The Port and the Arid Lands Gardens.

Looking toward the Joy Baluch Bridge

Talk about “Back to the Future” as once again I made the journey out to the Port for the same reasons as last week. I was supposed to head out on

Big W. Department Store.

Tuesday but late Monday afternoon I received a telephone call from the Doctor Surgery reminding me I had an appointment on Tuesday afternoon. I probably could have still  gone to the Port and been back in time, but I decided to leave it until Wednesday. So, Wednesday morning I headed off to Port Augusta and the Bank.  My business at the bank was completed a lot quicker that I had anticipated so I was able to spent some time at Big W, then The Office Shop before heading to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden.  I bought three new native plants before heading off for a wander at the Lookout area. There are some really nice walking paths and they would be great to take Benji, but as I said, dogs are not allowed. Yes, I agree they could make a ruling that dogs have to be kept on a leash at all times but there will always be the drongo(s) that believe that rules don’t apply to them and put the native wildlife in danger. I have to say that the weather was lovely, but too warm to leave Benji in the car for any length of time. The Joy Baluch Bridge is the main crossing point of the Upper Spencer Gulf but there is another crossing a bit further up. This is Yorkeys Crossing and is supposed to be the route for heavy vehicles, which are reluctant to use it and instead use the main bridge. There was a pedestrian bridge but due to structural damage

Yorkeys Crossing Bridge

this was closed,  so pedestrians are forced to use a narrow pathway on the main bridge. The Federal MP has highlighted this and shown how close  the trucks come  to people using the narrow walkway, but nothing was ever done.  The reason drivers are reluctant to use Yorkeys Crossing is that it is a long detour and the road between the crossing and the main highway, is an unsealed, dirt road on either side, so for big vehicles it can present problems. It also puts added pressure on the main bridge, which, because it is now used by pedestrians, the speed limit is 40KPH over the bridge.  The Port Augusta Council have been asking for the State Government to seal the road, and repair the pedestrian crossing, but the previous  state government was more concerned with extending a motorway in Adelaide to get people home by cutting four minutes off the traveling time. We really hope the new government can do something about the problems around the state outside of Adelaide.

I spent much of the morning walking the trail towards Yorkeys Crossing and up to the top of the escarpment. I find the view quite pleasant with

Looking back towards the Shop and other buildings

the Flinders Ranges in the distance. Looking back towards the Gardens and the Shop area is quite interesting. Way beyond the hills in the distance  is part of the way home. and between where I am standing and where I am going there is nothing – no houses nor people – mind you, there’s no water either. Coming back down from the escarpment to the carpark I had a chat with some visitors from Germany. Driving back to the main road I stopped and pulled off road as best as I could so that I could get out and photograph a family of emu. In the early paragraph of this post I mentioned the problems with allowing dogs in the area – even on leash – because some people would believe the rules don’t apply to them – this was brought home to me as I was photographing  the Emu. For obvious reasons, the speed limit in and around the area is 40KPH with restrictions that the wildlife has right of way. As I was parked a white sedan came from the opposite direction and  passed me at about 60+, despite the fact that there were Emu in the area – rules didn’t apply to him.

Anyway, I have decided that I need a new camera. My Nikon is getting old and is really overdue for replacement. Think I might have to talk nicely to “She who must be Obeyed”.

Part of a family of Emu at the Arid Lands B.G.

 

Disappointment, hospital and garden disasters

emailEmails are the strangest things. If you send a nasty message to an address you will have a reply with in the hour. If, however,  you send an email that requires a 10 second  “yes ” or “no ” response to the same address, the chances of a reply are fairly remote. Strange that!! I was waiting for an email that never came and I fear is unlikely to come now. Oh well, things happen – or in this case, don’t!  Disappointment aside, it has been a busy week visiting people in hospital and one in Palliative Care. Accident in town and elderly lady killed in a car collision. Actually as a passenger  she survived the collision but died in hospital. Car accidents and rushed to hospital are not great for an 85 year old. Don’t know if anything happened yesterday but the Royal Flying Doctor Service  flew in late at night.  There is still an air of – depression is too strong a word – but more a feeling of unease about the future.  Many people, despite the assurances in the press, don’t really trust what they are being told and although there seems to be more orders, four and a half billion dollars, is a lot to try and pay back. Also the company is up for sale and the fact that the good Arrium is be sold off first leaving the steelworks and the South Australian Mining Operations – which are the loss makers in the business – to bring up the rear and whoever thinks about buying the steelworks and the mining operations will have to consider the massive debt that goes with it. The administrator believes that the company will be on the market in July and that the steelmaker  could have a new owner by Christmas. There are interested parties – so we are told – but six months before we know anything.

For a number of reasons the back garden is not a place to wander in the dark. It is so overgrown now that I fear for my safety. I think there might be lions in there hiding in the undergrowth. Between a whole host of things I have let it become very neglected. I would show you photographs but I wont because it is so bad I am ashamed to let anyone see it. Even when I brought in the

How blue the water looks. This is the Spencer Gulf. Not my photograph
How blue the water looks. This is the Spencer Gulf.  Taken from the Hill.         Not my photograph

 

workman to give me a quote to clear it and  I explained to him what I wanted done.  Anyway he did give me a quote which I found quite reasonable, so, he is coming with his equipment to clear the  place and take everything back down to the bare earth. Once that’s done I will then decide what I want done with the area. I have plans – well ideas more than plans – but it will mean a trip to Adelaide (Bunnings) to get the things I want. Why not shop locally,  after all we have three big hardware stores here? Very simply they don’t have what I want, whereas I know Bunnings do. Ho yes they can order it but it takes ages and costs more and then they slap on a delivery charge. Much better to empty the trailer and go to Bunnings  – yes, it’s a 370 mile round trip, but worth it.

I have another funeral to prepare for but at least I have enough time to get things set up, printed and collated.  It will all have to be done on my printer again and I will have to charge for the ink – it’s too much otherwise. With any reasonable luck we should have the church photocopier repaired and returned by the end of this week. But once again almost an entire ream – 400  – printed sheets  and there was some wastage this time  – I printed some sheets in the wrong sequence –  oops. Busy few days with the workmen coming on the Tuesday and the funeral on the Wednesday.   The photograph is the Whyalla shore taken from the Lookout on the Hill. I think it was taken only a few days ago when we had some sun between the rain. I took some photographs down at the wetlands of the birds and the ducks. Haven’t sorted them out yet. Benji is having a hard time at the moment. We have not been out for a walk this morning. I will detail this in another post.

 

Fires, thunderstorms and fires

Fires burning out of control 90 miles from here.
Fires burning out of control 90 miles from here.

Over 20 fires are still burning in South Australia and the residents in the Northern Grampians in Victoria have been told to be ready to evacuate as a massive fire burns out of control. Once our fires are under control we will be able to spare firefighters to go over to Victoria and help out. I am so glad that we don’t do fires or floods here. The heat has not abated any and we are still in the mid to high 40s and have been for five days now.  I have tried my best with water and mulch but my plants have just burned off and the Natives are struggling. And the constant wind means that my garden has become a leaf depository on steroids. Once this heat is over and we go back to normal it will take me ages to clean the place up. The heat I can take but I have never known a period when we have had constant wind day in-day out and it becomes more of a struggle to keep the place clean because the dust gets everywhere.  The wind is fanning the fires burning out of control some 95 miles away in the National Park. However the main threat is in Victoria where several small town have been evacuated.

Right at this very moment we are in the middle of a thunderstorm and Chienne is going gaga. Her distress is now passed to the Man and he is a bit upset. It is loud and it is a bit scary. I have medicated Chienne but I am reluctant to give anything to the Man that I have not already cleared with the Vet.  The Thunderstorm is a cause for further concern and it is believed that the lightening could spark off further Fires. Tomorrow the temperature is due to crash from 44c today to an overnight low of 30c and then down to a cool 28c tomorrow, and then we just wait for the next belting  :o)

It’s down to 29c at the moment but over the border in Victoria fires are still burning out of control and although conditions in the South East of  SA are starting to ease, we still have a couple of fires burning out of control with over 12 homes destroyed. If the cool weather lasts for a bit. I’ll  go out and  plant the Pencil Pines.

The cool weather is really not helping the areas where the fires are burning because of the wind change – and it’s a fairly strong wind. All it’s doing is causing the fires to change direction and

The fires on the far side of the Spencer Gulf
The fires on the far side of the Spencer Gulf

add more problems for the hundreds of firefighters battling the blazes.  I have posted here a photograph that was taken from a hill at the foreshore. In the foreground to the left, is the Iron Ore export jetty and in the distance, over the water is the fires burning on the hills at Port Germain about twenty miles away. And yes I did say that the fires were a long way from us and that’s true (170 klms by road) but I have not yet seen or heard of a fire that can travel across 20 – 25 miles over open water.

I am still having major problems with my email system and I know I’ve just lost another batch of mail. It was there this morning but when I went back into MS Outlook a little while later it was all gone. I cannot find it anywhere, so it looks as if I am going to have to bite the bullet, buy a new MS Outlook – from Outlook 2010 –  Outlook 2013- and see where we go from there. If it cannot be fixed it might be just as cheap to have a new battery put into the AppleMac and abandon the PC. Please understand I am not ignoring anyone. Everything else is fine, just MS Outlook.

Arid lands` and Isolation

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The upper area of the Spencer Gulf with the Flinders Ranges off to the left.

I enjoyed my visit to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. It has a well stocked shop and a small, but interesting nursery with a good range of native plants – and the prices were very reasonable. And I became a member.  It’s a 150 klm round trip but it does have a nice dining area – it is a good morning out and a nice, peaceful drive.  I bought 4 small (1.5 metres) silver leafed Eremophila  and have planted two out front and the remaining two in large planter pots. We will see how they go. I think I have mentioned before that the term “Full Sun” really does not consider the  heat of this area. Two days of 40c and they are dead, irrespective of water and mulch.  So I thought it is time to go to the Eremophila and see what we can do.

Our inter-state visitors arrived yesterday afternoon and will be here for a few days before setting off further north, then into the Northern Territory and Alice Springs. At least it will be a lot cooler than a few weeks ago.

Mid spring is the best time of the year to  travel up into the Flinders Ranges – everything is still green and there is a massive abundance of wild flowers. Then summer comes and everything is burned off.  My problem over the last week has not been the heat but the wind, which has hardly let up for weeks. I have never known for it to be so breezy.  Provided it’s not a North Wind, it does have a cooling effect but the  disadvantage is that  around this place all you have to do is sneeze too hard and leaves come down by the bucket load. I left a fairly clean place and came back from Adelaide to find everything covered in leaves again. I mean I understood ; spring – leaves grow;  summer – leaves develop and flourish; Autumn – leaves start to die and fall; winter- leaves come down. Is there something wrong with this logic?

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Still in the middle of nowhere

Depending on how the Eremophila do I will go back to the Arid Lands Garden again – only next time I will take a camera with me. This could be as early as next week, but I doubt it – although I will be going down to Adelaide next week to  pick up my brother-in-law (my sister died two years ago) and bring him here. His carers are going away on holiday and since there is no one to look after him, he will be coming here. He has serious heart problems so John is coming down with me to help if we run into trouble. It will be a long, slow drive back. I will also be good to have John spell me on driving – it will be a 930 klm round trip. It  will depend on time if I get to the Gardens. If not I will try and get through in a few weeks. I hope the dogs behave for the ten days he is here!!! But then, the dogs live here – he does not  :o)

Oh and it’s not really in the “Middle of Nowhere” the photograph was taken from the pathway of the Botanic Gardens as was the one above but they do serve to illustrate the isolation of this area.