The south east of South Australia has been a real experience, so different to the outback where time is measured in days and the vast stations sometimes have frontage to the main track for a hundred kilometers. Down this way the towns are barely fifty K's apart and hundreds of properties share the area. Agriculture is happening right there in front of you, a break from vineyards sees mobs of either sheep or cattle at huge stocking rates grazing improved pastures and this year all stock are in prime condition. There is so much traffic down this way, nobody waves of course as they do up north and I find that I'm looking forward to seeing a roadtrain again, and a grid or two with emus and roos in the background.
Now, as you drive through endless vineyards you notice the well known names of established wine companies with their elaborate signs inviting the public to their cellar doors. I've found it rather difficult to drive past them actually, maybe it's time to join anonymous alcoholics, or something like that. Penola is very proud of its history and many of the old buildings within the town are now owned by the National Trust and remain open to visitors. Mary has her name on every corner giving directions to the school at which she taught and as well there parks named after her and the odd church building or two. I did notice an article in the Melbourne paper recently referring to the gathering of eight thousand people in the "outback" town of Penola celebrating Mary becoming a saint. It may have been outback in 1850 but certainly not now in 2010.
Even so,throughout the south east the old established homesteads and woolsheds can still be seen marking that time in history when wool prices where twenty shillings a pound and as a result pastoralists pushed further out establishing huge stations not just here but in all states of Australia. The wealth Merino wool created played a significant role in our history allowing the development of the pastoral industry to extend right out the the desert fringe. The suporting workforce of station hands, contractors, shearers, shed-hands, the bullock teams and later Cobb and Co lived off the back of the sheep so to speak, tough days for all concerned but this helped Make Australia what it is today.
Since the Birdsville Races I have attended shows at Quilpie, Broken Hill, Murray Bridge, Kingston, Kieth, Pinnaroo, Naracoorte, Mount Gambier, Penola and have set up for the Millicent show which only leaves Lucerndale, the last show in the south east of South Australia. Until next time. Steve and Sass.