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28 April 2009

Light at the end of the Tunnel

Nykaj and I have been working on the Project, to build our Home, for just over a year now. Around this time last year, we were positive that our home would be ready by early 2009. We had no idea what was in store for us to just get this project off the ground, leave alone completed.

We were too optimistic about the timelines and thought that we would find a builder in 2 weeks, get the draft ready in one month and obtain all the council approvals and the planning part completed in 2 months.

It took us 6 months just to find a builder! We changed 3 builders during this time. The fact of the matter was, we were pretty much given the run around. Things like returning our phone calls only after a week, taking 4 weeks just to draw the initial draft, taking another 6 weeks to come up with the second draft, etc... were some of the "small" issues we had to face during the journey.

As soon as we faced a few bad experiences with one builder, we would move on to the next one. We wanted to make sure that we picked the right builder, even if it meant the project getting delayed by a few more months. It was a frustrating exercise but we had to go through it!

Some time in October last year, one of our close friends from Melbourne came over and helped us pick the builder. Since they were from the same Industry, they told us what to look out for. Their advice really helped us to find the Right Fit for us and since then, everything has started moving in the right direction.

We got our council approvals early this year and completed our selections within the last couple of months.

The actual construction started this week! As soon as we got the news that the ground was dug up, we hopped into our car and sped off to the site eventhough it was already 9PM! I was in seventh heaven when I saw the block.

The next day, after breakfast I drove down to the site just to have a peek again :)

Today the foundation of the house has been laid.

Guess we should be ready to move into our house in another 7 to 8 months! Hurray!

If you would like to read Part 1 please click here

27 April 2009

Flinders Ranges - South Australian Outback

Most of the time, Nykaj and I make holiday plans at the last minute. It was the first long weekend after we bought our Jeep and we decided we should make good use of our 4WD during the holiday. We were like 2 excited kids with a new toy. A couple of days before the long weekend, we figured that the best place to go is Flinders Ranges.

I searched the web for good accomodation deals but most of the places were fully booked. We never thought that it was going to be this busy. We should have known since the weather was perfect and it was long holidays! Someone had cancelled their holiday unit booking at Rawnsley Park Station at the last minute and luckily we called them at the right time and were able to book the last available cabin. We were excited about the whole trip as it was the first time we were going for such a long drive to the South Australian outback.

It was close to one full day of driving to Rawnsley Park Station with a few stops in between. We started early in the morning and drove through many little towns on the way. We stopped at Two Wells to fill up petrol and when we went into the shop, we were surprised to see the shop filled with Rodeo gear! I was expecting to see something similar to a Servo shop.

From Two Wells, we hit the highway again and in a couple of hours, I felt hungry. We drove into the next town which was Port Germein and thought of having lunch at the local pub, but it was closed! The beach was near by and we decided to stretch our legs a bit. There was a rather long jetty which turned out to be the Longest Wooden Jetty in Australia (as we found out later). We started walking and it kind of never ended! However the scenery was breathtaking. On one side, you had the start of Flinders Ranges, on the other side a crystal clear ocean and above, the beautiful blue sky with patches of clouds. A must-see if you ever head that way.

From Port Germein we headed straight towards Port Augusta. From there we took a diversion to Quorn to reach Wilpena Pound where Rawnsley Park Station is situated. I think we drove around 700Km in total that day.

View Larger Map

We had a typical Aussie pub meal at Quorn; chicken schnitzel and beer. Quorn is a small town where a lot of miners live. Their families stay back while the men folk go away for a few months to work in the mines. The local people were friendly and helpful. We were given Hot tips on must-see places and towns we should visit.

Just in front of the pub, we saw the historic Pichi Richi Railway Station where a timber-bodied diesel carriage was on display. There were a few tourists waiting to board the train. I think these trains are around 100 years old.

From Quorn it took us about 2 hours to reach Rawnsley Park Station. The Flinders Ranges was magnificent. The drive was really spectacular as you see endless stretches of barren land with red and orange dust. The Ranges are a riot of colours. Sometimes they look yellow, other times they look orange and yet other times they are blue in colour.

By the time we checked into our unit it was too late for another adventure. The main reason being, you might get hit by Kangaroos while driving at night. It seems the Kangaroos would jump in front of the car at night and get hypnotised by the lights. As you are driving, on an average, at 110 Km/hr your car will be smashed and the roo will die. As we did not have a roo catcher in front of the jeep it was not advisable for us to venture out in the dark. So we decided to freshen up and drive around Wilpena Pound and just explore the area surrounding the station.

The sun was setting and Wilpena Pound suddenly lit up and became golden in colour. I was reminded of the movie Mackenna's Gold where Mackenna waits for the sunset to find the hidden path! It was that beautiful.

After enjoying the sunset, we came back to our little cabin and had a snooze before heading off to the Woolshed Restaurant for dinner. It was an old Woolshed converted into a restaurant and it had that rustic charm about it. The food was good and both of us had steak and some wine to go with it and off we went to sleep.

Read On - Ranges Day 2 & 3

Flinders Ranges - Day 2 & 3

Next morning we woke up just before sunrise and packed our gear for our next adventure. We reached the Flinders Ranges National Park gateway and paid the permit fees to enter the reserve area. The interesting part was that it was an unmanned post. We had to write our own receipt and drop the money and a hand written ticket into a small pay box. I found it a bit amusing.

The drive was real fun. Nykaj and I took turns to experience the joy of driving in such a rough terrain. It is a bit hard to sit in the passenger seat when you are going up, down and sideways. We went through Brachina Gorge which was absolutely spectacular. You find yourself in a different world, one which you never even thought existed. We stopped at almost all the Lookout points to immerse ourselves in the beauty surrounding us.

On the top

The ranges we were going to cross

Inside the gorges

All alone in the middle of nowhere

We continued our journey and went to Parachillna via Blinmen. We stopped at Blinmen which is an old, copper-mining town. We had a coffee and cake at the Wild Lime Cafe. The Cafe also had an Art Gallery with lots of Aboriginal Art Works on display.

The Wild Lime Cafe at Blinmen

Afterwards, we walked around Blinmen a bit and found that the town was having one of its local Food and Wine Festival. The place was packed and we saw people camping and cooking, outback style. They had coal burning on the ground and old pots filled with slowly cooking vegetables, meat etc. Also, some of them were baking bread over coal fire.

After a few hours at Blinmen, we headed towards Parachilna. The Prairie Hotel at Parachilna is famous for the Ferrel's meal they provide. We ordered their signature dish which had Emu, Roo and Camel meat in it. Was really good. They had put tiny flags on each meat type which looked rather cute.

A stick on every meat type stating what it is

After that heavy meal, we wanted to see what is there further up. We knew that the Desert was somewhere up there. We thought, maybe if we drive a couple of hours we might get lucky and hit the desert. After 2 hours or so of driving, we had managed to reach only Leigh Creek which is another mining town bordering the desert.

We asked a few local guys about heading to the nearest desert but it was getting late and I think it was another 3 to 5 hours away. Time was against us so we decided to postpone the Desert trip for another day and returned to Wilpena Pound via Hawker.

View Larger Map

The route we travelled through the ranges

We were really tired and as soon as we reached our shack, we crashed into the bed for half an hour. At around 7.30pm we had dinner at the Woolshed Restaurant.

The next day, we woke up early in the morning and headed back to Adelaide. It was a 6-hour drive @ an average of 110 Km/hr. The journey back was as breathtaking as the onward one. I took a few pictures from inside our car.

We reached home at around 4 in the evening. Nykaj and I were in the dream land of Flinders Ranges for another month or so! It was a wonderful holiday and I am sure we will visit the Flinders Ranges again, one of these days...

Liked this post?... Then Read our Kangaroo Island Trip