Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY
Sunday 25th January 2004 to Sunday 27th January 2004

January 25th, 2004

Today was a bit slower but we may look a bit more respectable after 'one of us' did our weeks washing while the 'other one' washed the Nissan Patrol using a bucket and sponge. It is the cleanest the Patrol has been since we left Western Australia some 30 days and 5750 km ago.

We then went to the Mount Gambier Visitors Centre again to ascertain the quarantine conditions for crossing the South Australian to Victoria border. It is our intentions to depart Mount Gambier in the morning and head of toward the Great Ocean Road, but will stop somewhere short of the start of it tomorrow night.

'One of us' said they were famished by this time so it was back to the caravan for a 'light' lunch of sausages, onions and tomatoes cooked on the BBQ. After that the rumbling I had been hearing near bye stopped and I realized it wasn't the volcano building up for another lease of life, so it was safe to have another look at the Blue Lake.

This time we chose to take the tour of the pumping station which starts on the hour every hour between 9am and 5pm and takes about 45 minutes.

The tour started with the guide explaining the local aboriginal legend of how the volcano was created, in a nutshell it was made by one of their ancestors who wandered about this area trying to make a cooking pot, but the fire kept getting put out by the water that filled the holes that were his pot. We then entered the pumping station itself which was built around 1908 (think that is right) and has gone through a few additions since then, however it is difficult to see where they have added the extensions because it has been done so well. At this point the guide provided a very comprehensive explanation of the construction, maintenance and changes to the pumping station over the years, from the original manually intensive pumping mechanism through to the current electronically operated automatic system now in place.

From here we took a lift down a thirty metre shaft that had originally been the shaft that the water was pumped up through, but the current main use of it now is to convey tourists to the lower level of the pumping station operations. This shaft was originally dug manually by pick and shovel and took five months to dig, then another two months to complete the stone work around it.

At the bottom level of the pumping station we were given a demonstration of the water pressure which is solely from the gravitational feed from the water tanks on top of the rim of the volcano. After this we ventured even closer to the water surface and could see the extremely steep sides of the crater, dropping almost vertically down from the surface of the water. At that point the guide provided further information about the district and other sights that were worth visiting whilst in the area, then it was the end of the tour. This tour of the pumping station was good value at $6.00 per person.

Tonight we hope to visit the Umpherston Sinkhole Garden again after dark as we believe the possums feed from your hand, especially if you have some bananas. 'One of us' was quick to suggested we buy some for that purpose, although I'm not sure if there was an ulterior motive there somewhere and I'm sure the possums don't eat the ice creams she bought at the same time.

Tunnel leading to Blue Lake water level

Gravitational pressure from water tanks on Blue Lake Volcano rim. (Mt Gambier water supply)


Monday 26th January 2004

Australia Day started out much the same as most other days to us because we were not up in time to go the the breakfast that was held in Mount Gambier this morning. Our excuse was that we were moving on today and wouldn't have time to go to the breakfast and be ready to leave from the caravan park by 10am. It sounds good anyway.

We managed to be 'on the road again' by 9:50am and set off in the direction of the Victorian border on the Princes Highway, crossing into Victoria just prior to Nelson. We had to stop at this point and take a photograph of Pammy standing on the border. We seemed to lose quite a bit of time at this location as we had to put our clocks on another half hour to show Victorian time, still with one hour daylight saving included.

We then traveled through Nelson, which is situated on the Glenelg River, continued down the Princes Highway until we came to Gorae West, where we turned off just prior to the town and headed in to Cape Bridgewater on a narrow sealed road that wound up and down a few steep hills when we neared the ocean. The view was lovely when we came in sight of the western side of Cape Bridgewater. We continued on this road until we came to the settlement of Cape Bridgewater itself and we stopped in the foreshore car park and had lunch whilst watching some young people learning to surf. The beach here was as good as we have seen since leaving Western Australia, much more like the sand beaches of WA than the limestone ones of South Australia.

After lunch we departed Cape Bridgewater and headed into Portland which was a large port town that was once a larger port than Melbourne. The town has all amenities including four caravan parks that we saw. There were a number of cargo ships out in the ocean from the port and some large industry closer to the port.

On leaving Portland, we continued on the Princes Highway, traveling through Narrawong, Tyrendarra, the Condrington Wind Farm, Yambuck and then arrived in Port Fairy at about 1:40pm. We drove through the town centre and stopped at their river foreshore or boat docks where there were activities going on that may have been related to the Australia Day celebrations. There was an old two horse carriage that must have resembled the stage coaches of old time Australia. There were also many people dining at the local restaurant on the dock.

After Port Fairy we set of east again and went through Killarny and Dennington before coming to Warrnambool. On arriving at Warrnambool we decided there was enough to see around this area to warrant a couple of nights at one of the local caravan parks so when the next sign came up, we followed it and ended up at the Figtree Holiday Village which is about two blocks to the east of the main town centre. This is a Top Tourist caravan park and has en suite sites and a lot of on site accommodation and even a heated indoor pool.

Went for a drive around the town centre after setting up and were quite impressed with the area. Found where the Maritime Museum is and have been told that it is has one of the best Sound and Laser shows in Australia. 'One of us' has decided they may want to stay an extra day because there is a coles store in town and then even discovered a 'Price Line' store as well.

We also found a local information booklet and are quite impressed by the number of tourist attractions here tat are within an easy drive. And there is an RSL Club that has pokies, but 'one of us' hasn't discovered that one yet!!!!

Pammy at the Victorian border

Cape Bridgewater

Port Fairy

Tuesday 27th January 2004

'One of us' needed a fix this morning so we first went to the Warrnambool KMart store were they just stood in the middle of the store and took in the sights, sounds and smells, then realised it was lunch time, so back to the caravan for lunch. The other one ended up buying a battery charger whilst at Kmart so I guess we paid our way.

After lunch it was time to go sight seeing so off we went, straight to the local Maritime Museum which is located on the top of Flagstaff Hill. This is also the Warrnambool Visitors Centre and has a good variety of 'tourist trinkets' available for sale.

We paid our entry fee to the Maritime Museum which at $12.00 each is one of the more expensive entry fees we have paid since leaving WA, however once we saw what was inside, it has to be considered good value for money. First we sat through a video screening of the difficulties that were encountered on a sailing ship when journeying out to Australia from the United Kingdom. This would have to have lasted 15 minutes and was very well presented via two synchronised video screens. After the screening, we walked through to a series of static displays relating to the early journeys and ship wrecks on the coastline between Melbourne, King Island and the Warrnambool area. From there we walked out into a small village of around twenty replica shops and buildings, all set up as they would have been back in the mid to late 1800's. There was also a lake with a number of boats floating on it, some in stages of restoration, but all having historic value.

Numerous photographs were taken but and as the 'other one' didn't get to go to the 'Flagstaff Hill Common School' like 'one of us' did, it took a long time to read all (or at least most) of the information printed around the displays, resulting in us being there for over two hours. This meant that it was now time to get back to the caravan and prepare the web site pages for uploading, and of course 'one of us' may be getting a little desperate for a small glass of wine....

Overlooking Lake Pertobe from Flagstaff Hill Warrnambool

Pammy leaving Flagstaff Hill Common School