21.09.2010 - 25.09.2010 16 °C
Adelaide to Meningie
As Brian was unwell we gave a bit of a hand to them getting packed and ready to roll towards Meningie in the Coorong region of the Murray Rivermouth. Our Tomtom gave us a few problems in getting onto the highway out of Adelaide (like, turn left when the street signs clearly said turn right) as we ended up in some small side street that was difficult to exit from. However, got back on track for the drag up the Princes Highway, along with all the fast cars and heavy trucks, and the persistent light rain, until we reached the plateau and things became easier. Brian managed to catch us up as he had to stop for petrol prior to the main road exit. Everywhere was green, so the rains had certainly been helpful to the local climate if not to us.
The road was good and flat to Tailem Bend where we turned off towards Meningie – a place that I had never heard off – for our overnight stop. Boy, that ‘sealed’ road was rough so we had to drop our speed by 15-20kph in order not to damage anything. Plenty of farming activity, quite possible more than usual due to the recent rains.
We arrived at the small town of Meningie and checked into the Lake Albert CP (Top Tourist) where we had a lovely view of the lake. A very peaceful locale that we enjoyed very much. Lake Albert is part of the Coorong and had been almost dry until very recently due to the long-term drop in the Murray River system flows out to sea. However, recent heavy rain upstream had resulted in significant flows and the locals were all very excited and kept checking on how much the Lake had risen that day.
We all walked into town to post mail and window shop at the few shops that were along the street, had a coffee, then returned to take some sunset photos over the lake.
Meningie to Mount Gambier
We all wished that we had allocated more time at this lovely oasis, but time was needed to keep to our latest schedule and that meant leaving it all behind. Maybe a longer stop next time.
Although the scenery today was pleasant enough, the road condition again meant travelling more slowly. We travelled along the northern edge of the Coorong wetlands and enjoyed the infrequent glimpses of lakes and flora along the highway. A few nice looking farms adjoined the Park and all looked likely to have a bumper crop come harvest time, as long as the rains kept to their normal pattern.
We stopped at Salt Creek, adjacent to one of the many lakes, and enjoyed a morning tea in the overcast and cold conditions. We were surprised to see Australia’s oldest oil well still standing there, although in a rather decrepit state. However, when we stopped at the seaside village of Robe for lunch the sun had briefly come out so we managed to enjoy that respite from the cold. Mary & Maureen couldn’t resist collecting more seashells from the seashore.
Near the seaside town of Millicent we saw a massive wind-farm with almost 270 windmills thrashing the air and adding a significant amount of electricity to the Grid.
We arrived in Mt Gambier and were fortunate to have sites at the Top Tourist CP right in town. Mary & I walked to the Lady Nelson (named after a ship of that name) Visitor Centre to collect local sightseeing brochures. Another cold, overcast day.
We drove up the nearby hill to the Blue Lake centre and booked on their Aquifer Tour. This tour was a walking one in which we were taken to the pump house, down a small lift and through a tunnel to get almost down to the water’s edge. Quite interesting to see how the city was able to use the clean water that leached through the limestone hills and was very pure and easy to distribute as the pumping station simply pumped the water up to the top of the nearby volcanic hilltop and gravity took the water around the city. There are several other lakes in the complex, and all in a former volcanic cone now filled with water. An interesting tour for all of us.
After lunch we all walked the 3.6Km around the crater rim of the Blue Lake and enjoyed seeing many bird species.
We then drove to nearby Valley Lake for photos and afternoon tea before heading to town for much-needed petrol, then some CBD photos of old buildings - mostly bluestone.
We decided to walk to nearby (we thought) Umpherston Sinkhole for some photos. However, it was further than we thought and Brian and Maureen were already there – somewhere in the darkness. The lighting was not good and therefore walking was an inherently hazardous operation. The Sinkhole, named after the man who turned a huge drop in the stone floor at ground level to some 30 or 40 meters below normal ground height, into an attractive tourist attraction with walkways, flowers and other flora to enhance the massive cliff walls a full 360 degrees circle.
We decided that we would return next day and take photos in daylight! We walked back home and tried to get TV but the system failed, so gave up.
We were all up fairly early for showers, washing and breakfast and after a caffeine fix we set of for the Valley Lake walk – a quite long and difficult one. Mary, Maureen and Brian headed off up the mountainside, and I drove around the corner for nine holes of golf on the Blue Lake Golf Course. I had a pretty good game considering my lack of practise, and then collected Mary at the completion of her walk. Tired, but happy.
After lunch we attacked the Umpherson Sinkhole for daylight photos. Certainly a different perspective from the previous evening!
We got some shopping supplies, checked the tyres, sorted the car then Mary walked up town for more photos while tried to get my Journal up to date.
We all walked around the corner to the RSL for a dinner out for a change. Very nice too.
Mt Gambier to Portland
More poor quality roading as we headed for the South Australian/Victorian state border. The rolling hills, forestry and farming looked nice if one had time to glimpse at the passing scene between potholes and poor construction and repair efforts.
Morning tea at Nelson, a small village by the mouth of the Nelson River in Victoria.
We arrived at Portland and checked in to the Top Tourist CP and were delighted that they had had so much rain that the normal van sites were not available so we received ensuite sites at no extra charge. Wow, our own toilet facilities for three nights!
Mary and I walked towards the nearby town centre and encountered a pre 1900 Melbourne tram running tourist trips across town. Why not, we thought, as we jumped on board and received a pleasant, if slightly bumpy, ride across the CBD. A free commentary was made by the young lady who was a volunteer conductor. Very interesting indeed in this oldest town in Victoria, with some 200 buildings from the 19th century still standing, and, in most cases, still occupied. We took some photos, and it appeared to me to be reminiscent of older parts of Oamaru, although with blue stone rather than limestone there. A large, deep-water port enables shipping of woodchips and live sheep to overseas destinations.