Thursday, March 26, 2009

There And Back Again. Chapter Three: Tailem to Keith

Before I get started with today's travel post about our Naracoorte trip, how's about a parrot picture? This is not one of my better parrot pics. Well at least as far as quality is concerned. The sun was just rising so only the top half of the galah is in the sun, whereas I had the camera set for the lorikeets that were in the shade below him.

However, it is a really cool pose by all them buggas. Does anyone want to take a crack at a caption? Just leave a comment with your caption, no worries.

gimme a title

See? Isn't it just begging for a cool caption?

Next up: The Cat!

This picture of His Royal Highness, Lord and Master of All He Surveys, Prince Bagheera should confirm to you that I really don't have a live cat. I just have a cat-shaped skin with fur on it filled with sawdust that I toss around the yard and take pictures of...

Back to the trip to the caves!

Here's the closeup map of this leg:
tailem to keith

And of course I just had to get the crayons out:
tailem to keith painted

If you look at the map of the overall trip
overall painted
you'll notice this leg is longer than the first two legs combined. Why is that, you ask? Cus there's just not that much there.

And it's flat.

And the road's in good nick.

So is the car.

Speed limit is 110 kph (70 mph) which means you can safely do 75 mph before the cops even glance at you.

Did I mention that WP's 25 year old four door sedan got 30 mpg during this trip? And it was loaded with all our crap too.

We did have one bloke pass us doing at least 150 kph. We looked at each other and said, "Gee, he must be trawling for a police car." Sure enough, 15 minutes later we passed him as he was pulled over on the side of the road. A car with spinning blue and red lights on top was pulled over with him too. Yup, that's one way to meet a cop!

Remember, we are heading to Naracoorte so see things like this:
go away

But just what is at Coonalpyn? This is the place we took a quick leg-stretch at, BTW.

Well, for starters there is a sign:

And there's lots of grain silos:
grain silo 01

There's a railroad that runs past the back of the silos for loading:
grain silo 02

Keep in mind Coonalpyn is not a big town. It's rather small. And yet these massive silos greeted us all the way down to Keith.

Hmmmmmmm, what could they be storing?

Turns out the region around Keith --of which Coonalpyn is part of-- is known as The Lucerne Capital of Australia. Lucerne is often referred to as The King of Fodders. In fact, this region is the largest lucerne growing region in the entire Southern Hemisphere!

What is Lucerne? You may know it as alfalfa.

All those hundreds of huge silos we drove past? Full of alfalfa seeds. To be exported all over the world. And the alfalfa hay makes awesomely great cattle feed.

The town of Keith really makes a big to-do about them above facts, and rightly so. The area used to be called The Ninety Mile Desert. Till someone found out what trace minerals are missing from the soil and just what kind of fertilizer is needed to grow train loads of alfalfa.

And then when the discovered the underground aquifer that can pump out over 100,000 litres per minute without damaging the water table... Well, you can sorta guess how quickly the agriculture took hold here 50 years ago.

Now, most of the area was native scrub. Which means that some really hard-working blokes recently back from WW II had to clear quite a bit of scrub. No, these weren't forests as it was very poor soil. This is one of the very few times that me (as a die-hard enviro type) agrees with what was done.

Anyways, the blokes worked very very very hard. So (obviously) there should be some kind of monument to their trials and tribulations as they toiled in the desert scrub.

Naturally it had to be "different".





pole rover

Yup, that's a land rover on a pole! And it's a real one too. Check out this closeup (just click on the pic to see the detail!)

Keith was a very nice town. And very GREEN! I haven't seen this much greenery since I've been down here (9 years now). Cool.

And lastly, a couple of shots to remind everyone of where we are headed on this journey:
just too cool
The bloke standing up is a marsupial lion which has been extinct for a long, long time. You can probably guess what the other critter is.

Does anyone remember the Far Side cartoon entitled "How Nature Says DO NOT TOUCH"? There's four panels, one of a porcupine with it's quills up, another with a rattlesnake rattling it's rattler, I forget the third, and the fourth was something like a bloke with a shotgun.

Does anyone remember that? Well, here's the ancient world's way of saying DO NOT TOUCH:

Ya just GOTTA click on this for the full-sized image!


Frances said...

I am loving your photos of Sth Aus as a East Coaster I don't know much about the state.

Ahoy! Me Hearties,
Action Stations!
We have incoming.

Anonymous said...

I love this new series of posts you are doing. I love the combination of Bilbo's journey and your travel, well in the sense that it is a pretty long trip! I hope the caves are more interesting than the praries.

Also, if you are in the neigborhood, you can drop by Science and Soul to check out the All-Star scientist midfielders.

Fizzgig said...

love the cat, he seems to be enjoying the sunshine!

my bunny loves alfalfa hay! I think mine comes from minnisota or something. It's ridiculous that i have to have it shipped.

I thought that bear was a picture you took. it scared me. grawr!

Toshua said...

My caption: 'Do you think we have enough guards?'

I'm enjoying this and look forward to the day when I join you on a repeat trip.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Frances: Well, you now know a heckavu lot more about rural south aus than I know of any part of NSW. Glad to be of help. I was soooo hoping someone would see a pirate ship and captain :) Did I already send you wallpapers of screensavers? Lemme know, eh?

Sciencebloke: I wasn't thinking and the strath to tailem should have been titled "Flight To The Ford." Sigh... I'm also enjoying your all star science series, but how's abouts some non-western stuff? Just a thought mate.

Fizzgig: Firstly, I'm very glad fizz made it back, cool. Ole Baggles sent good vibes your way and told Fizz that she should get her furry butt back home. Or at least that's what I assumed he was doing while flaked out in the sun. Alflafa hay; they really do call it The King of Fodder!
The "bear" is not a bear, but I did take the picture. This is a mockup in the naracoorte fossil centre of an extinct marsupial lion from a few hundred thousand years ago. They have sensors in the animatronics that respond to movement and such. It, ummmmm, can be... surprising at times.

Fizzygoggle: Lemme know if you want wallpapers or screensavers of stuff, no worries.

Toshua: 'Do you think we have enough guards?' Sigh, I'm sooo disappointed. Can't you do better?
Next time we'll take the coach down to Mt Gambier, hire a car and stay there for 3 nights (and dive in calderas), then drive up to Naracoorte and do the caves again, head back to Gambier and catch the shuttle back to Adelaide. R U up fr it?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Ah so, my Chinese Masters have sent new instructions!

Xie Xie

I remain your humble servant,