Saturday, November 10, 2012

My first trip to South Australia

We made a semi-spur of the moment decision to make the most of Glen's rare 3 day weekend and go away. We didn't really have a concrete idea on where to go as long as it was somewhere we hadn't been to before, not an easy task when you haven't been many places! We were looking at places 2-3 hours away but I randomly suggested that if we were going to drive 3 hours away, why not just drive for 5½? And if we were going to drive to northern Victoria (near the NSW border) why not just drive to South Australia? With that, we decided to drive to Mt. Gambier.

They don't do big "Welcome to..." signs like they do in Canada

Click Read More to see the rest of this post (picture heavy)

We honestly had no idea what there was to do there but with a quick search we found a motel and that there was some interesting things to see in the area. There are a few dormant volcanoes around and some caves as well as some stunning coastline.

We decided to take the scenic route to get there and drove through Warrnambool (somewhere I've never been and somewhere Glen hasn't been for probably 15 years or so). We stopped there for a quick snack and to stretch our legs before heading on. It was a good thing we stopped because Aurora's cup had leaked and she was soaked with water, she needed a complete change of outfit.

We arrived in the late afternoon and after checking in to our motel we drove up to the town's main attraction, the Blue Lake.

Bottlebrush tree out our motel window. I love these trees!

Blue Lake 

The lake is in a dormant volcano and seems to be *the* place for people to go walking. There were tonnes of people out walking around while we were there. It's also the town's water supply. The colour of the lake changes from grey in the winter to a brilliant blue in November. It was sort of an overcast day so I don't think we got the full blue effect.

Going for a stroll around part of Blue Lake and trying out the carrier we bought specifically for this trip.

The next day we went and took a tour of Engelbrecht cave and then drove out to Tantanoola caves. Tantanoola was pretty spectacular. My only disappointment was that neither of these caves were very big, I remember taking a tour of a cave in Germany (if memory serves, I'm pretty certain it was Baumannshöhle) and it seemed quite large. Both these cave tours were done in under an hour (the first was a guided tour that took 45 minutes and the second was a self guided tour and you were allowed to spend as much time wandering around as you wanted. We did two laps just to get our $9.50 worth).

Tantanoola Cave
After we got our fill of caves we decided to take a drive around the countryside. We had planned to go to Canunda National Park since it seemed like there would be a lot of wildlife, the GPS took us a very random way so it took us a little longer to get there than we planned. It was definitely worth the wait, the beach and the view was absolutely spectacular.

View of the dunes at Canunda National Park
A lot of the park is only accessible with 4WD so we only saw a tiny fraction of it (we didn't think our poor little Magna would be up to the task!). It was incredible to be down on the beach and look in both directions and not see a single soul or the evidence that anyone had been there recently (if you ignore all the rubbish the sea washes in).

The beach at Canunda National Park.

This was NOT a swimming beach. We were happy to keep a healthy distance away from the waves. There is nothing between us and Antarctica!

After that we thought we'd go and check out some forests listed on the map, unfortunately in South Australia when a forest is listed on a map it's really code word for tree farm. Instead of having a nice walk in a forest we just drove by rows and rows of trees waiting to be cut down.
The day before we had talked about driving up to Kingston South East to see the Big Lobster but had initially ruled it out because of the distance, after driving around and figuring out where to go next we figured we might as well give it a shot since it was only an hour and a half away and, what was a little more driving?!

To be honest Kingston SE was a little disappointing on a whole but we can at least say we've gone to see the Big Lobster!

The next day on the drive home we took a detour past the southern Grampians. After seeing them from a distance, I think we've decided where we'll take our next trip!

Mt. Sturgeon, a very small part of the Grampians.

Unfortunately the whole trip was pretty light on wildlife, there wasn't even a lot of roadkill in South Australia (not that I like seeing roadkill but it can give you a good indication on whether or not there are a lot of animals about). We saw A LOT of hawks, magpies and crows and not much else. I saw what I thought would be an exciting bird until I got home and ID'd it only to find out it's a feral/introduced bird (the European Goldfinch). Glen thinks he saw an emu and there was a slight possibility we saw some black cockatoos flying but they could've been crows (we were driving). On most trips we take I like to check off "seeing native wildlife" of the list of "must sees" so this trip fell short in that respect. At least some good scenery made up for it!

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