Today will be a driving day and we have decided to make it to the NSW border for our stop tonight. We managed to get away just after 8:30am and headed for fuel first as it was a good price. Leaving Port Augusta we headed south for a short distance before turning inland and crossing the Southern Flinders Ranges via Horrocks Pass on our way to Wilmington. We don’t intend to stop in these towns today as we will visit them in the future when we travel to the Flinders Ranges area itself. A little further from Wilmington we approached the town of Orrorroo and saw the signs for the giant gum tree. We pulled in and took photos along with other travellers. This red gum has a circumference of 10.89 metres and is estimated to be in excess of 500 years old.
Continuing on we arrived in Peterborough around 11am. Our first stop was the tourist office to have our entry form stamped and to pick up a brochure for Broken Hill. The entry form is to win $2000 of fuel from BP and you need to have the form stamped on each town of the Heritage Rail Trail which is Port Pirie, Peterborough and Broken Hill where we will hand in the form. For once our timing is good as the competition closes on 31 October. It would be lovely to win and help pay for future trips. We headed into a café here to buy and share lunch before again driving east.
The road from Peterborough to the NSW border is scattered with many small towns but most are now deserted or only have a roadhouse for fuel stops. They were created every 15 miles originally for the large water tanks needed for the steam engines of the railway. We made a stop for coffee in the van at Olary and I took some photos. Whilst the hotel looks open it has recently closed and the rail siding looks deserted. A public phone is now run by solar.
Our stop for the night was reached about 3pm when we pulled into the border town of Cockburn. I had been made aware of the hotel here offering camp sites through one of the Facebook groups. The hotel is called the Coburn Hotel as there was no enough room on the sign for the full name and is stuck. Established in 1889, the Coburn Hotel markets itself as the first and last hotel in South Australia. The hotel is now leased by “The Town” under the umbrella of the long established and hard-working Cockburn Progress association. Owner, Ryan didn’t what to lose his connection with his Cockburn roots and the town didn’t want to see another business gone. So, in a unique and evolving way the lease agreement was made.
The hotel has rooms for travellers, serves dinner in the evenings, offers powered and unpowered campsites with showers and toilets across the road and Iris can provide great commentary on the life out here over a few drinks. We paid $10 for an unpowered site and headed over for drinks about 6pm. Iris showed us around the rooms inside, her herb garden and plans for the kitchen renovations which will allow better meal preparation. We also met her lovely dog ‘Bear’ who will appear in the Aldi xmas tv ads which were filmed here recently. The time disappeared while we chatted away and we finally ate our dinner about 8pm. It’s great to be able to help these organisations who are trying to keep their towns alive.