- Iron Knob (A) to Wudinna (B)
There was some early morning excitement when the motel toaster burnt the breakfast toast, raising enough smoke to set off the fire alarm. I had no idea how to switch this off, but it eventually switched off of its own volition. Perhaps this was a common occurrence, because no-one came to investigate.
The wind was already blowing quite strongly when I emerged from the motel room at first light, a cold wind that made conditions rather unpleasant for the first few kilometres. In keeping with the recent weather pattern we’d experienced, it warmed up fairly quickly and the wind dropped at we moved away from Iron Knob. Within an hour or two the ride became enjoyable.
Eighty-six kilometres from Iron Knob and a gradual climb of about one hundred metres brought me to Kimba, lying at 263 metres above sea level. Kimba proclaims itself to be “Halfway Across Australia” and we stopped here for a photo session. It was something of a morale booster to pose in front of the publicity boards proclaiming that we were halfway across Australia. A huge galah at the side of the road allegedly marks the exact halfway point between the east coast and the west, but I knew that on the route that we were following we were still a few hundred kilometres shy of halfway.
- Signboard at Kimba
- Officially, halfway across Australia
When I had covered one hundred kilometres for the day we stopped for lunch and then pressed on westward towards Kyancutta. Kimba is the centre of a vast wheat growing area, “in the driest state of the driest continent on earth”, and for much of the ride to Kyancutta we were accompanied on both sides of the road by wheat fields that stretched off into the distance. Surprising the amount of wheat that is produced in an area that sees just 200 – 350 mm of rainfall each year.
There were quite a few hills along the way as the road skirted the Gawler Ranges of the Central Eyre Peninsula, also labelled “Granite Country” by those whose job it is to think up these things. There is certainly plenty of granite about so his imagination wasn’t strained in this case. Kyancutta, which is virtually a ghost town now – the airport was closed in 1935 – provided an opportunity to stop and enjoy an ice cream at a roadside café, then it was a matter of covering the last thirteen kilometres down the Eyre Highway to Wudinna.
After checking into the Gawler Ranges Caravan Park, we wondered off to look at the sights of Wudinna. Not much else to record.
Correction. There is something else to record. The flies. The flies are incredible. Unbelievable. Little ones. Big ones. Really big ones. Possibly crossbred with wedgetail eagles, they are capable of carrying off pigs and small children. They swarm over everything. And there are biting flies as well. They should exhibit these vicious specimens in the wildlife parks, behind thick bars and with warnings for the kids. Well, okay, I exaggerate, but only a little. They are nasty. A comment in the visitor’s book at the caravan park proclaimed that they found “More ants than at a confectioner’s picnic.” We added, “And more flies than at a stableboy’s convention.”