Monday 15th – Streaky Bay to Elliston

The expected high winds arrived just after midnight, and we were very pleased we had decided to up-grade to a cabin. We’ve been driving through sleety rain and gales all day – temperature is 12 degrees now (3:30). Everyone has dragged out their beenies, jackets, coats, scarves and anything else that will keep the wind out. It is bitterly cold. Again writing this in SEE, and today after a belated lunch, as we have had an eventful morning.

At 8:00 we had a tour of the Restored Engine Museum in Streaky Bay, where there are more than 300 antique engines, all in working order, on display. We were there for an hour – almost as good as the whales! – and could have stayed longer. The Museum is a real credit to Noel Gosling and the other volunteers.

Back on the road for Port Lincoln, and we had only driven 40km south of Streaky Bay when SEE broke a back axle. It couldn’t have happened in worse weather. AND towed her off the Flinders Highway to a side track that was the original road, and we found a dense patch of shrub to help protect us from the wind. We then unloaded SEE, and spent 2 hours scrabbling in the dirt replacing the axle. The men had to first determine which side was broken (passenger rear), then take off the rear wheels, remove both axles, take off the tail shaft from the diff, and remove the diff from the banjo housing. They then took out the broken bit of axle from the diff, checked the diff for wear, and placed it back in the banjo housing. The tail shaft was then reconnected to the diff, the good axle and the new axle were put in, the wheel hubs were put on and the brakes adjusted, and the wheels put back on.

The non-mechanics were so busy trying to keep the axle parts free of dust, trying to keep parts, equipment and mechanics out of the driving rain, find tools as the mechanics called out for them, and of course film the whole event, that no-one thought to grab the still camera and take a shot of the chaotic scene. So unfortunately, no photo to show you what it was like, but the entire 2hours were captured on two cameras – from different angles. And the men were all smiles at the end of it all, beaming that this was the joy of vintage motoring! I think Ollie, Rosalie and I thought differently!

By then it was 1:30, so we rewarded ourselves with a side visit to Murphy’s Haystacks, a group of inselburgs not far from where SEE broke down. We were going to have lunch there, but this was bad thinking as we should have realized that any structure like this would be on high ground! We drove on to Port Kenny where we had a hot lunch and hot drinks out of the wind. A group discussion was held about tonight’s destination, as reaching Port Lincoln was out of the question. It was decided to make it to Elliston, as we could reach there before dark. It took us an hour and a half to drive the 64km, as we were driving into strong south-westerlies all the way. There goes our km a minute average.

I tried to upload the photos and stories of the last three days, this morning at Streaky Bay – the first internet connection we have come across since Thu 11th, but the strong winds had done some damage to connections; in Ceduna it was Sunday and nothing open, and so this afternoon I thought Port Lincoln would be a goer, but we are no further than Elliston, and of course no connection and no mobile phone coverage. Hopefully Tue 16th will be successful. Here’s to happy motoring.

Susan and Bill