A freelance writer living in suburban Adelaide, taking his first tentative steps. You can see some of his past work at bernhardsayer.wordpress.com
Published October 13th 2018
Cool, close, and stunningly beautiful
The four of us climbed into the car and headed south. We were blessed with late winter sunshine, which thankfully was to follow us for the entirety of our long weekend getaway south of Adelaide.
Eventually, we past the Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple and turn through the hills to head towards Myponga. We skip the township by turning off early and heading over the hills, soon seeing the town beneath us to the east. We've discovered the enjoyment of geocaching over the last few years, which our children have really gotten a kick out of. (Not heard of it? Head to geocaching.com to learn more.) We locate our first geocache of the weekend at a magical spot looking northwards over Sellicks Beach and Aldinga, and then a few minutes later when we break open the thermos near the reservoir we find our second. The drive past the reservoir might add a couple of extra minutes to the drive to destinations further south, but it will always be my preferred route, devoid of heavier traffic and providing distant views with every rise out of the valleys.
After unexpectedly bumping into friends whilst looking for our fourth geocache of the day, we head as far south as our weekend will take us, past the Starfish Hill wind farm to Cape Jervis. For a couple of us, it's our first view of Kangaroo Island and at least two sets of eyes are surprised that it's as close as it is. I'm reminded of an unfortunate fact – I've travelled extensively through Europe and New Zealand, and never taken the 18km ferry trip to Kangaroo Island. I will, I just haven't identified the opportunity yet. (A future article, perhaps.)
We take a stroll along the first section of the Heysen Trail, which from this point winds 1200km towards Parachilna Gorge in the north. After about 45 minutes of walking, we decide that the thermos needs another opening and to our delight, while we sit and gaze across Backstairs Passage to Antechamber Bay, we notice that we have company. A pod of about 18 dolphins have joined us below, happily frolicking around while we drink our coffee and snaffle down a biscuit or two. It's a beautiful moment to highlight a wonderful afternoon.
We head to our accommodation at Second Valley and immediately head down to the jetty where families galore are fishing in the rapidly richening late afternoon glow. I don't know one kind of fish from the next, but the families are having a great time. We ask one fella what he's fishing for, by way of making conversation. "Anything" he says with a smile – he's not had a lot of luck this particular afternoon. Still, no-one is complaining much. It's the perfect afternoon, and a pretty special spot, to watch the sunset and bathe the rocks behind the jetty in a deep red coat.
Looking down on Second Valley from the hills above
The following morning Master 12 and I climb the hills immediately to the north of Second Valley, and we were rewarded with a stunning view over the coastline in both directions. No more than a half hour walk from the town to the top, it deserves a longer stay than that once you've reached the peak. Master 12 says that he's worked up an appetite, which is not unusual, so we head back to Normanville wherein a business plan master stroke – the butcher is open for weekend trading directly opposite the public BBQs in Bungala Park. Footballs are kicked here there and everywhere while a beautiful lunch sizzles in the sweetest of south coast breezes. It's pretty hard to take.
Ingallala Falls waterfall
Speaking of pretty, we then head inland to Ingalalla Falls, a beautiful spot that I only heard about in the last ten years or so. A short walk from the car park brings you to where the waterfall cascades something like 90 metres down into a rockpool before the water works its way towards Second Valley. Plenty of other people have discovered it too, but it's a beautiful spot that any region would find hard to keep secret.
We then take the sharp climb uphill and drive towards what I personally feel is South Australia's best kept secret, Deep Creek Conservation Park. After a quick visit to Raywood Nursery to buy some plants for family members back home, we take a quick walk from the Aaron Creek picnic area along the Goondooloo Ridge Walk. Once again, we're blessed with unspoilt views across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island in the distance, and once again, we've got a lot of company. There are kangaroos by the score here, tucking away happily on the plentiful ridge grasses. Not all of them are having a good afternoon, though. In fact, more than a few of them are quite grumpy with each other and it seems like a kind of Kangaroo Fight Club is starting up at times. It's fascinating to watch, truth be told.
Our accommodation for the night is a joy. Goondooloo Cottage is everything that you want in the way of accommodation in this setting. It's more than comfortable, and all the key requirements are there. But the back room steals the show. With gum boughs providing the structural support, and a log fire (with plentiful supplies) in front of you, you sit behind the expansive glass windows, bathed in warmth while the daylight fades from view. The grumpy kangaroos continue to battle their way into the murkiness, but sitting behind your glass protector, you can sip your shiraz while the gully breezes gradually pick up their strength. There is no TV and phone coverage is patchy at best. Which, really, for this place is best after all.
We want one more walk before we head back for home and with Ingalalla having whet our appetite, we decide that the Deep Creek waterfall within the conservation park should be our target. Setting off from the Trig Campground (where the kids experienced their first campfire eight years ago) we're immediately enveloped by a deep, heavily vegetated environment, all glistening in the morning sunlight. After about an hour of walking comes the rapid descent. Easy to go down, a little harder to come back up again, be in no doubt that the hamstring stretches brought on by this leg of the walk are worthwhile. The Deep Creek waterfall is a beautiful sight, probably not quite the height of Ingalalla but certainly without the crowds and probably with a broader curtain of fall itself.