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Coorong Trip Report February 2013 Words by Andy Bakewell and photos by Roger Wilkinson.

Coorong Trip - February 2013

The first AJC trip for 2013 was over the 08-10 Feb weekend to the Coorong Conservation Park. Most of the usual suspects arrive Friday afternoon at Lake Albert Caravan Park, Rob and Shelley, Stu, and myself. We set up on the lake shore and settled in to an evening of dining, drinking and jaw wagging. I took a walk to a local fish’n’chip shop and got the local cuisine. Brought it back to the lakeshore and joined the others in a jovial evening around Rob’s pig. Great night was had by all. Tim and Ann Marie arrived just after us oldies decided to call it a night. They set up at the other end of the park on the lake shore. Despite rumours to the contrary we didn’t have a quiet word with the park manager.

On Saturday morning we sorted breakfast and the vehicles; Terry and family arrived just on 10am and set up. Then we all headed over to the neighbouring cheese factory museum café and had a coffee. No cheese in the factory unfortunately just factory equipment. We waited there for Roger who turned up with minutes to spare.

Once all the last minute things were sorted we headed the vehicles SE toward Salt Creek to start the adventure. We had six vehicles for the drive, a two door and a four door JK, the two Grands, my KJ Cherokee and the Not a Jeep, Pajero. On the way we dropped in to the Coorong Wilderness lodge and checked out the accommodation and site for more potential options for future trips. Meningie still seems the better site, with the Lake, the shops and Cafes. We arrived at Salt Creek where Stu put some last minute diesel onboard. Just outside the Salt Creek township is Loop Road that led us to Tea Tree Crossing and then onto the beach.

This beach trip is not one to be taken lightly as conditions are highly variable and the sand varies from coarse river sand to finer powder. We dropped tyre pressures just before the crossing. A water crossing at the Tea Tree crossing was our first obstacle. This gave a few photo opportunities and let us know it was 4WD only territory. Terry was up front when we arrived at the first sand climb and had to reverse back and reassess before a second attempt. I went up a tad too slow and when I hit the soft top edge realised I should have had a better run up. I reversed back down and then gave it 10% more berries and easily made it over the dune. The followers mostly did it on their first attempt with Tim having to give it a couple of attempts. This just goes to show that it’s a decent 4WD track. We got to the beach shortly after and headed SE toward Kingston. The wind was blowing quite strongly and shortly afterward we decided to duck behind the dunes and have a sheltered lunch stop.

Over lunch, discussions got onto the MS Oliva lifeboat that had washed ashore somewhere north along the beach. Although this wasn’t the initial intent of the trip it was a valid adventure in itself. Word was that a group of off road motorcyclists had seen it half an hours drive north of the crossing entrance. Well it ended up a tad longer for us but after lunch we headed north on the beach looking for vessel.

The tide was receding but only just so it forced us onto the high track. There are a lot of fishing groups at the shoreline so in the first half hour meant we stayed on the well worn and corrugated beach top track. I ventured down toward the water once after the fishermen thinned out a bit but felt the sand slowed the vehicle dramatically and unsure I headed up again to the track. About 15 minutes later the beach widened and again I headed to the wet sand which was firmer and we sped up from a bumpy 40km/hr to over 60km/hr. It still seemed like we were never going to find the allusive boat and at some point the Not a Jeep had turned back as it wasn’t fun anymore up on the corrugations. It was there about 30kms past the beach access. We had spread out a bit so once we had parked up high on the beach and started poking about the wreck it took quite a while for the rest of the group to arrive. All the Jeeps made it.

The photo shoot tells the story of the wreck of a life boat that had arrived a few days earlier, more intact than when we found it. On 16 March 2011 the MS Oliva was a bulk carrier that went aground off Nightingale Island, Tristan da Cunha, in the South Atlantic, while on a voyage from Santos, Brazil to China with a cargo of soy beans. All the crew were rescued. Though, it was an environmental disaster with 800 tons of fuel oil spilt into the sea and contaminated over 20 000 Northern Rock Hopper Penguins. For us this life boat was an opportunity to see something different that had floated halfway around the world to turn up on one of our beaches in SA.

After photos we headed back to the Tea Tree Crossing. The tide was definitely heading out and more beach sand was exposed so we took advantage of it where we could. The trip back was faster and Stu decide to shed some unwanted plastic from underneath. There was a few bounces and the occasional too close to the surf incidents with the window down you got to taste the sea. We headed back across Tea Tree to Meningie and tried to find out why the Not a Jeep had difficulties. Rob grumbled a bit and because Shelley makes great scones, nothing further was said…much.

Again the group got together for drinks and dinner around the pig. Next morning, pack up breakfast and coffee were order of the day. Some had other commitments and left just after pack up. The local Meningie Bakery offered our last coffee before we headed off on our own destinations. Meningie is only 90 minutes from Adelaide and this area has a lot to offer in offroading or just touring. Hopefully more Club trips will take advantage of the Coorong and the Limestone Coast.