Big sky country

We are driving into big sky country.   As we distance ourselves further and further from the coast, I begin to see a new side of this ancient land.


The drive from Hahndorf to Hawker today took us from genteel horse stations nestled in grassy green hills and dales to vast big brand vineyards, from high tech wind farms to deserted ghost towns, and finally into the bleak beauty of the Flinders ranges.   As the kilometres ticked by, the land around us flattened, broadened and gave way to bigger and bigger skies.

Wind farms

Wind farms

The country began to show its age.  It seemed to grow more weary from the centuries of battering by sun, wind, rain and of course by man. How to explain this?   In the lush green hills around Adelaide, there is still a freshness, a youthful exuberance.  Anything is possible.  As the land becomes more arid and widens into flat plains, it is as if it exhales.   It settles into a stable but long suffering existence.   It has seen it all.  Nothing can surprise it.

We passed many derelict stone built houses.   Monuments to the hopes and dreams of the past.       Their empty windows gazing out across windswept acres.   We come and go, the land lives on.

Terowie, like a ghost town

Terowie, like a ghost town

In the historic mining town of Burra, remnants of Cornish miners homes remain.  They are little more than caves dug out of the earth, with more in common with animal burrows than with 21st century homes.   This land does not give up its treasures easily.  It is not welcoming.   It demands resilience, fortitude and a spirit of never say die.

Miners' dugouts at Burra

Miners’ dugouts at Burra

There are memorials here to people who were made of sterner stuff.   People who could eke out a living from nothing.   I saw a signpost that marked the Herbig Family Tree, quite literally a tree that had once housed the Herbig family.  Man, wife and two children had lived in a hollow dug into the trunk of this 7 metre diameter giant.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression, dear reader, that these are depressing sights.  On the contrary, the country stirs feelings of wonder at the history of both land and its inhabitants.  It is a strong, fearsome beauty.  It is the beauty of the never ending story of struggle, victory and defeat; the never ending cycle of life.


5 thoughts on “Big sky country

  1. Sylvia

    Enjoying your snippets. Refreshing to read articulated thoughts and experiences. Not a mention of LOL and c u later etc so common place in social media.
    You painted a glowing picture of the Cornish miners but by now I am sure you are aware of the dire circumstances many found them in suffering dreadfully with the cold, dampness causing dreadful chronic respiratory conditions.I admire their tenacity to endure and in some cases, prosper, but for others,poverty and hardship was the norm.
    Please pass on our regards to Bear and Howard and Olive and Malcolm to whom we spoke with last night for one on one personal account of your travels in territory very familiar to us.
    Kind regards

    1. Deb McSephney Post author

      Thank you, Sylvia. Everyone here sends greetings. I’m descended from a Cornish mining family, so I might have romanticised them a little. No doubt it was a tough life for them, both at home in Cornwall and wherever they travelled.

  2. Alain Térieur

    We are very pleased
    That our concerns are eased
    By reading your account
    Of lands without a mount

    Your tale of mile on mile
    Told with skill and style
    Left out the kangaroo
    which must have been there too

    But this we can forgive
    For minds just like a sieve
    Can cause us to forget
    How bloody lucky we are experiencing this adventure from the comfort of Our Green and Pleasant Land!

    The Dead Good Poets’ Society (London Branch)

  3. Hereford

    Great to read of your early adventures Debs. Keep ’em coming.
    Marvellous photo of that ancient Cornish miner at Burra. He certainly looks as though he has just recently crawled out of another hole. Nothing new there then. Xx


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