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Australian Adventure Part 3

Next morning we drove to Point Drummond. We stopped for a cuppa on a cliff with stunning views. Unfortunately the wind increased in intensity during the afternoon. We moved down to Picnic Beach where the Navigator almost got seasick as the wind gusts hit the side of ‘S.Cargo’. It was definitely not a fishing and beach day!

We skirted Lake Greenly, a very large salt at the base of Mount Greenly next morning. The drive to Sheringa Beach was interrupted for morning tea at Leo Cummings Monument Lookout with its uninterrupted views from Point Drummond in the south to the rugged cliffs of Sheringa in the north. The Driver needed to check the cricket score while the Navigator had a lovely time on the edge of a steep cliff, admiring a pair of Southern Osprey caring for their two healthy chicks in a nest perched on a very small area of a craggy pinnacle. One parent bird always stays in the nest to ensure neither of the chicks decide to hang-glide! Adjacent to the Flinders Highway sits a quaint little cottage set on the banks of a large lake. Nearby the local sheep rummage through the pastures over stony country bounded by dry limestone walls that stand as proof of the tenacity of the early settlers.

The stretch of water is known as Lake Hamilton. It was named after George Hamilton, the Commissioner of Police in South Australia back in 1839 when the legendary Edward John Eyre first set off north to explore the Peninsula which now bears his name.
When he arrived here he described this country as a "succession of low grassy hills, but dreadfully stony". It's not a very flattering description but it didn't stop the first pastoralists from moving in and establishing massive sheep runs and homesteads at what must have seemed like the end of the earth.

In the very early days a handful of sheep stations stretched from where the grand old woolshed and jetty at Mount Dutton Bay now stand, all the way west beyond Fowler's Bay to the edge of the Nullarbor Cliffs at the Head of the Great Australian Bight. That's a staggering distance of more than 400 kilometres and interspersed along the way were establishments like the Lake Hamilton Eating House. Effectively this is like the first motel on the route. The coaches took passengers and the mail up and down the West Coast covering about 60 kilometres a day and every so often passengers were treated to a stop at one of these establishments where they could freshen up and grab a meal.

Built in the 1860s the Lake Hamilton Eating House is the last one of its type still standing on the Peninsula. It also played a vital role in early communication. The mail would come through about once a fortnight. It would arrive in Port Lincoln and then take a week to get to Fowlers Bay and about a week to come back. And while this was a welcome stop on a very long and hard journey the pioneer cemetery just down the road remains the final resting place for many of the early locals who would have called in here to pick up mail and news from faraway places like Port Lincoln and Adelaide.