Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mount Gambier-Valley Lakes-Mount Schank-Allendale

Dec 27 & 28 - We had a great night sleep and we were all ready to go see some of the cool sites around Mount Gambier.

Mount Gambier is a lovely town of about 30,000 people, great parks,swimming pool and many differnt shops. Its part of the Limestone Coast and is built on a bunch of underground caves, waterways and sinkholes. It is a great place for really brave and highly skilled scuba divers as you can actually scuba dive under the city through the waterways. That sort of freaks me out a bit.

We set off for the "blue lake" which the locals refer to this unbelievable lake. It is a sink hole that is the bluest lake we have ever seen. The lake is in a sunken volcano which there are several around the area. The color of this lake is one of the great debates because it changes constantly from grey to blue depending on the time of year, day, sun,cloud cover,etc. When the sun is out and the sky is clear the lake takes on the color of a raspberry blue Popsicle. That is about the best way to describe the color. It takes your breath away. We hiked around the lake a couple times during the trip, and I (Tracy) was constantly amazed by it. I guess that scientists haven't figured out yet why it changes color. The photo attached really doesn't do it justice.

We then all headed down to the animal sanctuary to see koala's, kangaroos, emu's and the like. The kids loved it. You can walk right up to the animals and there is very little gating or fencing to prevent you from feeling close to them. The kids loved seeing the animals as much as they loved just running free for the 1st time in 2 days. Jimmy and Cooper were holding hands and hugging. Jimmy started to call Cooper "The Coop" "Coopsie" and "Coops". That's when you know you've made it. When Jimmy gives you a nickname.

Leanne did a great job planning our trip. We had something exciting to see everyday, but none of the days felt like too much. The kids were still home to have a nap and relax. Sort of the perfect pace.

The next day we loaded up the group and headed off to Mount Schank.

Mount Schank is also a sink hole however unlike the blue lake that you can drive to, you must hike up to the top of Mount Schank to see into it. The climb was quite steep however there were some very handy steps that we later found out Leeann's father put them in 20 some years ago. The climb was hard with the 2 kids in backpacks on our back, but it was totally worth it because when we got to the top the views were great. I must apologise here because for some reason we have no photos of it:(. (We forgot our camera that day, but we do have some really cool video of it...) I wish we had had our camera with us as you could see all the neighboring towns, the other "mounts" in the area and you could see the ocean. You could also see Kay's bare bum in the "wind" as she peed in the backpack on the way up and had to walk around butt naked from the waist down as we didn't haul all the necessary provisions to the top with us. It was cute in hindsight but frustrating at the time.

Once Kay aired out, we packed up the troops again and headed into Port Mac for lunch. This is a tiny town on the Southern Ocean. I ordered fish and chips, the kids ate the worlds largest hot dogs and Tom had a steak sandwich. It felt like heaven. We then braved the cool weather and headed to the 1st of many beaches. It was amazing. Rock cliffs, shallow tidal pools, white sand beaches, huge crashing waves. I told Leanne how gorgeous it all was and she said "really, this isn't even one of the nicer beaches, wait to you see the others". We walked out to an island and of course Jimmy managed to "go swimming" despite the cold weather (it was about 65 the 1st week and then hit the 90's the second week. Global warming is alive and well in Australia too....). We then went driving along the coast. Imagine HWY 1 in California past Monterrey Bay, etc. Stunning. We stopped at a couple of places to take video and wiggle our toes in the sand.

Once again, we were home for naps and a good homemade meal with Australian red wine:)