The long and (not very) winding road

The long and (not very) winding road
Meningie, Australia

Meningie, Australia


You know what a great idea it had been to get up early and see the Twelve Apostles in the morning light? Well for the Blue Lake of Mount Gambier, this didn’t work as well. We saw the sun rise, but the lake looked less blue than it had appeared yesterday. Still there was a pretty cool effect of fog appearing to be pouring into the lake, so that made the early start worthwhile.

We also discovered that the Leg of Mutton lake, so named for its shape, was actually now called Leg of Mutton Lake Crater because, well, to be a lake I imagine having water would be a requirement.

So that’s two of the four lakes dried up since 1979.

We then began the search for a cafe open at 8am. A quick lap of the main street revealed nothing, but trusty Google found us at Cafe Melzar, carefully hidden away in a side street, which opened at 8am. We arrived at 7.57. It was the best breakfast of the trip so far (yes I did have southern fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup and it was delicious), and the best coffee. Recommended.

Today was to be the big drive through the Coorong so we wanted to be on our way as early as we could. Driving out of Mount Gambier it was kind of cool to know we were driving over the top of the Engelbrecht Cave.

We took an accidental detour into Beachport, which is a pretty little town boasting the second longest jetty in South Australia. 772 metres, but it was originally about 500 metres longer. (Port Germein has the longest one; at 1532 metres it’s still not longest jetty in Australia – that honour goes to the Busselton jetty.)

We walked to the end and back, had coffee and hit the highway again. We decided not to go to Robe, but stopped in Kingston SE for lunch. We saw the old Cape Jaffa lighthouse, which had been constructed in the 1870s and when it was decommissioned it was taken apart and reconstructed in Kingston in the 1970s. There was also a life boat from the Southship OLIVA that ran aground in the Nightingale Islands in 2011, and the lifeboat washed ashore in the Coorong two years later.

Then it was time to hit the Coorong. You can’t actually see much (anything) from the highway. I can’t remember where we went in 1979. There’s an old dirt road between the highway and the beach, and a 4WD track on the beach and I can vaguely remember driving along something like that. Unfortunately circumstances dictated that we didn’t do any of this, and so we ended up driving straight through to Meningie, on the shore of Lake Albert.

It’s a tiny town and we stayed at the caravan park. In a cabin, thankfully, after the wild weather that his us during the night. I went for a walk along the lake and was happy to see pelicans, since we missed the pelican observatory on the Coorong.

We had dinner at the restaurant that was part of the museum complex over the road. I had Coorong Mullet, which we’d seen advertised for sale at several places on the drive. It’s also called Yellow Eye Mullet and it was very tasty.

And that was it for a quiet Saturday night. Our longest drive was over and we kicked back after dinner with a couple of fantastic beers from local brewery Robe Town Brewery.

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Trout Weekend

 We’ve just returned from a weekend at Liawenee in Tasmania’s Central Plateau. Apparently it is the coldest place in Tasmania. Clearly somewhere you really want to go heading into winter . . .

We went for the Inland Fisheries’ annual Trout Weekend, which is held at IFS’ Field Station, near Great Lake. We decided that rather than drive up and back in a day, we’d stay up there overnight, so it was a nice weekend getaway.

Among the things to see and do was the angling pool, where kids could catch trout; watching trout being stripped of eggs (a very strange thing to see); and helicopter rides, which we decided at the last minute to do, because it’s not an opportunity that you get every day.

It was a fun weekend and, although it was cold and there was some snow on the ground, it wasn’t as freezing as we’d expected. Today was a beautiful, clear sunny day, perfect for our helicopter ride.

Juniordwarf was very excited to catch a fish from the trout pool, and was even more excited when he got a certificate (he’s highly motivated by certificates at the moment). He thought it was great to catch a fish that he could eat for dinner – only once it was on his plate, he said he didn’t like it and filled up on carrots instead.

For the record, the trout was 35 cm long and weighed 600 grams. Not a huge trophy fish, but perfect for the three of us.

On the way home, we stopped to have a look at the Steppes Stones, which are some wonderful sculptures by Stephen Walker in the middle of the bush.

Great Lake at Miena – trying out the AutoStitch Panorama app on my phone

Great Lake at Miena

Great Lake Hotel, where we stayed

Juniordwarf was fascinated by the egg stripping

IFS officer talking about egg stripping

Juniordwarf and his fish

Near Liawenee

Helicopter ride

Helicopter ride

View of Great Lake from the helicopter

Helicopter ride

We stopped to look at the fantastic Steppes Stones on the way home

The Steppes Stones by Stephen Walker

The Steppes Stones

Country road, take me home . . .  (outside Bothwell)

P365 – Day 362 – Salmon Ponds (and year in review 9/12)

It was one of those afternoons where we just had to get out of the house, so we went for a short drive to the Salmon Ponds.
Juniordwarf had fun feeding the rainbow trout (note if you will, the fine capture, by iPhone camera, of the fish food in mid-air) and we had a short walk around the grounds.
Then he said he wanted to come home.
So that was that.
Year in Review (9/12)
Since my Project 365 is rapidly coming to an end, I’m going post a link to my favourite post from each month this year over the last 12 days of the year.
September: Travel-log Day 2
From our holiday to the mainland – the day we drove through the beautiful Kusciuszko National Park.

P365 – Day 239 – fishing days

On Monday, Slabs took Juniordwarf fishing after daycare, and Juniordwarf caught his first fish! He was very excited to show me when I got home (although he didn’t want to touch it because his hands would get dirty).
We decided we’d go on a family outing to the same spot (on the Styx River, where we went earlier in the year) on the weekend, if the weather held up.
It did, so off we went.
Last time I was at that spot, it was all underwater. Today there was still some residual water lying around on the ground. The first thing I spotted as we drove in was a temporary ‘pond’ with some beautiful reflections of trees in it, and I knew that in the right light, I could get some nice photos.
While Juniordwarf and Slabs fished, I wandered around with my camera trying to get some decent shots of those beautiful reflections, of the river and of some rather cool looking funghi that I saw on a tree.
The boys fishing

Styx River

Tree funghi

Reflections in a ‘pond’
I also played chase with Juniordwarf, helped him climb a tree and went for a walk with him. We all played hide and seek, which was fun, but didn’t last long due to there not being any actual hiding places that might be safe for a four year old.
On his little camp chair reading.
Not real glasses!
Don’t ask about the head band.

Note the seat belt is almost on

Look Mum, I’m in a tree!
The only fish that anyone landed was too small and was put back into the river, so Juniordwarf didn’t get his wish to have fish for dinner fulfilled.
But it didn’t matter. We had a nice afternoon by the river, which is the most important thing.

P365 – Day 72 gone fishing

Slabs is a keen fisherman and one of the things that attracted him to our town was its proximity to the river and a host of great fishing spots.

So today we went fishing.

Actually we did more driving than fishing, but we ended up at a pretty spot on the Styx River right alongside the Bushy Park Showgrounds.

By the time we got there, conditions weren’t particularly good for taking photos, but you can still see that it is a lovely spot (despite the proliferation of blackberries on the way down).

First up, Slabs and Juniordwarf had a few casts.

Then Slabs spotted some fish jumping in the other direction, so he headed off that way to see if he could land one (he didn’t).

Juniordwarf decided that throwing rocks in the river was going to be more fun than fishing.
Splash!

Action shot

I tried so hard to get a shot of a rock in the air.
This is the best one.
Here he is, looking for the next rock.
And now to photo of the day. Remember how my project is supposed to be a photo a day taken on my phone camera? Well, today would have been a great opportunity to take a picture for the project of something a bit different to our daily life.
Except I left my phone at home.
Yes, I know. How did I cope? It was an extremely difficult three hours, being without it (!!!!), even though I most likely wouldn’t have had any reception where we went anyway.
Juniordwarf to the rescue! After we stopped in town on the way home, Slabs moved the rods to the back of the ute. When we got home, Juniordwarf got out his Diego car and his toy fishing rod, attached the rod to the back of the car, which was his version of the rods travelling in the back of the ute, and drove it round the lounge room to the fishing spot. 
Great! All I need to do is take a picture and link it in to the story and the problem’s solved. 
Did I think of that when he was doing it?
Of course not. 
Would be do it again once I had thought of it?
No. Diego, the car and the rod were packed away (together with the fish that came with the rod, in the box that he was using as the ‘river’, so I’m not sure how Diego has coped with that).
So this is a recreation. It’s the best I can do!

P365 – Day 65 Plenty

Today we completed our tour of wineries we hadn’t been to by visiting Kinvarra Estate Wines just outside the small town of Plenty, in the Derwent Valley.

The homestead was built in 1827.

The vineyard has a great view up the Valley. Someone forgot their polarising filter. Again. The middle of the day is not a good time to be taking photos, as will become more apparent later on.

And what would a cellar door be without a wine dog? Meet Bundy.

The Sunday Tasmanian guide (which I quoted yesterday) says:

Sue and David Bevan’s 10ha vineyard with a new cellar door and some simply wonderful old reislings this weekend, wines that show the variety in all its mature, honeyed glory plus a cracker of a mature pinot noir at prices which make it well worth the travel.

Wines: ’00, ’01, ’04 rieslings ($26. $26, $22), ’10 Kate Hill Riesling (trophy and gold $30), ’04 Late Harvest Riesling ($22), ’03 Brut (28) and ’01 Pinot Noir ($24)  

As I said yesterday, I’m not a wine expert. But I was quite amazed by the different rieslings. The 2001 was, as the review says, like honey. It’s something I’ve never tasted in a wine before, and it wasn’t at all unpleasant. The Late Harvest Riesling was also a pleasant surprise. I’m not a sweet wine lover, and I tend to run in the opposite direction whenever I see the words ‘late harvest’ on a label, as these tend to have high levels of residual sugar. But this one had only 10 grams, and it was very dry, for a sweet wine. I would definitely have it again.

I’m also not a Pinot drinker, but this one was nothing like any Pinot I’d had before, and both Slabs and I agreed it was pretty good.

And a big shout out to Slow Food Hobart, whose bus tour of the Derwent Valley Wineries arrived just as we were leaving. It sounds like they had a great day, and they ended up at Two Metre Tall for lunch.

We went to the Salmon Ponds, which is one of Juniordwarf’s favourite spots to visit.

After lunch, which included a glass of one of a wine I bought yesterday (so how could I say no – I had to make sure I didn’t regret buying it!!), Sauvignon Blanc from Laurel Bank (check out that wine glass!), we went and fed the fish.

There are six ponds with fish including rainbow trout (the most entertaining to feed), brown trout, brook trout, albino trout and salmon. I can’t remember the sixth one, sorry! And what you do is buy a container full of fish pellets and throw them into the ponds for the fish to eat. Juniordwarf loves it, now that he’s finally got the hang of throwing a few pellets at a time into the pond, rather than dumping them on the bank.

Very large rainbow trout

Albino trout

After you’ve looked at the fish, there are a couple of other things you can do.

We went for a walk along the ‘River Walk’ along side the Plenty River. It is a beautiful spot and apparently sometimes you can see platypus in there. I don’t think we ever have. Sometimes you can spot fish in there too.

Along the River Walk there is an old fishing shack, called ‘The Sanctuary’. According to the sign nearby, it was built in 1947 by Mr William Burrows, Commissioner of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Commission (as it used to be known). The hut is built from packing crates used to bring car chassis over from the mainland. Inside is a display of what the hut might have looked like when it was in use.

Somehow, I think the Cascade stubby is a little incongruous. Juniordwarf is quite fascinated by the hut’s outside toilet.

As well as the River Walk, there is the Museum of Trout Fishing, which is an old cottage (built for the first superintendent of the Salmon Ponds in 1865) containing rooms full of fishing memorabilia, including old rods and reels, big fish like this one:

and other stuff, including rooms set up like they might have been in the 19th century. One of the interesting things in there is one of the original packing boxes used to carry salmon eggs from England to Tasmania in 1864.

A small history lesson on the carriage of trout and salmon eggs to Tasmania from England. This information is copied from the signs posted around the hatchery at the Salmon Ponds, and I find it quite fascinating.

The first time they tried to do it, in 1852, they kept the eggs in a tub on a bed of gravel and added fresh water daily. Warm weather and a delayed departure meant that the eggs hatched only a month into the journey and all the fish died.

In 1860 they tried again, this time using ice to cool the water and delay the eggs from hatching. They also rigged up a suspension device for the trough to counter the ship’s movement. Unfortunately the ice supply ran out after 59 days, and again, the eggs all died.

There was another unsuccessful attempt in 1862, but they had also packed a box of eggs in moss in the ice trough, and these survived longer than the others. 

In 1864, based on the results of the 1862 attempt and some further experiments, trout and salmon eggs were packed in ‘small perforated boxes between layers of moss, charcol and crushed ice and placed in the ship’s ice house’, which remained closed for the whole journey. Many of them survived the journey to Melbourne. Some were left in Victoria, but most were taken to Tasmania and transported to the Salmon Ponds via Hobart.

91 days after leaving London, the first eggs were put into the water, and on 4 May 1864 the very first trout to swim in the Southern Hemisphere hatched. The first salmon hatched the next day.

So there you have it. It took 12 years to work out how to transport fish eggs from England to Australia.
And there ends the lecture for the day. See you tomorrow.