Wadlata Centre, Port Augusta & on to Port Pirie

As Ben’s birthday was coming up Katie and I took the opportunity to do some shopping in a reasonable sized shopping centre. We set off on our own while Pa stayed back at camp to supervise the packing up of our camps. Shopping done, we returned to the caravan park to find Richard and the kids had the swags all packed up, water tanks full, cassettes emptied, motorhome ready to go and the van ready to be hitched up.

We headed directly to the Wadlata Visitor Information Centre so we could take the kids to the award winning ‘Tunnel of Time’ exhibition. We’d done this before and felt the kids would all enjoy this one.

You enter the Tunnel of Time through the open mouth of Max, a prehistoric Ripper Lizard. What a fearsome creature they were!

You are taken back in time and learn about the creation of the Flinders Ranges and the Outback. The displays tell Dreamtime stories and showcase the changing flora and fauna over time. There are short video presentations throughout the exhibition.

You can learn about the explorers and early white settlers and there is even an Outback Theatre showing a 15 minute film. One display is the legendary Tea and Sugar Train that holds displays of how the railways were built.

You can pedal a radio and listen to a School of the Air class, find out about the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the importance of Morse code and the overland telegraph. You can even listen in to conversations on an old ‘party line’ switchboard.

There’s a mining display where you can ‘drive’ a big dump truck and read all about the coal mining process and experience an ‘undergound blast’.

There is so much to see, listen and read that you need to allocate at least a couple of hours to see this fabulous exhibition. There’s the usual tourist information and souvenirs for sale as well.

By the time we got through the excellent exhibition everyone was a bit peckish so we had a delicious morning tea at the Wadlata Centre Cafe. They make great coffee and great scones.

Back in the RV’s we headed further south to our destination for the day, Port Pirie. Last time Rich and I were in Port Pirie was in 2016 when we did our trip across the Nullarbor with our lovely friends, Kathy & Ed. We were keen to see if it had changed much.

As we drove in down the Main Street we noticed a lovely park on our right including a newish Skate Park. Further along was a huge children’s playground. It looked like a good one. The shops all looked busy and we noticed there weren’t too many empty buildings. A sign that the town is prospering.

We’d chosen the CMCA RV Park Port Pirie as our camp for the night and found the RV Park behind the Port Pirie Football Club. It is basically a large paddock with some grass, a dump point, multiple potable water taps, a happy hour shed with BBQ and fire pit and we were greeted by the current volunteer custodians at the gate. Here you have to give your CMCA member details and pay the extraordinary price of $3 per vehicle and $2 per person, $7 in total for us! As Katie is a non-member she had to pay $15. You do have to be self-contained but there was no problem with the boys sleeping in their swags.

Right behind the RV Park is a large shopping centre that includes KMart, Coles and some specialty stores. There’s a gate that allows access to the shopping centre from the RV Park. How convenient is that? You can also go across to the Football Club for a cold one or a meal. We didn’t do that but quite a few staying in the park did.

Once we had camp set up Richard and I took the kids for a drive to give Katie some time on her own. We set off back to the CBD and our first stop was the Vistors Centre where we purchased tickets to visit Shakka, the Great White Shark.

Shakka was a 5.5m Great White Shark who was caught by local fisherman, David Fletcher (how funny is that? The same name as my brother-in-law!)

After an autopsy it was found that Shakka was a 22 year old female who had given birth in the past year. I wonder how many of her offsprings are still out there? White Sharks give birth to 4 – 12 pups so there could be quite a few of Shakka’s babies still swimming in the Southern Ocean.

The exhibition features a life-sized model of Shakka, displays of the newspapers when she was caught, and one of her actual pectoral fins and her incredible jaws full of fearsome triangular teeth.

Around the walls was lots of information about Great White Sharks and sharks in general. Did you know that more people get killed by falling coconuts each year than by sharks. 150 people a year die from falling coconuts. 3-4 people die in Australia each year from bee stings! Sharks do not really deserve their bad reputation.

Back in the car we drove out across narrow one-lane bridge so we could view the working port on the other side of the harbour. The bridge has traffic lights at each end.

Back in the CBD we stopped at the playground so the kids could have a long play. They had fun playing ‘tag’.

We had the bright idea of getting fish & chips for dinner and taking it down to eat ‘al fresco’ by the waterside so we drove by the skate park and beach area where we found multiple picnic shelters and a lovely park next to a sandy man-made beach. This is the town beach called Solomantown Beach and would be very popular in warmer months. It offers a safe place for swimming. The park looked like a good spot to have dinner.

After asking one of the custodians at the RV Park which was the best fish & chips in town we headed to The Church of Fish & Chips. This truly was a church and was the first church built in Port Pirie in 1879. The church ceased being used in 1991 and was falling into disrepair when, in 1998, it was turned into a fish & chip shop by Kevin & Kim Spirou. They saved this wonderful building from demolition and the family still have the shop today.

We took our seafood feast to the beach and found a picnic shelter right near the skate park and enjoyed our dinner. What a feast! We had fish, prawns, calamari, spring rolls and chips with a variety of sauces and lemon. Delicious.

After dinner the kids had a long play on their scooters while we watched them do their tricks. Where do they get their energy?


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