Round About Route to Tasmania


Coorong, SA, Australia

It was raining when we left Paul’s daughter’s home in Limeburners Creek north of Newcastle in early January and its raining now as I sit in my sister’s home in Wangaratta six months later looking out over the green paddocks and the swollen river. In between we’ve visited family and friends in Victoria and South Australia during January and February then spent more than three months in Tasmania returning to Victoria in late June to commence another round of visits to family and friends. All this southern winter time is a stark contrast to the last couple of winters spent in northern Australia with its warm temperatures and vivid colours. When we leave Wangaratta we’ll be making a brief return to Robe in South Australia then travelling up to Sydney and Newcastle and finally southern Queensland before we fly out of Brisbane in late August to start our new adventures in Africa.

Photos and tales from our Tassie time will follow in a number of posts but in the meantime I thought I’d fill in a some details about our travels on the way to the Apple Isle.

Travelling in two vehicles was very useful in some of the more remote areas of Australia but with our plans for Africa and the type of travel we’d be doing up until then it made sense to part with one of them and we decided that’s we’d have to part with Paul’s Troopie. It’s been a great vehicle and tackled some extremely rough tracks so was sold with reluctance but also anticipation of the new adventures ahead.

We avoid highways and motorways when we can and had planned a route south from Limburners Creek which would lead us through the edge of the Blue Mountains but the torrential rain and flooded roads back in January defeated us. After reverting to the motorway our first night was spent in southern Sydney catching up with the ‘Unimog Mob’ who we met on the Canning Stock Route last year. After 18 months on the road Jim and Julie and their two kids have settled back into city life and it was good to yarn about the rest of our travels since we last saw them in Halls Creek and hear about their plans for the future.

Finally leaving the built up areas behind we headed into the mountains with a night at the Wombeyan caves and three peaceful nights in the stunningly beautiful Eucumbene River Valley in Kosciuszko National Park. It would have been very easy to spend much longer in the area but with so many people and places to visit we had to continue our journey.

Our next stop was a catch up with Andrew in Khancoban. We met Andrew last year while we were camped on the remote Cobourg Peninsula in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Andrew and his wife spend part of each year in Darwin but the rest of the time they live in Khancoban on the edge of the mountains not far from the Victorian border and we had an invitation to visit when we were in the area. They own the Queen’s Cottage apartments and cabins which are perched on the side of a hill looking over the lake and valley in this lush green slice of the country.

Khancoban, NSW, Australia

Khancoban, NSW, Australia

We spent an enjoyable evening with them before heading on to Wangaratta to stay with my sister Dawn and brother-in-law Graham and to visit my Mum. The north east of Victoria has plenty to offer so while we were in the area we did some sightseeing and were also lucky enough to be able to attend the annual Opera in the Alps concert in the  nearby town of Beechworth.

Opera in the Alps, Beechworth, Vic, Australia

Opera in the Alps, Beechworth, VIC, Australia

Another family visit followed with my daughter Bec and her family in Adelaide. We had a few days to get there from Wangaratta so we took a meandering route avoiding main roads and finding some great spots to camp on the banks of the Murray. We temporarily left the river to bypass some of the bigger towns and followed some rough tracks through the Murray – Sunset National Park. It was reminiscent of some of our outback tracks especially when a detour to avoid a fallen tree meant we lost sight of all tyre tracks and had to cast around to rejoin the track.

A long weekend in Adelaide passed very quickly with sightseeing in and around the city including visits to Chinatown and the Central Market, the Art Gallery, the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens and several beaches. Venturing further afield we accidentally ended up in the middle of the Tour Down Under bike race in the McLaren Vale wine region. Our visit with Bec, Erik and family continued with a stay in a holiday house in the pretty town of Middleton on the south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The weather was cool but it was great fun digging into the sand in the shallow water searching for the seasonal Goolwa Cockles. We enjoyed a few meals of this delicacy cooked with garlic, wine and pasta. As well as the time spent on the beaches the kids loved the visit to Victor Harbour for the camel ride and the horse drawn tram ride out to Granite Island.

Middleton, SA, Australia

Middleton, SA, Australia

From Middleton we had four weeks to slowly travel along the coast to Melbourne in time to board the ferry for Tasmania at the end of February. The first section of the trip was into the Coorong National Park, a very special slice of the coast on either side of a long narrow water course commencing at the mouth of the Murray and extending for over 100km. Our favourite camp site was at Tea Tree across a shallow section of the lagoon at the base of tall sand dunes leading to the ocean.

We made it further down the coast past Robe and Beachport to Mt Gambier to visit my friend Carol when plans changed. Guess we should have realised our plans rarely get followed. We returned to Adelaide where I stayed with Bec until mid March to give her a hand while she convalesced after a back operation. After a short stay Paul continued his journey along the coast past Portland to the Great Ocean Road and reached Melbourne in time for the ferry crossing to Tasmania on the 29th of February.

Bec made a good recovery and I enjoyed the opportunity to stay with her and her family for a longer period of time. An extra bonus was being there for the long weekend in March so we could all attend the Womadelaide Festival. Meanwhile Paul started his exploration of the north west of Tasmania and I flew to Launceston to rejoin him on 17th March. Stay tuned for our Tassie posts to follow soon.

Tea Tree Crossing, The Coorong

A few days back we crossed the lagoon in the Coorong National Park at Tea Tree Crossing. We made a short video using an iPhone. Turned out pretty well so we’ll probably start making some more.

The camp site on the other side (on the Younghusband Peninsula) has some big grassed areas and a few places where the higher trees and bushes provide some protection from the wind. We loved it and will certainly return if we have the chance. I took some evening shots back at the lagoon crossing and got my feet wet when the tide started coming back in. In the morning I climbed up a very large sand dune near our camp to get some shots at dawn. Such amazing views in all directions, taking in the lagoon, the dunes and the skirting bush and then right out to the Southern Ocean.

Camp in the Coorong National Park Tea Tree Crossing South Australia

Camp Site at Tea Tree Crossing in the Coorong National Park

Raining in the Coorong!

It’s raining in the Coorong! Such an amazing place in all kinds of weather.


The Coorong, SA, Australia

At the moment the sand flats alongside the lagoon at Hell’s Gate (Parnka Point) are slowly flooding. Large flocks of water birds are scurrying hither and thither across the shallow water, obviously feeding on whatever the water has brought to the surface.

The landscape is divided into horizontal shades of grey, with pale pinks, greens and browns in the hardy plants that curve around at the back of the sand flats. The water in the lagoons is a pale grey-green and the sand flats are a muddy grey. The dunes along the far side of the lagoon are only vaguely visible during the heaviest of the rain squalls. The sky is a luminous and uniform pale grey. There’s no hint of the sun at the moment other than the soft light in the clouds.

Yesterday was a marvelous sunny day and the weather should clear later. So right now we are sitting here, listening to music and taking the odd photo when the urge grabs us. It’s pretty wet but we are staying dry and filling buckets with good clean rainwater. This place is a fair distance from any large town, although there are some small villages not too far away which cater to the large farming operations around here.

I first visited the Coorong in 2009 and have wanted to return ever since then to spend a decent amount of time exploring this long stretch (130 kilometres) of the South Australian coast. We have a week here. We need a few more supplies so we will backtrack to Meningie then head down to Tea Tree crossing. When we get there we will check the conditions to see if we can get over onto the Younghusband Peninsula which forms the western border of the Coorong between the ocean and the lagoons. It is possible to drive on the beach all the way up this peninsula to the mouth of the Murray River where it ends its long journey from the Snowy Mountains to the sea.

(We camped at a few spots much further up the Murray River on our way from Victoria to South Australia and swam in it a few times, but the weather was a lot hotter then … over 40 degrees Celsius. The Murray and Darling Rivers are the heart of the third largest river system in the world after the Amazon and the Nile and in the past were heavily used by barges, paddle-steamers and other craft to carry goods to and from the interior. The Coorong itself is a series of lagoons stretching down the coast from the mouth of the Murray and filled from time to time when the Murray River floods. Farming up river has drastically reduced the amount of water flowing into the Corrong which has endangered this sensitive environment and habitat for many types of birds. Thankfully the management of the water levels in the Coorong has improved in recent years)

As we travel slowly south through the Coorong I’m hoping to get right in amongst the sand dunes and get some shots of some of the birds and hopefully some great sunrises and sunsets. The light yesterday evening was pretty good and the pale blue light after sunset was quite special. We have already seen several Emus, falcons, Black-shouldered Kites, Pelicans, and many different waders, cormorants, darters, avocets and other water birds.

I love this wild place. If you don’t know much about the Coorong then follow these links to learn more. Perfect for anyone who wants to find a peaceful corner that really feels remote and has great birdlife. The scenery grows on you and the longer you stay here the more you’ll see.

Wikipedia entry for Coorong National Park:

South Australian National Parks website:
Virtual Tour: