It was a long driving day for us today – a bit over 450 kms as we continued our journey home from Port Lincoln. Tonight, we are in Horsham.
Before leaving Tanunda in the Barossa Valley, we visited the farm shop of celebrity chef Maggie Beer and stocked up on some products that we could bring home.
Then, for the first couple of hours, we had a very scenic drive through the Adelaide hills until we joined the freeway to Murray Bridge and then onwards along the highway towards Melbourne. These rolling hills are the location for many little towns that were once rural villages. Now, many of them have been gentrified and old fashioned pubs are now places for gastronomic experiences, little shops have been converted to trendy gift stores and cafes have now become wine bars.
This area has many location names that hark back to the original German settlers who arrived in the 1850s. Every town has at least one Lutheran Church and this avenue of trees that led to one caught our eye. There were two other Lutheran churches within 500 metres of each other in one town.
In the town of Birdwood, there is a very decent car museum in the old mill and the locals have found a very creative way of storing their old and unwanted cars.
At Murray Bridge, we crossed the lower reaches of the Murray River. It is only about 20 kilometres to where it empties into Lake Alexandrina and the sea. I can remember seeing the 3120 river mile post at Tooleybuc on our second day of this trip, so the river has covered a lot territory in its meanderings to the sea.
We found two painted silos throughout our travels today. They are indeed popping up everywhere. One was at the tiny town of Coonalpyn, in South Australia, not far from the Victorian Border. It featured a few young children of the town and is aimed at illustrating the future hopes of the region. It was painted by the same artist who did one of the first silos in Victoria at Brim. I’m sure that the owner of the little cafe across the road appreciates how they have added to his business turnover. When the silo was in its original unpainted state, there would hardly have been any reason to stop here at all.
The second was at the town of Kaniva in Victoria. This design features the Australian Hobby Bird. Smaller than other falcons, it is one of six Australian members of the family of small falcons. The Australian Hobby is relatively slender and long-winged. It is often seen hunting in vegetated urban areas, as well as in almost any lightly timbered country. To the left of the bird is the plains sun orchid with the salmon/pink sun orchid on the right. Flowering occurs between September and November, and they generally only open on warm, humid days. These are plants of the nearby ‘Little Desert.
Incidentally, Kaniva is another of those towns that I wrote about yesterday that need an addition to its name in order to sound complete. In this case it is ‘Kaniva kiss’. I didn’t meet any local ladies to see if it works, but I have a lot of confidence that it would.
Just before we reached the Victorian border, we passed through the SA town of Keith. In the park is a memorial with a Landrover on a pole. It is a strange monument to the AMP Development Scheme which turned the area around Keith from a desert into a hugely productive agricultural area. In the decade from 1950 the AMP Insurance Company (which was an iconic Australian company) funded the development of vast areas of bushland which were turned into rich farmland by the addition of trace elements. This resulted in the rapid growth of the farmland around Keith. The AMP Desert Conquest Memorial comprises the Landrover on a Pole and one of the original Wiles Huts where the workers on the scheme lived.
It’s ironic that in a recent Royal Commission inquiry into problems with the Australian Banking Industry, AMP was castigated for breaking several laws, poor customer service and self interest. A number of senior executives including the CEO were forced to resign. Yet, here, back in the 1950s, they made a major contribution to a rural society. How the worm turns!
The town of Bordertown is actually not on the border but it has some fame as the place where the Labor Parties longest serving Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, was born.
All day, we drove through many small towns where were a few houses and occasionally a service station. Eventually we crossed the Victorian Border. We had already registered our entry into the state and because we had only travelled through ‘Green’ areas, we were immediately granted access to Victoria without any need for testing or quarantine. My theory on this trip was that Covid outbreaks occur mostly in state capitals with their big density of population and potential leakage of the virus from Quarantine Hotels. We deliberately circumvented South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide to minimise any risk.
Just over the border in Victoria, we made a small detour to see the historic railway station at Serviceton. This is a tiny town (now almost completely run down) but it had one of the largest railway stations in Victoria. I remember stopping there as kid on the train to Adelaide. The stop was just long enough to visit the refreshment rooms and swill down a cup of tea and eat a slice of railways fruit cake. Trains no longer stop here.
The platform is 70 metres long and shows the importance of this border station when it was built in 1887. At that time, the states were separate colonies so its design included a customs house for processing goods passing from one state to another. The upstairs and the platform area had 15 rooms. These included a kitchen for customers’ refreshments, dining area, ladies closet and waiting areas, booking rooms for Victorian and South Australian trains, general waiting areas along with the customs office. In the basement were large cellars for storage, guard areas, a mortuary for bodies being shipped across the border and a lock-up which was used for prisoners who were being transported interstate. In the colonial days, everything that went through here needed to be unloaded and put onto another train.
We reached Horsham just as it was getting dark and we were very happy to find our hotel for the night.