Port Lincoln was our destination on this leg of the trip, and we started by going to the Fresh Fish Place – where they have a lot of caravanners calling in to pick up their handy flat-packs of seafood: great for small fridges. We got some lovely King George Whiting that fitted nicely in our freezer, but we also had a behind-the-scenes tour. I’ve never tried filleting fish (so much easier to buy it already done… I guess it’s different if you’re a keen fisherman, or have one in the family!) and after seeing how difficult it is I think I’ll leave it to the experts. And I definitely have no desire to clean squid, after seeing how it’s done!
We stayed at Port Lincoln Tourist Park, where we had a lovely spot right in front of the water; terrific views! Of course people love setting up on the waterfront sites, with a view of the water and the jetty, but the downside is a bit of a hike uphill to the amenities.
In a waterfront park you’ll often get this sort of trade-off… you can pick a site handy to the amenities but without the spectacular waterfront view, or you can choose the view and put up with the distance from the loo/showers/laundry. Like many others, we usually pick the view.
At the caravan park we met Sean and Annette Whitfield, who are having a great time travelling Australia for a year in a van that they absolutely love. They are following a similar path around Australia to us, so they were really enjoying the DVDs, recognising many of the places they’d been.
Julie and Grant were also at the park, and Julie caught our eye when she set up her portable twin-tub washing machine outside her van. (They keep the washing machine in the car, in its original box.) Julie votes having a washing machine as being the best budget item she has – both from the viewpoint of saving money on laundry fees, and because it was so cheap to buy: it cost them only around $80 on eBay. AND (Rob take note) it’s really lightweight – it weighs only about 10 kilos. (Julie actually kept a spreadsheet on comparative costs: before they bought the washing machine and after. They were very convincing!)
At happy hour we met up again with Julie, Sean and Annette, as well as Lesley and Peter (met on previous travels) and Dick and Lesley Martin, caravan park owners from Queensland who also like to travel. Dick brought his guitar and provided the entertainment, and it all turned into even more of a celebration when Peter’s phone rang and he got the happy news of the safe arrival of a new granddaughter. Naturally we were all keen to toast the new arrival!
While at Port Lincoln we went out on a ‘twin tour’ – in the morning, the Sea Lions Adventure Tour and in the afternoon, Swimming with Tuna. Rob bravely suited up and went in the water, dangling bait to tempt huge tuna swimming at him at around a thousand k’s an hour (well, that’s what it seemed like!). He enjoyed it so much that he’s rated it as one of the best things he’s done on the way around Australia – which is a pretty big call! These tours are great both for observers in the boat (me) AND for those in the water. Highly recommended.
We went out to have a look at Iron Knob while we were in the area, and probably the thing that impressed us most was the excellent free camp. It’s only a few k’s off the highway, and about 50 ks out of Whyalla. Although there’s not a lot at Iron Knob, it’s convenient to Whyalla and is a cheap alternative for travellers on a strict budget. While the camp is not completely free in cost, it’s pretty close: it’s just a coin donation. That’s ANY coin… so theoretically, you could stay there for 5c. It has a toilet block (well cared for) and solar shower booths (BYO solar shower, they provide the booth and the hook) AND – huge surprise – one of the nicest handicapped toilet facilities that we’ve seen. (I pointed to a brightly painted shed and asked what was in there… and when the door was opened, there was a modern, spotlessly clean toilet with wheelchair access.) This free camp also has a large camp kitchen area and a flat area for parking on the old basketball court.
We finished up this leg of the trip at Whyalla, which has a nice foreshore area. I went there for an early morning walk from the caravan park (where we had another nice site right on the waterfront). The Whyalla caravan park is pet friendly: we met Patrick and Annette Bawden with their two canines, Bess and Blaze, just up from our site – and the managers really make an effort for visitors. They provide bathmats in the amenities, and antiseptic spray and cloths to clean washing machines after use (or if you prefer, you can spray them before you use them.)
Next stop… the Great Ocean Road!