Gusty winds began to batter our little van as we turned from the Nullarbor south on the Ayer Peninsula. Our plans to find a bush camp near the Southern Ocean were forgotten as the gusts increased to gale force, according to the radio, and the rain began.
Claire called ahead to the Streaky Bay Hotel and booked a room, and dreams of soft surf lulling us to sleep in our tent changed to a dry room, a cold beer and a proper pub meal. The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio news were reporting the expectation of power and communication outages for days to come. They didn’t exaggerate. The entire state of South Australia, much larger than Texas, would lose power that afternoon (our hotel had a generator) and be off for two days. It was the worst storm in the state since 1964.
We had a thrashing meal at a bayside window, watching the wind and rain squalls whip trees, and fill the bay with whitecaps. Brekky found us at the same window, wondering where the red boat anchored a kilometer out was? Answer: blown three kilometers and up on the beach. We went for a “walk” on the damaged jetty and found a sunken sailboat against the pilings. We had to fight to stay vertical and not be blown off the jetty. Lovely morning of wind and squalls and the odd sunny break. The red boat, a small commercial fishing boat, had apparently been righted and kedged off the beach, riding at anchor, probably with a few auxiliary pumps running. Close call. The sailboat was held fast the the pilings by the wind and current, not being pounded, and will probably be salvaged. Lucky.
Adelaide was hit hard and flooding was evident over half the state. We decided to bypass the city and drive up the “Mighty” Murray river, flood level, but able to handle the load; it was the smaller streams that did the dammage.
We enjoyed improving weather and went back to bush camping, finding picnic shelters are roadside rests to lock the bikes under so we could make our bed. We mostly ate inside, or went to a pub for tea, brekky and lunch were cold affairs of yogurt and cereal, cheese and rolls.
We left the bush and entered what is called here the agricultural areas, sheep, wheat, and fruit. We did a couple of winery stops in the Claire Valley and the Barossa, and another in the Riverine. Don’t know when we’ll drink all that wine? Unfortunately the best wines we tasted are not exported, so we will just have to depend on memory. This happened 16 years ago, when all the wineries we visited were smallish and didn’t export to the U.S.
We’ll not forget an impromptu guided tour of a period bakery under the current bakery by the past owner and creator of the museum. He was a delightful guide, obviously in love with his former career and the very old tools of the trade. He and Claire had a great time talking bread, characteristics of various varieties of wheat, and baking techniques around the world.
Another thing I will never forget is a lamb shank meal I had at the Waikerie Hotel.
One memorable bush camp was in Bendigo National Park less than 150 kilometers from Melbourne, where we had the whole campground (long drops and no water) to ourselves and a few galas, magpies and frogs.
We’ve reconnected with Marge and John Barrett, friends from 16 years ago, who live in Melbourn. We also connected again in the U.S. when they rode tandem across our country. They have quite a few kilometers in Australia, the U.S. and Europe. They will be back in the U.S. for the total eclipse August 21 of 2017. We are having fun sharing memories of our various travel adventures, and we are learning a few tips on cycle touring in Europe.