How are we going to get back to Sydney?

Perhaps it’s me, every road trip I’ve been on this past year has involved rain.  The road trip to and from Kangaroo Island from Sydney and return was no exception.  A good thing we weren’t intending to do any sight-seeing, and on the way home, it was looking like we would have to detour via Melbourne to avoid the flooding!

It would never have occurred to me to drive down to Kangaroo Island, but we had plans to do a week of Cave Surveying on the Island, and you needed a car to get around.  Jim C and Kevin M were on the road trip with me. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be blog-worthy, but 2 weeks of rain and flooding made it a bit more challenging, particularly as we didn’t want to get in the way of any emergency services activity (in the flooded areas).

We set off on Thursday the 13th making a beeline for Cape Jervis to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island on Saturday the 15th (you have to make a booking).  On the 2 days before we set off, Victoria had a massive rain event, evacuations, floods, landslips.  We mapped our route north of the devastation, through Wagga Wagga, Echuca, Ouyen, Pinaroo, Murray Bridge and thence down to Cape Jervis- a very circuitous route mainly on back roads.

The rains started on 12th October and by the time we left on the 13th evacuations, floods and landslips were being reported, mostly in the Bendigo and Falls Creek areas.  We headed off from Sydney, and for virtually the whole trip we were driving through rain (the black line roughly shows our route).  We avoided the worst hit areas of Lodden and Rochester but when we drove back a week later, could see how high the floodwaters had reached.

Driving south from Sydney, I have to say the land is so green at the moment, evidence of the amount of rain we’ve been having over the past six months.

More nice green fields (and threatening skies).

We’re starting to go through the plains now, this photo taken around Wagga Wagga, evidence of how soaked land is and why there is and will be so much flooding.

As I said, we were taking a circuitous route (not sure who was doing the navigating), but at one point we were out in the middle of no-where, hadn’t seen a town for ages and for the past 150+k we knew that we needed to get petrol (urgently). It was with relief that we pulled into the town of Ouyen and found a petrol station, with only 7km of petrol left in the tank. We didn’t make that mistake again – for the rest of the trip we didn’t let the petrol gauge get much below half full!

Have I mentioned the blue trees in previous road trip posts? Not sure, but I was on the lookout for one on this trip, this isn’t particularly attractive, but it gives you the idea.

This one at Kingscote (on Kangaroo Island) is more “on task”.

I’d been seeing these blue trees since the road trip from Alice Springs.  They are more prevalent in WA but that’s probably where the Blue Tree Project started,now with over 877 trees in Australia painted blue.  They all seem to be the same shade of blue too which I find intriguing.  The project’s mission is to “help spark difficult conversations and encourage people to speak up when battling mental health issues.” The catalyst for trees being painted blue seems to be the suicide of a friend/loved one.  R U OK?

It seemed like we’d never get to Cape Jervis, we stayed the night in a motel that Jim had been to before, it was on the banks of the Murray River and I was interested to see how high the river was.  It was high, but not flood level yet, that would change a week later.

We were mostly on back roads, cutting across northern Victoria and then into western South Australia.  It seemed that as soon as we crossed the border, the rain/threatening skies disappeared.

Once we’d driven through Mt Barker we were off into the Adelaide Hills along a really convoluted route, but very pretty.  We picked up food at Victor Harbour, then eventually arrived at Cape Jervis where we stayed in a Big 4 cabin.  The “Adelaide Hills” area was really beautiful, lush farming land, lots of hills and quaint stone cottages.

Saturday morning, it was as if we were in a different country, blue skies and no threat of rain. We headed down to the Sealink Terminal at 9am for the 9.30 ferry to the Island.

The vehicle Ferry. We spent most of the voyage on the top deck because we didn’t want to catch COVID, apparently the virus is rampant on KI.

We caught up with Alan & Megan P whilst waiting to board. Megan had to reverse her car onto the ferry, thank God that I wasn’t having to do that, Kevin was taking our car on board.

For some reason Kevin didn’t have to reverse in.  These ferries are built to carry B-Double trucks, you know the ones with a trailer behind them, they ship sheep off the island in B-Doubles.

Ferry going from KI passing us on its way to Cape Jervis terminal.

Catching up with some of the other cavers. Was a really pleasant trip over, very calm seas.

Looking back to the South Australian coast.

And forward to the Island, it was bigger than I expected. Roughly 180k from end to end (based on a dodgy map I have).

After a week’s caving we were back in Penneshaw, boarding the ferry again.  On our last day, Sunday, the heavens opened, and we had rain all the way from Flinders Chase to Penneshaw.  We stopped off at a Gin brewery and a honey shop but that’s about all the sight-seeing we wanted to do, the weather was so awful.  Most of us were worried about seasickness on the voyage over to Cape Jervis, but amazingly the seas weren’t all that bad and no-one got sick.  We said farewell to our fellow cavers and headed off into the rain.

Our first stop was a motel in Strathalbyn that Jim had booked for us (very nice in fact the whole of the town was nice).  Over dinner, we agonized over what route to take back to Sydney.  Via Hay wasn’t an option, they had full-on flooding up there, and via Echuca wasn’t an option either, more flooding, the whole town had been sand-bagged.  My son David suggested going via Melbourne, but that was a detour too far south, so eventually we came up with a plan to go through Murray Bridge, down to Bordertown, thence Horsham, across to Shepparton/Wangaratta and then Albury, we’d be fine once we got to Albury.

All was well from Mt Barker through to Bordertown.  Further into Victoria we came to the Murray/Darling farming area/flood plain, quite a ways from the Murray itself, but loads of water.

We weren’t on a highway yet, on back roads, many of which we covered in water.

More water over the roads.

This taken in the Loddon area where the flood waters had passed through a week earlier. There was evidence of the water being 1m over the road in some places, you could see flood debris everywhere.

Flooded farmland.

By Monday afternoon/evening we were heading towards to Ballarat/Glenrowan (the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand) and the evidence of flooding was behind us, although now it was raining.

Driving down the main street of Glenrowan – larger than life statue of Ned. Jim found us a motel for the night (not nearly as nice of the prevous night’s accommodation), and right next to the Pub – Yaaa we could get a counter meal there. Nah, closed on Mondays, we had to drive into Wangaratta to get dinner.


How green is the valley! Lots of sheep.

And then we’re out of the low lying farm land and things are looking much better!

After breakfast on Tuesday morning in Albany, we headed up the Hume highway towards Sydney.  Occastionally, we’d drive through a torrential downpour, but the evidence of flooding was behind us.  Can’t say this was the best road-trip I’ve ever been on but it was interesting to see what effect the rain events we’ve been having has made to the countryside.  The farmers in low lying areas are definitely doing it tough.

Big thanks to Jim and Kev for doing most of the driving over the four days, and I’ve now got a better idea of the drive Marcia & I will be doing next April when we go to Ceduna for the ASF Conference.  Would I do the drive again? probably, with 3 drivers it’s definitely doable over 2 days – and with better weather, there’d be more opportunities to get out of the car and walk around a bit.


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4 Responses to How are we going to get back to Sydney?

  1. Jim Crockett says:

    Good branding on the picture on the ferry.

  2. Kathy Leslie says:

    We are having the opposite problem. One of our driest seasons on record- EVER!
    The Mississippi around Memphis and Arkansas is so low that a Viking ship and barges are running aground. We are having an Indian Summer with some lovely weather.
    Always a treat to see where your travels take you!!
    Thanks for sharing!

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