Saturday, December 30, 2017


This morning it is off to Mount Gambier.  I love this town, we spent 5 days here back in December 2010, and I couldn’t get enough of the Blue Lake then.  I know that we have limited time here this visit, so we won’t be able to visit all the wonderful places we visited last time we were here but I am still keen to see the Umpherston Sink Hole and the Blue Lake.  

As we were leaving Robe we came across the first real lot of hay bale art we were about to see as we approached Victoria.  Great to see farmers getting into the spirit of Christmas also.  The other new experience for us on this leg of the journey was seeing cattle being driven down a main highway. 

Christmas spirit as we leave Robe
A herd of cattle being driven down the road...
 Before getting to Mount Gambier though, we stopped off in Beachport which is about 50kms up the road from Robe on the way to Mt Gambier.  
Arriving into Beachport
Lighthouse at Beachport

What a delightful spot on the South Australian coastline.   It is bordered by a gorgeous coastline with pristine  white sand beaches, lush forests and stunning landscapes.  We are still amazed by South Australian beaches and the lack of people on them.  Beautifully undeveloped, but I am sure would be pretty busy during the busy summer months.  Still we enjoyed having it to ourselves.  

Beachport also has one of the most beautiful jetties in South Australia which extends out over the waters in Rivoli Bay.  It was pretty popular with fishermen whilst we were there with quite a few out fishing along it.  It seems that a lot of them were fishing for squid.  
 Even though we had the caravan on, we decided to do the Bowman Scenic Drive.  The drive is about 8kms long with it being equal bitumen and gravel but it is well worth the drive.  The drive takes you up to Glenn Point.  There is a carpark there where we got out and went for a walk to the Cape Martin Lighthouse which was constructed in 1960.  From here we got a good view of the ocean and the remains of the old lighthouse that was built in 1877.
Post Office Rock

Almost looks like fossilized bone.

It also offered a great view of Penguin Island which is a wildlife sanctuary and breeding ground for penguins, fur seals and sea gulls.  We continued to stop at various points along the way where we have some amazing views of the rocky outcrops along the shoreline.   We stopped at both Backler’s Lookout and Downs Lookout and the views were spectacular.  We had heard about the Salmon Hole so it was on our list of places to stop also.   Apparently it is a popular fishing spot but we didn’t see anyone there today.
 Not the best roads to take caravans on
 We stopped to check out the blowholes at Bartlett Rocks, but the blow holes were blowing pretty spasmodically, mostly we are guessing because the tide wasn’t quite high enough.  Still even without the blowholes blowing it is a pretty part of the coastline.  The pool has showers on site and the lake is about seven times saltier than the ocean.  We continued on the gravel road until it got to a point where there seemed to be more sand than gravel, and as we had the van on the back, we knew it was time to turn back and head back into Beachport.  We really like this little coastal time.  We checked out both caravan parks and they are both located on or very near the beach, so I think this is another place we need to visit for a day or two when we return down the track.
 We probably spent a hour or more exploring Beachport before heading off toe Millicent.  Steve was keen to check this little town out as it shares the same name as his Mum. 

We didn’t really stop here, mainly just driving through but it was a pretty little town, neat and tidy with some lovely gardens and a rather big museum.  We were a little short on time, so kept moving on to Mt Gambier as we had a list of places we wanted to visit there and we really only had the afternoon.  

As we were only staying in Mt Gambier over night we decided to stay at the showgrounds.  At $22 a night, with power, water and hot showers we felt that it would be OK for an overnight stay.  It exceeded our expectations.  It was better than a lot of the caravan parks we had stayed in.  Lovely green grass sites, spotless showers and toilets, with 3 showers and 4 toilets and it was fair enough off the main road to feel safe and secure. We could have easily spent a week here, and if and when we come back we would stay there again.

We had arranged to catch up with my friend Ali Connell for dinner that night, so we had a few hours up our sleeve to check out the sights of Mt Gambier.

Ali had also send us the names of a couple of the new parks and buildings that have been built or developed since we were last here that she felt were worth checking out so we added them to our list.  

 As the showground were pretty close to the Umpherston Sinkholes we headed there first.   We had paid a visit here when we were previously in Mt Gambier and I just loved the place. 

The Umpherston Sinkhole (or the Sunken Garden) is one of the most spectacular gardens located in the Mount Gambier region.
Umpherston sinkhole was once a typical limestone cave that formed by the corrosion of limestone rocks by seawater waves and the sinkhole was naturally created when the chamber’s roof collapsed.
 The Umpherston Sinkhole was made into a garden by James Umpherston in 1886. The sinkhole is open from dawn to dusk and, as the sun sets, the Umpherston Sinkhole comes alive with hundreds of possums as they come into this tranquil garden to feed. Unfortunately, unlike our last visit we didn’t have time to go and see the feeding of the possums this time. 
 From here we ducked into the Lady Nelson Visitors Centre to see the Lady Nelson which is on display there.

The Lady Nelson was a 60 ton sailing vessel built in the year 1799. This was the first ship to sail along the coastline of South Australia. However, the ship was destroyed in 1825 by some natives of Island Of Baba.  

A full size non sailing replica of the Lady Nelson was built in 1986 for the Lady Nelson Discovery Centre in association with the commemoration of the  150th anniversary  of the proclamation of the colony of South Australia on28th December 1836.  In 2011 it was found that the replica had extensive rot in the hull timbers that put her beyond repair. 

The Maritime Village Boatyard, at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, Warrnambool, Victoria, was commissioned to assess the condition of the replica and develop a plan for her restoration. The restoration completely replaced the hull with a fiberglass sheathed structure and the timber lower masts ith galvanised steel. The existing upper masts, spars and rigging were retained.

The rebuilt replica was transported from Warrnambool to Mount Gambier by road and mounted on a concrete slab; it now forms a tourist attraction at the Discovery Centre.    So now we can saw we saw the original replica and now the new one.  
Railway Lands is built where the old Mount Gambier Rail Staion used to be. 

Into the city we headed next to check out the new Railway Lands Parkland which is new since we last visited Mt Gambier.  Apparently Railway Lands was considered a major public art installation from the time of its conception.   It is a dynamic, multipurpose public space which enhances the unused rail corridor and is a unique and exciting environment right in the heart of the city. 

It is only two years old having been officially opened in 2015.  It really does create a fantasic place for fitness and recreation, family picnics, kids nature play and a range of leisure activity.  There are no slippery dips and swings in this area, this has been quite deliberate.  The Rail offers a unique play space, using natural features to recreate a natural play environment which encourages children to be creative with their play, assess risks, explore, tet and imagine.  One of the great things about the nature play area is that parents and caregivers can join in the fun too.    Just wandering around this area made me wish that I was a child again.  What a great area this is for Mt Gambier.
Steve taking a photo of me taking a photo of him  

Rose Gardens in Mount Gambier

 We then headed into the city to see the new Main Corner Complex which is another exciting development in Mount Gambier since we were last there.  

This new complex and surrounds offer a wonderful opportunity for visitors as well as the locals alike to learn about the local history and culture of the area.  We show a video on the volcano – that one natural phenomenon that created the foundation of Mount Gambier and the fundamental elements of Earth-Fire- Water that emerged from the volcano to bring life to this area.  The elements of Earth-Fire-Water are uniquely Mount Gambier and the building features internal and external displays showcasing these elements.  
The Laser light show in the Cave in the city at night. 
We got to go back later that evening after dinner to see the transformed Cave Gardens light show to which tells the unique Dreamtime Stories of the indigenous people of this area.  This light show runs a couple of times each evening and there were quite a few there to see it with us.  
From Cave Gardens we wandered over to the Library Precinct, this was new last time we were in Mount Gambier and it is still a vibrant area around Mount Gambier with lots of folk coming and going.  
 Our last stop before heading over to visit Ali, was a drive up to the Blue Lake. This is a stunning area and I could visit here endless times.  We met some lovely folk from the Netherlands whilst we were there, and shared some stories with them.   We didn’t explore the area as much this time, and didn’t managed to get down to the Valley Lake like previously as it was already after 6pm when we got there, and we had arranged to go see Ali and have a cuppa with her before we all headed out to the “FACT” for dinner with Ali, her children and parents.  

It was great to catch up with her again, and see her family.  Her children were quite young when we were last there and Steve actually taught them all to ripstick.  Now they are all young adults.  They took us to their favourite fish and chip show in Mt Gambier and I must admit it was very good and very reasonably prices.  We had a great evening with everyone and then it was time to head back to the van.  We are off again in the morning pushing closer to seeing our kids in Melbourne.  We are off to Geelong overnight tomorrow.


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