Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Mt Gambier – Day 4

“Red Sky at night,

Shepherd’s delight”


I’m so glad we weren’t in the camper last night. We had STRONG winds, lightning and thunder, who knows what blowing across the roof as well as beeping from unknown devices switching back on after a power failure! This set the scene perfectly for us to continue our journey up the “Shipwreck Coast” today.

One of the worst Australian maritime disasters was the wreck of the SS Admella in 1859. The ship was sailing from Adelaide to Melbourne when she struck Carpenters Reef and 89 people died. On the second day after the ship struck the reef two sailors managed to get ashore and set off to find help at Cape Northumberland lighthouse near Port MacDonnell, about 20 miles from the wreck. We drove along the coast road following their route but in reverse.

From Mt Gambier we drove back to Port MacDonnell then continued the trail to Cape Douglas. The weather was so wild it was easy to imagine the struggle the sailors endured. From Cape Douglas we went on to Nene Valley, Blackfellows Caves, Carpenter Rocks and the Cape Banks Lighthouse. I don’t know why the lighthouse is wrapped in plastic but that won’t last long in the wind. We certainly appreciated the sanctuary of the car.

Click on an image for more information.

Driving back home along the Riddoch Highway we came upon “Father Woods Tree” and some chainsaw sculptures. Another reminder of what we usually miss when we don’t investigate the “brown signs”. You can find information on Father Woods here.

Now we’re back home for a few weeks.


Mt Gambier -Day 3

Our plans today were to go for a walk around the rim of the Blue Lake, check out the native animals at the old railway yards and see the Endelbrecht Caves. The weather impacted on our plans though. When we set off for the lakes it was already getting hot and windy so we drove to a lookout up near the Big 4 Caravan Park. We saw Valley Lake and looked out over Leg of Mutton Lake then drove to Brownes Lake where we walked around. There was no problem with getting wet feet, there’s not a drop of water anywhere and hasn’t been for a long time! By then it was too hot for me to consider a walk around the Blue Lake rim because when we drove around we saw it wasn’t a nice little track as I’d imagined but a concrete foot path frequently with limited view of the lake. We parked and walked to a lookout which gave us a very good understanding of how far the lake has dropped over the years. You can clearly see the change in rock strata. Although we’ve read that the lake has a limitless supply of water people now understand that isn’t the case and there are posters displayed reminding people that the water is precious and shouldn’t be wasted.

If you click on an image it will show you a larger view.

When we left the lakes we went to find the echidnas we’d been told were at the old railway yards. The area has been developed as a Nature Play area and looks great but we didn’t see anywhere echidnas could be seen. I’m sure none would have shown their face today anyway because by then the wind was blasting and it was very hot.

Old Railway yards, Nature Play area.

After a refreshing drink at the “Dining Car” we decided a cool cave was the place to be so we set out to find Endelbrecht Caves. It feels quite odd to me to be driving along the main streets of town close to the city centre looking for great holes in the ground. The caves actually run under the Jubilee Highway and divers can hear the logging trucks passing overhead.

The Endelbrecht Caves are dry ones so there are no stalagtites or stalagmites but the rocks have been sculpted by the water being at various levels over time. In places there are big holes on the surface where water has collected in depressions and eaten its way through the limestone. One of these big holes was used by Carl Endelbrecht to dispose of the waste from his whisky distillery and also, at a price, the butcher’s waste. Until the mid 50s the town rubbish was also disposed of down the hole. Later the Lions Club took on the job of clearing it out, it took them 6 years to recover the tons of waste. Luckily there was no synthetic waste to deal with.

At the end of our day we went for dinner at Jens Hotel, it’s a lovely old pub and the meal was very tasty. Afterwards we were treated to a wonderful sunset then visited the possums at Umpherston Sinkhole again, a great end to the day.


Mt Gambier -Day 2


Today we decided to visit Port MacDonnell but first Alex needed a map, he wasn’t going to rely on the GPS. We called into the Tourist Office which has the “ship”, The Lady Nelson on display. It must have been terrifying sailing on that small vessel to Australia across the vast oceans.

Usually when we’re travelling we stop at very few signposted points of interest but this time we’re taking many little diversions. Our first one today was to Mt Schank volcano crater. There was an interesting old cottage near the base, its overgrown garden was home to Blackbirds and hundreds of noisy bees. Someone had tried to make a go of a tearooms there but only a very sad poster on the door remained of it.

Old cottage garden

We decided to take the walk to the top of the crater, several stops to recover our breath were needed before we made it to the top. It would take a 3D camera to do justice to the wonderful views down into the crater and across the plains.

Mt Schank crater

The next sign we saw pointed us towards Dingly Dell, home of Adam Lindsay Gordon. The house wasn’t open but we enjoyed walking around the well kept garden and reading the informative plaques placed about the property. Fairy Wrens were teasing me all the time.

All that physical activity put me in the mood for icecream so I was pleased we found GF ones in Port MaDonnell. From there we continued along the coast thankful we were driving and not in a sailing boat. That particular section of coast is named, “The Shipwreck Coast” and there was a plaque at Cape Northumberland Nature Park listing the names of 28 ships wrecked there and another 5 lost with no wreckage ever found.

Although we intended continuing around the coast to Carpenter’s Rocks we turned back to go to Tantanoola Cave. Again 2D photos don’t do the structures within the cave justice. The cave system was discovered by a young boy out chasing rabbits with his ferret. The ferret disappeared into a crack between rocks and as the boy tried to see where it had gone stones disappeared down the crack and he heard the echo of them landing so knew there was a large hole. Reluctant to lose his ferret the boy went back home for a torch and his brother came back to the spot with him. They wriggled their way through the crack and discovered the cave system below. Within 10 days the system was being visited by enthusiasts, they had to be enthusiasts to crawl down through the rocks to the cave below!

Our last experience for the day was the light show at the Cave Garden which is a sinkhole right in the centre of the city. We watched old movie footage of Mt Gambier and Port MacDonnell projected onto a building behind the garden. The second presentation told the Aboriginal story of the sinkhole.



Our jaunt was delayed by a day because the connection between the camper and car brakes wasn’t being managed properly by the brake controller. We tried to get it fixed but that wasn’t possible, it will be sorted next week so we’re in Mt Gambier without the camper.

We decided to drive to the coast road from Tailem Bend so turned off towards Meningie. There were a lot of caravans on the road but all going in the opposite direction so no hindrance to us. Alex was able to get some lunch from the grumpy folk in the Bakery while I picked up some fruit and Turkish Delight which just happened to be on special in Foodland.

Pelican sculpture, Meningie

Further down the road we went into the Salt Creek National Park where we juddered along the corrugations until Alex lowered the tyre pressures. A couple in a small “SUV” obviously weren’t enjoying the experience, they crawled along about 25 kph but even at that you can’t avoid the shuddering.


Salt Creek Conservation Park track

We checked out some possible Oystercatcher Campsites for a future expedition then took the track back to the main road.

Great campsites

Only a short distance along the road was a sign to “Chinaman’s Well” and I’m glad we investigated it.

After gold was discovered in Victoria people flocked from all over the world to seek their fortune. By the 1850s Chinese prospectors appeared to be more successful panning for gold than “the diggers” and this resulted in animosity. In 1855 the Victorian government imposed a 10 pound toll on Chinese immigrants so hundreds sailed to South Australia then traveled to Victoria. Although some were able to pay for transport most walked for five or six weeks, carrying all their belongings. Significant places are still visible on the original track.

Chinese cut the lid for the well using a pin, chain and chisel. This one broke when they tried to lift it so they had to start again.

The finished well which still has water in it.

The environment through which the prospectors had to walk.

Site of the Coach Stop and eating house on the original Adelaide to Melbourne road.

Wombats must be plentiful in the area because although we didn’t see any we saw plenty of their little poo blocks.

Poo blocks- how is it possible?

We decided to head straight for Mt Gambier after that enjoyable walk but I made the mistake of thinking we’d go through Robe. Unfortunately the whole way from Kingston to Robe there were roadworks, the worst sections had a 25 kph  and the fastest were 60 kph. It was about 5:30 when we reached our cabin at the Limestone Coast Tourist Park. Basic but clean and tidy.

When it was dark we went to the Umpherston Sinkhole where possums come out expecting treats. Luckily for us there were lots of grapes dropped on the ground so we were able to feed some. Very cute, especially the mothers and babies.

Brushtail Possum taking a grape.

Since the weather has cooled down nicely we decided to take a run to Deep Creek National Park in the new Prado. It’s only about 104 kms and the main road goes through Aldinga, Sellicks, Myponga, Yankalilla and Normanville. We stopped at Leonard’s Mill in Second Valley and having now seen the menu we feel we’ll be back again for a meal but today we took time for only hot drinks and a look around. The old building is absolutely fantastic.

After Second Valley it was only a short distance to the little town of Delamere which appears as just a Roadhouse beside the main road. We discovered later that we should have stopped there though.

When we entered Deep Creek Conservation Park signs told us we need a Park Pass but there was no Honesty Box so we figured we’d be able to get a pass somewhere further on. At the Cobbler Hill Campground the sign clearly stated there were on-the-spot fines if we didn’t have a Pass. You can buy them at the Delamere Roadhouse! I phoned the National Parks contact number on the sign but it went to a recorded message so then I tried the displayed web address but the page couldn’t be found. (You should be impressed that I even managed to do this on my phone 🙂 )

We decided to continue on without a permit but when we came to a pull-off on a high spot I tried again and was able to complete an online payment.

Just for fun we tried out 4WD (Low Range) and the car ambled its way along a rougher and steeper section of track. There were Wallabies or maybe Kangaroos with young in many places and they were unfazed by our presence.  Kangaroo Island seemed very, very close,  I’m surprised fitness nuts don’t consider swimming across it a “mini English Channel” challenge.

Blowhole Beach has amazing rocks but we didn’t see any blowhole, possibly it was the wrong tide time or we might have been looking in the wrong place.

Heading out of the Park I had to stop for a photo of Goondooloo Cottage, I don’t know its history but it would be an interesting place to rent for a while, I think.

Goondooloo Cottage

On the way home we stopped at Delamere for “lunch” …. Coeliacs should always be prepared….. and watched the passing parade. Once again I tried to get a decent photo of the MASSIVE, 18m tall statue of Buddha at Sellicks Beach but we still didn’t manage to find a good spot.  Building is still going on so there will be better opportunities in future.

Buddha at Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple, Sellicks Beach

Dunnies of Oz

This is in response to a post by Lindsey on itchingforhitching.

Campers come across some weird and wonderful constructions including, “Amenities Blocks” but sometimes that name is totally inappropriate, like calling a beach shack a mansion.

These constructions have real character, they’re not amenities, bathrooms or even toilets they’re simply dunnies.

Click on an image to see a larger view with captions.

The Last Post

The holiday is over and it’s time for one last post. Anyone who’s followed the blog knows we don’t seek out the fanciest places to stay preferring instead ones that we find interesting. However, we did see some very fancy places when we went on our Big Red Bus tour around Dubai. This is the side of Dubai you usually see in advertisements.

You’ll probably need to click on an image to see it properly.


You can decide whether the food vans are there for the day visitors or for those fed up with rich hotel food.

Hope you enjoyed the journey with me. 🙂