From Swan Hill in Victoria we drove north to Piangil (just south of Tooleybuc) and the commencement of the Mallee Highway. Then we drove basically west towards South Australia. We stopped for lunch in Murrayville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murrayville,_Victoria) (the last sizable town before the border) and soon moved into South Australia. Shortly after the border crossing all traffic stops for the quarantine checkpoint – chasing the dreaded Queensland fruit fly.
All clear at the checkpoint and we soon reached Pinnarroo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnaroo,_South_Australia) in South Australia and immediately picked up half an hour in time (of course we will lose it again when we cross back into New South Wales or Victoria). Given the time of day we decided to push on toward Bordertown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bordertown,_South_Australia) before we stopped for the night. The driving was initially quite rough but the road surface soon improved and by mid-afternoon we had reached Mundulla (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundulla), just south of Bordertown, where we were able to stay for the night in the Showground (with power) for just $10.00 (http://mundullashow.org.au/). There was no water or showers but the toilets were clean and our water tanks in the caravan were full. The only drawback was the 5:30am flight of the noisy corellas and the kookaburras sitting on the roof of the caravan joining in the chorus.
Next morning we drove south to Naracoorte (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naracoorte,_South_Australia) where we were to stay for three nights. There is quite a lot to see in Naracoorte – notably the Naracoorte Caves (http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/naracoorte/Home) – but the purpose of our stay in the city was to locate and meet a long-lost aunty of Margaret’s and her children. When we were at the rally in Swan Hill we were lucky to meet a couple from Naracoorte who knew the people we were looking for and were able to provide some contact details to start with. After a phone call and verification of relationship, a meeting was duly arranged and Margaret was able to meet with two cousins she had not previously met and was able to catch up with some family history. Next day we were able to catch up with Margaret’s ageing aunt (almost 90) who is sadly resident in a nursing home.
This morning (Friday) we drove the 100 kilometres to Mt Gambier driving through very pretty rural scenery and the Coonawarra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coonawarra) and the delightful wine country which the highway dissects (http://www.coonawarra.org/). Friday afternoon we took a drive to see the Blue Lake (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Lake_%28South_Australia%29) from which the water supply for Mt Gambier is drawn. This is quite a sight and draws many people each year. For the energetic there are formed paths around the perimeter of the lake and a number of various vantage points and lookouts from which to take photographs. We walked the perimeter and took lots of shots from various angles.
On Saturday morning we went in search of advertised farmers markets only to be a little disappointed in the number of stalls. These markets were outside the Mt Gambier Library and near the Cave Gardens (http://www.southaustralia.com/info.aspx?id=9000818) a unique sinkhole right in the centre of the city. The Cave Gardens has been developed into an urban park and is well worth a visit if you are in Mt Gambier. Right next door is the Main Corner Complex (http://www.mountgambier.sa.gov.au/business_main_corner.asp?id=64&p=4) which has been developed into a display and exhibition complex with many different aspects including a gallery complex, many static presentations and video and slide presentations about the history of the area and a presentation about volcanoes reflecting the volcanic history of the Mt Gambier Region.
We followed our town walk with a visit to the Bookmark Café at the Mt Gambier Library for delightful coffee and scones. This café is very popular and is part of the main library in Mt Gambier which obviously is very well patronized.
The Umpherston Sinkhole (http://www.southaustralia.com/info.aspx?id=9000800) is situated not far from the city centre in an industrial area and when we visited was surrounded by tidy piles of lumber at the adjacent timber mills. The sink hole is also known as the Sunken Garden and was originally beautified by James Umpherston in 1886. The garden has been planted with hanging ivy which forms a massive curtain over the walls of the cave. There are massed plantings of hydrangeas in the terraced beds and many other flowers and shrubs. All in all a great place deserved of its heritage listing.
On a bleak and windy Sunday morning we drove away from Mt Gambier heading toward Kingston SE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_SE,_South_Australia). As we drove further along the coast we met the rain which has been the result of a change moving across the State. The further we drove the more intense the wind and rain became. We filled the vehicle at Kingston SE but it was so wet and miserable that we stopped only once to take a photograph of the giant Lobster then drove on. We pressed on through Salt Creek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Creek,_South_Australia) and Meningie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meningie,_South_Australia) and eventually took the turn off to Wellington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington,_South_Australia) at the point where the Murray River flows into Lake Alexandrina. As we approached the town we were surprised to find we had to cross the river on a vehicular ferry which travels back and forward bringing vehicles from one side of the river to the other.
We will start our visit to the Fleurieu Peninsular (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleurieu_Peninsula) tomorrow.