Recently we had the unexpected opportunity of making a quick trip up to the Flinders Ranges in the north of South Australia, and despite it being during the school holiday period, we were able to book a room at Blinman Hotel.
Blinman is located an easy hour’s drive north of popular tourist destination, Wilpena Pound. It has been around 15 years since I last travelled through the area, and I was delighted to find the road through to Blinman had been sealed since then, making the trip even easier.
At 614m above sea level, Blinman is apparently the highest town in the state – it’s also pretty dry most of the time, and this being a fairly standard year, rainfall-wise, the dust lay thickly on every car we saw. The town makes a good base for camping and day trips, with interesting drives through the nearby gorges, another outback pub to visit at Parachilna, and a cemetery full of the town’s history.
Feeling beyond full after our evening meal at the pub, we decided to take a walk in the balmy darkness. Inevitably, heading downhill from the hotel led us to the cemetery, so we headed on in. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be hanging out in a cemetery after dark; but it was a beautiful night, and we had nowhere else to be.
It turned out to be the perfect place to try out some dramatic flash photography – particularly as my flash is usually kept switched off. The fun was in trying to get the shots lined up in the dark properly, and I was surprised that most of them turned out okay!
This is a very harsh environment to live in, and the number of graves – both marked and unmarked – is a testament to this.
There is more information available about the cemetery at Ancestry.com.
Heading home from the Mid-North of South Australia to Victoria, we passed through Palmer – between Birdwood and Mannum – and discovered their annual Hot Rod Street Party was in full swing. It should have been a no-brainer, but as usual we drove for a while longer before I just couldn’t continue on without evoking deep regret, so My Good Man turned the car around and we found a place to park.
The main street was closed off and teeming with hot rods, people, children, and variations on Bull Terrier type dogs. This makes for a great atmosphere, but tends to cramp my style, so I scurried along the line of cars, scowling, and shooting far less than I wanted to. In the meantime, MGM found some people he knew to catch up with – something he does with unfailing regularity wherever we go.
I cannot go past a Chevy El Camino without thinking of Brad Pitt in “The Mexican”.
Just before sunset, our friends took us for a drive from Rupara homestead to Mount Bryan summit – a rare privilege, as most who ascend this little mountain do so by foot on the Heysen Trail, which traverses 1,200 kilometres through the varied South Australia countryside. I am generally very uneasy about riding in cars on tracks that seem fit only for kangaroos, but in no time we were nearly 1,000 metres above sea level, enjoying the refreshing breeze and unending views: to the east is the station country, where the rainfall is said to reduce by an inch for every mile you go; to the west, the wind farms now spread across the landscape’s high points. Several dark chocolate-coloured kangaroos watched us with curiosity, not even minding the shrieks from the three-year-old!
I just love poking about in old places, seeing what treasures can be found and turned into images. Sometimes places have been stripped of the ephemeral details that I find interesting, whether by the owners’ hands or through blatant thievery. Other times, there are boxes of vintage items – usually covered in dust and cobwebs – and the broken dreams of former inhabitants.
A tiny bike.
Detail: carved wood and plaster cracks.
Detail: ceiling light.
This makes me think of the scene of an accident: the bath appears to have got up from its moorings, then tripped and fell face downwards.
Today I visited another historic homestead that has been in my friend’s family for generations. It’s a lovely old place that has been kept fairly original, and lacks the usual nasty ’70s renovations that often left otherwise gracious homes with the scars of incongruous bathroom decor – and often more besides. While we were there, the owners were shearing, and the newly shorn sheep were penned in the house paddock – I was lucky enough to snap one as it strutted past the front gate!
Detail: original pressed tin ceiling.
The Player Piano – also known as a Pianola – though made by a different company, is in the same style as the one I have.
Clocks: old and new.
Pressed tin ceiling and a bare light bulb in the outside bathroom.
My Good Man and I recently had the pleasure of staying at Donara, one of the first-established sheep studs outside of Metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia. It is situated under an extensive windfarm that now dominates the pastoral landscape.
There are some interesting – and wacky – features to be appreciated at Donara, from country grandeur to retro curios – such as the “Little John” toilet paper holder radio featured in yesterday’s post.
Morning sunlight and shadows in the breezeway.
The late afternoon sunlight casts shadows on the wall, creating a unique “headboard” in the guest bedroom.
Ah, now you’ve got it! What toilet wouldn’t be improved by a “Little John” radio bogroll holder? This one is unfortunately in want of a battery. But it was still a fascinating thing to stare at, while otherwise engaged.