Category Archives: travel

Tahune airwalk

Seven years ago, we went to the Tahune airwalk, which is in southern Tasmania, just out of Geeveston. It’s part of a site known as Tahune Aventures and I wrote a post about the 2015 trip here.

Tahune Airwalk, January 2015

Sadly, the area was badly affected by the Riveaux Road bushfires in January 2019 and the site was shut for a number of months for reconstruction. It’s now back open so we decided to visit on Sunday.

I didn’t know what to expect, having last seen it as a very lush and green forest area. There was so much fire damage to the area from the 2019 fire, it looked totally different from when we went there in 2015.

As well as the regular signs that describe the landscape and the species of vegetation that you can see, the site has signs scattered round that outline the damage that the fires did and what’s happened since then. One sign points out the extent of the flames, which reached a height of 55 metres, as seen by the charring on one of the trees.

Tahune Airwalk, April 2021

The fire was started by dry lightning in January 2019 and the site was evacuated on 21 January. It affected almost 64,000 hectares of land in the area and, while firefighters saved the visitor centre, the fires destroyed the entrance and exit of the airwalk. The airwalk itself survived but experienced significant damage from the heat.

One of the signs explains that the path to the airwalk has been completely rebuilt in a new location. About 4.5 km of walking track had to rebuilt in the area, which took over a year, and over 8000 plants were planted during that time to supplement the regrowth. Small trees have started to regrow and the ferns and eucalyptus are resprouting. A lot of the trees didn’t make it though, and there are plenty of tree corpses lying around, fallen giants in a devastated landscape.

Repairing the airwalk took a specialist crew of 28 workers, who needed to replace over 9000 bolts, replace 992 metres of guywires and repaint the entire structure. This sounds like it must have been a tricky operation, with a special scaffold needed so that the painters could access the towers, the sides and underneath the airwalk. Not a job I would be keen on signing up for.

Nah, I’m not scared

The airwalk is (to fully quote the website) an elevated 619-metre long walkway 30 metres above the forest floor, with the final cantilever section sitting at a height of 50 metres above the Huon River, with spectacular views to the confluence of the Huon and Picton and beyond to the peaks of the World Heritage Area.

Cantilever, looking out to the Huon & Picton River confluence
Other side of the cantilever

That hasn’t changed. It’s absolutely amazing to be walking through the tree tops and to be able to see these views, even if the occasional wobbling of the platform did make me a little shaky. Heights aren’t my friend, even when it’s perfectly safe. (This is one reason I didn’t sign up to repaint the airwalk. The other reason is, well, I’m not a painter.)

Kramstable braving the cantilever

It’s also encouraging to see how the area is starting to regenerate.

The amount of work that has gone into restoring the area is phenomenal, both by the people and by Nature itself.

Here are some of my photos from the day.

21 for 2021: week 12

Week 12/2021: week of 22 March

I still haven’t started a new chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4) but I have been working my way through the Habits chapter (7), the Clarity chapter (8) and the Pitch Yourself chapter (9).

I mentioned doing the UK trip book (thing 10) to my mum a few weeks ago and she sounded interested in seeing it. I wrote a travel blog with photos while I was on the trip on a platform called Travelpod, which no longer exists, but I was able to save all the entries as webpages so I can see them in a browser. I could just print them but it would look a bit shitty so I think putting everything into a nice photobook would be a nice thing to do. It will give me a chance to go back and choose the photos to tell the story with more distance from the events, rather than being on the trip and having to pick photos on the spot every day for the post. And hopefully do a better job editing them. So I started looking around for a platform to make the book on and trying a few test templates to see what will work best. 

This week, it rained. The chickens got wet.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I used (most of) the rest of the pumpkin from the weekend’s soup to make the Classic Zesty Pumpkin Risotto (page 168). It took a lot longer than I expected. I don’t know if that’s because the rice was so old (as in, the last time I made risotto was before we moved to this house at the start of 2017 and the rice was left over from whenever that was) or if the recipe was just over-optimistic.

Pumpkin risotto

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. One of my undone things (actually, two) is to read a book I borrowed from a friend and haven’t read, and give it back to them. This week, I started reading one of those books.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I wrote up some more of my notes and spend way too much time googling my great great aunt Annie’s family. Someone made a comment on a post I wrote on here about my great great grandfather (aka Alfred the builder) a few years ago, to tell me that his grandmother was Alfred’s daughter, Annie. As Annie was my grandmother’s aunt, she’s my great great aunt, which makes this guy some sort of cousin (I think). My grandmother spent some time in NSW looking after Annie’s kids, so I’m guessing one of them must have been the parent of this guy. I would love to get in touch with him to find out if his parent ever said anything about their childhood and knowing my grandmother, but his comment has no contact details, so I have no idea how to do so. I’m following a couple of other leads to see what I can find. It’s fascinating how the idea to write my mum’s story has turned into a quest to find out about other family members.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I did some more work on lesson 6.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week I completed the second lesson of Module 4.
Saturday afternoon walk

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 1 (1)
  • Things I progressed: 8 (2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 6 (6, 8, 13, 14 16, 18)
  • Things not started: 6 (3, 7, 12, 15, 19, 21)

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 29 August 2011: Dear inner critic. This is one I still battle with. Reading back on this made me cry.

What I’m reading this week

  • Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
  • Writing the Story of Your Life: The Ultimate Guide by Carmel Bird

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: week 10

Week 10/2021: week of 8 March 2021

21 for 2021 update

I feel Ike I haven’t really progressed much this week in terms of my 21 things. I didn’t do any cooking so I didn’t make a new vegetable recipe (thing 2) and I didn’t start a new chapter in the Change Journal (thing 4). I had planned to do some work on my resume (thing 18) and link that with the chapter on strengths but it didn’t happen. I’m still working through the habits chapter, including the pre-work routine (thing 20).

We went away for the weekend so I didn’t have my regular time to work on the undone things (thing 5), the vegetable garden (thing 6) or Kramstable’s videos (thing 8).

I did, however, find myself in one of the unexplored areas I wanted to photograph (thing 14). I had an hour on Tuesday night to wander around a suburb I don’t usually go to. I didn’t have my camera, so I just took my phone and made some ideas for a future photo walk in the area.

Adventures in suburbia

I took the film from my SLR to get developed (thing 16) and they scanned images came back on Friday afternoon. The pictures look like they were made on a trip to Great Lake in May 2012. The photos that I made last week to use up the film didn’t turn out at all, so I need to talk to the camera shop about what might have happened to them; whether it was the film being so old or whether there might be something wrong with the camera. I hope it’s the fomer!

Regular projects

There  are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to  doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story.I went to see my mum and we talked about how she met my dad. 
  • Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I commented very constructively on some photos people had posted in the class Facebook group, and on my adventures into unexplored territory I made some photos for the lesson 5 exercises but I’m not sure how close to the mark they were.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week I finished Module 3. 

21 for 2021 week 10 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 1 (1)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (4, 9, 11, 14, 16, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 6 (2, 5, 6, 8, 13, 18)
  • Things not started: 7 (3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 19, 21)

What else did I achieve this week?

This week the Ten Days on the Island festival has been running across Tasmania and I particularly wanted to see Julie Gough’s exhibition, Fugitive History, at the Ross Town Hall. This was part of the “If These Halls Could Talk” series of events that were held in community halls across the state.

We decided to make a weekend of it and go to Launceston for the night.

Ross Town Hall

The works were deeply moving, showing us “the often-unrecorded atrocities perpetrated against Tasmanian Aboriginal people by the colonists of Van Diemen’s Land”.

Part of Julie Gough’s work

It made me think a lot more about some of the things I’ve been learning and reading about recently, and I’m glad we went.

It was raining by the time we got to Launceston, so we spent the afternoon at the QV Museum & Art Gallery looking at some of the new exhibits. Last time I was there in October, there was a lot being prepared and not a lot to see. This time there was a lot to look at.

Nest, by Alastair Mooney, looks at “the resilience and beauty of Tasmania’s native birdlife in the face of human consumption and destruction”.

Nest

Lost Landscapes, by Anne Zahalka, gives new life to old museum dioramas, reflecting the way these displays contain “powerful messages about the way institutions privilege particular narratives about the environment”.

Skin showcases Garry Greenwood’s leather sculptural works that include musical instruments and masks.

Skin

And finally, Herself, which celebrates the range and richness of art by women in QVMAG’s collection. It includes works from female-identifying artists from 1820 to 2020, including Julie Gough, whose work we saw earlier in the day. So that was a nice way to round off the day.

Sunday morning photo walk

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 5 June 2011, where I got to hang out with the wonderful gardening guru, Peter Cundall, who is now 93 years old.

Tread lightly.

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

This week, I signed up for the Understanding Dementia MOOC, which is run by the University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre. Through this, I learned that dementia is not a disease itself. Rather it is a condition that is caused by a variety of diseases, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. It is a terminal condition that involves the progressive loss of mental and, ultimately, physical functions, which results from the ongoing and irreversible death of brain cells.

I’m finding it very interesting and am learning a lot.

What was the best thing about this week?

Going away for the weekend.

What I’m reading this week

  • The Summer Island Festival by Rachel Burton
  • The INTP: Personality, Careers, Relationships and the Quest for Truth and Meaning by A.J. Drenth
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Walking back to the hotel after dinner

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 4
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 6

Southwest Tasmania Day 2 (part 2)

Read part 1 here.

After lunch, we headed off in the opposite direction with the intention to see the Red Knoll Lookout. It starts with a 40km drive back the way we’d come yesterday to the turnoff to Scotts Peak Dam.

About 2.5 km along the unsealed road was the Creepy Crawly Walk. Here we were back to the nice walks with formed tracks and duckboard. I won’t include any spoilers but the track is aptly named.

After that lovely stop, which was closer to a 10-minute walk than the 20 minutes we expected, we continued for another 32 km or so past Edgar Dam and Scotts Peak Dam at the eastern end of the lake. Scotts Peak Dam was built to dam the Huon River. At 43 metres high, it’s only a baby compared to the Gordon Dam. Edgar Dam is even smaller, 17 metres. There’s no public access to either of these dams walls.

20180712-131 On Scotts Peak Dam Road

View from Scotts Peak Road

Passing the two dams, the road takes you to Red Knoll Lookout.

20180712-142 Junior at Red Knoll Lookout

Kramstable working out where he is

It’s a place you’d want to spend an entire day, from sunrise to sunset, watching the light changing and photographing the different moods of the rocks and the mountains. And probably more than one day because of the fog in some places and the clouds over the mountains. It’s not the sort of place to visit once and say you’d seen it.

20180712-154 Red Knoll Lookout

Scotts Peak Dam

20180712-155 Red Knoll Lookout

Scotts Peak Dam

But it wasn’t that type of holiday so we didn’t stay long. (Longer than the guy who turned up, parked his car in the spot I was taking photos, wandered round for a couple of minutes and then left.) I got some nice enough photos but I can see the potential for a lot better ones another time.

There are more photos from Red Knoll Lookout on my photoblog.

We made a couple of stops by the Sentinels on the way back for more photos in the afternoon light (you can see more of the photos here).

20180712-185 The Sentinels

The Sentinels Day 2

Our final stop was Teds Beach just out of Strathgordon. It’s a basic camping area with electric barbecues and some nice lake views. It was getting a bit dark for decent photos with a hand-held camera by this time.

20180712-198 Teds Beach copy

Teds Beach late afternoon

 

Southwest Tasmania Day 1 (part 2)

In the first week of the school holidays, we took a few days off and travelled to Strathgordon on Lake Pedder in the southwest Tasmanian wilderness.

You can read about our first stop on the way, at The Needles, here. Or if you just want to look at some photos, they are also here.

Not much further down the road towards Lake Pedder is another spectacular range called The Sentinels. It’s a quartzite range about five km long and one km high.

It would seem the most common reaction of people seeing it for the first time as they drive round the bend is, “Wow!”

That was certainly my reaction, and I insisted we stop immediately so I could take some photos.

20180711-057 The Sentinals copy

Wow!

20180711-062 The Sentinals copy

The Sentinels Day 1

That had to be the most jaw-dropping thing I’d seen all day and I certainly got my huge rock fix!

This was one of several photo stops here over the next couple of days. You can find the complete series of photos on my photoblog Straighlinesgirlimages. Or stay tuned for more posts here.

Our accommodation was the Pedder Wilderness Lodge at Strathgordon. Strathgordon was constructed in 1969 to accommodate the workers on the hydroelectric scheme (more on that in the next post). Apparently, it accommodated about 2000 people when the scheme was under construction but the population now is about 70.

We’d booked one of the self-contained units at the very reasonable rate of two nights for the price of one. Winter travel has its benefits. Our plan was to self-cater for breakfast and lunch then splash out at night and have dinner at the restaurant. It was a good plan. Because who wants to cook on holidays? Not me.

20180711-068 Lake Pedder at the lodge

Lake Pedder behind the lodge

20180711-078-Helipad-at-the-lodge

The helipad. No unauthorised landing.

I managed to capture some images of the lake in the afternoon sun as well as seeing the beautiful light on the hillside as the sun was setting.

20180711-092 Hills near the lodge

Beautiful afternoon light on the hills

20180711-084 Hills near the lodge

More giant rocks

The lodge has become popular with the local ravens, who seem to have no fear of people and are quite happy to pose for photos. And steal food, we were informed.

20180711-109 Raven at the lodge

Raven shows no fear

We ended the day with dinner at the lodge and were all looking forward to the next day’s adventures.

 

 

The Needles—Southwest Tasmania Day 1

This week we had a three-day break at Lake Pedder in Tasmania’s southwest. None of us had been before so we were all looking forward to it and had several short walks planned.

From Hobart, we headed to New Norfolk and turned onto the Gordon River Road at Bushy Park.  After a coffee stop at Russell Falls, we resumed our journey. The Gordon River Road takes you past the Florentine, an area I am very keen to go and explore more, and into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  The area was listed on the World Heritage List in 1982 and covers approximately one-fifth of the area of Tasmania (1.584 million hectares). It incorporates eight of Tasmania’s National Parks, including the Southwest National Park, where we were going.

Our first stop, about 16 km from the town of Maydena, was the walk to The Needles. This is described as 2-3 hour return medium grade walk. According to the information we got from the motel, “this steep and muddy track takes you to a series of jagged rocks at the top of a beautiful ridgeline known as The Needles. It is one of the most rewarding, and seemingly unknown, short walks in the Southwest National Park.”

It sounds pretty cool, right? The description goes on to say “this steep 3 km return walk offers uninterrupted panoramic views from rugged mountainous terrain”.

Do you get the feeling it’s steep?

I’d read the description and thought the views sounded spectacular so was very keen to do this walk. The word “steep” obviously hadn’t registered in my mind, and when we got there I had to look a long way up to see the top of the hill. The walk starts at the highest point on the Gordon River Road, 651 metres, and the summit point is 1020 metres. That’s a 400-metre climb spread out of about 1.5 km. It looked fairly imposing for a non-hiker.

View from the road

The Needles from the road

sw-02

We’re going up there

As we set off it was nice and muddy underfoot. (So far, the description was spot-on.) I was grateful for having bought some new walking boots a couple of weeks ago rather than wear my old non-waterproof shoes that had holes in them when it became apparent the track was more of a watercourse than a track. The tracks I’m used to in my city-girl bushwalks come from the 60 Great Short Walks book. There were no formed paths, no duckboard over the muddy bits and no steps here. Thank you, past me, for the new boots.

It was very heavy going and I was regretting the multiple layers I’d put on in the morning to prepare for the cold. It was a sunny day and climbing was hot work once we got out of the bush and into the sunlight.

The view got progressively better as we climbed.

sw-03

Excuse the blown-out cloud there

sw-04

Getting to the top

sw-05

A  bit closer

Getting to the top was amazing and totally worth the slog. I’m a big fan of huge jagged rocks and here they were in abundance, everywhere I looked.

sw-06

Started to climb this. Didn’t finish.

sw-08

One of my favourite photos from the walk

The views off into the distance were stunning.

sw-07

Seeing for miles

sw-09

Snow!

sw-10

It was a perfect day for this walk

The sky was gorgeous and I felt a sense of having come somewhere special. The other thing was that it was absolutely silent up there. I don’t know if I can remember the last time I experienced such total silence and I didn’t want to leave. Giant rocks, blue sky, fabulous clouds and the complete absence of noise. I dragged it out as long as I could to soak in as much of this feeling as possible but we had to leave eventually.

sw-11

Stunning rocks everywhere

Going down was equally challenging because it was very easy to lose your footing and fall over into the mud. A girl we’d passed on our way up had done exactly that. I had no desire to do the same and managed to retain my footing the entire way down.

This was a fantastic way to start our trip and I couldn’t wait for the next experience.

You can find more about The Needles here.

Cold weather blues

Cold weather blues
Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia


Us, when planning the holiday: “Let’s go in winter. Then there won’t be too many people around.” Enter the worst storms in the region for 30 years. An excellent plan indeed.

We could hear the wind whistling down the corridor of the hotel last night, and the wild weather continued this morning. We hadn’t planned on driving anywhere after we arrived yesterday until it was time to go to the airport, but the weather was so bad we couldn’t face walking around all day. We drove out to Glenelg to have a look at the beach, and I wasn’t even prepared to get out of the car for a photo. If you know me, you will know this was hardcore weather.

Having very little idea of what might keep a nine year old amused (museums and art galleries were out), we took a trip to one of the visitor centres (after having recaffeinated), where the staff gave us a few ideas.

We had a wander through the Rundle Mall and I was quite taken with the four pigs. Apparently they’ve been there since 1999, and were the winning entry in a national sculpture competition when the mall was being upgraded. They are the work of South African-born and Sydney-based sculptor Marguerite Derricourt. The title of the work is “A Day Out”.

The weather had improved, so we took the car back to the hotel and grabbed beanies and rain coats before heading back out. The receptionist asked us if we were sure we wanted to go out. “Pfft,” we said, “We’re from Tasmania. This is nothing!” She was probably crossing Tasmania off her travel wish list as we bravely went outside, Kramstable in shorts as usual.

The Adelaide Central Market is in between Grote and Gouger Streets (I just wanted to write “Grote Street” somewhere. That is the best street name ever.) It was our first stop. I love the story of its first day: “On 23 January 1869 at 3.15am, a small but noisy procession of market gardeners found their way from the East End Market to the site between Gouger and Grote Streets. In only a few hours about 500 purchasers quickly bought out the entire stock of goods for sale, so that for those hurrying to the scene of activity after 6.00am, there was nothing left to buy. . . . Today the Adelaide Central Market is home to 80 stalls and is visited by more than 8 million people a year.”

We wandered round there for a while taking in the sights and smells, before heading back out onto the street. Gouger Street is home to Chinatown, but in a block full of Asian restaurants, who else but Kramstable would choose to have pizza for lunch in an Italian restaurant.

After lunch we made our way back to the Victoria Square/Tarntanyannga tram stop to catch the free tram a couple of stops closer to town. This is Adelaide’s only tram service and it runs out to Glenelg, with the main zone in the city being free to travel in. We’d seen some information about the Alpine Winter Village that was set up on the Torrens Parade Ground. The man at the visitor centre hadn’t known a lot about it, other than there was ice skating, so we thought we’d have a look. Really all that was missing was snow. And, you know, Alps. But it looked like it would be a fun little precinct to hang around in and imbibe winter beverages and eat winter food. A bit like Winterfeast. We wandered through the little market, which featured local craftspeople, and stopped for a drink in the Après Ski Lounge.

There were piles of woodchips being shovelled in all the time to try and keep the ground as dry as possible. None of us was game to try ice skating! On the way back to the city we stopped to have a look at the Boer War memorial.

Dinner tonight was at Nola, which is (among other things) “a New Orleans inspired dining bar with a focus on Creole and Cajun soul food, a curated selection of Independent and Craft Beer on our 16 taps”. We’d googled craft beer bars and this came up. It’s in a slightly hidden section of laneways off Rundle Street, so it was a bit of a walk from our hotel and ended up being a bit harder to find than we’d thought (but on the plus side, this made it one of only two days on the whole holiday I met my step target). But it was totally worth it!

Who would have thought Brussels Sprouts could be (a) a main dish and (b) edible? Everything about this place was fantastic and now I want to come back and spend a week in these laneways.

I’m looking forward to going home tomorrow. If we get there. Winds permitting. And I think I’m done with driving holidays for a while. I’d like to take some time to explore a place or two instead of rushing from town to town. I’ve loved everything we’ve seen – and I’ve really enjoyed it all – but I think next time I want a slow ride.

Kensington Road runs straight for a while

Kensington Road runs straight for a while
Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia


The weather was no better this morning than it had been yesterday. In fact, it was probably worse. The wind is horrible and we’ve seen reports of some severe damage having been done across the state. I’m beginning to think this is a consequence of us being here, because there were huge storms across central South New Zealand when we were there last year.

We left Victor Harbor (the lack of a “u” is apparently a spelling error by an early surveyor that was never corrected), a bit disappointed to have missed the activities that we’d gone there for.

Never mind. There was wine just up the road, and we set our minds to finding some wineries in McLaren Vale. Not that this is especially difficult to do. Tempting as it would have been to visit lots, we had picked out just two (I know). First up was Maxwell Wines, the attraction of which was their maze. They make the Maxwell Mead that I’ve seen in bottle shops at home, as well as a decent selection of reds and a few whites. As usual, Slabs went for the reds and I tried the whites. All of them.

We didn’t get lost in the maze, so that was a bonus!

We thought we’d call in to Goodieson Brewery on the way to Fox Creek, but they weren’t open, so that was a no go. Slabs had chosen Fox Creek because he’d had one of their wines in Hobart, and I really enjoyed their Vermentino, which is an Italian grape variety I’ve never had before. They only sell that one through their cellar door.

Once wine had been tasted and procured, it was time for the last leg of our toad trip. On to Adelaide. With visions of Paul Kelly singing “All the king’s horses, all the king’s men . . .” we set out in search of Kensington Road where, according to the song, Mr Kelly was raised and fed. On the bend.

It’s a long long road, and it does run straight for a long while before turning. There’s a roundabout there, at the bend. We drove all the way to the end of the road, which ends on top of a hill. The view of the city would have been good except for all the trees in the way!

There were no sightings of wisteria on any back verandahs, or great aunts, either insane or dead, so we said farewell to Kensington Road and went to look for our hotel. The numbering on South Terrace is interesting, to say the least, with odd and even numbers on the same time of the road. This is right up there with the 30 minute time difference and schooners actually being middies for “things that are different in SA”. Also 25 km/h roadwork and school zone speed limits, which are probably a very good idea.

We checked into the hotel. Its restaurant is being renovated so we had to go to the restaurant at the Chifley down the road, Hanuman, which was amazing. I want to stay here for a week so I can try everything on the menu.

Don’t pay the ferryman

Don’t pay the ferryman
Victor Harbor, Australia

Victor Harbor, Australia


And so the predicted bad weather came upon us like torrential rain and gale-force winds, and we were safely tucked up in a cabin at the caravan park feeling not the least bit sorry for the people in campers. It really was foul weather and we were grateful that it hit after we’d done the almost 400km drive to Meningie. Because it would have sucked to have been driving in this.

We had breakfast in a cafe the town (and the carrot, turmeric and bacon soup was very nice) before we left. I was interested in the wood carving across the road, which was by sculptor Ant Martin from the nearby(ish) town of Millicent. It’s a 6.4 meter high pelican being fed a Murray cod by two children, and is said to symbolise reconciliation between Indigenous Australians and European settlers.

And then we were off on the (relatively) short drive to Victor Harbor (no u) on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We had to cross the Murray River at Wellington East. The ferry (which is operated by the SA Government free to punters) isn’t so much a boat as a motorised bit of road that floats back and forth across the river once there are enough cars to go. In our case, three. It was a strange experience. We were on a ferry but we hadn’t left the road!

We passed through some (of many) wine districts on the way but decided not to stop. Actually we did stop in Langhorne Creek, but the winery we’d wanted to visit wasn’t open, so we kept going. We had a brief stop at Middleton Arts & Crafts before finally getting to Victor Harbor.

There’s a lot of funfair rides and attractions set up for the school holidays and Slabs and Kramstable had a go on the dodgem cars. Unfortunately due to the wind, the ferris wheel wasn’t going because that would have been cool to go up above the town. The horse-drawn tram, which is a well-known attraction of the town also wasn’t running today because of the weather, which was disappointing as that’s one of the things that Slabs had seen when he was planning the trip that had made him choose here as a stop.

We had lunch at Nino’s Cafe, which seems to be a bit of a local institution, and were glad to have arrived and ordered just before a party of 14 kids and 16 adults arrived. The pizza was really good. As was the wine. What? Right, back to the story.

Kramstable had seen a brochure for the Cheeky Ratbags Play Cafe in the tourist centre and said he wanted to go. He has been great on this trip. There hasn’t been a lot of specific kid stuff for him to do and he’s put up with being dragged around to things he hasn’t necessarily been interested in himself and has had to sit in the car for very long stretches. This part of the trip was for him with the school holiday stuff happening, and the shithouse weather has put paid to a lot of that. So we took him out to the play centre and he had an absolute ball. It was great to see him enjoying himself with absolutely no constraints (even if I did have the worst headache and had forgotten how loud kids can scream when they’re having fun).

After we checked into our hotel we went for a wander over to the SA Whale Centre, where there are some fascinating displays, including a actual whale skull that is oozing whale oil and smells quite vile. There’s a interesting 3D presentation on whales, as well as an exhibit on the work of Sea Shepherd. Kramstable had fun fossicking for fossils and pretending to be eaten by a shark.

We’d missed the last Cockle Train to Golwa, so we wandered through the town before coming back to the hotel to rest up before dinner.

I did a quick walk around the harbour and had a look at the Encounter Poles, which is a monument commemorating the meeting of Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802 in Ramindjeri Ngarridjeri Waters, presenting three worlds and three cultures, connected through wind and water.

And it was a very very nice dinner, topped off with some lovely local wine. I think I rather like South Australia.

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.