Camp # 58, Days 271 & 272, Mt Gambier, SA

It wasn’t a long drive today but edging us a little closer to Adelaide for the start of the Tour Down Under. We did however cross back into South Australia and we feel excited about this next little leg. I also think my internal compass knows we are heading west and it’s kind of willing me to keep heading west. Part person, part homing pigeon.

Mt Gambier, famous for it’s blue lake.

Mt Gambier holds memories for me of many Nullabor crossing with my family and the place of a classic family story. Dad orders a cream milkshake from the Dairy here and then again a few years later on another trip to Melbourne for Christmas. We stop again at the same place, he orders the same cream milkshake. Only to have the lady respond with “your only the second person to ever order that.” Turns out dad is the only person in Australia that drinks cream milkshakes!

It also was the next stop to continue our run of family catch ups. Hayleys dad, Uncle Geoff and Ann are here. Needing to get to Adelaide tomorrow it’s just a one night stay. We booked into a caravan park, threw together an afternoon tea and had a lovely time showing off the van, catching up, and playing with the children. Ann has a really beautiful ability to connect with people straight away and she was down on the ground in no time with the girls sharing all about there toys.

A brief but lovely, time together. I am feeling very grateful to have been blessed with so many easy going, wonderful people in our family. It’s not always the case with families but I can honestly say I love mine and looking forward to visiting more in Adelaide.

Anne, getting an intro to LOLs from the Girls.

We were up and at it early with a long drive ahead today but couldn’t leave with paying a visit to the famous Blue Lake. A large crater lake, located in a dormant volcanic maar. During December to March the lake turns to a vibrant cobalt blue and back to a steel grey colour during the cooler months. It really is a stunning blue and interesting phenomenon, nature just has it all!

Blue Lake – the result of a volcanic crater

After leaving Mt Gambier it was a lovely drive through the Coonawarra, premier wine country. Would have been lovely to stop and enjoy some of the fruits of this fertile land. But alas the clock was against us so we admired the scenery and added it to the ever growing list for next time. 😜

Getting into the wine regions in SA @ Coonawarra

Camp # 57, Day 268 – 270, Dunkeld, VIC

Happy times on mums back at Mt Sturgeon

Today we left Seville after a lovely week staying with family and moving on to Dunkeld to visit with Hayley, Ben and Billy, more family, my cousins. It’s easy to forget how big Melbourne is and how long it takes to cross the city. It felt like we had already been in the car for ages, (and it had been hours) but we were only just getting out the other side of the city.

Once we cleared Melbourne it was a straight forward drive through some picturesque country. The further we got away from Melbourne the better it got, reaching the peak of prettiness as we arrive in Dunkeld, a town at the bottom of the Grampian National Park. Hayley works on Mt Sturgeon Station and we’ll be pulling up the van there for a few nights.

Setting up at Haley & Bens – Ken struggles to park the van when there is too much space!

I love this area. Mostly farming, crops and cattle, but it’s the beautiful and dramatic River Red Gum trees that give character and theatre to the vista. Throw in the Southern Grampians and Mount Sturgeon and it’s easy to love.

Views across to Mount Sturgeon

We arrived with just enough time to get set up before dinner. Ben did a brilliant job of catering for our dietary requirements even if we were the butt of some of his jokes. We are hoping we may give him some material to feature in his up and coming stand up comedy routines.

Ben’s been making these cheese boards from the local redwood cutting them with a big chainsaw, he gave Ken a great intro to using a chainsaw and now he’s off to get one!

Meeting Billy for the first time and seeing Hayley and Ben as parents was awesome. Honestly one of the happiest, easy going little dudes I’ve ever met. The girls loved having another house and toys to explore and Lulu a little play mate. It was funny watching her work out the dynamics of interacting with another little one and needing to share toys.

The Girls and Billy had a ball together!

It was a lovely evening together but got the kids to bed and retired early. Unfortunately we had given very little notice of our visit and Hayley had to work but it was fine as we were keen to just have a lazy day catch up on some more school, washing and cleaning. Ben cares for Billy and the boys took us out to their farm to visit the cows and check on a few things. It’s great getting out on a farm and learn about the different ways to work and care for the land.

Ben gave us a great tour the farm.
The sheep were very keen to check us out collecting yabbies.

The following day Ben was keen to catch us a feed of yabbies from the dams so after a couple to trips setting the pots we took ourselves for a little self guided driving loop and finished with a delicious late lunch at the local gourmet hotel, Royal Mail, a must stop for beautiful food if you every find yourself here.

Fresh yabbies, caught from the dams in the bath! Delish!

Part of Hayley’s work is caring for and managing a breading and release program for the Spotted Eastern Quoll. They have become extinct here on the mainland. But with healthy population in Tasmania and a few captive population, like the one here on the Mt Sturgeon property, there is hope of re-introducing them into the wild again. So we where lucky to get a private tour with Hayley.

Haley took us to visit the Quoll’s at Mt Sturgeon – gorgeous!

Dinner was a feast, with a fine haul of yabbies and tapas accompaniment. It has been a very relax visit and delightful to get to know Billy and watch the girls meet and play with another little cousin (2nd cousin). Thanks so much Hayley, Ben and Billy for your hospitality, we loved our visit with you in your stunning patch of the country.