Saturday, 18 February 2017


There are lots of camps along the east coast of Eyre Peninsula and it really depends on what you prefer. Most of the small coastal villages have caravan parks or camping reserves and some of the sheep and wheat farmers are now allowing campers in for a small fee. Because we prefer the less crowded areas we again ended up at Poverty Bay on the way down. There are no amenities whatsoever there but we love the spot. 

Poverty Bay

A sea mist came in on our last morning,
enshrouding locals fishing just offshore.
The bees we met here last year had moved around the rock ledge a little.
We only stayed a couple of days but next time it the weather is good we will have a go at putting the tinny in and trying to find the reef that we have seen lots of locals fishing just offshore.

We had planned to camp at a property right at the bottom of Bolingbroke Peninsula next but as we our friends Tony and Jo were meeting us for a couple of days we pushed on to Port Lincoln, stocked up and headed out to Farm Beach, where we managed to get set up in the exact same spot as last year. The place hasn’t changed much except that the Council has built a small shelter shed near the toilets which came in handy for happy hour if it is rainy. It is still $10 a night and the bore water is still brackish and hellishly cold as it comes up from deep down.

The tractors are still plentiful at the Farm Beach campsite.
Again we spent lots of time fishing for whiting with mixed results. Unfortunately the squid are not as abundant as last year but John and Mitch managed to get lots of lovely abalone. You have to go quite a ways though up the western coast where there is any number of bays that you can dive in (if you aren’t too concerned about sharks). 

One of the many bays where you can dive for abalone.

Some of the interesting marine creatures you'll see along the water's edge.
And one we saw on the road.
Anyway in a couple of days we ended up with some lovely black and green lip abs as well as a nice fish which Mitch speared. He also got a good sized octopus but I convinced him to let it go.

John and Mitch with some of their catch.
John has enjoyed the Coffin Bay golf course while we’ve been here too. It is a nine-hole course but with eighteen holes where they double up. It is a lovely course and a credit to those who maintain it. 

There isn’t much in the way of shops but there is a pub, a dump point and water and apparently they are building a new IGA which will be great. Coffin Bay is only 25 klms from Farm Beach while Lincoln is 65 klms so it will save some long trips if they are competitive pricewise. There is a large public boat harbour and further round a large area for launching boats which includes a carpark, picnic and fish cleaning tables, toilets and dump point.

Pubkic boat harbour - Coffin Bay.
While John was golfing and friend and I went out to Coffin Bay National Park to do some bird-watching and take a look at the park. It is quite reasonable at $8 per vehicle for a day pass. They have also done a bit to improve the campground at Yangie Bay, with some larger bays put in for vans. 

Yangie Bay camp ground.

All the other camping is more remote and the park is only accessible beyond Yangie Bay via four-wheel drive tracks. Yangie Bay is really a big shallow lagoon. It’s a conservation area but the brochure says recreational shore fishing is allowed at some access points. It would be great for kids and canoeing etc. though. There are also some great walking tracks with some interesting sights and encounters including several with the local roos who seemed totally unphazed by our presence.

The trees, both alive and dead are hardy and gnarly.

There are some spectacular views of the coastline etc. from the many lookouts. 

Panoramic view from the park west toward Farm Beach.

Looking across to Mt Dutton. Farm Beach lies just beneath the mountain. Yangie Bay in the foreground with Mount Dutton Bay behind. Coffin Bay is off to the right.

Golden Island - Coffin Bay NP

Yangie Bay with Coffin Bay in the distance.
Although there weren’t as many birds as we’d have liked, I did get some good shots of some local birds though and as you’ll see, I’m having fun with my new camera so I hope these bird shots don’t bore everyone.

Crested terns - Coffin Bay NP

Nankeen Kestrel - Farm Beach

Crested Pigeon - Farm Beach

Australian (Richard's) Pipit

White-fronted Chat - Farm Beach

Even though we’ve stayed at Farm Beach a couple of times I keep discovering new places like the road to the end of the swamp opposite the camp and the road up to Gallipoli Beach where they filmed a lot of the ‘Gallipoli’ movie. 

We also got across to the other side of the bay which is actually part of the Coffin Bay NP. Sometimes the whiting fishing is better over there but you just never know ‘til you get there.

Farm Beach sunset

Looking back at Farm Beach from the Gallipoli road.

This old wagon lies in the shallow lagoon behind Little Douglas, the oyster farming community east of Farm Beach.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


We have travelled several times through this area of New South Wales, but because it is situated right in the middle of an area surrounded by Orange, Welliington and Bathurst, we always seemed to miss it. So this time we took the slight detour and visited this old gold mining town.

Hill End boomed in the early 1870’s when rich gold deposits were found in the area. Like Sofala, men flocked there to make their fortunes so it abounds in history which fortunately has been meticulously recorded with an especially impressive collection of photographs.

We arrived with plenty of time to check out the camping alternatives and with positive comments from Wikki Camps as our guide we first went out of town to the campsite at Glendora, to the northeast of town.  Like the Village campground in the middle of town, this camp is maintained by the National Parks Service. However, on arrival we were met with a rocky, dry landscape and piles of blue metal dumped in the middle of the track in. You just can’t always rely on the opinions of other people. Perhaps it looks better in the winter. Anyway we headed back into town and were pleasantly surprised to find the Village camp a delightful grassy area beside a little creek. Camp fees were reasonable so we set up camp and headed off to explore the many old buildings in town.

The Village campground

Amenities block and fellow campers.

Neighbours across the road from Village camp.
As well as the several walking tracks around the area, it is really easy to walk around the town and get a feel for what it used to be like. There are plaques everywhere with information and photographs about what buildings were situated in each site. There is a pub and local coffee shop and a new information and interpretative centre is about to be opened. 

Looking down the main street.

The Hill End Hilton

The museum, which is currently located in the original hospital, is a real gem but about to close. Let’s hope the new centre is as good, though I doubt anything can equal the atmosphere in the old hospital. You can spend a good day just wandering around town with its old churches, cemetery etc.

Museum grounds

Birthing Table - glad I wasn't around in those days!

Whipping table - what the ????

Gold mining equipment.

Transport - the Cobb & Co coach was licensed to carry 14 passengers.
There are several lookouts to visit and a tour of the old Bald Hill mine is available. 

Entrance to Bald Hill Mine.
Both reef and alluvial gold was mined at Hill End. The richest reef operation was owned by the Star of Hope Mining Company, which unearthed the largest solid nugget found here, the Beyers Holtermann Nugget, in 1872. It yielded over 3 000 ounces of gold and was over 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. Many other large nuggets were found at Hill End and many fortunes were made. The Hawkins Hill area was a mass of small claims where men dug into the mountainside. There is an excellent view of the Hill from the Beaufoy Merlin Lookout.

Hawkins Hill from Beaufoy Merlin Lookout.
The grey area is part of the tailings that remain from mining.
Tambaroora, 5 klms north of Hill End was the main area for alluvial mining, where panning and sluices were used to mine gold eroded from its original rock and distributed in river beds. Many keen fossickers still frequent this area with their metal detectors.

Another interesting feature outside Hill End is the Bridle Track. This is definitely a ‘track’ and not really suitable for anything but a 4WD. It is very steep and narrow in places with a lot of washouts etc. As it follows the Turon River, it is very picturesque and would be of interest to avid off-road drivers who want to take a picnic and do a day trip.

Part of the Bridle Track.
Several famous Australian artists visited Hill End to paint. These included Russel Drysdale, Donald Friend, Brett Whiteley and John Olsen. The Jean Bellette Gallery in the Parks & Wildlife visitor centre exhibits artworks inspired by the area, so there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy. I’d recommend a visit.