has painted local scenes and features around the edges. The centre space has  a variety of people's art works projected on to it. As this only works at night, this is the first silo art to be appreciated after dark.

From there we travelled through Murray Bridge, Gawler & Port Wakefield (where there was a street artist at work), and eventually arrived at Ardrossan in time for drinks with the group.

Two nights in Ardrossan, a sea-side holiday & fishing village with lots of attractions and appeal. The highlights were the red cliffs walk at Tiddy Widdy, the Stump Jump Plough Museum, the first testing of typical South Australian Kitchener & fruit buns and the large industries associated with the land - wheat, salt & dolomite. The blue swimmer crabs kept themselves hidden.


Next day we moved on to Edithburgh for two nights. Along the way were many reasons to stop. One such place marks the spot where in 2014 seven whales got stranded on the beach and died. A dolomite rock for each whale remembers this sad occasion.

South Australia had a unique style of water tanks beside wells. Water shortage has always been an issue on the Yorke Peninsula.

The 'Walk the Yorke' Trail covers over 500 kilometres and passes through a range of different landscapes from Port Wakefield to Moonta Bay. Some sections would be harsh and difficult walking.

An historic lime kiln has been restored as part of heritage preservation.

Drinks on the first night at Edithburgh, over-looking the marina and accompanied by the pelicans.

 Every sea side town had a huge jetty and fishing was obviously a popular occupation but none of our group had much success. 

The main features of Edithburgh are the Mosaic Trail; a community art project along a 3 km walking path, the Shipwreck Museum, the wind farm, Troubridge Conservation Park and lighthouse and the Flora Reserve.

Trowbridge Conservation Park takes in some rugged seascape scenery and a 
lighthouse built in 1980.

Salt has long been an industry on the Yorke Peninsula and hundreds of small lakes cover this part of the peninsula. 

Late in the afternoon we arrived at the Flora Reserve just as our group leaders Graeme & Noela were departing. The land was dry but the trees and shrubs continued to flower.

The weather was getting colder and wet so the group needed to shelter by one of the cabins. Cabin dwellers do have their uses in a camping group!

Before leaving town the next day we visited the Shipwreck Museum (actually we went to the coffee shop as the museum wasn't yet open!). A very well arranged museum run by volunteers, we could have spent hours there. As well as their shipwreck history they had lots about the salt industry, some beautifully restored vehicles and much, much more.

On the road again and once again we took the scenic route because we didn't have to pull a caravan.

Marion Bay was our next two-night stop. As usual drinks needed to be in a sheltered place, this night huddled behind a shed and the following night in the camp kitchen.

Next day we car pooled and all travelled together for the first time. Innes National Park is at the very tip of the peninsula and was expected to be the highlight of this trip.

First stop was the National Parks information and display building. This box of classroom chalk caught the attention of the teachers in the group because we knew that we were going to see where the chalk we used so much came from.

The  abandoned town of Inneston has left many relics to explore.

There are two light houses; at Cape Spencer and at West Cape.

The remains of the ship wreck 'Ethel' can still be seen in the sand.

Next morning we took the coast road again to Point Turton. More beautiful beaches, more rugged coast line, another lighthouse.

At Point Turton the optimistic were still looking for seafood. The two cabin dweller couples enjoyed top class accommodation and dinner on their balconies over-looking the sea.

Day two at Point Turton was fairly quiet, a trip to Minlaton was the highlight. Displays on Minlaton's First World War flying ace Captain Harry Butler were interesting, especially the restored plane 'Red Devil'.

It was an earlier start next morning because one couple was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. A pancake breakfast is a favourite activity among the group for celebratory occasions.

An opportunity for good coffee and cake occurred mid morning at Minlaton before setting off for Moonta Bay.

The celebrating couple provided nibbles and lots of bubbles that evening then we ate together as the sun set. But we had one surprise up our sleeve for the 50th anniversary couple, golden syrup dumplings. 

Next morning we rambled about Moonta Bay, Moonta and Wallaroo. 
Wallaroo is a deep sea port, has a multi million dollar marina and is home to the Spencer Gulf prawn fleet. The heritage parts of the town tell of the copper mining era from the 1860s.

We were beginning to hear from home of the Coronavirus and the panic buying of toilet paper. Whilst the supermarket was limiting sales, the antique shop was selling it and this truck was parked in the street in Moonta.

The Coronavirus meant that places were beginning to close, all National Trust places had closed and sadly we missed the Moonta Mines Tourist Railway. As we were a large group they did open the Museum just for us and among other things we learnt of the copper mining era and the great influence of the Cornish people on the area.

After Cornish pasties for lunch and farewell drinks and nibbles followed by fish and chips, it was a good way to finish our trip. The two cabin dweller couples were returning home and the others were continuing on to the Eyre Peninsula.

As news of COVID19 came to us and the threat of border closures were spread, the couples going home went directly home as other plans were cancelled, and the caravanners got to Arno Bay but had to cancel the trip and return home three days later.

As always our Travellers Event was a great success until something bigger than all of us put a stop to it. Participants are hopeful that at some time in the future they will be able to pick up where they left off on the Eyre Peninsula.