Tag Archives: Geocache

SWF – 4.44 Smith of Dunesk Mission


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It’s been ages since I’ve written a Skywatch post. I hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉

Presbytarian Church, Beltana

When we visited the Flinders Ranges on our whirlwind geocaching tour, we were surprised to find no caches in Beltana. So we decided to place one there – it being full off historical significance and all. The Smith of Dunesk Mission is signifacant in the history of the outback of South Australia. It is strongly linked to the Overland Telegraph and the Royal Flying Doctor Service with John Flynn (the RFDS founder) serving as minister here in the early 20th century. If you would like more information about the role this little church played in the outback, read on here.

This is the entry from our cache page (thismechanican)

“If there was ever a town that should be singing the blues – it’s Beltana. It’s about as close to an “Old West” style ghost town as you can get. Established in 1873, it was earmarked to be nothing short of a thriving metropolis. A hub for the Great Overland Telegraph and the Transcontinental Railway, a staging post for the Afghan traders, a service town for the copper mines to the east and a base for the outback services of the Australian Inland Mission. Famous Australians such as Sir Thomas Elder and Reverend John Flynn have all been part of this community.

By the early 1900’s the population had steadied at about 150 and there were up to 65 trains per week passing through the town. But unlike other ghost towns like Ferns and Simmonston, Beltana was a thriving community. At one stage, there were 52 children attending the one room school. There was a pub, a brewery and an eating house. There were 3 policemen and 6 people manned the telegraph office.

Then, in 1941, coal was discovered about 40 km to the north in Leigh Creek. By 1956, the rail-line, the life blood of the town, was re-aligned to the west. Services in the town were gradually wound down. The nursing home closed in 1956, quickly followed by the pub and the police station in 1958, and the general store in 1959. In 1967 the school closed and the remaining children were bussed to Leigh Creek daily. The final nail in the coffin was in 1983 when the road was re-aligned to the west, so that it no longer passed through Beltana.

Most of the town is a declared State Heritage Area. Some of the buildings are privately owned and are being restored. The Dunesk Mission (pictured above) is being restored by volunteers through the Presbyterian Church in Port Augusta. But who visits this forgotten town? Well, we did. On a day when the temperature was over 40C and the humidity was below 10%. It’s hard to imagine living here in the days before air conditioning or even electricity! The visit was to commemorate our Great Northern Adventure (50 Flinders Ranges caches in 5 days). So take the road less travelled. It might be dirt, but it is passable to most vehicles in all but the wettest of weathers. There’s plenty to see in this forgotten town.”

Here’s hoping you have clear and friendly skies


A rest day?

Am I still trying to catch up on holiday blogs? Talk about slack…

We had scheduled Saturday as a semi rest day. A day to hang around the pool and not do too much. We had tickets to the Australian Outback Spectacular that night and didn’t want to wear the kidlets out too much.

The resort where we stayed had it’s own mini golf course, so we played a round starting off in hot sunshine, and by the time we had finished, it was raining. ACW was the winner as usual and after a shaky start, I soon came good (well good enough to come a distant 2nd). We headed indoors for a while to escape the rain and while the kidlets watched tv, I caught up on some laundry. The skies soon cleared, so the we all headed to the pool. ACW and I found ourselves some comfy deck chairs and a book while the kids had fun splashing around. It soon started showering again and everyone got out of the pool! I’ve never quite understood why people get out of the pool if it’s raining. It can’t be because they don’t want to get wet…. Anyway, the rain wasn’t good for our books, so we headed back indoors for lunch and a rest.

By mid afternoon, the skies had cleared and ACW and I decided that we should go searching for the geocache that appeared to be only about 3kms away. A 6k round trip – we figured we could do it in less than 2 hours. Turned out to be just over 4kms and the cache was hidden in a stand of pine trees that made getting a GPS lock very difficult. There was a large flock of rainbow lorrikeets there, but getting a good photo was very difficult.

   We had come this far, so we weren’t giving up. Relying on our memory for the clue, “at the base of a tree” we hunted around the trees, trying not to look suspicious. Eventually, we found it. Hoo-bloody-ray!

But we had lost a lot of time. If we wanted to shower and change (and boy did we need a shower and change) before the coach was going to pick us up to take us to the show, we were really going to have to leg it. We figured that since we were in what appeared to be a really big park, if we just went cross country it would be quicker. Eventually we managed to work our way around the various fences to come out in the car park of the Burleigh Bears Leagues Club. This AFL girl was never so happy to see a Leagues Club. We staggered inside and the lovely lady inside called us a priority taxi and we were soon on our way. I didn’t care how much it was going to cost. the drive took about 10 minutes. After seeing how far we had travelled, I’m glad we made the decision to grab a cab. We would never have made it. So much for a “restful” day.

While waiting for the coach, another family arrived out front of the resort – the mother looked very familiar. I had gone to high school with her for a year 28 years ago!! I last saw her about 12 years ago. She had married (and since divorced) another friend of mine.  We spent some time on the bus catching up on the last 12 years, and our kids quickly became friends.

The show was great (no photography allowed) and the food was delicious. Of all the things we did on our trip, this is the one that the kids wish they could do again.