Australia Day 2012 at Moonta

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 20:24

Stephen L (Clare) SA

Seeing that we only had the Australia Day Public Holiday off of work, we decided to make the most of this special day and perfect weather conditions and made an early start and headed over to Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia, a comfortable drive of around 80 minutes from our home in Clare. Being in no hurry, we stopped a number of times for photos along the way, with our first stop only a very short distance out of Clare in Armagh at the site of the old Creasey’s Brick Kiln. We have seen the old ruins hundreds of times over the years, but I had never photographed them before, so it was a perfect opportunity to do so.

Our next stop was at the site of where I had been monitoring the Quandongs during 2011, from the flowering through until they were ready to pick.

Just like last year, it was not until I was almost right on the trees that I was able to see that they were in flower again and the life cycle of the Quandong fruit was starting all over again. Back on the road again it was a pleasant drive and it was not long before we arrived in Moonta. We stopped first at the old Railway Station which now if the Tourist Information Office, to enquire if the local Tourist Train was operating. Also located here is the old goods shed and the old crane that was used for decades to load and unload goods onto the trains.

After collecting some local information, we made our way to the site where the local Tourist Train departs from. When we arrived there, there was only one other couple waiting, so we walked around the site. Located here are items collected from the old mine sites in the area and anyone with an interest in history, it is another place to stop when you tour the Yorke Peninsula. The train ride lasted around an hour and gives you a run down on the mining history of the area. During the ride, the train stops twice, and you get off of the trail only once. One special bit of history that is hard to believe is that there were over 80 miles (130 kilometres ) of tunnels dug under the township of Moonta.

After we returned from the train ride, we had lunch and then went to see more great old features that always are great to visit. The first site was the old Richmans concentration plant ruins, which ran from 1869 until it closed down in 1923. Here ore was crushed and concentrated and the tailings were dumped behind the the ruins, and today still tower of the ruins. At the top of the tailings there are good view out towards Moonta Bay and beyond.

From there we then went to the site of the old Hughes Enginehouse ruins. The main function here was to dewater the underground workings on the mine’s largest orebodies, known as Elders and Elders West Lodes. These sites were worked over a length of 1000 metres and down to a depth of over 700 metres. Around the enginehouse there are several other important structures, including the Elders winding engine and remains of the old stables.

The most fascinating feature of these old ruins is the way that all the very large stone blocks would have been all cut and fashioned by hand, then erected and today they are a testament to the stonemasons that built them well over 100 years ago. From here we then headed off to Moonta Bay and a very pleasant walk up the jetty. There were many people down on the beach, all in party mode and it was great to see most groups were proudly displaying our Aussie Flag. From a country point of view, there was a good crowd, but compared to major Australian beach centres from the eastern seaboard, these would have been classed as deserted beached, which is another great feature of living in the country, the complete lack of crowds.

There were lots of people on the jetty and they were involved in such activities as fishing, crabbing, people just sitting back and relaxing and lots of local kids jetty jumping. We spent some time out there and watched a group of locals doing Mexican Wave jumps, which looked great. There were also good family crowds swimming inside the ‘safe’ enclosed swimming area, as well as a number of kayaks out on the water. One person that seemed out of place was wading through the shallows, taking advantage of others miss fortunes, using a metal detector and it would have been interesting to see what he was collecting. As is so typical of this time of the year, the Moonta Bay Caravan Park which is right on the beach front was packed and again they were all in holiday.

From Moonta Bay, we then headed round the coast to Port Hughes and we were surprised that there were not larger crowds there and even the boat trailer carpark which is usually packed out like sardines in a can, was not full which surprised us. The day was now drawing to an end and it was time to head back home, with another great day over on the Copper Coast. We knew it was a warm day, but we were surprise to see that as we started to head home, the outside air temperature was still 37° degrees and it slowly dropped and by the time we arrived back in Clare, it had dropped to 34° degrees.

For anyone that is traveling through South Australia and is after one of South Australia’s great country beach destinations, you will not be disappointed with a visit, or better still, a stay on the Yorke Peninsula and the Copper Coast.

Smile like a Crocodile
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