A Travellerspoint blog

Day 16 – Mt Gambier Surrounds

Tuesday 18 October 2011

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A relatively mild morning but a strong cold wind. We had a look at our next destination which was to be Mt Barker, we've changed our minds and will now pull into Murray Bridge instead. Makes no real difference and there's a choice of three caravan parks.

As we didn't do much in the way of physical activity yesterday we got up and walked around the Blue Lake just as the sun was rising. It appears to be very popular as we met quite a number of walkers along the way.

After breakfast we drove to Port MacDonnell a popular beach and fishing village with the distinction of being the most Southerly point in South Australia. A strong on-shore breeze made stepping out of the vehicle quite a challenge.

Back to Mt Gambier and spent time driving around some of the recreation grounds around Valley Lake. There are walking tracks, picnic table, BBQs and playground equipment and lots of lush green grass.

Spent most of the afternoon outside avoiding the direct sun and trying to stay out of the wind. Finished another Kindle book and didn't doze off. It is very relaxing here.

Stay well and travel safely.

Cheers … Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:02 Comments (1)

Day 15 – Ballarat to Mt Gambier

Monday 17 October 2011

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Woke up bright and early this morning, sky is clear and the temperature is heading down towards zero. Prepared breakfast, stowed a few last-minute things and hooked up the van. We were on the road by 0715.

Started out along the Western Hwy as far as Beaufort then turned Left and headed South to Skipton then turned Westward on the Glenelg Hwy. There are lots of reduced speed advisories for 'rough roads' they are a mess. Followed the Glenelg Hwy to Hamilton and turned to the South on the Henty Hwy towards Heywood. From there we headed West on the Princes Hwy to Mt Gambier.

On crossing the South Australia border we turned the clock back 30 minutes and arrived at the caravan park at 1105 local time. That's four and a half hours for the 352 Km journey. Selected a nice grassy site and set up the van. Lunch and a shower and we're dressed in summer rig for a provisioning run into town.

Looking at the well-presented Visitor Guide it would appear that there's plenty to see and do in and around Mt Gambier. We were last here in January 1969 so it is no surprise that we don't have much of a memory of the place in general or the caravan park in particular.

It was nice to sit back and watch the later arrivals looking for a spot and setting up. We tend to get to our destination by about lunch time at the latest some folk arrive as the light is fading and have to set up in the dark. I guess they figure they've really filled in their day.

Stay well and travel safely.

Cheers … Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 14 – Jenny's Birthday

Sunday 16 October 2011

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Got up early this morning – more correctly – forced up !! Spent an hour or so writing up the events of yesterday. Then provided Jenny with breakfast in bed and knocked up a damper to try out the new cast-iron pot. I'm a bit concerned with the extra heat retention of the cast-iron, will need to reduce the cooking time.

Breakfast and phone calls completed and the damper looks to be cooked through, will need to 'test' it for morning tea. The weather is not a bit friendly, blustery wind with a hint of rain. Nothing to do until we head into town for lunch

Arrived in town and joined my sister and her daughter in the restaurant. Jenny was shown around the corner and met a tribe of people. Total pandemonium !! Two of her sisters a niece and her family made this a BIG surprise. Her relatives had travelled up from Melbourne on the train.

To add to the general uproar there were camera and telephones and everyone talking at once. Presents to be opened and meals to be ordered and eventually we all sat down and ate. Some of us far more than we REALLY needed.

To top off the occasion my sister had baked a cake and this came out with a small forest of candles. The cake was demolished and the kids went for a walk while the oldies had a chat. Eventually we said good-byes, they headed for the train and we refuelled the Patrol.

Returned to the caravan and prepared for our departure tomorrow morning. Hopefully the wind will abate, otherwise we might not travel through to Mount Gambier.

Stay well and travel safely.

Cheers … Tony
Damper and cast-iron pot
Jenny and Tess
Jenny's sisters
Tess's son-in-law
Enjoying chocolate and marshmellows

Posted by greynomadm 23:30 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 13 – Sovereign Hill

Saturday 15 October 2011

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A reasonable start to what could be a busy day. After breakfast we joined the throng at the Camp Kitchen for free pancakes. Definitely worth lining up for, in fact I lined up a second time !!

We've arranged to meet my sister at Sovereign Hill at 1030 arriving there with time to spare. She's arranged complementary tickets which are gratefully received. Before proceeding into the park we also paid for the Sound and Light Show for that evening.

The park covers an extensive area and we're determined to cover all of it if we can. The Chinese Village not only shows the dreadful conditions of their accommodation but also brings out the strong anti-Chinese prejudices that existed at the diggings. The government of the day did all in its power to discourage them from coming. A discriminatory tax and barring entry at the Port of Melbourne were but two of such measures.

We then chanced on the General Store where we found the cast-iron camp oven that we'd been looking for. The shop-keeper kindly offered to keep our purchase under the counter for us to collect on the way out. We spent the next two hours looking into the many establishments along the main street. Each store is set up to reflect the period and the staff are all dressed in period costume. Much of the merchandise is manufactured or produced on site from the boiled sweets, pies and pastries to the 'tin' ware and wrought iron items at the blacksmith shop.

We had a lovely lunch with my sister who 'works' at the park on a volunteer basis. Her role is to dress as a drunken homeless woman who spends most of her time sleeping on the board-walk outside the 'New York Bakery'. She poses with the tourists and occasionally is roused by the troopers who call her a drunken smelly old hag. I think she quite enjoys her 'job'.

After lunch we made our way up the hill and took in the foundry, the undertaker and bowling saloon. We looked in on the boiler room and observed the stamp battery in operation followed by the gold refining demonstration. We had seen this previously at the Perth Mint, but in the midst of the mining town setting it took on a sense of authenticity.

There is a variety of domestic animals throughout the park much as would have been expected at the time. From peafowl to pigs goats sheep turkeys and the biggest rooster. For many, especially the children, these were a significant attraction.

Along the way we called into the school house, sat at a small desks and with nib-pen and ink practised our penmanship. Bought back many memories and demonstrated my considerable loss of dexterity in my right hand. In contrast Jenny produced an outstanding display, completing the entire alphabet in cursive capital letters.

A brief shower caused some short-term discomfort – fortunately we had our rain jackets. The final highlight was the wheel making demonstration. Each step was performed by a separate specialised machine. A block of wood was turned into the hub using three different belt-driven machine tools. Similarly the spokes were turned and shaped on machines that were over 150 years old. The wain-right then went on to show how the spokes we connected to the hub and the rim fitted to the spokes. She was not able to demonstrated the fitting of the steel tire as this process requires many hours. The workshop maintains all the horse-draw vehicles in the park and also performs outside work. The full set of specialised machines is thought to be the only working set-up in the world.

I picked up our cast-iron pot on the way out and dropped it off at the car before visiting the Gold Museum. It isn't part of Sovereign Hill but there are tickets for the Museum are included in the entry price. A most extensive collection of all things gold with considerable emphasis on gold coins. Finally left for the caravan about 1700. It has already been a big day and there's more to go.

After a quick light dinner we headed back to Sovereign Hill for the 'Blood on the Southern Cross' sound and light show. The park takes on surreal appearance under the various lighting effects. We moved from an indoor auditorium to the diggings outside as the narrative described the evolution of the gold fields. We moved on to the later stages of the park as Ballarat grew. We were then transported to a covered outdoor auditorium where the events leading up to and following the Eureka Stockade were narrated and graphically displayed in front of us.

The 'show' started at 2015 and finished at 2145. Most impressive and a highly recommended 'extra'. There are other options, like including a dinner or even overnight accommodation. All very well run and packaged.

Back at the van and well past our bed time.

Stay well and travel safely.

Cheers … Tony
Jenny with my sister and niece
The 'Big Rooster'
Just Kidding - it is looking for food
The hub of the wheel being finished
Hub fitted with spokes

Posted by greynomadm 15:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 12 – Ballarat

Friday 14 October 2011

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Quite a pleasant morning and after breakfast we reconnoitred the route to Sovereign Hill, we need to meet my sister there tomorrow at 1030 and just wanted to be sure we could find it. I've lost confidence with the GPS as she tends to find rather quirky routes.

Found Sovereign Hill without too much difficulty and then found our way to the Eureka Patchwork Shop. The most incredible range of fabrics and an “energiser bunny” who is madly passionate about her fabrics. We spent an interesting and educational hour there. Into the heart of Ballarat, the Bridge Mall looking for a small cast-iron camp oven. Found two stores that sold camp ovens but the smallest they carried were about twice the size I'm looking for.

Walked through part of the CBD and we were impressed with the number of significant old buildings still in use. Given that Ballarat and Bendigo of about the same vintage I feel there has been a greater preservation of the past here in Ballarat.

Had a very nice lunch at Subway and then drove to my sister's place. Chatted about what we'd done and where we'd been. She suggested visiting a caravan and camping yard in the North West of the city. Huge range of Jayco caravans and heaps of accessories on display. They had the same range of camp ovens as the stores in town so no luck here either. We did find the “Wingman” attachment for the TV Antenna which claims to improve fringe reception. Been planning to get one and with $10 off, a bargain.

Back to the van and approached the lovely lady at reception who kindly loaned me a ladder so that I could get to the top of the van to fit the attachment. It would be interesting to see how it performs when we get back to Yass one day.

Will post this blog and read some of my current book and rest up for a big day tomorrow.

Stay well and travel safely.

Cheers … Tony
Patchwork Fabric
Ballarat - CBD
Ballarat - Hotel
Ballarat - Theatre

Posted by greynomadm 23:49 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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