Oops, this entry should actually come before the Edeowie entry, but we have not figured out how to re-order blogs in WordPress. I was a bit trigger happy and published mine before maddy had completed this one below. S
After Aroona, we stayed at another farm in the area to explore a bit further north. Alpana station was our next bush camp on yet another dry creek bed on a Merino Wool property with about 500 sheep on it-usually a 2000 head property in good times. We stayed here in the shearers quarters in Jan 2010 on a day off from the tent and there were 2000 sheep at that time.
Now we are back 10 yrs on and it is the next generation running the tourism side of things and the youngest ones running the farm. They also make money rounding up feral goats on their property and selling them. The owner told us the goats are pretty feisty to round up initially and then they give them 2 feds of hay and they act like a pet after that. They also had a pet goat we noticed. Alpana also has one of those pay to drive on 4wd tracks.
We were the only ones bush camping though there were others in the “caravan park” type camping close to the house and flushing toilet block. We had our own long drop again down by the creek. M
From this base we explored Blinman and surrounding area. I remember really liking this town 10 yrs ago and I still do. It was like a ghost town 10 yrs ago in Jan. We are told it is still a ghost town in the summer months when nobody comes (but crazy people like us that don’t mind the heat). There were still few people about. Blinman town began as a copper mine in 1859. The population of the town is now 16 in Blinman proper. 10yrs ago we walked around town and the exterior of the mine with just a bit of photocopied directions we picked up at the pub.
Now the mine does tours 3 times a day in the off season, like now. We were a bit hesitant at first but saw that this tour had won awards, so decided to do it. It was excellent. The town is so small that there is no council. They pay no rates and get no services and must take care of rubbish etc on their own. The town and surrounding properties raised enough money to dig tunnels through to the original mine diggings so it could be accessed horizontally, get engineering and safety reports paid for and make this possible. Now they get an extra 7000 people a year visiting to do this mine tour. It gave us a real feel for how horrible is was for the mainly Cornish miners and how easy it was for them to die just going about their normal mining activities. We got some great history of this particular mine and thanks to the sound effects and lighting could really imagine what it was like last century. I won’t complain about my job again!
We were the only one’s on the 10am tour and so were escorted through by a woman from Adelaide who stopped in Blinman 5 years before on a trip like ours and stayed. She couldn’t handle city life after her travels. You could see she was really proud of what the town had achieved in bringing this old mine to life and that she could be a part of this. In the busy season there was a tour hourly and she got staff from the Grey Nomads that passed through, as there were not enough people in town to run the tours. Afterwards we went to the cemetery to those who had not made it. M
The mine tour also included entry to a nicely restored pine and pug miners cottage in town. While it was nicely restored, it did not have much information about the people who occupied it other than a family tree and that it was one of the original town cottages from the 1860s and appears to have last been occupied in the 1950s.
The next day we explored an area north of Blinman where there is a publicly accessible 4×4 track through some interesting countryside.
Next we headed to Parachilna to the Prarie Hotel which sits on the outback highway. It is owned by the Farghers of Nilpena station and they have made it into an art and culinary centre in the middle of nowhere. Art for sale hangs on the walls of this very old pub and it is also famous for it’s “feral feast” of different meats cooked with “bush tucker” plants, fruits and nuts. We had dinner that night with one of the artists who’s paintings were on the walls, Peter Coad. He was quite entertaining and we decided to stay the night. The quondong pie was pretty good and Steve enjoyed the “feral feast” of camel, emu and kangaroo all cooked in different ways. Only the camel can really be said to be feral though. The other 2 may be feral if you are a farmer I guess. M