A Trip Down Yorke's Peninsula.
Speaking editorially, the ten or eleven days during: Xmas and New Year is the one period during the whole 52 weeks to which we look forward to having a good holiday. It is the time when we know we can forget all about newspapers news and advertisements for one issue of 'The Courier.' Consequently we always endeavor to make the most of the short holiday.
This year after much planning we hooked a trailer loaded with provisions and camping equipment, behind the car and on the day before Xmas Eve started off on our 200 mile journey down Yorke's Peninsula to a place called Corney Point. If you will take a look at the map you will notice that the Peninsula is shaped something like a huge leg and Corney Point is situated right on the top of the abnormally high instep of the foot belonging to the leg. 'Kufus' in his column in the 'Advertiser' had made many remarks concerning the excellence of the fishing in that locality, hence the attraction of Corney to us.
We took the route through Balaklava and Port Wakefield and the country surrounding those two towns is much the same as one sees about here only it is not so hilly. At the former place looked up Mr. H. Wilson, who used to be in Eudunda Branch of the Commercial Bank. He was full of the 'Back to Balaklava' movement of which we understand he is the organising secretary. The weather was anything but ideal, it being rainy and cold with a strong wind blowing. One thing that struck us was the fact that one could see isolated rain storms in every direction. They looked like huge black whirl winds stretching from the earth to the sky and appeared to cover but a few acres of ground.
After leaving Pt. Wakefield, which town gave us anything but a favorable impression as a sea-port, we travelled along the bitumen, which leads to Moonta or Kadina, and then after a couple of miles of smooth going turned off at South Hummocks and cut across the swamps to Ardrossan. Candidly these swamps are the most desolate and uninviting places it is possible to imagine with their mangroves and stunted bushes, and in really wet weather it would be impossible to get across them at all. The track was not at all good either and to make matters worse a SouthEast wind was sending white clouds of dust towards and into the car which made travelling unpleasant. However, what's the odds when one is on a holiday and when we came to a tumble down shack twenty miles from anywhere and saw that the optimistic owner had stuck up a notice in the front with the words thereon 'Motor Repairs,' our collective sense of humor came uppermost and we forgot about the cold and the dust and sat up and took more interest in the scenery. Sometimes we were travelling at the foot of small cliffs and at other times the road ran along the top of them. We took a hurried look at the Ports Price and Clinton in passing and made tracks for Ardrossan, which place we reached in plenty of time for dinner, which we took at the 'Royal Hotel,' owned by a Mr. Provis, who we understand once upon a time ran the hotel at Point Pass.
Ardrossan was a pleasant surprise to us with its neat up-to-date shops and wide streets, but it did not seem right when we saw a big implement factory which was once a hive of industry closed down and silent. It was here too that we got our first eyeful of the huge wheat and barley stacks, awaiting shipment and which are prominent in every town big and little along the coast. We understand too that the Peninsula grows some of the best malting barley in the world — the sea air must have some chemical effect on it. The beauty of barley growing seems to be that although it does not bring the same price per 'bushel as wheat, the yield is well over 100 per cent, more and the same land can be used every year. At Ardrossan too the mechanic of the party nearly fainted when he found the car averaging 29 m.p.g. with trailer and all.
Although we intended to spend the night at Ardrossan we heard that Pine Point was a likely spot at which to catch fish so away we went again to this place about 12 miles from Ardrossan. From now on the country got more interesting and we were travelling along well-made roads fringed with ti-tree on either side. The road stuck pretty close to the coast too and we had a good view of the sea nearly all the way. Pine Point is a tiny fishing village and the fishermen's shanties are situated right at the foot of the cliffs which at this part are about 60 feet high. These shanties, are unique in one respect, and that is that their builders seem to have been artists in making use of old kero and petrol tins. They have made fences of them, enclosed verandahs, fowl houses, and sleeping-quarters. We introduced ourselves to one fisherman who said he would have taken us out in his cutter, providing the weather had not been so rough, and if the engine had been in going order, and if his boat had not been practically high and dry. The fellows at Pine Point seem to take life pretty easily and would rather lie on the sands and talk than work. Time is nothing at Pine Point. Anyway after camp was pitched and we had partaken of a jolly good meal consisting of grilled chops and chipped potatoes, we arranged to hire a 16 ft. dingy the next day, which we did and caught about a dozen snook (a fish averaging from 18 inches to two feet long). We, 'i' would have got more only one of the party felt a bit sick as a result of the tossing about of the boat. Above we said that the people at Pine Point were not energetic, or words to that effect, in so doing we omitted to mention the boy of 14 years who came in the boat with us and insisted on pulling it about for at least three hours.
Pine Point also has a great crabbing beach, but a dog belonging to one of the fishermen took the bun as far as crab catching was concerned. He would wander round in the water and as soon as he came to a black patch of sand with a crab buried in it would let the world know. He never made a mistake either.
Early on Xmas morning we packed up our dunnage and set out inland en route for Minlaton. This was a much more interesting run than wo had on the previous day. The farther inland we got the bigger and more elaborate the farm houses seem to get. If one can visualise big £3,000 houses dotted over the landscape surrounded by tremendous paddocks of barley stubble and crops situated in undulating fertile looking country one will get some idea as to the inland appearance of the Peninsula. We were told that most of the houses were built in pre-depression days and in those good old times the farmers used hardly to think it worth while to keep any stock about the place and that some of them even used to pay the milk-man to call. The holdings too round there are very big, the smallest being 640 acres. On the way we passed through Curramulka, a town a little bigger than Robertstown. It had up-to-date shops with tiled windows and even possessed its own electric power station. Minlaton was reached about 11 a.m. and we were greeted by Mr. Fred Martin, who was going to show as the ropes at Corney Point. He proved himself to be one of the best and put himself out considerably to give us a good time. He introduced us formally to his champion greyhound dog, Ell Francis (who is said had won £1,160 in solid cash for him.)
Minlaton is a town not quite so large as Eudunda, but in common with every other town we saw on the Peninsular, it too had up-to-date spic and span shops and a bitumened main street, a fine institute, its own electric power station and a general air of prosperity. After an especially good Xmas dinner at the hotel, where the management had difficulty in filling our yawning voids, we set off for Corney Point with Mr. Martin's half ton truck leading the way to the rest of the caravan which consisted of us. Next week we will complete the. story of the trip and write about how to catch whopping big cray-fish with a line and a bit of meat, to say northing of catching whiting, rock cod, and the thrills of racing before the wind in a forty foot fishing cutter.
A Trip Down Yorke's Peninsula
In our story of the 'Trip Down Yorke's Peninsula' we left off just where were setting off from Minlaton to Corney Point. The only town along the route was Warooka this is a bit bigger than Robertstown in size. As usual it had up-todate shops and its own' electric light plant. From there we passed through still prosperous country and eventually called in at Messrs Hammill Bros ' homestead. Frank Hammill was supposed to join us but owing to a bad attack of flu he declined to take the risk of camping out for a least two or three days. This was a great disappointment to all concerned It is said of Frank that he is one of the best shots no the peninsula and can hit a running 'roo with a .303 rifle at 300 yds. any time he wants to. However, both the brothers, Jim and Frank, came down the first night we were camped bringing with them a big fishing net and spears, then Jim decided to stop in camp with us for a day, which he did and eventually we managed to persuade him to remain with us for three days. By which time Frank was ready to join us.
Jim Hammill is a sportsman and a bushman to his finger-tips. He's the kind of chap that can pull a boat about all day, haul a fishing net from after tea till 2 o'clock in the morning and then be disappointed if he can't get anyone to get up at 4.30 am. and go after schnapper with him. Both brothers have been practically all over the Australian bush droving and with camel teams. Hospitality was their hobby and in fact it seemed to be the hobby of most of the peninsula people we met during the trip. Fellows camping or going to camp would hear that Fred Martin, Jim and Frank Hammill were in camp with us and it was nothing to see a car pull up and people from far and wide get out and stay perhaps for a day and perhaps for more.
However, let's get on the track again — we arrived all safe and sound at Corney and met Mr. Jack Barclay (who by the way drove a couple of miles after we'd pitched camp to bring us a couple of very big crays) and arranged about the boat and drinking water. Rain water is scarce down that way and although one can get plenty of water by digging down about four or five feet this well water we found to be unpalatable.
That night we set off to try and spear some fish and by way of an introduction to the sport Fred Martin showed us a scar in his foot where a sting'ray had got him. He'd had the barb in his foot for six months; then it worked its way out about three inches lower down. He said it was just as well to steer clear of all such animals and to walk round the sharks — it did not do to tackle them.
We were well supplied with long fish spears and kerosene flares and there was only the slightest ripple on top of the water, which was pretty cold. To get the fish one walks in with the flare well alight, held aloft in the left hand and the spear poised in the right. The depth of the water is only above one's knees and with the aid of the flare it is possible to clearly see the bottom. Now and again a toad fish would come and have a look at us and if he was touched with a spear would puff himself up like a baloon. Then again there was the cat-fish — a fellow with a very poisonous sting — another one to be aware of. However, we did not have any luck the first night and to add insult to injury a big wave came along, douched the light and drenched us to the skin. Other nights we had more luck and brought home butterfish weighing anything up to 20.1b.
If there was ever a sport to put the wind up a man for the start it is spear-fishing. One walks perhaps 200 yards out to sea and then wonders where the dickens the shore has got to all sense of direction seems to go. Then come the thoughts of sharks and such like and then the flare begins to burn low and one feels in a nice mess with no lights, well and truly bushed, up to one's knees in water, sharks and stingrays swimming about and deep holes for the novice to fall into. However it's all in the game and one gets hardened. One particular night a person, from another party, with the aid of his flare, saw two big eyes coming towards him — being experienced he knew it was a tiger shark and if he did not do a 100 yards in even time, through the water, we did not go to Corney.
Cray Fishing with Lines.
Corney is noted for the tremendous size of its crayfish. One day Mr. Stan. Goode, a farmer down that way, let his crops look after themselves and we all went out after crays. He knows the sea floor like the back of his hand and proved he knew the exact locality of every hole amongst the rocks. How he knew where these underwater retreats of the crays were beat the band. Such a place might not be more than 12 ft all over. To get crays one ties a piece of fish or meat on a fish line and lets it down over the side of the boat then Mr. Cray grabs hold of it and the fisherman gently pulls the line in. When he gets it up far enough with the cray still hanging on he quickly grabs the strong part of the Cray's feeler and slings him into the boat. There's a knack in the game and one must look out he does not get a crack with that dangerous tail. During the trip we got quite a number of crayfish and ate so many that we got tired of them.
One of the most interesting parts of this kind of sport is that a seascope (a funnel like arrangements with glass at one end) is taken in the boat. The end with the glass in it is placed well into the water and on looking through it a good view of the sea floor is obtained. Ledges of rock of all shapes, varied colored weeds with fish of different colors can be seen swimming about to say nothing of the huge crays which can be seen crawling over the rocks looking for a feed. The view underneath the water is certainly very interesting and beautiful.
We had heard many things about the wonderful schnapper fishing at Corney Point. However, in this section of the sport we did not have any luck at all. All we got were rock cods— a fish varying in color and having a peculiarly shaped mouth with prominent teeth sticking out the front. We certainly had a thrill on one or two occasions when a big dog-shark was pulled up.
In the Fishing Cutter.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the holiday was going out in that 40ft. fishing cutter — mentioned in of the boat to await transport to the markets.
Drifting after whiting is not much of a game if one is at all inclined to be seasick. The boat rolls and pitches in all directions and it is impossible to stand on the decks without support. On two occasions we were driven in owing to the roughness of the weather. It was a grand sight to see some of the boats scurrying before the wind to home and mother to say nothing of the bigger boats which would put into the bay for shelter. The biggest thrill of the lot was this race home. The wind would be very strong and slightly abeam moored about half a mile out The fisherman, a Swede by the name of Andresen, ran the boat and slept aboard. On arrival we'd wake him up and after all sails were set the and the nose of the boat pointed to our destination, he would lash the tiller and we'd partake of a very substantial breakfast in the combined cabin and galley. By the time everything was cleaned up again the whiting grounds would have been reached and the business of the day would start; First of all the live octopus, a big fellow, would be dragged out of his box and one of his feelers would be taken off and used for bait. The tiller would again be lashed, sails reefed and the boat let drift. If the fish were on the bite they'd be pulled up as fast as the line could be dropped overboard. They'd then be thrown into the well our last issue. One would be up bright and early in the morning and then row to the cutter, which was (side on), the sails would not be reefed in at all and then the boat would heel over until half the decks were awash, with spray flying everywhere. Talk about a thrill and the sensation of speed, an aeroplane is not in it. It is difficult too to pick up the exact mooring position from six or more miles away especially for the novice.
Then came dinner, after the boat had been moored and all decks washed and everything in its proper place. After that other fishermen would row over in their dingys, sprawl on the bunks and swap yarns about the sea and experiences. Andresen, or Andy as we got to know him, was widely travelled and would regale us with stories of cod, fishing in the, Berring Sea which is up near the North Pole, and Chuna fishing off California to say nothing of having been torpedoed by U- boats during the war whilst running contraband in neutral boats. He said it was the English trawlers own faults that they got sunk without warning. On one occasion the U boat skipper told a trawler captain that he had five minutes to get off the boat, the trawler skipper said "You've five seconds to get to hades'' and dropped a false hatch, revealed a gun, and blew the submarine where he mentioned. Many such stories by these old salts enabled us to spend many a happy hour.
Next week the story of the trip will be concluded.
A Trip Down Yorke's Peninsula
When we finished or instalment of telling you the story of the above trip in our last issue we were well in camp at Corney Point. Naturally the usual camp jokes were played and the three tents were fitted up in 'luxurious' style.
One evening a sprightly young fellow of 80 years rode up on a young horse and instead of dismounting In the orthodox style of octogenarians jumped to the ground as if he was about twenty. He'd hardly landed when he asked us if we had heard the latest Test Cricket scores in Melbourne. Of course, we had not so he reeled off the batting score of each player on the Australian side and then told us how the Australians were getting the Englishmen out so cheaply. Thinking to take a bit of a rise out of him, one of the party asked if the Australians were bowling 'the body-line stuff.' 'No,' the old chap said, 'they are not acting the bally fool they're playin' dinkum cricket.' .With that he had a look to see if the windmill close by, was working all right and then literally hopped on his horse and cantered away. — Not bad for a man who had seen eighty summers.
On New Year's Day we reluctantly packed up camp, loaded it on the trailer (which was now known as the 'Faithful Hound,' because it followed us wherever we went) and started for home. We took a parting look at the sea, bade a sad farewell to our camp cobbers and set off for Warooka and passed over Geiter's Hill, so called because a man of that name had a row with another fellow, on top of it and chased him down to the bottom lashing him with a stock-whip all the way. The argument, was about some land in the early days and the victim who was a bit of a humourist said 'Oh well, Geiter can have his bloomin' hill' and since then it has always been called 'Geiter's Hill' At Warooka We had dinner in a baker's shop and found out that the proprietor's niece, Miss Sonnenberg, was going to teach the school at Emmaus.
From Warooka we took the main road to Yorketown. On the way we saw one of the famous salt lakes and nothing would do but to stop the car and go and have a walk on its gleaming white surface. The 'gleaming white surface' was very pretty to look at, from a distance .We got into the middle of the lake before we realised that the 'gleam' was so strong that we could hardly see — it was dazzling. Needless to say we got off that lake in a hurry. The salt is only about an inch deep and to collect it the men working use wide pronged forks and load it on to miniature railway trucks and it is run to heaps on the shore.
Yorketown was duly reached and we took a look at the place. It seems to be prosperous enough, but is not quite so spic and span as its sister towns. The reasons being that it seems to be somewhat older. From there we made down the coast to Edithburg, which seems to be one of the main shipping ports. Edithburg is not a large town but it has plenty of big buildings mostly in the wheat and barley trade. We were literally astounded at the size of the wheat and barley stacks in the locality — acres of them. It would be a very busy place during the wheat season.
From Edithburg we made down the coast towards Port Vincent and it was along this track that we called into a farm house to ask the way. An old 'Cousin Jack' owned the place and wanted to talk (in a broad accent.) So after we had discussed land, crops, rainfall and Test Cricket we noticed that he had a peculiar name stuck up on the gate. One of us had been trying to pronounce it and in desperation asked the owner what it stood for. "O" said he, "he's the 'entrails' of all me children.'' The driver, said a hurried good-bye trod on the gas and cleared out, before he realised that the old chap meant 'initials.'
The drive down the coast was exceedingly pretty and sometimes the track ran along the top of towering cliffs with little jetties snuggled at the foot. The sea was as blue, as it could be and was visible practically all the time and now and again one would see a little sailing boat with its snow white sail scudding through the water. At every small town we passed through the usual stacks of wheat and barley were in existence and sometimes one could see where a crop had been sown nearly to the edge of the cliff.
We arrived at Pt. Vincent without mishap and this place was certainly a pleasant surprise to us. It is prettily situated on a snug little bay which was full of all kinds of pleasure and fishing boats and it also has a splendid beach. Hundreds-of Sunday promenaders were walking up and down the esplanade which gave it a gay appearance. We pitched, camp alongside other campers in the reserve allotted for the purpose and curious campers came up and asked how we had done it so quickly. Nothing would do but for them to see our facilities for pitching and striking camp in a hurry.
After a good night's spell were up bright and early in the morning and had a swim before breakfast and another one afterwards before we left. We were informed that Pt Vincent is the Victor Harbor of the Peninsula and visitors come from all roads to this delightful little spot. We were certainty reluctant to leave it after our short stay and fully intend to go there for a few, days sometime in the future.
The journey was continued now towards Ardrossan and for the first few miles after leaving Port Vincent the coastal scenery continued to be beautiful and then we struch a particulariy bad bit of road over which we had travelled on the outward journey and one of the party said 'Home again' and from thereon we travelled over the route which we have already described through Pine Point, Ardrossan the swamps, Wakefield and Balaklava and then home. The further north we travelled, the hotter the weather got and we are not sure If the crossing of those swamps before Wakefield was not worse than it was coming. This time there was no wind blowing but the sun wes beating down unmercifully and it was a wonder the tyres of the car did not start to sizzle. However ee got through it alright and home safely. Right through the journey the car never gave one ounce of trouble. The trip was well worth taking and was extremely interesting. It as easy enough to find one's way about the Peninsula as the place is well serviced with finger posts, although some of them have been sadly mutilated by "sportsmen." A trip of this nature, made up of three or four men, camping out, can be done with very little expense, in fact, cheaper than it would cost the average man to go for a tripto one of the more popular seaside resorts for the same period.
A Trip to Southern Yorke's Peninsula.
After leaving Stenhouse Bay we continued along the coast and passed a point known as Rhino Head because of its peculiar shape, close to this spot we could see the wreck of the collier 'Willyania.' A local resident told us that he had been getting his coal supplies for some years from this boat as after a spell of rough weather a goodly amount of coal is washed ashore, and in a good state of preservation after its long immersion in the water, considering the wreck has been lying there for nearly 30 years. Next we went on to Marion Bay and here we saw the remains of a settlement now deserted as a result of amalgamation of the Gypsum Companies. As a result a splendid jetty over half a mile long is now not used and the houses which were there have been transferred to Stenhouse Bay, whilst quite a lot of machinery and several miles of railway line are decaying because of idleness. This we thought an ideal spot for a family to camp, with its nice sandy beach for bathing and the good fishing to be had from the jetty with good shooting shore as kangaroos are numerous there. From Marion Bay we went inland for about a mile, the road leaving the coast, and passed through a number of sheep runs, the best part of which were the excellent ramps which saved much gate opening. In parts there was splendid feed as this portion of the country having recorded quite a lot of rain, looked green where cleared. Another feature being the excellent water that is available almost everywhere in shallow wells, quite a number of these being only two or three feet deep and the water almost as good as rainwater as one. could scarcely tell the difference when drinking it.' The homes in this part were mostly of the bush type of either galvanised iron or stone, and very small, some of them being no more than huts, the residents suffering many inconveniences. We found them wonderfully hospitable and one is made very welcome and feels that he is in no way an intruder and always finds the dinkum Australian cup of tea quickly made ready for him. From here en we continued toward Cape Yorke and again came into rough, scrubby country with the trees in many places brushing the sides of the car, the track also being very stony. After several miles of this we took a turn towards the coast and found ourselves again overlooking the sea at Cape York and after walking over a sandy ridge came on to a small strip of sandy beach, on both sides were many boulders. We climbed along these to obtain a better viewpoint and in many places saw the sea eddying and swirling around and booming up into crevices which made a wonderful sight. From here we saw a ship in full sail which with the sun shining through a break in the clouds made a pretty sight and of which we obtained several good snaps. On these shores we could see much wreckage and timber washed up which we presumed was from various boats that had been wrecked or were cargo washed overboard. In one particular spot we could have obtained several dray loads of good timber, in fact, all through the trip we had never had any difficulty in obtaining a plentiful supply of firewood as there was plenty of it wherever we went along the coast.
We had now come lo our last call on this coast and with many regrets decided to move along. One could easily spent a week at each of these places and the writer recommends any of them to the sportsman who likes fishing and shooting or a good camp holiday. It is quite the ideal place for the caravan, many of which we heard are there during holiday periods and quite a number of residents from other parts of the Peninsula make it an annual holiday trip. The climate is ideal and oven in the hot weather the nights are wonderfully cool and blankets aro always necessary, in fact, several mornings during our trip we found a difficulty in starting the car owing to the dampness. After leaving Cape York we went on for several miles inland to more sheep country and in coming to a homestead decided to stop. Calling in for hot water we were surprised to find there Mr. Haigh, of Clare, who had just arrived the previous day to take up land there and had travelled quite a number of stock down by road, taking ten days to do the Journey. We were, how 25 miles from Yorketown so decided to return there. After passing through about ten miles of scrub we again came to the main Yorketown — Warooka road and were pleased to be once again on a good track. On our return journey we deviated from the main road and went through Brentwood and to Hardwicke Bay. This part of the coastline being entirely different from the lower part of the Spencer Gulf, there the coast is rough and rugged, but here is a long strip of beautiful white sandy beach which extends for a number of miles and on which are held motor cycle races on the public holiday in January every year. The beach is hard and so smooth is the sand that it is ideal for this purpose. The water there is very shallow for a long way out, consequently it is a splendid beach for children and during the summer months is a great picnic resort for the people of the district. We also called at Port Minlacowie which is typical of most of the Peninsula ports where owing to there being no railways the grain is taken to these minor ports and from there is taken by ketches to the larger outports for shipment overseas. At Pt. Minlaowie we saw several large stacks of grain and a jetty leading out from a low rocky shore to deep water, the bags being trucked from the stack to the boat along the jetty. At this stage we met with misfortune in the way of a broken axle which delayed us for two days while the replacement was sent from Adelaide. During this time some friends organised for our benefit a kangaroo hunt in the Stansberry scrub and we have to thank Messrs J. A. Bishop, E. J. Anderson and W. Long for a splendid day's sport. Starting off first thing after rising and provided with good mounts we proceeded to the Stansbury scrub which is a large tract of mallee some parts of which have in recent years been cleared and worked, although these farmers are looked upon as pioneers in the district. On reaching the edge of the scrub we found a party waiting for us and numbering ten in all we made our way into the thick of it and soon found that one also took the risk of many scratches in tearing your way through thick scrub, these were included in the day's fun. At times we found ourselves in scrub so dense that it had to be pushed aside with our arms to prevent it scratching our faces and were amazed at the way our hosts were prepared to take risks by galloping at breakneck speed through the thick scrub, but after sighting several 'roos we found ourselves forgetting all risk and letting our horses have their heads joined in and quite enjoyed the fun. especially as we were present at several kills. One could quite understand what it would feel like to be lost in the scrub as we were often out of sight of the other members of the party, but usually found our way back to them. After a long day in the saddles we returned to our host's home feeling stiff and sore and were very pleased to retire to bed that night. Before leaving the Peninsula we spent a pleasant evening at the annual ball of the Y.P. Motor Cycle Club in the Minlaton Institute, which is a fine large hall with a splendid floor and is a credit to the district. There was a large crowd present and one could find no sign of depression there. During our visit we were wonderfullv impressed by the hospitality and kindness shown us by the people of Yorke Peninsula and would recommend to those who follow the slogan 'See your own State first' to include Yorke's Peninsula in a tour of S.A.
We returned to Adelaide on May 5th and home to Burra on the 6th after covering ovor 2.500 miles, during the four weeks of travel and feel quite convinced after seeing a large strin of country that as a wheatgrowing district our own is hard to beat.