Yesterday, we travelled from Hahndorf to the little town of Edithburgh on the York Peninsula. This is not near the location of Coffin Bay and its famous oysters – that’s the Eyre Peninsula – hundreds of kilometres away.
Near Port Wakefield is a Proof Range where the army tests artillery weapons and ammunition. It just goes to reconfirm, to me, that the military really do select the most inhospitable places on which to establish a base or camp.
From what we have seen so far, this peninsula is very flat – just like I imagine a prairie to be. Wheat or grain crop farming is the basic use of this land (with sheep as a secondary form). The paddocks stretch for as far as the eye can see. I think you’d measure their size in square kilometres, rather than acres or hectares. At the moment, they are laying fallow. I think it’s just too early to sow anything but yesterday but we could see some activity that suggests sowing is imminent..
As usual, when we explore, we find interesting things. Our first stop was at Port Wakefield at the top of the peninsula. It’s a small town with a lot of historic stone buildings. In 1900, this town was busy with ketches that were small enough to navigate the narrow ports along the creek. They were used to ship wheat to Port Adelaide where it was transhipped overseas. In 1900, over 300,000 bags of wheat were shipped out of Port Wakefield. I could only image how much easier it would have been with more modern bulk handling technology.
We knew we ere getting close to this outback type of environment when we began to see huge road trains on the highway. This one was parked at a spot where we stopped at a picnic table for a cup of coffee. We counted 50 wheels. There were even bigger ones travelling along the road carrying minerals.
Amongst the grid of streets in Port Wakefield, we found thIs sign that commemorates the 1955 Australian Grand Prix. It was won by Jack Brabham with second place going to Reg Hunt. I remember both these racing car drivers from my childhood. I have a recollection that the man (Tom) that my Aunt married also raced in this event.
All of the towns down the west coast of the peninsula saw the Ketches coming in to pick up grain. Thus, they are nearly all called ‘Port Something or Other’. Each has a memorial to the Ketch Trade by the harbour or some other conspicuous place.
One town that doesn’t have ‘Port’ in its name is Ardrossan. Its claim to fame is that its blacksmith invented the Stump Jump Plough. This was probably the greatest single contribution to Australian agriculture. In the early days of farming, early settlers had laboriously cleared their land, leaving many stumps and rocks behind.
Earlier ploughs kept getting stuck on these obstacles. The stump jump plough was designed to let the plough tynes fold back to avoid being caught. They were then repositioned into their proper place by springs that were attached to the frame of the plough. Some of the early models of this equipment are on display in the town’s historical park.
Ardrossan also has a busy port. Just behind the town is an open cut mine in which BHP mine Dollerite. This is trucked to the port and loaded on to bulk carriers.
There are also some large silos at the wharf for storing grain. When these were constructed in 1952, they were the largest silos in all of Australia.
Our accommodation for the night is at the Edithburgh Caravan Park. We have a small cabin although the bed is a bit low for Jill. However it does have an accessible bathroom which makes it a bit easier.
They are simple folk here. There are two pubs in town – one single storey and one two storey pub. When we asked for a suggestion for dinner, they didn’t use the name of the pub, just its description. “Mate, go the double storey, it has better food”.
All Day, I was hoping for some attractive coastlines that I could photograph. Because the land is so flat, there are no rugged cliffs or outstanding features. Most beaches are just flat stretches of sand although this one is covered in sea grass that has washed up on the tide.