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

Archive for March 16, 2018

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.


Mt Gambier


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.