Monthly Archives: February 2019

Day 24 – Thursday, 21 February 2019

The alarm went off far too early. We had a quick breakfast and did the dishes, made sure everything was stowed away in its place, and headed out of Mundulla at 8:27am.

The gentleman from yesterday arrived just as we were leaving, and we had a quick chat. He said they would start the cutting away from the remaining vans at the back, which would give them a bit longer to clear out of the way.

The first section of the road was clear of traffic, but that didn’t last long. Bordertown came on us fairly quickly and then turned towards Horsham. Lots of semis along this stretch of the road, and some of them caused Shadow to move a bit as they passed, so Russ spent a lot of concentration on the road.

We passed through Kaniva, which looks like a place that would be worth a few days stay to check out the surrounds, filled up at Nhill and continued on our way. We turned off the main drag once again and headed for Jeparit.

The trip was 137 kilometres today, and much of it was on a C road and we encountered a lot of trucks along the way. When we arrived at Jeparit (a bit larger than I expected) we turned into the caravan park and stopped to take stock of the opportunities in front of us.

The caravan park is small but has lush green lawns around the site areas. When I spoke with Yolande the other day, she told me that we could park wherever we wished. She texted me the codes for the facilities block and informed me that she would be around after work to pick up our fee.

There is a trailer camper tent already here (vehicle missing), and two caravans, which appears to have become a fixture in the park, but otherwise we have the place to ourselves.

We have deployed the awning, set out the table and chairs, and it is a pleasure to just sit back, watch the magpies, and enjoy the serenity.

Later this afternoon we will take a stroll down to town and have a look around. Not sure what we are having for tea tonight as the cupboard and fridge are almost bare.

Day 23 – Wednesday, 20 February 2019

We were on the road to Mundulla before 10:00am. Mundella is 147 kilometres away so we can take it slow and steady and still arrive in plenty of time to suss out the camping area and set ourselves up.

We headed for Kingston SE and filled up with diesel at OTR before turning off towards Bordertown. Mundulla is ten kilometres before that.

The road was in pretty good nick and the traffic was light. The sky was overcast which is good driving weather, and the temperature is sitting on 19 degrees C. In fact, it stayed that low all the way to Mundulla.

When we reached Mundulla, we followed the map directions to the footy oval. We came through a very narrow gate, but Russ manoeuvred the entire rig like a pro. We discovered that we had actually turned one street early and would have come across a much easier access if we had continued for a little bit. Them’s the breaks!

The camping area is lush, green grass. The sprinklers were on when we arrived and much of the camping area had a few inches of water over the top – Russ got his sneakers sopping wet.

After we had set everything up, we were hailed by a gentleman who asked us how long we intended to stay. We replied that we were only there for the night. He informed us that he had contract arborists arriving at 8:30 tomorrow morning to trim the dead branches off the red gums as they were preparing for a large festival in two weeks’ time, and the place would be packed chockers.

We have been wondering for a while how come many places are green oasises among much dry grasslands. He told us that they tapped into the Artesian well, which was only 20 metres underground.

He advised us that the contractor would be putting out cones to fence off the camping area, and we said we would have moved before he began work tomorrow.

Shortly after that another van pulled in beside us. I went and introduced myself to Brian and Shirley (and their adorable puppy – a white poodle) and told them about the tree cutting exercise planned for early the next morning.

Brian said they were meeting with some others, as yet to arrive, but would leave their van where it was until they got here and had a confab. The consensus, once they arrived, was to move back further in the area outside the cones where the water had soaked away in the time we had been there.

So, all in all there were about five rigs in the park overnight. One of them ignored all the sign that claimed you must not park within 25 metres of the toilet block, and I hope they got a wonderful odour from the dump point beside their front windows.

We spent some considerable time being serenaded by a family of magpies. Both of us can sit and listen to them for hours as they whistle, warble and chortle along. How lucky we are!

We had a lovely relaxing time and, once Russ had completed his meditation, we headed on foot for the lengthy walk around town. It did turn out to take us longer than we had first thought, but only because we found a nature trail. If I had known of it before we started out, I would have worn better shoes instead of my sandals.

The walk wandered through a lightly forested area and had signs along the pathway to advise you of the items worth looking for as you walked. Some local person had a marvellous imagination, and was skilled at metalwork, because there were quaint original items of artwork spaced along the way. Russ took his camera with him, but as it was only supposed to be a walk around town, I left mine in the van. I was then forced to use my phone to take photos of the artwork pieces.

We enjoyed our sojourn through the town and took particular notice of some of the older houses, many of which would have been original to the first settlement.

Once we arrived back at the van we prepared for tea – soup and sandwiches. Along the way we both decided that the sandwich maker (a fairly cheap one) was inadequate and we would look for a suitable replacement. We also looked at stainless steel electric frypans so that we don’t have to rely on the gas stove in the future. Many times during this trip it has been too windy and cold to use the Webber Baby Q, and we don’t have an annexe to make conditions better at this point in time.

We both had showers before we went to bed so that in the morning we can make a timely withdrawal of the van from the camping area.

We turned in for an early night, which didn’t eventuate for me as I got to sleep somewhere around 1:00am. Russ snored a lot, and as he had set the alarm for 7:30am it came far too early. The galahs took over this morning from the corellas of late yesterday afternoon. Boy, those birds can be noisy!

Day 22 – Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Yellow-Tailed Black-Cockatoo P&K 246

This morning we took things slowly. After breakfast and showers, we took the privacy screen and awning down in preparation for packing up and leaving tomorrow morning for Mundella – our first overnight stop on our way back to Mildura. I also did the last load of washing until we get home.

The day is actually sunny, and the wind is not blowing a gale, so very pleasant for Robe.

We decided to finalise our shopping and grab some cash from the ATM in order to pay for our campsites once we are again on the move, so headed to town. Whilst I did the shopping (so onerous!) Russ spent time talking to Brett and fixing his internet problems as the power went out in Mildura last night for a time and interfered with his net connection.

We then went to the Pastry Shop to grab a bite for lunch. What a ripoff. Gormet pies cost $8.90 each. Russ went for a beef, bacon and onion pie and I chose a chicken, leek and mushroom one. The pastry was thick and gluggy, and there was very little content in the pie once the lid was removed – definitely a treat to miss in future.

After we stowed away the few items purchased, and Russ had downloaded his geocache sites to the phone and GPS tracker, we headed off to do some geo-caching.

Well, that was the plan. About 15ks out of town I realised I did not have my phone with me so we had to turn around and go back for it. It was, thankfully, still sitting on the table outside the van when we got back there.

Second time around we got underway. Russ was driving and I was following the prompts on his phone. That man will do anything to get some 4WD on unsealed roads. I have to say the limestone unsealed tracks around here are in excellent condition. In fact, some of the surfaces are better than some of the proper roads.

Once we made it to the first site, in a very roundabout way (Russ did enjoy it) we came to the first of the site he hoped to get. We changed over so that I was now doing the driving (at a much slower pace) and it wasn’t long before we were back on the highway.

Altogether we made six stops and Russ collected all of them except the last one, which was in an area that had just had major road resurfacing take place, so it was probably lost sometime during the works.

I have written all this diary while Russ has completed his meditation and back stretches. I also confirmed with Yolande at Jeparit that we would be in on Thursday night, not Wednesday as originally booked. We don’t have to worry about Mundella as it is free camping and you pay as you stay.

Tonight, we will have sausages and mashed potato for tea. Russ will upload the final part of the diary to the website and we are planning on a reasonably early night. After tea we will remove and pack away the matting outside the van where the awning was to make it lighter work tomorrow morning.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time away from home and wouldn’t be worried if it was longer. However, there are things to do at home before the start of the footy season, and the next trip to plan, so lots more to look forward to in the future.

Day 21 – Monday, 18 February 2019

This morning we packed our lunches and took off for Nora Creina. We have no idea what it is but there are big signposts for the place around Robe, and it is just past the Little Dip Conservation Park, so we decided to take a look.

It turns out to be a private settlement behind locked gates. You can park your vehicle and walk down to the beach, but you are asked to respect the privacy of those who live there. I need to say here that the 22 kilometres to get to Nora Creina is on an unsealed road. It is in good condition being crushed limestone, but still – fancy having to navigate that in all seasons.

We stopped off at the first salt lake in the Conservation area. It ponged in no uncertain terms and there was nothing there to see or photograph. Russ was beginning to get a bit disheartened, especially as we are nearing the end of our time in Robe. The march flies flew us back to our car. Heavens, they are big buggers!

However, the next little track we came across said it was Freshwater Lake, so we decided we had nothing to loose by taking a gander at it. This was an excellent decision we made, as it turns out that the nature walk around Freshwater Lake is a real gem of a find.

It is a 1.6km walking loop and there were people already there when we got into the car park area. Russ then decided that if we walked the loop in reverse these people would push the abundant birds our way as we walked.

The scenery was every bit as great as the birdlife. It was a pleasant walk with picnic spots dotted about the foreshore. We met the other couple along the track. He was carrying a large pair of binoculars, so we exchanged info before continuing on our merry way.

We rang Mum and caught up with her and her health news. It appears that they have diagnosed she has shingles along her back. She is now on medication and it will take some time before she is well again.

After the phone call we took the computer with us and went into town to order our fish and chips. It was the freshest flake and chips I have ever tasted. The batter was so light as to be almost non-existent, and the fish was so fresh. The chips were cooked in fresh oil and just the way I like them.

All in all, we enjoyed our meal, which we ate down by the information centre and post office where the Telstra Air point is in Robe. It took some time but eventually Russ had uploaded our latest batch of photos to the website.

Day 20 – Sunday, 17 February 2019

Today we packed our lunches and headed off to Naracoorte to refuel before driving to Bool Lagoon. We have found some of the Reserves are free to visit, but camping fees apply. Just to be different, when we got to Bool Lagoon we discovered we had to purchase tickets – ONLINE, if you please.

It was just as well that there were no rangers on duty as I have no intention of ever doing banking on my phone. Needless to say, we drove through the park, did some of the walks (watching very carefully for snakes), and did not buy a ticket. It would not have been worth $10 either.

I have to say here that Robe is very cool, even when the sun is shining. If you are out of the breeze blowing, I think you could actually get hot, but the wind is the coolest wind I have ever encountered in summertime at the beach. It seems that the temperature increases by one degree on average for every ten k’s you drive further away from Robe. Today it was also very humid, so we made sure to drink plenty of water along our travels.

Russ took lots of photos of birds. He came across a few that he had not captured before, so he was pleased with the excursion. Other than the Wetland Boardwalk all the other walks are hindered by heavy layers of tall weeds which impede your view of the lake and the birds on it.

You also cannot get near enough through them to get good shots without a telephoto lens. At the end of the Wetlands Boardwalk there is a bird hide. I think if you came here after the rains (not sure when that is) and the water was higher, it would be a fascinating place to visit. I think you could also get a van in here but am not sure if they allow free camping.

As Russ took most of the photos today, I told him he could do the downloading of them all. He did his meditation, we had tea, and then he steadily downloaded the shots. I went through them and picked out what I thought were the best shots, and they are now ready to go up onto the website.

Tonight we had scrambled eggs and toast for tea – quite delish.

Day 19 – Saturday, 16 February 2019

Today we decided to have a lazy day. Russ stayed with the caravan and I took hornet into Robe for a long walk around the town. I parked at one end of the town down near the Information centre, and walked up one side and down the other.

I think I visited every shop (some of them only open on the weekends) and all I can say is some people have a lot of money. Even the items on special were over $60 a piece, and I wouldn’t have bought any of them. The colours are beige, brown, black, blue and a mushroom pink – just about in every shop. I think if someone put a bright colour in their shop there would be a revolution.

I did buy some lovely silver ear-rings, made here in Robe, and I enjoyed my wander through the lady’s shop. I resisted buying an ice-cream as the weather is overcast (nothing unusual in Robe) and Russ was not with me.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the plaques on many of the buildings, which hark back to the early days of the township. I also discovered about wool washing. Apparently, a sea captain who lived in Robe was docked at the pier/jetty when a storm broke out and the ship left its anchorage. It was driven onto the rocks at the port mouth and wrecked.

However, most of his cargo was salvageable, although it had spent time in the sea. It was decided to wash the wool before re-bundling it for passage to England. Once there, the quality of the wool was remarked upon, and sold at a much higher price than other wool presented at the time. When this news came back to Robe the wool-washing industry was set up at Lake Fellmongery by the gentleman who built Robe Manor, just across the driveway from our caravan park.

I also found a shop that sold Nesti Dante soap at a commensurate rate to that in Italy. The soap is made in Florence, Italy, and I discovered it whilst we were in Sicily – believe it or not. I have checked their website and they do sell online. However, the cost of postage from Italy for heavy items is prohibitive. I then discovered that Saison in Richmond, Victoria sell online, and the cost is comparative. I have been putting off my next purchase for a while now but finding it in Robe was a sure sign – so I bought two bars of it.

I climbed back into the car after my three-kilometre walk and went to Foodland to grab a few grocery items before heading back to the van.

Russ roused himself later in the afternoon and we went down town to get Chinese for tea. There was nowhere to sit while it was being prepared so we went back to the car. We had no sooner got into Hornet and the heavens opened. It poured like we were in the tropics for at least fifteen minutes and then stopped.

The fried rice was nice, and Russ enjoyed his honey chicken, but I found my duck to be very dry.

Day 18 – Friday, 15 February 2019

Today we travelled to Beachport, which is located on Rivoli Bay. We took our time travelling and looking around us as we went. We saw some emus in the paddock where we turned to go up to Woakwine Cutting, and Russ took photos of some new birds.

Woakwine Cutting is an amazing story. It was constructed in order to drain a 420-hectare peat swamp on the property of Mr Murray McCourt. It took three-years to complete and commenced in 1957. The work was carried out by Mr McCourt and his employee, Mr Dick McIntyre.

The length of the cutting is 1 kilometre, and it is 28.34 metres at its deepest point. Over 276,000 cubic metres of limestone rock and material was removed.

They worked with a D7 Caterpillar Crawler tractor, 7 Ton Drawn ripper, an 11 yard Le Tourneau scraper, a single furrow swamp plough and lots of explosives. Some of the equipment is still housed on site for viewing, and there are two viewing points of the cutting

We reached Beachport around lunch time. Russ spent quite a few minutes enthralled with the colony of tern camped on the boat breakwater. He took may photographs of them, and I took photos of one of the longest jetties I have ever seen. The water was turquoise and aquamarine and so clear it was beautiful.

There is much rugged coastline away from the town proper, and some beautiful scenery. We walked along some of the beaches and took the tourist drive, which involved some unsealed roads, which Russ loved. I didn’t let him drive on the sand!

We drove to Lake George Conservation Park and lunched with many March flies. Don’t they know it is still February????? They are whoppers!

Lake George is open to tent camping, but not caravans. However, we entered one of the camping areas that had a picnic table and bench beside it so we could enjoy the birds and the scenery. I’m sure the blue wrens see Russ coming with the telephoto lens on it ‘çause they hide behind tree branches so you can’t focus properly for the shot.

Once we had finished our photography and lunch, we had a leisurely drive home along a different route so we could see something different.

Russ did his meditation and back stretching exercises and I enjoyed some reading and game time.

Day 17 – Thursday, 14 February 2019

This morning is overcast, but the winds are just breezy – cool, mind you, but okay with a jacket. The sun is supposed to come out later today, but time will tell.

We only packed our coffee thermoses today as we have decided to get lunch somewhere down in Robe. It turns out that Robe is much bigger than you think until you start driving around it.

We headed all the way along the main street and followed the signs to the Obelisk. This structure was erected in the 1800 and was painted white. However, the sailors said it was too difficult to see it against the limestone yellow, and so it was painted in alternate strips of red and white instead. It is now fenced off as the limestone cliffs are crumbling and it is unsafe to approach. It is expected that it will fall into the sea sooner or later.

We parked in the Old Gaol carpark and hiked up to the ocean lookout. There were lots of people doing the same thing as we were, but we were some of the few carrying cameras.

The walking track is sealed crushed rock, which makes for a firm walking surface. There are only a few places where the rock causes problems because it has become loose. We had a map of the area so were able to see where we were headed. The Blow hole was a non-event as the tides weren’t high enough for it to be operating.

Doorway Rock is fascinating. It is a dominant feature along the walk and starts out with three arches to see and then becomes closed as you venture around the point.

Commodore Lookout is just before the new and modern lighthouse further along the walking track.

Altogether we walked about ten k’s and had a few rest-stops along the way. Conveniently, they place benches along the track at the top of the inclines, and we made use of all of them.

Almost back at the car park you come across the remains of the Old Robe Gaol (old time spelling, of course). It is interesting to meander around them. There were rooms for three gaolers, but only three small cells, a huge exercise yard, a big store room and a kitchen.

We then drove past one of the big old dwellings (made out of limestone) and have decided it is privately owned as there were no signs around it all. We then went to No 4 for brunch – Russ had pancakes, maple syrup, ice cream, strawberry, blackberry, and I had a delicious egg and bacon roll.

Once we got back to the van, we put the awning back up and the privacy screen. Russ went to meditate, and I downloaded the photos while doing more washing. It was time to clean the towels.

Russ cooked steak for tea and I cooked the chips. We have concentrated on updating the blog and Russ has taken time to identify all the bird photos he has taken.

Day 16 – Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The wind this morning is still gusty, but nowhere near the ferocity of yesterday. The day is supposed to reach 21 degrees, but I will be very surprised if it does.

Today we packed our lunch, some snacks, our thermoses of coffee and visited Penola for a look around. It is, after all, the home place of Saint Mary McKillop who created the order of Josephite nuns, which had a lasting impact on many of our age groups as they were our teachers at school.

We then headed towards Naracoorte. On the approach to Naracoorte is Struan House. This spectacular double story mansion (with a bell tower in the top around fourth floor level) was once the home of the pioneering Robertson family. The home was completed in 1875.

It is now the home of the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA, who carried out a $2 million upgrade in 2008. They purchased the house in 1948 from the estate of the oldest son of the Robertsons, Alexander, who was a bachelor and died without heirs.

Self-guided tours of the place are available during office hours, and it is well worth the effort. You simply do not see craftsmanship like that anymore. It is built of limestone which was carried from the local quarries by dray and cut on site during its construction.

Before we took our self-guided tour, we ate our lunch on the side verandah of the mansion with a spectacular view across the manicured lawns. In the grounds also are some incredible Moreton Bay fig trees and Norfolk pines. The lovely lady in the office had provided a short written history of the Roberston Family and we read all about them while we had our lunch.

Lots of photos later we headed off to the Naracoorte Caves and the Wonambi Fossil Centre.

We decided to attend the tour of the Alexandra Cave and wandered around the Fossil Centre while we waited for the staring time. Our tour guide is named Frank and he has been employed at the caves as a guide for 18 years. He has a good sense of humour and me amusing incidents to tell. He is also very knowledgeable about the history and geology of the caves.

I was able to take a lot of photos inside the cave and most of them have come out fairly decent. Once our tour was concluded Russ and I did the Roof Top walk, which takes you over the top of some of the caves. The area is deep into conservation of flora and fauna and some of the species here are on the endangered species list, especially the bats.

Once we completed our stroll, we decided to head over to the café for an ice cream. They were about to close for the day, but the lady very kindly allowed me my purchase before she shut up shop.

We took the meandering back roads back to Robe using the C roads. Surprisingly many of them are signed as 110, but you would need to know them to travel some part safely.

Russ collapsed in screaming heap when we arrived back at the van about 5pm. I don’t imagine I will see him for at least an hour and a half. It is lucky we are having left over Chinese or I might have begun gnawing on my arm.

Day 15 – Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The gale force winds eventuated in the early hours of e morning and the rain came down in tropical downpour fashion. At least the downpours only last for about 15 to 20 minutes and then let up for a while. The same cannot be said about the wind. At 5am this morning Russ and I were up and taking down the awning and privacy screen. We were wondering if the van might not end up in Lake Fellmongery the gusts were so forceful.

After the disturbed night we both decided to rise later than usual, and the lazy day was a great plan. The wind is very cold, so it is time to don a singlet and put the extra blanket on the bed.

While Russ did a lot of reading, I ended up doing a couple of loads of washing. During a dry spell I ventured up to the laundry with the washed clothes via the caravan park office to get some change for the dryer.

I also told Julie that the lights had been left on in Villa 12. She thanked me for the advice and said she had come across in the night to supply more blankets to one of the cabins and had seen the light herself so had asked Tom, her son, to visit the villa and turn them off.

We went down the street and bought Chinese for tea: Russ had honey chicken and I went for roasted duck once again.