Friday, November 22, 2013

Visiting Bublacowie Military Museum and Memorial

With such an unusual name and a location out of the way, we weren't sure what we'd find at the Bublacowie Military Museum and Memorial. It took a bit of finding, but with our iPhone maps app, we eventually arrived only to find that the museum was closed on Thursdays. Damn!

As we were driving off, a small, fluffy, white dog attacked our beautiful Toyota Landcruiser Prado and fearing I would convert it into a floor mat, I stopped. The dog's owner, Chris Soar who is the owner and curator of the museum, came to our aid. He managed to coax the dog out from under our car and after a short discussion he invited us to view the museum, which he opened specially for us. Fate has a way of helping out occasionally and his generosity was greatly appreciated as we don't plan to visit the Yorke Peninsula again.

We accepted Chris's offer and were pleasantly surprised and delighted with the absolutely massive collection of memorabilia, memorials and associated objects and implements of interest. Well worth the $10 per head entry fee.

Chris Soar is a living legend with whom I quickly established a rapport and deep respect. He had a lengthy military career in the Australian Army and served our nation in Korea, Malaya and Vietnam (two terms). He has also made a considerable contribution to the various communities on Yorke Peninsula and obviously spent a lot of his waking hours collecting memorabilia and setting up the museum and memorial.

The memorial has plaques for numerous veterans of all world wars whose local relatives have requested their ashes be interred at Bublacowie. Now that those of us who served during the Vietnam War era are aging, numbers of the memorials are those of Vietnam veterans, young people willing to give their lives for our freedom ... something which we should never forget, especially with the onslaught of Islamists amongst us who state in public their intention to take over our country and place us under the yoke of Islamic sharia.

Chris has done a great job of setting up memorabilia in campaign order and service order eg, there are sections for the Boer War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and several of the peace keeping operations like Timor Leste.

We spent a couple of hours touring the exhibits, some of which brought back fond memories of my days in the Royal Australian Air Force and later in the Army Reserve. Disappointingly, there was little about 10 Squadron RAAF with which my father flew in the UK during WWII. The crews of 10 Squadron went to England to ferry back to Australia a number of new Sunderland (or Catalina?) flying boats, but war broke out and they were told to stay in England. My father spent two years flying around the Bay of Biscay, the British Channel etc finding and destroying German submarines that were creating havoc with shipping coming in and out of the British Isles. As Chris says, there is a flying boat museum memorial at Lake Boga in Victoria. (I've been there and it brought tears to my eyes to see a photo of my father before he had even met my mother).

If you are anywhere near Yorktown in South Australia and are interested in Australia's military history and more, you simply must visit Bublacowie Military Museum and Memorial. If you are really lucky, you will get a chance to meet Chris Soar, one of Australia's heroes.


PS: Bublacowie Military Museum and Memorial is open Sunday to Tuesday 10 am to 4 pm or by appointment.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Port Broughton, One of Many Ports on Yorke Peninsula

This leg of our trip we are driving from the top of the Yorke Peninsula down the west coast and up the east coast and then head to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, before heading back to Central Australia. 

South Australia has two main peninsulas ie, Eyre Peninsula (the most western), which we have already travelled and Yorke Peninsula which we are travelling now. For those who aren't familiar with Australian geography (and those Australians who should be, but who nodded off during the South Australia segment of their geography classes), both peninsulas lie roughly north-south and are separated by the Spencer Gulf. At the northern-most tip is Port Augusta. Between Lucky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula and Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula there is a vehicular ferry, however, the price per linear metre is $30 and as our caravan and vehicle are almost 10 metres, we decided it would be cheaper to pay for fuel to drive the four hours north through Port Augusta and south again into the Yorke Peninsula. So we drove the four hours and reached Wallaroo around mid-afternoon.

Wallaroo is at the eastern side and slightly north of the St Vincent Gulf separating the Yorke Peninsula from Adelaide and much of the eastern parts of South Australia.

Our first few days we spent at Port Broughton (north of Wallaroo) which is where the photos in this post were taken from the jetty of the foreshore and main street with a lovely sunset thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, even digital cameras as good as my Canon DSLR and my training in digital photography from the New York Institute of Photography (ahem) cannot show the true beauty of a sunset no matter where one manages to record it. It just never seems to be as glorious as the way nature presents it to our eyes.

Everywhere we have stayed has been windy with lots of bloody flies and the winds have been coolish. However, we've seen the sea and the lovely beaches and walked in the sand (too cold to swim!), something not possible at Alice Springs, so we feel refreshed in both respects: physically and psychologically. Sighting of literally dozens of shingle back lizards, emus and other animals has been enjoyable too, to know we haven't yet killed them all off.

After Port Broughton we stayed at Moonta Bay south of Wallaroo and then Port Rickaby and will probably stay at Marion or Stenhouse Bay near the Innes National Park at the southernmost tip of the peninsula in the coming week before heading across to Edithburgh and then heading north with one more stay until we head to Adelaide.

The Yorke Peninsula has a mining history and once had a strong Welsh influence among the many Welsh miners who immigrated here to make their fortune or to escape their lives in Wales. Today, much of the peninsula grows smallcrops: wheat, barley, lupins and other seeds and huge paddocks with crops can be seen everywhere as can the various types of cropping and agricultural machinery.

Unlike the Eyre Peninsula where many of the people we ran into were from Western Australia, most of our fellow grey nomads here seem to come from South Australia and live just a short distance from where they are visiting. None of this long haul stuff from the Northern Territory for them. It must be delightful to travel a few hundred kilometres and be somewhere totally different and nice.

On our first night at Port Rickaby, the caravan park manager put on a sausage sizzle a-la-carte with heaps of salad, noodles and lasagne all for a miserable $5 per head. Excellent value for money. The little amenities room where we ate was chock full of people so it turned into a great social event with everyone having a glass of wine, a beer or a soft drink and chatting about their caravanning experiences. It's the social aspect that makes caravanning so popular.

Until next time, cheers.