Australian Adventure (July 04 - 05, 2013)

40 Days Down Under (Day 21 & 22)

Thursday, July 04, 2013
Sometimes it's nice to sleep in. We had a late start today due to rain, but it was so nice to sleep in (8:30 am) and feel warm.

After a very leisurely start (we did some photo editing before heading off), we drove to Emu Bay to check out a bit of the north shore. It was pretty, but the winds were causing some rough, choppy water. The spray was pretty bad. You'd have thought it was raining again.

So after looking around a bit, we drove back to Kingscote to eat our first ever Mexican food in the Southern Hemisphere at Yellow Ash 'n' Chili. Seems only appropriate to eat mexican food on the 4th of July, right?  (Although - it wasn't technically the 4th of July in America yet.)

I got the chicken quesadilla. Kris got a steak burrito. Both came with good side salads and crisp (free) rainwater. Expensive (for us), but it was our best meal of the trip.

We had a ferry crossing at 1:30 pm, so we headed off to Peneshaw.

Now, a few days ago when we came to Kangaroo Island, I said we had the worst ferry ride imaginable. That was because I could not imagine you could possibly transport vehicles and people in waters such as the ones we traversed today.

Worst boat ride ever! Kris said it rivaled deep sea fishing. Crazy rain and wind caused a very bumpy ride. Insane. And there was a Southern Right whale out there. I saw the fin/flipper after one of the crew pointed it out. He said it was strange for the whale to be out there during the storm. (But where is it supposed to go? It can't leave the water.)

We had a wet drive to the Mount Barker Caravan and Tourist Park for our wet and rainy freezing evening stay. (There was nothing to photograph other than the inside of the car. We only went to the office, restroom, and in the car. Too darn cold.)

Friday, July 05, 2013
I've discovered that it's hard to sleep when you're so cold your teeth are chattering together. Thermals, wool socks, sleep socks, warm pjs, gloves, and a hat, and I was still freezing. Tonight, I suspect, I will be sleeping in my jacket.

The town of Tintinara had some fun art at their rest stop. I quite enjoyed the characters on the bathrooms, and I was definitely confused as to whether the local shop was open or closed. Perhaps it's not a great idea to paint the word "open" on the wall if you intend to close at any time of day.

Other little farms along the way had some quirky scarecrow setups.

We had a tiny reprieve from the rain, but it's started falling again. Luckily, we've decided to make our activity of the day a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves National Park. The 26 limestone caves of the park house the fossilized skeletons of giant marsupials.

Australia is such a cool place. It's the world's sixth largest country and the largest island. It's the only island that is also a continent and only continent that's also a country. It's the only nation that started as a prison and the first continent conquered from the sea. It's almost uninhabitable but teems with life.

And, because it has been nearly geographically silent for 60 million years, it's preserved some of the oldest things on earth. Fossils, rocks, gems, footprints, and more all remain here. Luckily, places like the Naracoorte Caves National Park help keep them intact and viewable.

We first viewed the Wet Cave which had some massive formations.

After Wet Cave, we went to the fossil center to seem some pretty impressive fossils and animatronic reconstructions of giant extinct marsupials and other animals.

Some may say the animatronics were juvenile, but I thought they did a really good job on it. The soundtrack was haunting.

We went on the formal tour of the Alexandra Cave, a delicate and beautiful cave with incredibly fragile formations. I have seen a lot of caves, but I thought this was one of the most stunning of the ones I've viewed. To maintain the moisture in the cave, they have it sealed off and only offer two half-hour tours a day. It allows Alexandra to continue growing.

The bottom portion of the photo is a reflection of the top crystal formation.

After our tour of the Alexandra Cave, we headed out to our jail cell for the evening detouring only to view some art on the side of the road.

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol was constructed in 1866 and operated as a prison until 1995. It has 27 cells and three courtyards. The Old Mount Gambier Gaol has been converted into a hostel and vanpacker lodging. It's quite the unique place to stay.

As soon as we got there, we took self-guided tour. Anyone can take the tour - not just the "prisoners" for the evening.

During the tour we learned that there were three hangings at the jail between 1871-1882. Due to the hangings and multiple suicides that occurred at the gaol, some say that the prison is haunted.

Two people are certainly not haunting the residence. There were successful escapes in 1978.

They weren't always too strict at this jail. They allowed visitors and the prisoners could even participate in hobbies. One painted a huge mural that still exists.

The gaol offers free wifi, a nice tv/lounge area, a nice kitchen, and showers/toilets to those staying there or just vanpacking. It cost Kris and I a very reasonable $12 per person for the night. Considering how cold and rainy it was outside, it was well worth the expense for the nice tv room, wifi, and heater. You really can't beat the price.

I slept in my jacket tonight.  It was rather slippery.

0 Responses