3 states, 3 people, and lots different experiences


The Plan

A family holiday. It’s been a while since we could say we had one of those. This holiday had been in the planning stages for months, and on the last Friday in September all that planning was put into action. The plan was this: drive from our home approximately 1 hour north of Albury, NSW to Adelaide where we would stay until the next Friday. Then we would travel to Cape Jaffa, near Kingston SE in a region called the “Limestone Coast” because of its abundance of limestone. Then the following Monday we would travel to Mount Gambier and stay there till the Thursday. Then we travel back home via an overnight stay in Bendigo, Victoria, to home.

Off to Adelaide we go…

This was to be by far the longest day of travel on the holiday – approximately 800km. We woke early (about 3:30am) and within 30 minutes or so we were on the road. The plan was to travel as far as we possibly could before breakfast. As it turned out we got to Moulameine before we decided we were hungry enough for breakfast. After a quick change of driver, we were off again – me eating breakfast while Rebecca drove. The drive was really nothing spectacular, through fairly flat terrain and not as much traffic as I thought there would be, until we reached Tailem Bend in South Australia. After some lunch there, we were on the road again for the last stretch into Adelaide. This involved getting over the Adelaide Hills which was steep, and winding in places, but all Freeway (called Motorway or Expressway in other parts of the world). And to make matters more interesting we had a third lane of extra slow truck traffic and some very steep descents from about the last 10km or so into Adelaide. For the steep descents into Adelaide it was not unusual for me to put the car into 3rd gear and let the engine do the braking which generally worked well unless there was extra slow car traffic in front of me (that was more common than what you might think). Then we arrived at the Tourist Park we were going to be staying at while in Adelaide, nestled in a valley about 10km from the centre of Adelaide. Before long we had the tents set up and were thinking of what to do in the days following.

Adelaide’s Natural Proximity

The next day being Sabbath (Saturday, in case you’re wondering), we decided to do some exploring of the many conservation and natural parks around Adelaide. It was quite surprising how close we were to them, and how close they were to central Adelaide. The first one was Morialta Falls and Giants Cave in the Morialta Conservation Park where I was surprised to see dry country vegetation, with steep rocky mountain sides, waterfalls, and lots and lots of walkers and runners. Where I grew up in Melbourne, Victoria, and other places we have visited or lived we never had quite that combination of contrasting elements although the Grampians in Victoria’s west was similar.

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Bec and Eliana

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Morialta Falls, Morialta Conservation Park

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Rock Face, Morialta Conservation Park

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Giant’s Cave, Morialta Conservation Park

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Flower, Morialta Conservation Park

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Rock face, Morialta Conservation Park

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Flower, Morialta Conservation Park

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“Black Boy” closeup, Morialta Conservation Park

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Morialta Falls, Morialta Conservation Park

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“Black Boy” trunk, Morialta Conservation Park

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Morailta Falls, Morialta Conservation Park

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Eliana in a tree, Morialta Conservation Park

The next place we visited was a Wildflower Garden in the Black Hill Conservation Reserve, where there was a large collection of native plants suitable for the sometimes harsh and dry Australian climate. You might be tempted to think that a harsh climate can mean less variety and beauty, but the variety of plants in the Wildflower Garden showed that inspite of the harsh climate often associated with Australiam it can be a place of great floral variety and beauty. From near the Wildflower Garden we could see all the way across to the industrial area in the harbour area, and the sea beyond.

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

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Wildflower Garden, Black Hill Conservation Reserve

From there we went to Waterfall Gully. A very descriptive place where is is… a waterfall, in a gully. But the name doesn’t adequately describe the beauty of the place. Let me try and describe it in words before you look at the pictures. Approaching the head of the gully, the thin stream of silvery water gently cascades down the jagged rock face into a serene pool surrounded by flowering plants and reeds. Now, here are the pictures…

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Waterfall Gully, Adelaide

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Waterfall Gully, Adelaide

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Waterfall Gully, Adelaide

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Waterfall Gully, Adelaide

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Waterfall Gully, Adelaide

Eliana wanted to go to a beach, so we headed south west from Waterfall Gully to a bit south of the suburb of Glenelg where we had lunch. After lunch, while Rebecca and Eliana relaxed on the beach, I went for a walk and found myself in the rather ritzy and posh looking Glenelg, with it’s Stamford Hotel, pier, old buildings and multi-storey accommodation further along the beachfront. Along the way, I happened upon a number of groynes (no, not groins) which are basically bags of sand strategically placed along the beach to aid beach conservation. There are also some strategically placed large rocks, in similar patterns to the groynes which I assume is for the same reason – to stop sand movement. They apparently slow the movement of sand along a beach, which appears to be a big problem in Adelaide, as there is also a sand pumping system in place to return the beach sand being fed north by the water back to points along the beach further south. So the sand goes in a big “loop”- it moves north, and then is returned to a designated point by the sand pumping system and so it continuously “loops” rather than relentlessly heading north over time.

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Holdfast Bay / Glenelg, South Australia

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Holdfast Bay / Glenelg, South Australia

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Holdfast Bay / Glenelg, South Australia

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Glenelg, South Australia

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Holdfast Bay / Glenelg, South Australia

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Historic building, Glenelg, South Australia

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Glenelg, South Australia

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Jetty, Glenelg, South Australia

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Glenelg, South Australia

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Holdfast Bay / Glenelg, South Australia

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Historic building, Glenelg, South Australia

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Holdfast Bay / Historic building, Glenelg, South Australia

After I returned from my walk, we got in the car and headed further south to Hallet Cove Consevation Park. We had a bit of trouble finding this, but after some going back and forth, following a “bicycle way”, and meeting someone who looked remarkably like Tony Robinson (the English TV personality), we eventually found it. Hallet Cove is a bit like entering another world – the scenery is very “raw” and almost primeval and has the look of being half-finished and unrefined. A very interesting and spectacular place. Apparently it was formed by glacial activity during the Ice Age. I can’t say for sure as I wasn’t there, but some people seem quite sure that’s what it was caused by.

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

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Hallet Cove Conservation Park

The Zoos

Eliana, our youngest daughter, is Panda crazy. That’s the best way to politely describe her. And the Adelaide Zoo has… Pandas. So our stay in Adelaide would not have been complete without visiting that zoo. But there was more than just pandas in the zoo, and it took us the best part of a full day to explore the whole zoo. From tigers, lions and giraffes to the more unusual tapir, capybara and others it was very interesting. To get there we walked to the nearest railway station from the Tourist Park and caught the train to Adelaide then walked to the zoo from there. That meant we also had to do the reverse, which amounted to about 8km of walking, not including the walking around the zoo itself.

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Girrafe, Adelaide Zoo

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Cappabarra, Adelaide Zoo

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Tamarind, Adelaide Zoo

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Giant Panda, Adelaide Zoo

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Giant Panda, Adelaide Zoo

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Lemur, Adelaide Zoo

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Big Tortoise, Adelaide Zoo

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Big Tortoise

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Bird, Adelaide Zoo

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Tamarind,, Adelaide Zoo

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Old zoo manager’s house, Adelaide Zoo

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Storks, Adelaide Zoo

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Giant Panda, Adelaide Zoo

The other zoo we visited was the Monarto Zoological Park, about 40km or so over the Adelaide Hills towards Murray Bridge. This was very different to the Adelaide Zoo, being much more “open range”, and we got to see giraffe, lions, hyenas, zebras, etc, in a more natural setting. It was there that I learned there are actually about 9 different ‘species’ of giraffe, and that the ones at the Monarto zoo were not a purebred of one species but a mixture. I’ll have to take their word for it. It was here too that I got to see a true blue live Tasmanian Devil for the first time, and I didn’t realise they were as big – about the size of a large overweight domestic cat. And, no, the Tasmanian Devil looks nothing like the Warner Brothers version. Sadly, the Tasmanian Devil in the wild is beset with a rather nasty cancerous growth which is still puzzling scientists. The growths are terminal for any devil that gets them, as eventually it makes the creature not able to eat so it starves. But there is some hope – there is an active breeding program in places like Monarto Zoo to preserve the species and hopefully be able to re-introduce “clean” Tasmanian Devils into the wild at some point in the future, I imagine after the cause of the cancerous growths is found.

Also at Monarto Zoo, is the Southern White Rhinocerous – a critically endangered species. The Northern White Rhino is already doomed as a separate sub-species as of Rhino as there are only 2 females and no males known to exist. But the Southern White Rhino’s future as a species is a little more secure as a number of zoos are actively breeding them to keep the species alive. Sadly, those that try to protect the Southern White Rhinos in the while often get killed in the line of duty as much or more so than the rhinos themselves. Kudos to those that put themselves in harm’s way to protect these magnificent creatures, but it also shows that there is a very definite dark side to human nature that greed and selfishness will cause us to hunt and kill any creature to the point of extinction, and kill those that try to protect them.

Things that run on rails

While in Adelaide, I was hoping to do some train trips around the city. I got to do that when we went to the Adelaide Zoo, but I also got to indulge my love of things that run on rails at other times. One of the days we were in Adelaide, we explored the central business district. And we also caught the Glenelg Tram from central Adelaide out to Glenelg and back. I was familiar with the Melbourne (Victoria) trams, and the Sydney Light Rail. And was somewhat surprised by the Glenelg tram. Apart from sections in central Adelaide and Glenelg, it felt much more like a high speed light railway than a tramway, travelling quite fast in places, and on it’s on dedicated right-of-way. We also went our to Outer Harbour on a Deisel Multiple Unit (thats a term than means more than 1 deisel railmotor attached together). It was also somewhat of a surprise, as I imagine railmotors as being somewhat slow to excelerate, but this was not the case. We also went on an electric train journey in Adelaide before heading back to the Tourist Park for some well-earned relaxation and dinner. I must say I was very impressed over all with Adelaide’s railways and tramways.

For photos and information about the train and tram journeys we did in Adelaide, go to my Model Trains Blog

The Adelaide Hills

To those who have never visited the Adelaide Hills, it may be that the TV News paints a picture of the Adelaide Hills being a place of bushfires. And at some times of year that will definitely be the case. But there is also a lot of less dangerous and more interesting things to experience in the Adelaide Hills. We visited Harndorf, a township and surrounds settled by German Lutherans in the 1800s. The plentiful stone buildings, which we discovered are quite common oin Adelaide and the surround hills and towns, mixed with a German Lutheran heritage and some obviously European looking buildings to create an interesting meal for the senses. And Rebecca found a cafe that had a Gluten Free Cheese Cake / Caramel Slice that was about the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted without exception.

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Harndorf stone building

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Harndorf stone building

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Harndorf stone building

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Harndorf Lutheran CHurch

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Harndorf building

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Harndorf street art (I hope)

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Harndorf mural / art

One of the more interesting and telling quotes I found in the museum was this one in regards to Harndorf: “no policeman was needed” (Johann Christian Liebelt). Another interesting display showsedthe industriousness of the German Lutherans that emigrated to Australia: “Captain Hahn was so impressed with the hard-working nature of his passengers he negotiated on their behalf for newly surveyed land near Mount Barker. As a gesture of thanks the Lutherans named their new town Harndorf” (In Honour of Captain Harn display in Museum).

The Fleurieu Peninsula

To the south of Adelaide’s suburbs lies an area called the Fleurieu Pensinsula, a part of the state that juts out into the Southern Ocean. The name sounds French (and it probably is), but the town names are decidely un-French: Victor Harbour, Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island, to name a few. We visited each of these towns. Victor Harbour was probably the most interesting for me as it had two types of railways – a horse-drawn tramway out to Granite Island, and the Steam Ranger railway that runs on the broad guage railway between Victor Harbour and Mount Barker. The hosre-drawn tram was quite an experience. I don’t think I have ever been on a railway journey that was at such a leisurely pace (the pace of a walking horse), but it was very enjoyable in spite of the howling gale that persisted while we were there. We also got to visit the End of the Murray River – where it meets the sea, which is of interest to us as we live not far from the Murray River but a long way upstream.

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The Bluff, Victor Harbour

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Horse Tram, Victor Harbour

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Granit Island, Victor Harbour

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Oscar W paddle steamer, Goolwa

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Th Bluff walk, Victor Harbour

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No, it wasn’t cold! Victor Harbour

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Murray River mouth, near Goolwa

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Eliana trying to stay out of the wind, Victor Harbour

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Horse Tram, Victor Harbour

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Oscar W paddle steamer, Goolwa

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Top of The Bluff, Victor Harbour

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Goolwa Barrage

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Goolwa Barrage

We also had a look at the Goolwa Barrage, a device that crosses the Murray River near Goolwa to try to regulate the movement of salt water upstream due to the river’s flow in current times not being ample enough to keep the salt water where it belongs (the ocean). Another example of mankind trying to fix a problem we created (irrigation removing to much water and lessening the river’s flow) by using something artificial (barrages to regulate the upward movement of salt water). Of course the barrages are necessary, now, but once upon a time when the natural order of things was not being interfered with by the veracity of mankind barrages and such things weren’t needed.

To Cape Jaffa we Go

At the end of our stay in Adelaide we once again got in the car for a long drive. But the distance was not going to be anywhere near the distance of the first day of our holiday, about 200 or so km. Along the way we saw a Pink Lake, Lake Albert, and parts of the Coorong National Park. We also got to travel on a car ferry across the Murray River – not that we planned for that, but it was pleasant diversion.

After lunch we arrived at Cape Jaffa Caravan Park. As far as Caravan Parks go, Cape Jaffa has one of the best. The amenities were excellent, including a communal fire pit, large camp kitchen with billard table, fridge, stoves, etc, and great hosts. We had a very pleasant Sabbath there, arriving on the Friday afternoon and not leaving until Monday morning. There was something very serene and peaceful about the place, inspite of the rather loud wedding happening in a nearby house on the Saturday and into the night, and Eliana getting bitten on her feet by a number of mosquitos. The lack of traffic, the gentleness of the sea (due to a long reef about 8km off shore), and the general lack of urban-ness made it the perfect place for a Sabbath rest. About the only down sides to Cape Jaffa as a location is that there wasn’t that much of interest to us in the township (we don’t like fishing, or wineries), but over the whole holiday this was the place we enjoyed the most!

One of the more interesting things we found out about Cape Jaffa is that there is a reef about 8km out to sea, and at one time there was a lighthouse, complete with lighthouse keeper, out on the reef. My camera has a reasonable zoom on it so I was able to get a photo of the original structure that the lighthouse was on. There was also some lighthouse keepers cottages on the cape nearest the lighthouse. After a lighthouse was built in Robe, the one at Cape Jaffa was no longer used, and it was eventually moved to Kingston SE and set up as a museum.

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Cape Jaffa Beach

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Remains of Lighthouse Keepers Housing

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Cape Jaffa Memorial

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Cape Jaffa – Light on a Stick

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Cape Jaffa Jetty

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Sunrise over Cape Jaffa

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Sunrise over Cape Jaffa

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Whale Remains, Cape Jaffa Beach

The Limestone Coast

Cape Jaffa is towards the northern end of the Limestone Coast, which has it’s western edge at about Kingston SE (SE = South East) and goes all the way east to the South Australia-Victoria border. On the Sunday while were staying at Cape Jaffa, we explored Kingston SE. When we were there the township seemed tp be having a significant problem with seaweed, with piles of seaweed at least 1 metre or os high along their entire beach. But we didn’t go there for the beach. We explored it’s history by following a township history walk brochure. This revealed to us a rich history, including a narrow guage railway that ran between Kingston SE and Narracorte that has been long since gone, with little more than a commemorative plaque and the odd cutting to indicate that there was ever a railway there. The railway was completed in 1876, but as the locomotives hadn’t arrived by sea at the time the government hired out the rollingstock for use by private operators who hauled the wagons by horse until the locomotives arrived 6 months later. Once they arrived, a daily train service between Kingston SE and Narracorte was introduced.

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Kingston SE – Old Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

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Kingston SE – Boat

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Kingston SE – Much Seaweed

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Kingston SE – Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Old Machinery

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Kingston SE – Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Post Office, Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Historic Building

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Kingston SE – Historic Church

While we were staying at Cape Jaffa we also visited the township of Robe. Robe is an interesting little town, and we spent the Sabbath afternoon there on the beach near the centre of town. Robe is different to Cape Jaffa and Kingston SE as it has no reef to stop the waves so some of the beaches have more of a surf beach feel, although the beach closest to the town seemed quite sheltered with only fairly small waves.

On the Monday after we arrived at Cape Jaffa, we were once again travelling, this time to Mount Gambier. Along the way, between Robe and Beachport, we stopped at the Woakwine Cutting, a cutting excavated through solid rock by 2 men, because one of them needed a way to drain a swamp off his farm. Even though the 2 men had some machinery to help them, the cutting is an impressive feat being up to about 34 metres deep at it’s deepest point, and more than 1km long.

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Woakwine Cutting

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Woakwine Cutting – Machinery used to build it

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Woakwine Cutting – Machinery used to build it

Beachport is a pretty place. Although typically beach side villages are. It has it’s share of Norfolk Pines, a jetty, some pretty rugged beaches and some interesting rock and seaside features. While passing through there, we drove a scenic drive out towards one of the headlands and found a lake nestled amongst the sand dunes, a “London Bridge” type headland, a very steep sided surf beach. After a quick toilet stop, we continued on our way.

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Beachport – Jetty

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Beachport – Rails opposite jetty

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive – A ‘London Bridge’-type formation

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Beachport – Scenery on Scenic Drive

By the time we arrived Millicent, it was about time for lunch and Eliana’s mosquito bites were causing her some grief, so we purchased some “Subway” food and while Rebecca went in search of a pharmacist to get some anti-histamines and other things to each Eliana’s mozzie bites, I went in search of the railway station. The Millicen township centre is perched on top of a rise, with the houses and railway precinct below. It wasn’t hard to find the station and I explored the station, and other infrastructure for a while before heading back to the car to continue our drive. Also at Millicent, we saw a number of old vintage cars, and noticed a rather striking looking building in the town centre.

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Main Street art, Millicent

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Vintage car, Millicent

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Vintage car, Millicent

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Vintage car, Millicent

It wasn’t long after that, that we arrived at Mount Gambier, and set up camp. And then the rains came.

Mount Gambier

I had been to Mount Gambier many years ago, when I was in my early-teens. And had never been back since. But Rebecca and Eliana had never been there. When I went there many years ago, I am pretty sure it was in summer, so the weather would have been somewhat warm. I remember exploring the township, the crater lakes, walking around one of the rims, and visiting the railway station (which was still in use at that time). I also remembered visiting the Cave Gardens in the middle of town and Sinkhole on the outskirts of town, as well as the various volcanic craters and their lakes. I got to acquaint myself with them again, and this time I was able to take photos. On the southern edge of Mount Gambier there are a number of volcanic craters, 2 of which have lakes in them – Blue Lake and Valley Lake. When I visited Mount Gambier many years ago, I remember there also being another lake – Browns Lake, but the only evidence of that lake is a nicely grassed area near Valley Lake. I guess lakes do dry out permanently sometimes.

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Blue Lake, Mount Gambier

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Centenary Tower, Mount Gambier

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Centenary Tower crater rim, Mount Gambier

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Blue Lake Pumping Station, Mount Gambier

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Valley Lake, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Umpherston Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Cave Garden Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Cave Garden Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

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Cave Garden Sinkhole, Mount Gambier

The Cave Gardens and Sinkhole seemed about what I remembered, but the railway station is no longer used as a railway station, and the area around it is now converted to a nature reserve / playground / art precinct / walking and cycling paths. It’s always a bit sad to see a railway station that is no longer used as a railway station, but at least it is still standing unlike some which have been totally demolished. One thing I did notice is that the Tailem Bend and Mount Gambier station buildings had a very similar style to them.

Homeward Bound

On the evening we arrived at Mount Gambier, I developed a cold, and Eliana was still suffering from here mozzie bites. We had planned to stay at Mount Gambier until Thursday morning. But as our options for further things to do due to Eliana’s mozzie bites and my cold seemed somewhat limited, we decided to cut our holiday short by one day and head for Bendigo on the Wednesday instead so we would be home on Thursday.

After we all returned home, I had 2 weeks of holidays left, and so I went on a train holiday. The write up for it can be found on my Jims Model Trains website .

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Koscioscko National Park Get-away


Friday before Christmas 2014

For weeks now I have really felt like I needed to “get away”! Today I realised the start of “getting away” for a few days. Having packed the car the night before, I left home a bit after 8am. And then I decided I wasn’t going to check the clock until Monday. I would also be “off-the-grid” till then as well – no mobile phone reception and no internet. Just me, God, nature and the bike. I arrived at Geehi Flats camping area and it didn’t take long to set up camp. Then I embarked on an activity I hadn’t done for about a month – I went on a bike ride. After a quick look at a map, I decided the Swampy Plain Loop would be the go. The ride being rated as “easy”, I was fairly confident that I could do it. The first 2 kms was uphill and fairly steep at that, and then the rest was either downhill (sometimes steep) or almost flat. On the ride I saw many kangaroos, some 4x4ers (a common species in them thar hills), 3 different huts all made out of river stones, and some awesome scenery. And just to complete the experience, there were 2 river crossings – the first time I have ever attempted that on a bike. After a bit of recovery time I decided to try and find the old Geehi township site, which was set up as a work town for the Snowy Mountains Scheme. It showed it on the map, but the track that led down to it had a nice sign warning that site rehabilitation work was in progress, so not to go there. Being a law abiding citizen I decided to heed the sign, and turned back towards camp. On the way back to the campsite I found the Bicentenial National Trail, so walked along that instead of along the Alpine Way. I did manage to find the Dr Forbes Hut, albeit from the other side of the river! There were already quite a number of campers at Geehi Flats camping area, but it is still very serene. The stresses of life seem so far away. I spotted a number of Wrens, Crimson Rosellas, the laughter of the Kookaburra, some bird calls I don’t think I have ever heard before. And there was also the sounds of the river nearby to camp. One bird I saw looked like a cross between a crow and a magpie and sounded like a galah! The white moths fluttered from bush to bush without a care. The mountain peaks of the western fall of the Kosciosko Main Range in the distance standing watch over the valleys. I think it would be very easy to lose one’s self, and find closeness to the One who made these beautiful places like this, in the process. As Sabbath approached I got in the car and headed towards Scammells Spur Lookout. Along the way I encountered a family whose car had overheated on the hiil climb. I stopped and helped them get going again and then offered to follow them to the top of the hill, which they were grateful for. Then I drove to the lookout. To open Sabbath I read Psalm 92, “A Psalm for the Sabbath”, and blew the Shofar. It’s sound produced a pretty cool echo. And the view of the Main Range was amazing.

“LORD, … I take joy in what your hands haave made; How great are your deeds” (Ps 92:4,5 CJB).

Old Geehi Hut

Old Geehi Hut

River crossing on Swampy Plains Loop

River crossing on Swampy Plains Loop

Behrs Flat looking to Main Range

Behrs Flat looking to Main Range

Keeble Hut

Keeble Hut

Geehi Hut

Geehi Hut

Original Geehi Hut

Original (?) Geehi Hut

Campsite at Geehi Flats

Campsite at Geehi Flats

Swampy Plains River

Swampy Plains River at Geehi Flats

Dr Forbes Hut

Dr Forbes Hut

Bicentenial National Trail

Bicentenial National Trail

Geehi airstrip

Geehi airstrip, probably unused!

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

To see GPS data for the Swampy Plain Loop, go here: http://www.strava.com/activities/231707713 .

Sabbath

I awoke to the sounds and songs of birds today. I recogised the sound of a lyrebird nearby. Varied was the bird-songs I heard. All of them singing songs of praise to their Creator.

“What variety there is in your works, LORD. How many of them there are! In wisdom you made them all; The earth is full of your creations” (Ps 104:24 CJB).

After breakfast I had a quick look at the map and decided to try and hike from Dead Horse Gap towards Mt Kosciosko and see how far I got. Before that could happen I had to drive to Dead Horse Gap, a distance of 40km from camp. Last night while settling down to go to sleep I listened to Dr Richard Davidson’s “Blazing Grace”, a talk about Moses and the Israelites encountering God at Mt Sinai. In that talk he says that the difference in altitude between Mt Kosciosko (Australia’s highest mountain) and Mt Sinai was about 50 metres. As I hiked towards Australia’s highest mountain I remembered that talk and concluded that Moses must have been a very fit man at age 80 (read the Biblical story and you’ll see what I mean)! I contemplated the power of such a God that could create the foundations for these mountains as I walked amongst the rugged beauty. By the time I got to the Kosciosko Lookout (about 4 kms from the mountain) I realised I wasn’t going to make it to the top, so after a short look at the view I turned around towards Dead Horse Gap. I’m glad I did as I devloped blisters. The scenery on the walk was awe-inspiring – beautiful alpine meadows and wildflowers, majestic rock tors, an abundance of bird life, and pristine mountain creeks. And I got to SEE Australia’s highest mountain even though I didn’t get to climb it – that will have to wait for another day. When I got back to the car it was starting to warm up and so I drove back to a camping / rest area called Leather Barrel Creek to have lunch. Lunch was non-descript so I won’t bore you with the details. On the way back to the camp after lunch I saw a turnoff for Geehi Horse Camp, and turned off to take a look, I reckon I found the old Geehi Township site not far from the horse camp area, so what I thought was the track to the Geehi township site yesterday probably wasn’t. By the time I got back to camp it had heated up even more and so inside the tent was WAY too hot to stay in. So I found some shade under a nearby tree and relaxed for a while. Putting the feet in the river, watching a family of ducks fighting the river current to stay in one place and splashing water on my mildly sunburnt arms and hands was also a pleasant way to relax – for a while. I noticed around this time that clouds were starting to build up – big white fluffy clouds, not the wispy-of-no-consequence kind. I began to wonder whether the weather forecasters might have got it wrong (again) and that the rain forecast for Monday might arrive early. At least the clouds will break the sunshine for a bit. Around the same time the wind strength increased too. Between the time I left this morning for the hike and the time I got back most of the campers had left, and then from the time I got back to camp a fairly steady stream of new campers arrived. It has been an interesting Sabbath. Experiencing the mountains at their sunny best, and enjoying the serenity of the camp area with it’s wildlife. Topped off by a Potato and Cashew soup (3 helpings) for Dinner and Pear Halves for dessert.

Gang Gang

Gang Gang, female I think. Male Gang Gangs have a bright red head. Near Dead Horse Gap.

Cascade Trail Head view

Cascade Trail Head view, near Dead Horse Gap

Dead Horse Gap Track

Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Native orchid?

Native orchid?

Flower

Flower

Alpine flower

Alpine flower

Rock Tor

Rock Tor

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Alpine meadow

Alpine meadow

Creek

Creek on Kosciosko Trail above Thredbo

Snow

Remnants of snow on Mt Koscioscko

Rams head range

Rams Head Range. A metal and paved “pathway” extends from the top of Kosciosko Express chairlist to within a few kms of the summit of Mt Kosciosko.

Rock Tor

Rock Tor

Alpine Meadow

Alpine Meadow

Ferns

Ferns in the cleft of the rock

Creek

Creek at Leather Barrel Creek Rest Area

Emu at Tom Groggin Rest / Camp Area

Emu at Tom Groggin Rest / Camp Area

Site of Geehi Township

Site of Geehi Township, I think.

For GPS data on the Dead Horse Gap – Kosciosko Lookout walk, go here: http://www.strava.com/activities/231707720 .

Sunday

Awoke to fog this morning, and what looked like an “ovecast” sky. It was a bit hard to tell whether the “overcast” sky was just the fog lifting or was actual overcast sky. And it was cool as well. I think I got out of bed earlier than I did yesterday but it’s a bit hard to tell as I haven’t been living on clock time since Friday. The plan for today was to do the Major Clews Hut bike ride, a 35km circuit described as “challenging” in one document I read. Hmmm! According to the information I have, the return journey from the hut is a “constant climb” to Scammells Spur, and mostly along an “easy 4×4” track. I started the ride as planned – along Alpine Way for 2km, then left into Geehi Walls Track. Everything went well until I got to the bridge across a creek about 4km down the track. It was then I heard a canine howl, then another from a different direction. I had read on one of the infomation boards near my camp site that there were Dingos in the area, and those howls didn’t sound like domestic dogs. I envisioned being harrassed by a pack of dingos. So rather than ride towards where the howls seemed to come from, further along Geehi Walls Track towards Major Clews Hut, I turned around and back tracked up the Geehi Walls track to where it starts on the Alpine Way. From there I turned left, the revised plan then being to try and ride to Scammells Spur Lookout along the Alpine Way. So off I trundled on the treadlie! The ride to the lookout is about 11km from Geehi Flats camping area, and most of it is uphill. And not just a slight uphill. I did eventually make to the lookout after many many stops to catch my breath. Then I took in the view for a while, rested, and rehydrated (a fancy term meaning I had lots to drink), and checked and adjusted the brakes. It was while doing this that I noticed that the back brake cable was badly frayed in the assembly at the back wheel. Not good! So I made some hasty repairs and decided that the descents on the way back to camp would have to be at a lower speed, and only using the back brake when absolutely necessary and then only gently. This meant the front brake would be the main brake on the way back to camp. A prayer for protection was said, and then the descent began. The brakes worked fine for limiting my speed on the descents. And the ride was totally uneventful – definitely a GOOD THING. On the way back I saw a group of cyclists heading the other way. I am guessing they were heading to Khancoban as there was no other town until then. I also guessed that they originated in Jindabyne or Thredbo, although they could have camped overnight somewhere along the way if they had a support vehicle to carry luggage, etc. By the time I got back to the camp the sun was high in the sky, and I was feeling somewhat hungry, and it was rather warm. I decided to put the food in the car and go to Olsens Lookout and have some lunch there. I arrived at Olsens Lookout and had a “gourmet” (not) meal of Baked Beans, tinned Fruit and Shapes while looking up at the mountain range. The food might have been a bit ordinary, but the mountain views made up for it! By this time it was getting a bit too hot to do anything strenuous so I returned to camp and found the shadiest spot I could – under the roof of the information booth next to my camp spot – and read some chapters of a book called “The Colour of Courage”, the story of a two year pack-horse journey along the Bicentenial National Trail (BNT) from northern Queensland to the outskirts of Melbourne. The BNT runs through the Kosciosko National Park and the Geehi Flats camping area where I am. As I relaxed, I noticed that whenever I had to get up to do anything that my leg muscles ached quite badly. Must be a reaction to the bike ride in the morning. For the second day in a row bit fluggy clouds started overshadowing the camping area. The clouds yesterday produced no rain so it seem unlikely that the clouds today would either. Also for the second day in a row most of the campers left and were replaced by new campers. After a dinner of all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations I set about organising things that I could pack away in the car so that I wouldn’t need to do it in the morning. This will minimise the amount of time it will take to “break camp” in the morning . It’s a sure sign that my time here is drawing to a close! I came here to recharge, to get in touch with nature, and to appreciate more the Creator of the real world beyond the bricks and mortar, concrete, timetables, money, etc. I think it’s been a success on all counts. And along the way I rediscovered the benefits and joy in doing something physically demanding and challenging, and yes maybe even a little dangerous!

For GSP data for the two rides done on this day, go to:

Monday

Well, today is the day I leave the real world and go back to that “other” world. It is with mixed feelings that I leave this place. On the one hand I love the serenity and natural beauty of this National Park. But on the other hand I have mised Rebecca and the kids and look forward to seeing them again. It’s been great to live “off-the-grid” and off the clock for a few days without emails to check, and no clock to dictate what I should be doing. But the reality is that the busines world runs by the clock and, alas, I must join that world again. When God makes the earth new, and we have eternity to enjoy perfect natural beauty, then the clock will be no more, the world of wires and wireless will disappear, money will not be needed. O bliss!

In the backyard


I was enjoying the ambience of Autumn in the backyard this morning, enjoying the vista of sown fields verdant with green shoots and I came across these flowers…

These first 2 photos are of Banksias (I think) Grevilleas.

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

At the other end of the backyard I found this flower, taken from 2 different angles.

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

All 4 photos were shot with a Fujifilm FinePix S1600 digital with the most powerful macros setting (there are only 2 to choose from).