Debbie & Geoff's

Australian Safari


Travel Blog     -     November 2017

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Thursday 2nd – Friday 10th, November 2017

After leaving Arkaroola we headed further south down The Outback Highway still following the old Ghan Railway to a lovely little town Quorn where we decided to stay for a few nights. There are four pubs across from the railway line and we cannot for the life of us imagine how such a sleepy town can now sustain four pubs. We took a drive out to Warren Gorge which was a national park with a great camping area attached. We must try to remember this in case we ever venture back into the area. The gorge itself was worth the drive and no matter how many gorges we see they are all uniquely different and spectacular. From here we did a loop past Proby’s Grave (a stockman that was drowned in a flash flood) to a lookout and then back to town. On the dusty road we couldn’t get over how many Shingleback Lizards that we spotted crossing the road. We would stop and hurry them along, and even though we thought we were doing a good deed the shinglebacks did not look impressed and would hiss and poke there tongue out at us.

 Heading south from Arkaroola     Quorn main street      Quorn railway station
Heading south from Arkaroola                   Quorn main street                   Quorn railway station

 Shingleback defence     Nature photographer      Shingleback defence
Shingleback defence                   Nature photographer                   Shingleback defence

That afternoon we went for a stroll around the town having a look at the old buildings shop fronts and railway antiquities. The Pichi Richi railway still runs for a tourist ride from Quorn to Port August but it was off season so we missed out on that train trip which we thought would be quite interesting and fun.

We are now coming to the last 350km drive to Adelaide and the scenery changes to farming and agriculture as we leave the Flinders Ranges. We also passed the Pink Salt Lakes at Lochiel which were amazing and Geoff put up the drone to do some spectacular shots of the area.

 Salt Lake     Salt Lake      Salt Lake
Salt Farm Lake

It was late in the afternoon when we parked at the Big 4 Caravan Park at West Beach where we based ourselves as it was located near a couple of friends who we were catching up with. On Sunday we had a wonderful lunch at the Echidna Vineyard In McLaren Vale with our friends Peter and Ally from home and they had moved here last year. Lunch was great with sumptuous food and of course wine. Then on the Monday I spent the day with my girlfriend Karen and the evening we had fish and chips on their back deck with her husband John after he returned from work.

 Lunch at Echidna
Lunch at Echidna

Though we didn’t get to do much sightseeing it was wonderful to catch up with our friends before heading south to Normanville. I can’t believe it was the end of April when we last stayed with Rina and Des before heading off to WA west coast. It was so nice to catch up with these two and every morning Rina and I would head to the beach to do our walk whilst Geoff went to photograph a pair of Hooded Plovers who had three eggs on a nest that they were protecting. Whilst there Geoff spotted a shingleback lizard making his way towards the eggs. No matter what the parents did to distract him the lizard seemed to be on a mission to get his breakfast. Geoff tossed up on waiting to get the lifetime shot of the shingleback taking an egg or rescue the eggs. His heroic nature won out and he ended up relocating the shingleback to another part of the beach.

 Shingleback & Hooded Plover     Hooded Plover eggs      Hooded Plover eggs
Shingleback & Hooded Plover                   Hooded Plover eggs                   Hooded Plover sitting on eggs

 Shingleback & Hooded Plover     Hooded Plover & eggs      Hooded Plover chicks
Shingleback & Hooded Plover                   Hooded Plover & eggs                   Hooded Plover chicks

Another surprise was that my cousin was in town for a holiday with his family and we got to have lunch together before they boarded the ferry to go to Kangaroo Island. We had lunch down at the beach café and managed to have a great two hours together before they had to leave. Our final evening we attended a function at the Shingleback Winery as Rina was working so we got to enjoy some lovely music, cheese platters and wine while she slaved away.

 Cousin Nathan & family     Normanville      Shingleback Winery
Cousin Nathan & family                   Normanville                   Shingleback Winery


Saturday 11th – Sunday 19th November 2017

On the road again as we now had just over a week till we were due into Melbourne. So after an early morning walk with Rina while Geoff checked on his Plovers we packed up and headed east. The scenery changed as we drove through rolling grass hills of emerald green dotted with cows and sheep, then golden fields of hay and yellow flowers of a crop of what I thought could be canola till we arrived at our destination Meningie staying at Lake Albert. With our camp site right on the edge of the lake and lots of green grass it made for a pleasant stay for the evening. You can swim in the lake and it was warm enough but we decided to pass on that event. From here we drove to our stop at Kingston SE for the evening where we stayed at a park across from the beach. Geoff and I went for a stroll that afternoon and found some very strange creatures that had been washed up on shore. Still not sure what they were so I put a picture on Facebook to try and get an answer. We also enjoyed another beautiful sunset, we do get so spoilt.

 Meningie - Lake Albert     Sunset at Kingston SE      Sunset at Kingston SE
Meningie - Lake Albert                   Sunset at Kingston SE                   Sunset at Kingston SE

 Sea monster     Strange seaweed      Strange seaweed closeup
Sea monster                   Strange seaweed                   Strange seaweed closeup

Next we drove to Mount Gambier where we stayed previously on our trip west. I still find it hard to believe that we have been west, north and down the guts of the country to the bottom again. What I loved previously about this place is the city and all the old architecture in the town. Geoff and I took a stroll around the city and had a look at the Cave Gardens near the town hall. This is a sink hole that they also do a sound and light show from. The gardens surrounding it are beautiful and I must say they have the sweetest smelling roses, you know the ones that actually smell like roses in the park. Unfortunately the sinkhole was a disappointment as someone had thrown rubbish into it, including three shopping trolleys and a push bike, not to mention the McDonald’s cups, and plastic bottles.
Having talked to the manager at the van park about this she was very distressed and told us she was there on the weekend and noticed a bunch of louts doing wheelie with their bikes in the park and creating havoc. She then mentioned to us the Umpherston Sinkhole which was only a few km’s out of town. Now this did not disappoint us. This sunken garden was beautiful with flowers blooming, large veils of ivy hanging from the walls and a small water feature trickling down one area. It really was a magical place and I think it was the highlight of our visit to town this trip.

 Umpherston Sinkhole     Umpherston Sinkhole      Umpherston Sinkhole
Umpherston Sinkhole

 Umpherston Sinkhole     Umpherston Sinkhole garden     Umpherston Sinkhole
Umpherston Sinkhole

Leaving in the rain we headed to Lake Bolac where we had a night’s stay again right on the lake. The country side is just beautiful and green lush pastures were the main feature. We stopped and took pictures of an area that had hundreds of grass trees in flower. Mainly on one side of the road and their long spikes could be seen for miles. From here it was a short drive to the goldfields of Ballarat where we had 3 nights. We visited the Clare Miller Environment Centre which is part of Birdlife and a bird sanctuary. We went for a walk into the bush but except for lots of noise the birds were mainly hiding from us. Shy little buggers they are, as soon as Geoff gets his camera up they disappear. We had a picnic by the lake and it was a very enjoyable day. The scenery driving around the area with the little towns was very picturesque and even though the birds were scarce it was a lovely drive.

 Clare Miller Environment Centre     Kangaroo tails - Grass trees       Kangaroo tails - Grass trees
Clare Miller Environment Centre           Kangaroo tails - Grass trees           Kangaroo tails - Grass trees

Our next adventure was to Sovereign Hill, but as we had previously been there during the day which we loved as it is an old gold mining town, we decided to do the Light and Sound show in the evening which takes you into the gold fields and tells you the story of families that era and the fight at the Eureka Stockade. The show was called Blood on the Southern Cross and I am sorry to say that Geoff and I found it a bit boring. I think we were expecting a bit more interaction than a recording telling the story and a few fires lit, buildings glowing and some gun fire. Sorry we can’t supply photos as you were not allowed to take photos or video the show.
Our last day at Ballarat was a trip to the Botanical Gardens. This skirted one side of the lake which was originally a swamp that now has been transported into a lovely wet land with tracks meandering through it. Geoff was in his element with the bird life that was in the park and I enjoyed seeing all the baby swans and ducks that were swimming and waddling after their parents. I decided to leave Geoff with his birds and I did the walk around the park. I was rather chuffed with myself as I managed the 6km walk in 45 minutes and that was stopping to take pictures and talk to a few of the locals also doing the walk.

 Botanical Gardens     Botanical Gardens       Kangaroo tails - Grass trees
Botanical Gardens

 Male Musk Duck     Musk Duck and chick       Great Crested Grebe
Male Musk Duck                 Musk Duck and chick                 Great Crested Grebe

Monday 20th – Monday 27th November 2017

Oh its big city time as we made our way into Melbourne and I can assure you that even I was a bit daunted by all the traffic as we found our way towards Coburg where we based ourselves. We needed to get some things done to the van under warranty early the next morning and our Lotus friends at the factory didn’t let us down, in by 7:30 out by 8:30. Now we have a base we head off to visit our friends at Balnarring Keith and Di. We always have a wonderful time with these two and they had an amazing adventure planned for us.
Keith and Di organised a trip to Geelong for the day starting with a drive to Sorrento then the car ferry across to Queenscliff. We then drove to Geelong where we had tickets to see the Archibald exhibition at the Art Gallery. All of us were very impressed with the standard of the work, and we all decided that the winning picture was interesting but would not have been our choice. The one picture we were all impressed with was of the 102 year old Ballerina Eileen Kramer. This painting showed her grace, fragility and gentleness and it was also fortunate that we had seen a news interview with her only a few nights previously.

 Archibald - Ahn Do painting     Eileen Kramer - Archibald       Lisa Wilkinson - Archibald
Ahn Do painting - Archibald                 Eileen Kramer - Archibald                 Lisa Wilkinson - Archibald

After the gallery we visited the new library and again we were all impressed with the building, technology and information that we could access. Though we could have spent a lot longer there our time was running out on the parking metre and lunch was calling.
Our afternoon finished with lunch at Queenscliff and a walk around the shops before heading back to their house for the evening.

 Geelong new library     Belgrave street art       Local character Bubba Desi
Geelong new library                 Belgrave street art                 Local character Bubba Desi

During our travels we have met up with some wonderful people and one couple whom we met at the Devils Marbles and again at Alice Springs, they live at Ferntree Gully and we were lucky to be able to spend a day with them and have a look at this beautiful area. Ron and Maryanne took us for a drive up to the Dandenong Ranges which reminded me a lot of the Blue Mountains in NSW. Lovely quaint villages in the forest that was very green and as it had been raining it had a misty feel about it. First visit was to Ron’s old home town of Belgrave and we were fortunate to see Bubba Desi who is a local character and professes to be a wizard. With a green turban and matching outfit he certainly looked the mystical part and I must admit he was very charming when I asked if I could take his photo.

 Puffing Billy     Puffing Billy       Local character Bubba Desi
Puffing Billy                 Puffing Billy                 Miss Marples Tea Room at Sassafras

We then ventured down to the railway station to see Puffing Billy which is the local steam train and a very busy tourist attraction. All the passengers were excited as they boarded the train and we took photos before jumping into the car and driving to the bridge to get a better shot and again at a railway crossing where we waved to all the kids as they passed us by.

 Ron roasting marshmallows     Bonsai nursery       Maryanne in toy store
Ron roasting marshmallows                 Bonsai nursery                 Maryanne in toy store

Then we drove to Sassafras where we toured a bonsai nursery amazed at the beautiful plants on display, Miss Marples Tea Room was across the road and we all played with toys in Guppetto’s Work Shop and how I would have loved to have taken one of the puppets with me. We ventured into another shop that had all sorts of treasures. From statues to a big pot where you could toast marshmallows and Ron decided that’s just what he needed for dessert.

The sun finally came out when it was late in the afternoon when we said farewell to our new friends and we are looking forward to travelling together in the future, or when they can get some time off work.

We are finishing off the month of November early as Geoff and I fly out tomorrow, he is heading to the Gold Coast for work and I am off to Sydney to play and Geoff will join me on the weekend. Hard to imagine December and Christmas is just around the corner