Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lake Bullen-Merri , thank you

Well what a perfect way to end my Aussie Adventure Part 1. Today we once again took ourselves off to Lake Bullen-Merri for a bit of angling. Now I am pretty new to this fishing caper, I have just started learning how to tie my own rig up. I can usually put my own bait on too, all depends what it is I'm putting on the hook. The last couple of days has been my first time lake fishing and guess what today I caught my first trout. Now this wasn't any ordinary old trout it was a 5 pound (almost 3kg actually) rainbow trout. I was so excited when I caught this huge fish - I almost jumped out of my skin.
Sunset over Lake Bullen-Merri

Absolutely beautiful scenery

Sorry about the blood - but here I am with my amazing Rainbow Trout

Monday, April 28, 2014

Camperdown, Victoria

With our Aussie Adventure Part 1 almost at an end, with only 3 more nights before we are back in Melbourne. Although it could be about another month before I return back to my house. My daughter Rachel and her little family have been living in my house while their new house gets built and the completion date is about a month off yet. But that's OK we will continue being "Trailer Trash" for a while longer. Our last three nights are being spent in the charming regional town, Camperdown. This part of Victoria is known as the "Western District" and is an extremely pretty part of Victoria. Camperdown lies within the "Lakes and Craters" regions, sitting at the foot of Mount Leura which together with nearby Mount Sugarloaf are part of a large extinct volcano complex known as the Leura Maar. (A maar is a broad, low-relief volcano crater that is caused by a phreatomagnetic eruption, which is an explosion caused by groundwater coming into contact with hot lava or magna. To the immediate west are the deep volcanic crater lakes Bullen-Merri and Gnotuk while to the east is the crater Lake Purrumbete popular for it's trout and chinook-salmon. Which is exacting why we went fishing on Lake Bullen-Merri today. But alas even though it was nice and relaxing having a fish, we had no luck. Oh well we will see how we go tomorrow.

It was pretty chilly but oh so relaxing
It was pretty awesome sitting on the rim of an extinct volcano fishing. You could see all the small rocks that had been spewed out and fused together. There was also an amazing rock formation that almost looked like coral.

These small stones, now all fused together, were spewed out of a volcano millions of years ago

Very interesting shoreline

This formation was amazing.....

....and looked just like coral

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Warrnambool, Victoria

WooHoo after 12 months I am back in my home state and I must say it certainly is a bit chilly. Even though our short stay in Warrnambool was cold and wet it was still nice to be back in this seaside city again. With a population of around 34,000 Warrnambool is quite a large regional city. I have been here quite a few times and it never fails to impress me. If I was to ever move from Eltham to a regional area this is one city I could live in.
A bit chilly, but I do love the ocean on a wintery day
In days gone by the Fletcher Jones and Staff company was the place for men to buy clothes. I remember my Dad always bought his trousers from Fletcher Jones. Sir (David) Fletcher Jones OBE (14/8/1895 - 22/2/1977) was an Australian clothing manufacturer, and pioneer in workforce participation. It is claimed that "Arguably, no single person or firm had done more to transform and, for a time, homogenize Australian dress standards among men, than Fletcher Jones and his staff". He structured his business so that all the employees owned shares in the company. Initially the Jones family had two-thirds and the staff one-third, but the balance gradually swung and by the 1970's the staff held over 50 percent of the shares. As well as the factory outlet Fletcher Jones' beautiful gardens were a drawcard for many tourists visiting the area. But by 2012 all the Fletcher Jones stores and the Warrnambool factory had closed. The factory is still standing but most of it has fallen into disrepair, but luckily the gardens are still there and as beautiful as ever.

Beautiful .....

Fletcher Jones Gardens

Still very impressive after so many years

There was even some very impressive vegetables

I don't like the taste of Artichokes but I really like the plant

Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC Day 2014

Here I am 61 and today was the first ANZAC Day Parade and Ceremony I have ever been to. ANZAC Day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand. It is a very special day where both countries remember the servicemen and women who have previously and are currently fighting for our countries. The origin of  the ANZAC's (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) originated at dawn on April 25th, 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the beach at Gallipoli in Turkey. The task for these brave men and boys was to take the peninsula. Their mission failed and thousands of lives were lost. The allied causalities included 21,255 from the United Kingdom, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand and 1,358 from British India. In honour of these brave men and women ANZAC Day has been held in our countries since then. The Gallipoli saga was during World War 1 which  started in 1914 with ceasefire was on November 11th, 1918 three days after my Dad was born. When World War 2 started in 1939 my Dad was 21 but luckily he never had to head out of Australia to fight. He was classed as fighting for his nation on home soil as he had a job that was important to the war effort. Even when this war was on my Mum worked in an ammunition factory.
The bagpipe band led the procession

Vietnam Veterans

I have my thoughts, but why do you think this "orb" appeared in this shot.
It was the only shot it appeared in.

According to the organisers Warrnambool never normally gets
 a crowd this big on Anzac Day

This dear old veteran places a wreath

The colours of the flowers were beautiful

Such a beautiful setting
As it turned out today's ceremony was very poignant for me. I have never really been into ANZAC Day, maybe because I didn't have a father or grandfather who fought. I think I thought if I participated in ANZAC ceremonies I was making war worth commemorating. But today during the various speeches a young senior school boy talked about his great grandfather who had fought in WW1. His words really hit home to me especially when he said "ANZAC Day isn't about remembering the war, it's about remembering the men and women involved". I realized that even though Mum and Dad didn't fight they still made a huge contribution by the jobs they were doing. So here I am at 61 and have realized the true meaning of ANZAC Day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Umpherston Sinkhole, Mt Gambier

Thousands of years ago, Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as The Sunken Garden was a cave. Water eventually dissolved enough of the limestone to cause the ceiling of the cave chamber to collapse creating a large open pit know as a sinkhole. James Umpherston purchased a farm property which just so happened included this amazing sinkhole. He then went on to established this amazing garden on the floor of the open cave. Being retired and having the time James Umpherston wanted to create  a pleasant garden for the people of Mt Gambier. After clearing the existing vegetation from within the sinkhole, he carved a path into the side of the rock, erected wooden steps so visitors could enter his garden. The garden was and still is filled with all kinds of ferns, shrubs and flowers. Even with quite a few other visitors in the sinkhole, sitting down in the bottom of this amazing creation is extremely peaceful.

Amazing view of Umpherston Sinkhole - TotalTravel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Da Vinci Machines Exhibition

Today I took myself off to the "Da Vinci Machines Exhibition" that has just started here in Mt Gambier. When it was on in Melbourne a while back I really wanted to go and see it but in my normal (past) style I put it off, and put it off and before I knew it had finished. I have always been quite a proscratinator but this past 12 months on our Aussie Adventure I have really tried to dissolve that trait from my life.
The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition was really interesting. It's amazing how he was not only a great artist but also just how many of our current day machinery and techniques were either drawn or designed by Da Vinci.
I love this famous drawing

This model was made from one of DaVinci's drawings

Carro Armato (Tank)
Leonardo Da Vinci designed this huge offensive weapon: An armored vehicle capable of moving in any direction and bristling with cannons on all sides. One soldier sat in the turret to give directions. To move it, eight men inside the tank turned cranks attached to trundle wheels which were in turn attached to the four large wheels.

Anyone for a cycle?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mt. Gambier

Located on the slopes of a dormant volcano Mt Gambier with a population of around 30,000 people is one of the biggest cities we have been in for a while. Set amid an ancient landscape of volcanic craters, lakes, caves, sinkholes and mysterious underground waterways.
But yesterday we headed out of town to a tiny town called Penola for their annual Penola Cup. I don't usually enjoy going to the races, they are just not my thing. But this country race meeting was not just about the horse racing. Being Easter Sunday it was geared mostly as a family day and had a great atmosphere. I did have a couple of bets but did no good.
And the winner is........
Today we did a bit of exploring of the Mt Gambier area. First stop was the "Lady Nelson Discovery Centre". This centre gives you a glimpse into days gone by in this area.

The Lady Nelson
Then is was off to the "Cave Garden" sinkhole. How do sinkholes form I hear you ask? As water sinks through to the limestone beds below the surface, it slowly dissolves the rocks to form caves and caverns. The round sinkholes form when the limestone roof above the water filled cavern collapses, exposing the underground water. Because the water table has lowered over the hundreds of years most of the sinkholes are now dry. This sinkhole was the original water source for the early settlers.
Cave Garden
 Then we headed to Mt Gambier's most well known attraction the "Blue Lake". Each year in November the lake starts its colour change from winter steel blue to brilliant turquoise blue and then in March changes back to steel blue. Unfortunately we are here in April so we have missed the turquoise blue. With average depths of 70 metres, the lake contains 36,000 million litres. It is the current source of water to the Mt Gambier.
The Blue Lake
We then decided to go for a drive to Port McDonnell. This picturesque township, once a busy port, is now "Australia's Southern Rock Lobster Capital". If only I could afford to buy one - they sell for between $80 - $90 per kilo!! The coastline along this area is once again beautiful but really treacherous. On a plaque located on one of the lookouts 35 ship wrecks were listed.

Port MacDonnell rugged coast
In the waves rolled

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robe, South Australia

Robe is a charming seaside township with a population of around 1500. But due to it's popularity between South Australians and Victorians alike this number increases immensely during the holiday season. Located on Guichen Bay, Robe was first discovered by the french explorer Nicolas Baudin way back in 1802. With over 84 historic buildings and sites it's not hard to get a feel of what Robe was like in days gone by.
Just one of the 84 historic buildings/sights
The restored walls of the Old Goal which held prisoners from 1860 - 1881
 The Obelisk was erected in 1852 and was used to assist ships navigate the entrance to Guichen Bay. It was also used to store rocket lifesaving equipment. The firing of rockets, carrying baskets to distressed ships to bring passengers ashore, saved many lives. It later assisted passing ships with navigation because its height of 12m (40 ft) makes it visible 20km (12mles) out to sea
The Obelisk - The erosion of the land surrounding the
obelisk will mean it will eventually
fall away.
Even the Lakeside Tourist Park where we are staying has an interesting history. Both the Lakeside House and Stables are State Heritage Listed. The stables which is the tourist park office and owners residence have the original timbers which were once used as ballast in a ship which bought over other building materials from England. By far the most interesting aspect of the building is the "Pug and Post" floor. This unique floor is made from local hardwood timbers which apparently go down one metre into the ground. The floor is purposely built to wear unevenly, which encouraged the horses to move around preventing poor circulation. (Doesn't work on humans!)

Historic Lakeside House

The amazing "Pug and Post" floor

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kingston SE

We arrived in the pretty little village of Robe late yesterday, but more about Robe tomorrow. Today we went for a drive to Kingston SE which is about 44kms from where we are staying. Kingston SE has a population of around 1500. The extension of SE on it's name is to distinguish Kingston in the South East (of South Australia) from another Kingston in the state which has also changed it's name to Kingston on Murray.
Kingston SE is another location in Australia that has one of our iconic "Big Things". The "Big Lobster" was originally conceived in the mid 1970's by a local lobster fisherman. It is said that the final size of the structure was the result of an accident. The plans for the Big Lobster were provided to the builder in feet, but he misread the measurements and used metres instead, resulting in a three-fold increase in size. The Big Lobster is 17 metres high, 15.2 metres long and 13.7 metres wide, with an approximate weight of 4 tonnes.
The Big Lobster
 Then it was across the road to the "Sundial of Human Involvement". The Human Sundial is only one of a few in the world that are truly interactive with people. By reading the directions and standing in the correct place, the time of day can be determined. Each piece of granite represents an hour marker.
The Human Sundial
From time to time Kingston SE has the pleasure of a visit from sea lions. It is believed they come ashore to rest up after being involved in a storm. These amazing granite sculptures were created by the world renowned artist Silvio Apponyi.

Seal Lion and her baby
The Cape Jaffa lighthouse was built in 1868-1872 on Margaret Brock Reef, 8 km from shore and 19 km south from it's current location.  The lighthouse, which has an unusual steel frame, also included an eight bedroom house. One of the magnifying lens weighs 2 tonnes. It was the first lighthouse on the Australian coast to be dismantled and brought to the mainland.
Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Victoria Fossil Cave

Today I took myself off on a tour of the World Heritage listed Victoria Fossil Cave. The tour started with a 30 step journey down below the earths surface into a beautifully decorated chamber and then wound through about 250 metres of passages and chambers to a large fossil bed display area.
I find there's something spiritual when you enter a cave....

the lights help....

but Mother Nature sure can put on a good show.

It was hard to get a clear photo, but the amount of fossils blew my mind a bit.
See the ribcage in the foreground of the shot.

This guy once roamed the earth until the cave claimed him
In 1994, the significance of Naracoorte's Caves 500,000 year old fossil record was recognised by UNESCO and co-listed with Riversleigh in North Queensland as the Australian Fossil Mammals Sites. Together they tell the story of Australia's ancient animal heritage.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Naracoorte, South Australia

From Berri we headed to the tiny settlement of Wellington, located on the Murray River just upstream to where it empties into Lake Alexandrina. 

"The Narrows" where Lake Alexandrina meets Lake Albert
After a few relaxing days there, we set off for our little home now - Naracoorte. Along the journey we stopped off at the township of "Keith". There is nothing really special about Keith, some nice little shops, but it tugs at my heart strings a bit when I drive through as Keith was my Dad's name. My Dad never travelled much and never visited this township. I remember when I first visited here I took a photo of the town sign to show him and he was pretty chuffed to have a town with his name. Once again I took a photo of the town sign and I could just feel that
Dad was at last visiting the town with me.
Keith - this town tugs at my heart strings xx
Now we are in Naracoorte for a while. We are actually staying in the local showgrounds. It's pretty good here, clean toilets and showers, cheaper than the caravan park, nice people, and best of all beautiful green grass surrounding us.
Nature gave us a beautiful welcome on our first night
 Naracoorte with a population of approx. 5000 people is situated on the beginning of the Limestone Coast. and was formed from the merger of two towns, Kincraig, founded in 1845 by Scottish explorer William Macintosh, and Naracoorte, established as a government settlement in 1847. The name has gone through a number of spellings, and is believed to be derived from the Aboriginal words for "place of running water" or "large waterhole". It grew during the 1950's as a survive town for people going to and from the Victorian Gold rush.
This is definitely the most colourful Police Station and Courthouse I have ever seen
This area was also built on the sheep's back -
if only this shearing shed could talk, imagine the stories!!
Probably the main tourist attraction in the area are the Naracoorte Caves. Yesterday we visited the Wonambi Fossil Centre and delved into the history of Australia's mega-fauna. We also visited one of the caves "Wet Cave". This wasn't the best cave I have ever been in but still interesting. Next week we are intending on visiting the "Victoria Fossil Cave" that has the privilege of being classed as a World Heritage Area.
The entrance of "Wet Cave"

I don't think I would have liked to run into this guy back then!!