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Victoria, Australia
Well here I am now 60 years old and I am really loving my life. I have had some challenges in the past but they all have contributed to the person I am today. I am currently living the biggest adventure of my life on a 12 month trip around Australia. Please join me on my Aussie Adventure updates on the many wonders this amazing country has to offer. I have many interests such as photography, travel, jewellery design and construction and all sorts of different crafts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Umpherston Sinkhole, Mt Gambier

Thousands of years ago, Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as The Sunken Garden was a cave. Water eventually dissolved enough of the limestone to cause the ceiling of the cave chamber to collapse creating a large open pit know as a sinkhole. James Umpherston purchased a farm property which just so happened included this amazing sinkhole. He then went on to established this amazing garden on the floor of the open cave. Being retired and having the time James Umpherston wanted to create  a pleasant garden for the people of Mt Gambier. After clearing the existing vegetation from within the sinkhole, he carved a path into the side of the rock, erected wooden steps so visitors could enter his garden. The garden was and still is filled with all kinds of ferns, shrubs and flowers. Even with quite a few other visitors in the sinkhole, sitting down in the bottom of this amazing creation is extremely peaceful.

Amazing view of Umpherston Sinkhole - TotalTravel
 




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Da Vinci Machines Exhibition

Today I took myself off to the "Da Vinci Machines Exhibition" that has just started here in Mt Gambier. When it was on in Melbourne a while back I really wanted to go and see it but in my normal (past) style I put it off, and put it off and before I knew it had finished. I have always been quite a proscratinator but this past 12 months on our Aussie Adventure I have really tried to dissolve that trait from my life.
The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition was really interesting. It's amazing how he was not only a great artist but also just how many of our current day machinery and techniques were either drawn or designed by Da Vinci.
I love this famous drawing

This model was made from one of DaVinci's drawings

Carro Armato (Tank)
Leonardo Da Vinci designed this huge offensive weapon: An armored vehicle capable of moving in any direction and bristling with cannons on all sides. One soldier sat in the turret to give directions. To move it, eight men inside the tank turned cranks attached to trundle wheels which were in turn attached to the four large wheels.

Anyone for a cycle?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mt. Gambier

Located on the slopes of a dormant volcano Mt Gambier with a population of around 30,000 people is one of the biggest cities we have been in for a while. Set amid an ancient landscape of volcanic craters, lakes, caves, sinkholes and mysterious underground waterways.
But yesterday we headed out of town to a tiny town called Penola for their annual Penola Cup. I don't usually enjoy going to the races, they are just not my thing. But this country race meeting was not just about the horse racing. Being Easter Sunday it was geared mostly as a family day and had a great atmosphere. I did have a couple of bets but did no good.
And the winner is........
Today we did a bit of exploring of the Mt Gambier area. First stop was the "Lady Nelson Discovery Centre". This centre gives you a glimpse into days gone by in this area.

The Lady Nelson
Then is was off to the "Cave Garden" sinkhole. How do sinkholes form I hear you ask? As water sinks through to the limestone beds below the surface, it slowly dissolves the rocks to form caves and caverns. The round sinkholes form when the limestone roof above the water filled cavern collapses, exposing the underground water. Because the water table has lowered over the hundreds of years most of the sinkholes are now dry. This sinkhole was the original water source for the early settlers.
 
Cave Garden
 Then we headed to Mt Gambier's most well known attraction the "Blue Lake". Each year in November the lake starts its colour change from winter steel blue to brilliant turquoise blue and then in March changes back to steel blue. Unfortunately we are here in April so we have missed the turquoise blue. With average depths of 70 metres, the lake contains 36,000 million litres. It is the current source of water to the Mt Gambier.
The Blue Lake
We then decided to go for a drive to Port McDonnell. This picturesque township, once a busy port, is now "Australia's Southern Rock Lobster Capital". If only I could afford to buy one - they sell for between $80 - $90 per kilo!! The coastline along this area is once again beautiful but really treacherous. On a plaque located on one of the lookouts 35 ship wrecks were listed.

Port MacDonnell rugged coast
In the waves rolled

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robe, South Australia

Robe is a charming seaside township with a population of around 1500. But due to it's popularity between South Australians and Victorians alike this number increases immensely during the holiday season. Located on Guichen Bay, Robe was first discovered by the french explorer Nicolas Baudin way back in 1802. With over 84 historic buildings and sites it's not hard to get a feel of what Robe was like in days gone by.
Just one of the 84 historic buildings/sights
The restored walls of the Old Goal which held prisoners from 1860 - 1881
 The Obelisk was erected in 1852 and was used to assist ships navigate the entrance to Guichen Bay. It was also used to store rocket lifesaving equipment. The firing of rockets, carrying baskets to distressed ships to bring passengers ashore, saved many lives. It later assisted passing ships with navigation because its height of 12m (40 ft) makes it visible 20km (12mles) out to sea
The Obelisk - The erosion of the land surrounding the
obelisk will mean it will eventually
fall away.
Even the Lakeside Tourist Park where we are staying has an interesting history. Both the Lakeside House and Stables are State Heritage Listed. The stables which is the tourist park office and owners residence have the original timbers which were once used as ballast in a ship which bought over other building materials from England. By far the most interesting aspect of the building is the "Pug and Post" floor. This unique floor is made from local hardwood timbers which apparently go down one metre into the ground. The floor is purposely built to wear unevenly, which encouraged the horses to move around preventing poor circulation. (Doesn't work on humans!)

Historic Lakeside House

The amazing "Pug and Post" floor

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kingston SE

We arrived in the pretty little village of Robe late yesterday, but more about Robe tomorrow. Today we went for a drive to Kingston SE which is about 44kms from where we are staying. Kingston SE has a population of around 1500. The extension of SE on it's name is to distinguish Kingston in the South East (of South Australia) from another Kingston in the state which has also changed it's name to Kingston on Murray.
Kingston SE is another location in Australia that has one of our iconic "Big Things". The "Big Lobster" was originally conceived in the mid 1970's by a local lobster fisherman. It is said that the final size of the structure was the result of an accident. The plans for the Big Lobster were provided to the builder in feet, but he misread the measurements and used metres instead, resulting in a three-fold increase in size. The Big Lobster is 17 metres high, 15.2 metres long and 13.7 metres wide, with an approximate weight of 4 tonnes.
The Big Lobster
 Then it was across the road to the "Sundial of Human Involvement". The Human Sundial is only one of a few in the world that are truly interactive with people. By reading the directions and standing in the correct place, the time of day can be determined. Each piece of granite represents an hour marker.
The Human Sundial
From time to time Kingston SE has the pleasure of a visit from sea lions. It is believed they come ashore to rest up after being involved in a storm. These amazing granite sculptures were created by the world renowned artist Silvio Apponyi.

Seal Lion and her baby
The Cape Jaffa lighthouse was built in 1868-1872 on Margaret Brock Reef, 8 km from shore and 19 km south from it's current location.  The lighthouse, which has an unusual steel frame, also included an eight bedroom house. One of the magnifying lens weighs 2 tonnes. It was the first lighthouse on the Australian coast to be dismantled and brought to the mainland.
Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Victoria Fossil Cave

Today I took myself off on a tour of the World Heritage listed Victoria Fossil Cave. The tour started with a 30 step journey down below the earths surface into a beautifully decorated chamber and then wound through about 250 metres of passages and chambers to a large fossil bed display area.
I find there's something spiritual when you enter a cave....

the lights help....

but Mother Nature sure can put on a good show.

It was hard to get a clear photo, but the amount of fossils blew my mind a bit.
See the ribcage in the foreground of the shot.

This guy once roamed the earth until the cave claimed him
In 1994, the significance of Naracoorte's Caves 500,000 year old fossil record was recognised by UNESCO and co-listed with Riversleigh in North Queensland as the Australian Fossil Mammals Sites. Together they tell the story of Australia's ancient animal heritage.