A heavy fog hung over the Gilbert Valley like a moist heavy blanket. I couldn’t tell whether it was going to rain or shine so I took my time eating breakfast and getting packed. I read a chapter of my book (Stoner) and watched as the locals turned up for their weekly AFL footy matches. I became part of the caravan club’s story when a woman took some photos of me getting my bike sorted and wished me a good ride. I wobbled off just after 9am and only made it about 500m (1/4 mile) down the road before I saw that the local thrift shop had 50% off all books. Well, I couldn’t let that go. As I stopped the lady working in the store came out to greet me and have a yarn. It was a pleasant encounter and, after I had been feeling flat for a couple of days, I walked away feeling good again.
I followed the main highway out of town and was grateful that it was Sunday, leaving the road relatively quiet. It wasn’t until I reached Tarlee, some 14km (8.5 miles) down the road that I found reprieve from the stresses of cycling on a highway (even if it was just a rural highway). The fog had lifted and the sun shone as I stopped in a rest area in Tarlee to read another chapter of my book and eat some of the fruit cake I had bought in Morgan. A crew of men on community service orders wearing vests that said “Repay SA” turned up to o some cleaning. It was interesting to see some get to work and one (perhaps new to his order) discussing his life and crimes with his probation officer. Perhaps I only found it interesting because I used to work in criminal prosecutions. From Tarlee the road grew quieter and started to climb through a small range of hills. Sheep and their lambs bleated and baaed as I rode by and they ran in the opposite direction.
Just over the range I spotted this random decorative display next to someone’s driveway. It was way cool.
I arrived in Kapunda just before lunch. The name was familiar to me and it was at the local Visitor Centre that I realised it is because this is where Sid Kidman and his wife lived. In fact, it was behind the North Kapunda Hotel that Kidman used to hold his horse sales. Sid Kidman Australia’s largest landholder. He literally started out with the clothes on his back after he left a boarding home to make his fortune in the bush. He learned all he needed to know about cattle and then established an empire that stretched across the country so that he could droughtproof his holdings. He knew that at most moments across the country there was flood or drought. The key was to have enough land to shift cattle to the better lands when drought or floods hit. And that’s exactly what he did.
Kapunda was also the site of Australia’s first copper mine and Kapunda was Australia’s first mining town (as opposed to Burra, which was Australia’s first privately owned mining town). The mine here was similar in many ways to Burrra. It started out underground but water was discovered so a Cornish Enginehouse was constructed. Later, like Burra, this mine was transformed into an open cut mine. The mine was never as successful as Burra but elements have been preserved as an open-air museum, which I waled around.
From Kapunda I followed another main highway for a few kilometres before turning off to again cross a small range of hills. There were no sheep this time: only crops on either side of the road.
About 5km (3 miles) from Greenoch I came across this beautiful setting. It was actually a place where the Heyson walking trail crossed the road, so I could access the paddock to take a closer look and use the style as a seat. It was warm and sunny and I wasn’t in a hurry so I stopped to read yet another chapter of my book (it’s a really good book).
South Australia’s history is quite different to that of the other Australian states. This was the only state that was a free-settler state. There were no convicts sent to South Australia for punishment and perhaps this is why the architecture and land use here is so different. It’s almost as though the settlers tried to recreate their homes in England, Scotland and Wales in the structures they erected and the way they set up their farms.
After a beautiful day on the bike and an interesting day in the towns I passed, I have found a lovely place to camp at the oval in Greenoch. The locals allow camping here for a gold coin donation (i.e. $1 or $2 a night at your discretion). It’s pretty and has a bathroom. I have spent the past hour laying on my blanket in the sun (well, moving with the sun). It’s been a good opportunity for me to dry my tent and some smalls that I have been washing without any chance to get them dry. It’s also my final night of this part of my trip. Tomorrow I will return to my mate’s place in Adelaide for a couple of nights before the next adventure begins. But for now, I am off to read my book before the sun sets.