On the daily blog I couldn’t do justice to some places we visited during our Mt Gambier jaunt and Umpherston Sinkhole was one of those so here are some more photos and a little more information about the place.
In about 1884 James Umpherston created a Victorian garden with ferns, shrubs and trees in the big hole on his farm. At the time there was a lake in the sinkhole but the water has all disappeared now. After James died in 1900 the garden deteriorated until it was eventually restored by the Woods and Forest Department in 1976. Although it’s mid summer and there has been very little, if any, rain for months the atmosphere in the sinkhole is cool and rejuvenating.
Steps lead down and paths circle the floor of the sinkhole.
For a larger image click on one.
Two palms stretch right above the rim of the sinkhole.
The curtains of Ivy are stunning.
The Hydrangeas are thriving.
Paths go between and around the garden beds.
The Limestone rock walls have multiple holes and crevices where Brushtail Possums sleep during the day then as evening approaches they come out looking for an easy feed.
The possums love fresh fruit, some vegetables and young leaves.
The possums are wary in their approach.
Grapes were a favourite.
The possums weren’t all friendly with each other.
“Red Sky at night,
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.
Setting the scene!
Cape Banks Lighthouse near Carpenter Reef.
The Admella crashed onto the reef and broke into 3 pieces “a short mile” from shore.
The Admella was carrying 113 people, 6 horses, 93 tons of copper and general goods.
John Leach and Robert Knapman made it to shore in a makeshift raft.
On the 2nd day 15 men managed to get from the fore to the aft section.
Within 2 days everyone else on the foredeck perished when it broke up.
On the third day there were only 70 people left on the wreck.
Leach and Knapman walked barefoot through this terrain to Cape Northumberland Lighthouse..
By the third day only 3 thimblefuls of dried milk, a few currants and some brandy was left for each person.
On the fifth day John Hills put on a lifebuoy and started swimming to shore. He suddenly disappeared, believed taken by a shark.
Survivors clung to the wreck for over a week.
Despite their poor condition Leach and Knapman were the first to volunteer for the rescue mission.
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.
Father Woods Tree – a favourite place to conduct services, sit and marvel at nature or write.
Wonderful sculpture by Kevin Gilders
Primarily a geologist Woods was also a capable palaeontologist, botanist and geologits.
Residents of the South East in 1867 said of Father Woods, “Your gentlemanly conduct and kindly bearing have won for you the respect and esteem of all classes and creeds.”
Father Woods and Mary McKillop established schools to provide a Catholic education for poor and isolated children.
“I have been many nights out in the bush and have slept on my saddle many a time”
Now we’re back home for a few weeks.
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.
Leg of Mutton Lake – no longer has water
Centenary Tower from Brownes Lake.
Alex walking on Brownes Lake
A Disc Golf “hole”
The Blue Lake
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.
Whisky waste stained the hole
Wave formation in sandstone,
Different layers in the Sandstone.
Fossil bones in the sandstone rocks
Old bottles, rabbit trap, axe head etc
Old bones and a demi-john.
1980s style diver
A narrow entrance where the divers come into the cave.
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.
Glorious sunset behind the town.