​I Love a Sunburnt Country

The words from the second stanza of the poem by Dorothea MacKellar, My Country, resonate with me deeply and I get goose-bumps every time I hear them; but let me just quantify that statement. “I love a sunburnt country….except when the temperature reaches over 40°C and I don’t have air conditioning.” 

A couple of weeks ago a severe heatwave cut a huge swath across most of south-eastern Australia and as far north as Brisbane. In the most part we managed to avoid it staying along the coast. We even joked to each other as we donned fleecy jackets some evenings and changed our summer doonas for our thicker winter ones; “Heat wave? What heat wave?” 

That is, of course, until our paths crossed and we met the heat wave head on in the Coorong National Park in South Australia. We had pre-booked (and paid for) a camp site (unpowered) on the banks of the Coorong Lagoon at Parnka Point. That very same morning we had departed Pinks Beach wearing jackets and long pants. By mid-afternoon in the Coorong , the thermometer in the Beast had hit 41°C and I was forced to employ my BERCA (Body Evaporative Reticulated Cooling Aid) to try to maintain a reasonable body temperature and to stop my brain from boiling. 

Wearing my BERCA, Circa 2008

For a full explanation as to what a BERCA is see a previous blog about a previous blog about the BERCA

Eventually, after continually re-hydrating my BERCA and having the water evaporate after one nano-second we bit the bullet, upped stumps and drove into Meningie where they tantalisingly offered a powered site, which to us spelled A/C. 

Unfortunately due to the fact that the South Australian government only had a week’s notice of the impending heatwave and thus insufficient time to push a button that would ensure there was enough power when the entire population of South Australia simultaneously turned on their air conditioners, load shedding was implemented, completely cutting power to tens of thousands of households, including ours.  In the beast it was still so hot that I was forced to do something I would normally consider sac-religious and put the red wine in the fridge to get it to cool below body temperature, when they say “serve at room temperature” I’m sure they don’t, in their wildest imaginings, consider a room will ever be over 40°C.

And away went the winter doona’s and out came the summer ones again.

From Meningie it was only 140km; and a drop of 15°C, to Victor Harbour where we stayed a couple of days to do the umpteen loads of washing that accumulate in the week or so between caravan parks, before heading across to Kangaroo Island, with the Beast, where we spent 6 days in temperatures bordering on Arctic. 

Kangaroo Island is so far south that, from the Cape Borda lighthouse on the west coast, the last “RRRREEAALLLL lighthouse left in South Australia”, according to our guide, Mike, if you sail off in a westerly direction you would miss Western Australia completely, South Africa too and not hit land again until South America, and in a southerly direction there is naught between it and Antarctica.

Vivonne Bay, south coast of Kangaroo Island

And away went the summer doonas and out came the winter doonas again.

The Remarkables, Flinders Chase National Park

Kangaroo Island enchanted us with its bounty of wildlife and interesting geology. 

Sea lions at Seal Bay

At Seal Bay we saw Sea Lions, not seals, and at Western River Cove we happened upon a large pod of dolphins with very young calves in tow frolicking in the clear, azure waters of this delightful, picturesque bay. I was torn between the temptation to leap in with a group of young Dutch back-packers to swim with them and the opportunity to capture it on film with my drone; the drone won, but I’m still regretting not leaping in to swim with them; Next time perhaps?

The dolphins at Western River Cove

Upon returning to the mainland the weather was still comfortably mild; that is of course until yesterday when we arrived at the campsite at Port Parham, a campsite we visited on our previous trip around the block about eight years ago. They have improved the free camp and it was well subscribed, with dozens of others there before us. But the temperature had climbed steadily on our journey north from Adelaide and when we arrived it had hit 32°C; not unbearable if you can find a shady spot in the breeze that was not yet occupied by a gazillion flies and mosquitoes. 

And away went the winter doona’s and out came the summer ones again.

Although the name “Port Parham” would suggest that there is sea a plenty, let me tell you, the only thing that could navigate the waters of this port is a surfboard. In fact, to get their boats out to water deep enough to float them, they have devised an ingenious device called a “Parham Jinker”. It resembles Fred Flintstones’s model T with the wheels on the ground but the body on stilts.

A Parham Jinker
Another jinker

The very shallow beach was void of any water as the tide, when it goes out in Port Parham, goes way out and it was but a distant streak on the horizon beyond a kilometre of mud flats, so bathing in it to avoid the heat and the mozzies was not an option. 

Sunset over Port Parham

On the up side,  Port Parham is a haven for Blue Swimmer Crabs and is touted as being the best crabbing spot on the map and I am pretty sure most the campers were not there for the surf. On the downside it is a haven for Blue Swimmer Crabs and anyone who has ever left shellfish in the sun for a few hours will understand my parting words of wisdom, “When camping at Port Parham, find a spot upwind of the garbage bins.” 

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Author: The Wandering Segals

I am only one half of the "Wandering Segals" team, hubby and I are avid travellers, crossing continents and oceans to explore new destinations. I am a photographer and blogger and hope you find my posts, not just entertaining, but informative too.

One thought on “​I Love a Sunburnt Country”

  1. My Dear Susan, I respect you as a Professional Photographer and an excellent raconteur
    with a touch of humour. How great, that you and your Mate both enjoy doing this `thing’
    and `end up still loving one another’!! Actually Tony and I did a similar sort of crazy exercise in life and we remained `madly in Love!’ Your friend, Kay Lipton

    Liked by 1 person

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