After Christmas


 

We decided it was time to tour around a bit.  Back to Budget car rental for another go at “wrong side” driving.  Yep, I’m a glutton for punishment, or at least stress.  But, there’s too much to see around here.  Not going to sit waiting for something to happen.

Got Ben’s younger brother BHN.  A 2016 Toyota Corolla with only 30,000 kms.  Might be Russian as there is a shortage of vowels.  Comrade BHN has served us well so far, we’re at Victor Harbor safely.

Traffic has been outrageous.  Christmas holidays are still on and it takes forever to get a break in the traffic so a person can cross a street.  Many stores are closed as Christmas was on Sunday and Boxing Day on Monday.  Over half the stores in Victor Harbor were closed Tuesday.  Lots of people looking through windows shopping.  I’d think that most people would have enough shopping for Christmas.  Whatever.

Anyway, left the Marion Hotel at 9, got off the bus too early in the CBD.  Again.  Had to walk 7 extra blocks.  But BHN was waiting and we got out of town around 11am.

Across the valleys and hills to Victor Harbor.  So many cars on the road that no one could even pass.  Got our room, and I was off to explore a bit.

Off to the Visitor’s Center to book our penguin excursion.  $20pp AUD or $15pp USD.  Worth it.

We left early to take a little walk around Granite Island.  As I’d done this before, this walk was for Praxy.  She loved it.

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I always enjoy it when my wonderful wife is having a good time.

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More wind art.  Sculpted from solid granite.

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Years and years ago, this was a main loading point for ships hauling wheat and other supplies from southern Australia.  Now it’s an oversized dock and fishing pier.

Our walk got cut a little short.  Rain started in and we ended up hurrying to the kiosk to keep from getting soaked.  This “hurrying” will become a repeating theme.

Ah yes.  The penguins.  No pictures.  Those little critters show up in the dead of night and are just about invisible to any type of photography.  We had a great time watching them make their way out of the water, across the roads, and into their burrows to feed their chicks.

How could we see them?  The tour guides had red flashlights and the birds have a lot of trouble seeing red.  So, if it’s not shined directly into their faces for a long time, they don’t pay much attention.  It is VERY important to be as quiet as possible.

We say maybe 10 or so.  A couple of them were real close.  Close enough we had to back off so we wouldn’t frighten them.  About the size of a small duck, they waddle slowly to their burrows.  We saw a couple of chicks peeping out, but that was all.  In spite of that, it was worth it and I recommend it to any readers in the area.

We got back to our room at about 11:30pm.

Next morning, rain.  Lots of it.  Finally a break around noon and I took off to see what all the train whistling and tooting was about.  Ah HA!  Train tickets to/from Goola for $30 each.  I zipped back and dragged Praxy out of the safety and dryness of the motel room for another little adventure.

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As we arrived in Goolwa, the heavens opened up!  Our plans to explore Goolwa were washed away.  We waited on the platform for the return.

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621 was dispatched to take us back.  This was it’s first run in 11 months as it’s boiler had to be rebuilt.

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The old steam loco passing us the other direction.  These photos were hurried as I was shooting in a driving rain.

Enough of a break in the rain to show 621 on the turntable getting set for the return.

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On…

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And just about ready to get off.

Back to our room for the night.  Not a lot of sleep, though.  We got woke up my a huge wind and rain storm.  The rain was pelting against the slider door and tin roof above us.  There were a lot of people tent camping around the area as this is “summer time” here in Aussie.

Next morning we were off early in on-and-off rain.  We did indeed pass many tent campers that were shivering over cups of coffee and trying to dry out their gear.   Also a lot of trees and branches on the road, which made for adventurous driving for someone used to driving on the other side of the road.  We almost got into one accident.  I was following a rig and a tree showed up half way in our lane.  But as I was serving out to the miss the tree, a speeding moron went around me.  I nearly forced him into the ditch on the far side.  I don’t know what it is about these Aussie drivers.  Always in a hurry, and they don’t seem to like to slow down during adverse driving conditions.  Sounds like drivers in the big cities of the USA.  Whatever.

We crossed the Murray River on a state run free ferry.

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Saved us thirty miles of driving.

We found a little caravan park in Penola that had cabins, so we spent the night there.  I also booked a room in Ararat for three nights while there while in Penola.  Good thing I did.  Many motels were sold out for the holiday period.

Next day, off to Mount Gambier.  It was a little out of the way, but people were telling us to visit Blue Lake.  We were glad we did.

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We showed up right at the time the tour of the pumping station was scheduled.  The intake is behind us on the far side of the crater.

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A black-tailed wallaby grazes on the lawn in front of the pump control building.

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The passageway from the elevator to the pump deck

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This picture, taken from the other side, shows where the tour takes you.  We were on the concrete deck on the left side of the picture, and also took the stairs down closer to the lake.  You start at the top of the rim, walk down a road to the control building, elevator down, and walk near the pumps.  Very nice, a bargain at $10AUD per person for the one hour tour.

The water is very pure, hence it’s blue color.  During the winter, more limestone leaches into the water and the lake turns a grey color.  We hit it right.

Off to another site in Mount Gambier that I thought my wife would like to see, Umpherston Sinkhole.

Back in the late 1800d’s, James Umpherston got an idea to turn this limestone cave sinkhole into a private garden.  130 years later, it’s still a garden and quite possibly the most visited attraction in Mount Gambier.

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Stunning.  It attracts hoards of tourists, including a couple from Pomeroy, Washington.

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Tourists leave apples, bread, and other goodies for the possums that live in the sinkhole.  There are hundreds of them that come out in the evening.  We got lucky and spotted one under the steps, looking for a noontime snack.

Back in the car for the drive to Ararat.  I’ll pick it up in the next post.

12/31/2016  4:00pm

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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