Next morning (Saturday) we jostled through a crowd of several thousand at the sun-dappled Salamanca Market, where handicrafts, food, coffee and artisans’ stalls stretched for over a kilometre beside historic warehouses. On the other side fishing and sail boats bobbed in the harbour.
Then we motored northward into a glaring, hot sun nervously keeping to the left on the fast (110 kph) two-lane-only main highway through a landscape of rolling dry hills covered with sparse pale-yellow grass and dotted with gum trees in drab olive colours. We pulled into the historic town of Ross, a charming place and a living memory of the convict days. The sandstone bridge, which is beautifully decorated with 186 carved figures was built by two convict stonemasons and a convict workgang. The two stonemasons were freed on completing the bridge in 1836. Bucolic elm-lined avenues lead past convict-constructed sandstone buildings. The main intersection has four unique old buildings tagged Temptation (Man O’Ross Hotel), Salvation (Catholic church), Recreation (Town Hall) and Damnation (former jail). A hiking path leads along an old stone wall to a lonely rise where tombstones from the mid 1800s stand out against the dry hills. We passed the Ross Female Factory, the sad site of a jail for convict women, then a solid sandstone church and a few fat sheep and we’re back at the car.