Leaving Port Pirie we'd knocked up 4770km since leaving Darwin 16 days ago. Continuing SSW our route headed in land as we aimed roughly towards Adelaide. Although fellow drivers now didn't return our friendly waves, the road was not as well travelled as we'd expected.
The majority of the land between the lagoons and the Southern Flinders Ranges has been cleared for agriculture; pastureland and cereal cropland. This landscape had been cultivated for 150 years. The stark comparison between the scrub landscape we'd passed north of Adelaide was immense. Miles of golden wheat was draped across the rolling hills, interspersed with red gum trees and conifers. Flocks of sheep grazed the newly harvested fields. In the distance we spotted small herds of emus picking amongst the cut stalks.
Quaint little residential houses dotted the landscape. Single storey and low roofed with wide rap around verandas, often in ornate ironwork with wrought iron scrolling corner brackets. The walls were often in rough stone or brick. Heavy toothed quoin stones at the corners of the building and around the windows reminded us of Western architecture.
We saw over thirty derelict and abandoned homestead in one day. These were often in pretty positions and framed by small copses. The aged and abandoned architecture harked back to bygone days. Some of the dilapidated properties were beautiful - corrugated, crumbling, collapsing. Sometimes only the stone chimney remained. What memories did these farmsteads hold? Why were these rural relics forgotten? Where they left untouched due to their isolation?
Our sense of nostalgia grew as the miles past and we began to create our own history stories. Did the struggle for survival just become too much for the earlier settlers precarious existence? Did disease or bush fire take them? Perhaps there was a great drought which forced people to move on? Or did they lose their house as they sold their land to larger farms? Did the grain boom in the US force them to give up? Or was there a murder and did the dead soul still haunt the ruins?
Maybe we'd been on the road too long........
Nearly full moon over the Flinders Ranges
Port Pirie still retains some of its beautiful nineteenth century buildings, the station here
We entered the plains near the coast, arable crops as far as the eye could see
Ghostly remnants of a history of toil and labour to turn these plains into rich arable land. Former homesteads are now abandoned, their fields swallowed up by the enormous farms that have survived