2. The next bit…
After our last bush camp experience, we elected for the guaranteed quiet of an off-season caravan park in Robe. We set up on green grassy sites, checked out the clean modern facilities including a huge gas fired crab cooker and strolled across the road to suss out the beach. The wide sandy shoreline stretching all the way to Cape Jaffa was dotted with 4WD?s and beach shelters. Several fishermen were casting from the waterline while further out swimmers ducked under the breakers and kids whooped as they rode boogie boards in on the smaller waves.
We could?ve walked forever but the night gradually closed in so we reluctantly headed back to camp. After dinner and a long hot shower there was not a sound to be heard except our pillows calling out to us. So we closed up for the night and slipped into the land of nod. The next morning dawned bright and sunny. After brekkie, Mrs G and I made good use of the park?s gleaming white washing machines while the boys commandeered the camp kitchen and readied our bikes for a day?s touring around the town.
Peter Perfect and his gorgeous companion, Mrs G opted for pedal power while the driver and I took the easy way out by beetling along on our scooter touring the historic port area, the old maritime beacon site and the gaol ruins along with many fine old limestone houses. The boys then wandered through the marina while Mrs G and I took in the delights of the main street, including some lovely boutiques and a delightfully clean smelling op shop where a lime green nanna rug caught Mrs G?s eye before meeting up for a bang up lunch together at a local caf?.
Later that afternoon we took another constitutional along the beach. This made the fellas extra thirsty so we dropped in to check out the local wood-fired brewery for a tasting or two. The 70% proof wild honey concoction seemed to slip down rather well but judging by the squeeze of their lips neither seemed too impressed ?a sip of the whale-spew brew. However, Peter Perfect felt the need to support this boutique industry by purchasing a six-pack of the stout, especially when he learned that The Driver was not much of a fan. Well played, Mr Perfect, well played!
The next day we hitched our wagons and headed out of town bound for the mighty Coorong. We stopped at a roadhouse to fill up with fuel but this simple task was made rather onerous when an officious looking register attendant advised that according to her computer, The driver had used the wrong pump and must have filled his diesel tank with unleaded petrol. The Driver strongly disagreed and a smell test of the tank revealed the delightful scent of diesel but Madame Attendant insisted there was no way her computer could not be wrong. The Driver was equally certain he would not have made such a rookie mistake, surely not or then again – maybe, did he stuff up? Suffice to say that it was a very stressful slow and silent drive along the next long straight stretch of the Princes Highway. Then, after no weird noises were emitted from our vehicle and its motor was heard to be running smoothly, Madame Attendant was finally proved incorrect.
With great relief, we pulled in for the night to camp at Parnka Point in the Coorong National Park. The view from our site was amazing and as soon as we had set up we all eagerly set off to explore the lagoon and its surroundings. The beach was course and pebbly bearing deep emu prints several paces apart along with some large flattened oval-shaped dung that must be the huge birds calling cards. We also spotted kangaroo droppings amongst thousands of pelican prints.
Hiking up to the lookout we viewed the sea crossing known as Hells Gate. Although we could only glimpse the frothy churning mess of waves out there it provided quite a clear picture of how this entrance had been named. As we returned to camp the wind picked up off the southern ocean and the cold descended. Trackie dacks, lumber jackets and beanies were donned, soon followed by those old camping faithfuls, nanna?s crocheted wool blankies (as well as christening Mrs G’s new blankie!). The boys were keen to have a campfire. They set up Peter Perfect?s prized portable fireplace and even scratched around in the nearby bush to produce a sizeable pile of firewood. But Mrs G soon put a stop to their shenanigans by reminding them it was still fire danger season and we were camped in a National Park!
We witnessed a glorious sunset over the lagoon and spent the rest of the evening watching huge flocks of pelicans pass overhead. I agreed to get up early to see them fly out again in the morning. Of course, I slept through the sunrise but Mrs G got up early to take happy snaps.
We had heard that there were two free car ferries we could take to get across to the Fleurieu Peninsula so being dutiful tourists we went well out of our way along the Coorong coast. It wasn?t all in vain as we passed by the wide-verandered limestone homesteads; lighthouses, outbuildings and wells of the early settlers as well as several tiny but perfectly preserved wrought iron lace-trimmed townships.
Later, following my lack of navigational skills we again took the scenic route (ie. the long way) through the vineyards of the Peninsula before stopping at Victor Harbour to play tourist again. This grand city has plenty to see from their horse-drawn tram, to their excellent maritime and whaling museums. A stop at the information centre sent us across the hills in search of sheltered beachside campsite at a place called Rapid Bay.
Rugged cliffs lined with caves surround this natural amphitheatre that opens onto a flat green expanse of well-tended lawns to camp on and slopes gently down to a golden sandy beach. A massive jetty on one end and a jutting limestone cliff on the other enclose the deep bay where sailing boats anchor for the night.
After chatting to other campers, the boys eagerly put the boat in early the next morning keen for a big seafood dinner. Mrs G and I got busy scouring the wide beach for shells and patting all the dogs we could find including two little black kelpie pups that made us both very homesick but our solitude was short lived when the fishermen arrived back hot, hungry and empty-handed.
After lunch Mrs G went out in the boat with the fellas to go snorkelling around the jetty while I had a hot date with a good book. They all returned tired but happy, full of stories about swimming with the seals. The next day bought bonus reading time for me while the kayaks hit the water. More snorkelling and swimming took place until well into the afternoon when the three suntanned campers decided we should probably stay one more night.
We were camped between two local SA couples, Matt & Bridget and Norm & Carly. Both Matt and Norm were Vietnam Vets who kept us very entertained with their escapades each evening. All of them had also travelled extensively around the country and were full of information about things to see and places to stay. We pulled out of Rapid Bay the next day with an extensive list of sites added to our already bulging itinerary.