Port MacDonnell

5th March 2019

Distance: 88km
Fuel: 9L

The weather was forecast to be showery and so it was but only brief showers of a few minutes interspersed with sunshine.

Port MacDonnell

Drove the 25km to Port MacDonnell (the southernmost town in South Australia) and paid a visit to the Tourist information office which was also the local library and Maritime Museum.

Opposite were some large murals.

Port MacDonnellPort MacDonnell

The museum was quite interesting showing the local history but as a maritime museum it was a bit tedious being a history of ship wrecks along the coast including one which resulted in 89 deaths

Port MacDonnell Maritime MuseumPort MacDonnell Maritime MuseumPort MacDonnell Maritime MuseumPort MacDonnell Maritime Museum

Next door to the museum was the old Customs House with a German WWII mine in the courtyard – the Germans mined the sea route from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Port MacDonnellPort MacDonnell

Next visit was to the site of the old lighthouse with its spectacular coastal views.

Port MacDonnellPort MacDonnellPort MacDonnellPort MacDonnellPort MacDonnellPort MacDonnell

Had intended to drive along the coast but the road suddenly ended and the sat nav showed the route via Mount Gambier which seemed a bit of a waste of time.

Stopped at Mount Schank one of the many local extinct volcanos, there was a path to the rim. It was pretty steep but the views made it worth the effort.

Mt Schank VolcanoMt Schank VolcanoMt Schank VolcanoMt Schank VolcanoMt Schank Volcano

Funny thing was that the sound of a herd of cows a few kms away sounded as if it was next door.

Mt Schank VolcanoMt Schank Volcano

Returned to the caravan park after topping up with fuel and doing a bit of shopping.

A Day in Mount Gambier

4th March 2019

Distance :25km
Fuel: 24L

Leisurely start, no rush today everything is in town.

First stop was the Blue Lake… Yes, it really was blue and the steep walls made its volcanic past obvious to anybody. It is the town’s water supply.

Blue Lake Mt GambierBlue Lake Mt GambierBlue Lake Mt GambierBlue Lake Mt Gambier

Next door is Valley Lake, the remains of two craters that finally exploded, joined and largely filled themselves in forming a smaller shallower lake and a large area of land that has been turned into a recreation park.

Valley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt GambierValley Lake Mt Gambier

Overlooking this area is Centenary Tower which is reached by a very steep walk. It is worth the effort because the views are spectacular. To be honest I thought the tower must have been a bicentennial project but I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was built to celebrate the centenary of the opening up of the region and was completed in 1904.

Centenary Tower Mt GambierCentenary Tower Mt GambierCentenary Tower Mt GambierCentenary Tower Mt GambierCentenary Tower Mt GambierCentenary Tower Mt Gambier

Next visit was to the Umpherston Sinkhole which, like Cave Gardens, has been turned into a park and gardens. Named after the person who originally owned the land and used it as his own retreat from the heat. It used to have a quite large lake but as the water table has lowered it is now largely dry. There was also a waterfall but unfortunately the mechanism that kept it going is broken.

Umpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt GambierUmpherston Sinkhole Mt Gambier

Had a sandwich lunch and coffee at the local cafe – actually very nice, a big change from that at the Giant Koala..

Next port of call was Engelbrecht Cave yet another but smaller sinkhole but this time privately owned and which leads to a complex of water filled caves and tunnels which are popular with divers. The caves run under the main streets of Mt Gambier.  Naturally we only visited the dry bits.

Engelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt Gambier

The sinkhole was originally used as a rubbish dump for a distillery and the local butchers, Some quite nasty chemicals were originally dumped down it and cleaning it was quite a task – many hundreds of tonnes of rubbish were removed by hand before the cave could be used.

Engelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt GambierEngelbrecht Cave Mt Gambier

After dinner at a local Malaysian/Chinese restaurant went to Cave Garden to see the sound and light show which I had been told started a 8.30pm by 8.45 nothing had happened so walked back to the caravan park. The only disappointment of the day.

Am staying an extra day in Mount Gambier to get better weather for the Great Ocean Road though I have to say that I really like Mount Gambier as a town.

Mount Gambier

3rd March 2019

Distance: 220km

Didn’t leave until nearly 10am because only a journey just over 200km today, not only that, South Australia is half an hour behind the eastern states.

It was a largely uneventful journey mostly using back roads to cut cross country. The only problem with these roads is that there are never any rest areas except street parking in any small town. The weather was overcast only reaching 23’C but a pleasant change from the heatwave of the previous two days. Everything looked very dry and there was no rain in these clouds.

Horsham to Mt GambierHorsham to Mt Gambier

Arrived at Mount Gambier about midday and checked into a caravan park virtually in the centre of town. The owner was very helpful with events and sight to see.

At 1pm walked to the Riddoch Art Centre to watch a film about describing how the local area was formed from volcanic activity when Australia separated from from Gondwana Land and how the weakness caused by this fault line later led to the formation of the Blue Lake and lava flows travelling for 100s of kms into Victoria.

Mount GambierMount Gambier

Nearby is Cave Gardens right in the town centre – basically a sinkhole.

Mount Gambier Cave GardenMount Gambier Cave GardenMount Gambier Cave Garden Mount GambierMount GambierMount GambierMount GambierMount Gambier

Returned to camp for a shower before wandering out for a walk ending up at about 5.30pm at the Mount Gambier Community RSL where we had a meal and a couple of drinks.

Setting Out

The First Day

Distance: 244km
Fuel: 19ltr
My camper was in Canberra so leaving home was really just a matter of packing the car with all the stuff the camper couldn’t hold.

There was 30 litres of water and 20 litres of fuel though I cheated with the water taking empty containers and filling them up when I arrived in Canberra.
I spent the Friday night at Katie and Geoff’s House, in the morning I had to buy a few things like milk and ice (thank you Katie for taking me) but eventually I set off before noon.

22 April 2017 – Driving to Narrandera .

Distance: 281km
Fuel: 34ltr
A well travelled route but I let the TomTom take me its variation of the quickest route via Jugiong and the back roads to Cootamundra, Junee and Coolamon. Definitely saw a lot of sheep going this way and not much traffic.
Arrived at Narrandera mid afternoon but having visited here only a month or go past did nothing but get fuel and eat.
The weather was warm and mostly sunny.

23 April 2017 A change of plan.

Distance: 479km
Fuel: 47ltr
I had intended to stay the night at Balranald but after setting off at 9.30am was there just after 12pm. As I have said on other occasions the Hay Plain is not the world’s most exciting drive and apart from being buzzed by a crop duster (they are totally mad) this was no exception. Decided to press on to Mildura.

 

 

24th April 2017 Port Augusta

Distance: 550km
Fuel: 60ltr
The weather was fine until the SA border when it started to cloud over. Usual stop at Yamba just inside SA for the state quarantine Service to check for Fruit, veggies etc Stopped at Morgan for ice and I also bought a sausage roll (living the good life).
From Bulla on the showers started and by Port Pirie it was a downpour, visibility was poor and when I bought fuel just outside Port Augusta the service station exit was under several inches of water.
The caravan park was quite a big one with more vans and motor homes than I had seen in a park but this is the last place on my journey that I have visited before so from tomorrow all is new and progress will be much slower.

Morning

All is forgiven – woke to a beautiful sunny morning. Showered, had breakfast wiped the windows and headlights clean of bugs (an advantage of wet weather).
Noticed A frame caravan owners are obsessed with sweeping before they dismantle their camper – a statistic based on an observation of two.
No rush this morning might only be only travelling about 155km.