Friday, February 13, 2009



The raucous noise of birds and the sun rising over the eastern hills is enough to have Dick up and making coffee by 7:30AM. The temperatures during the night dropped into the low 50s and the house is delightfully cold. Short of starting a fire in the stove, there is no heat source for the living room area so coffee has to suffice until the sun warms the room.

Huge black birds and other less identifiable birds are all around the house and on the roof. It sounds and looks like a scene from "The Birds." There is also the sound of a shot gun over the hill behind us where there is a vineyard with grapes nearly ready to harvest. With Australia’s ridiculously strict gun laws, I doubt that someone is actually taking a shot at the birds. It is probably some sort of sound cannon used to scare the birds rather than to permanently solve the problem with #7 steel shot.

Breakfast, made from the huge supply of every possible breakfast food, is done by 9:30AM plus a picnic lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches and homemade cookies, courtesy of the cottage, is made and packed in the backpack. The sun is bright, the sky is blue and it is time to be out and about. We head for Seven Hills Winery, established in 1851 and run by a Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. From them, we rent two bicycles and ride a portion of the Riesling Trail to Old St. Mark’s Church, built in the 1850's in Penwortham, about a 9km round trip plus some walking. The Riesling Trail is an old railroad track bed that has been turned into a 30km long walking and biking trail through the Clare Valley. It is a great biking trail, with the points of interest (translate wineries) along the way well marked. With good bikes and an early start, which pretty well eliminates us, one could easily have a great wine tasting day. But alas, our bikes are not well suited for us, so after enjoying all of that our bottoms could stand, we return to the winery, turn in the bikes, and have our picnic lunch. Rested, we then take an hour tour of the historic property. It has been a winery, monastery, boy’s school and local church since 1851.
About 3:00PM, we head out with an ultimate destination of Terowie. Carolyn had discovered that this small town figured prominently in the early history of World War II in the Pacific. Before we get there though, it is about 125km up the road, we drive east through the scenic Polish Hill River Valley, settled by the Poles in the 1850's and take a look at the rural village of Mintaro, established 1849. It is a mixture of the "English Cotswolds and Australian rugged." Nearby, we stop at "Martindale Hall, built in 1879 for a member of the elite society in Adelaide". Next we check out Burra and the Monster Mine, a pit mine, first mined for copper in 1849. These two villages, along with several others we pass though, look like time has stood still. The buildings and homes date from the mid to late 1800's and are well cared for and most are still in use. As we go north, back to the "outback", the villages get smaller and the homes become homesteads. Many of them have been abandoned and are in various stages of decay and disintegration.
Now, to Terowie. From the 1870's until the late 1960's, Terowie was a major transhipment point for the transfer of cargo carried on South Australia’s standard gauge railroads to and from the narrow gauge tracks that went into the outback. All rail traffic coming down from Alice Springs and other areas of the outback was, during that time, narrow gauge and the trains had to stop and all freight, passengers and luggage had to move from the narrow gauge to the standard gauge tracks and the trains that ran on them. Australia moved to all standard gauge for its rail tracks in the late 1960's and the town of Terowie lost its reason for existence. Time, for Terowie, stopped in 1970. It is now, some 40 years later, nearly a ghost town with its population having shrunk from over 6,000 to just a few hundred. But, surprisingly, the main street’s building’s are well maintained and painted in the style of the late 1800's. The streets are clean and there is some sign of life but, Terowie, even in its reduced state, has its place in history:

General Douglas MacArthur escaped from Corregidor, in Manila Bay, by PT boat on March 11, 1942 and, after nine days of travel by water, air and rail, his special, three-carriage train from Alice Springs stopped in Terowie so that he and his entourage could transfer to the standard gauge train that was waiting for them. While on the station platform at Terowie, he made his famous "I SHALL RETURN" speech. The spot on the platform, of the now abandoned rail station, is marked with a granite boulder and bronze plaque marking the event. The station and town are now footnotes in history and forgotten by most. But, we have all heard the famous phrase, a part of the speech given here on March 20, 1942, and Carolyn and I have seen where it happened. And, now you know the rest of the story!
All and all it has been a fun and interesting day, we get back to the cabin about 7:30, cook another one of the steaks and head to bed.

Tomorrow will be a leisurely mosey down the road through Barrosa Valley to our cottage in Adelaide Hills.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I remembered the reference to one of Paul Harvey's bylines, but it took me a little while to find the right post. I thought you might like to know that he died in Phoenix on Saturday, February 28 at the age of 90.

Rick...Good day.