Published: June 10th 2009
June 9th 2009
If AVIS does not work out, this could be my rental car for the weekend??
What else to do for a long Queens Birthday weekend but explore!
I got bitten by the spontaneous travel bug late last Thursday, and determined by my internet sleuthing that deals were to be had for Avis rental cars under the website vroomvroomvroom.com.
Besides, hanging out in my noisy highway-side flat with the mill milling and smoking, or the highway screeching was not going to be fun, even if it was with a good book on Steve Irwin's tragedy by his wife Terri.
Speaking of being domestic, I have figured out why it is extra noisy - apart from the proximity to the road I have a gap in the window of about 3mm and loose mesh guard and so noise transfers easily, not to mention security risk! I go in fits and starts with the mill and traffic noise beginning to wash over me, and I have resigned to staying there and making a go of it and get the rental agency to fix things!! I went to Bunnings warehouse on Saturday morning and got the 'chores' done such that it is now homely and hosting some very healthy looking pots of Bok Choy. But I must wait another
Cannot help myself when there is a Bunnings opposite me!
8 weeks until they mature.......Ah, once a gardener, always one (but not necessirily green fingered!!). How did I dig the plants in you ask (??).....well, after the spade was delivered to the wrong address (hardened forestry bloke residing next door) that is when the pasta spoon came in handy. Kiwi inguinity and response to necessity helped a lot. Then my new French canadian friend from work came around and furnished my fridge with some very large leeks and oranges from home to get me started.......how lucky am I!!
And so the weekend adventure began. Avis gave me a free upgrade to what turned out to be a less than economic Nissan Tilda, automatic but flash nonetheless (the auto transmission was an issue for a while......where is that clutch???). I went to the airport to pick it up, and made plans to meet again on Monday (June 8th) when I was due to return, at ~2pm. My friend and I headed up to Coonawarra and Penola for a spell of wine tasting and cafe'ing, and some short lived sightseeing and gallery wandering at Penola. Penola is a pretty town of old historic buildings and the Mary MacKillop centre, a
a man playing with his organ
Local Rotary Club Market - Saturdays weekly, behind Harvey Normans
well known figure. One of the art gallery owners was an eccentric Maori/ Brazillian lady who was exceptionally proud of her sons abilities in the artistic sense. And a retired nurse reigned to never return to her career!!! Amazing what working changes we can encounter in life. We visited RyMill first, then Yalumba, which is heavily marketed in NZ as a fashionable wine to drink..... Hell, if it tastes nice to you then who says you need a nose or palate to appreciate it! We ended up buying one bottle each of a Yalumba Cab-Sav and cab-Merlot blend after stuffing up the order if tasting such that out palates were now tainted irretreivably......how uneducated of me, but alas we agreed to assign a bottle to dinner at eachothers places in the near future!!!
That night I made the most of having A CAR and went SHOPPING...apologies for those already reading the last blog, but it is so WONDERFUL having a vehicle to take $130 of groceries home instead of taking it home in 15 batches on my bike to home, 4km away. Woolies had some bargains, and although I was over charged for a pumpkin that came to 11AUD,
Random Emus near Penola
No it is not Skippy, but a rellie of the Moa (ratites Whanau). Evidently the mice even have pouches in their fronts!!
The Sunday morning I headed out for an explore of the Mt Gambier area, by bike, to get my bearings having not had the chance to get outside the main drag of Commercial Street or Wehl Street which links the hopsital with home and town. Cows, sheep, trucks, dog walkers, fresh country air, views..........it had it all!. And then it rained and rained some more, so I played 'follow the cloud' into calmer, sunnier pastures south of the Gambier, and linked back to town via Pick Avenue! Useful to know where 'Crouch street hostel' is or the local Pub, where it seems many of my patients reside when not being ill in hospital (the hostel that is, not the pub - NOTE: a hostel is like low level care for elderly in Australia, not a YHA!!!)
That arvo, I headed north after making a random call to a hostel in Robe on the Friday evening, north east of here by about 2 hrs. First stop was Carpenter Rocks, a pretty wind blown seaside place 30km away on a bitumin road. I met some Indian tourists from melbourne and we joked about the dreaded swine flu for a
bit. Then I drove onwards to Tantanoola, well known for a tiger creature that mystically chased a man over a fence a few hundred years ago and was described to be a very strange occurrence! Myth? HHmmmm. Maybe overgrown half truth. After Tantanoola it was a short, straight (isn't it all!) ride to Millicent, where you can detour to many of the local conservation parks and wetlands. The tourist centre is great, and the attached museum I went to worthy of a visit with it's relics of past horticultural life and steam locomotive history. A bit of a small version of MOTAT in Auckland.
After being greeted with increasing chill and showers, I was almost put off going for a wander at Southend, one of many 'southern ports' labelled around the Green triangle area. Walking the nooks and crannies of the cliffs was amazing, and good tonic as 'cobweb blowing' when you need it after all that flat, straight driving! I left Southend for Beachport, another seaside getaway with many 4WD vehicles having ended a day of 4WD'ing the rock pools and sand-dunes. I met one guy who has been fishing all day for only 2 fish....but the tranquility
Close to home
Maybe Mt Gambier was meant to be? Heaps of Newtons in these parts apparently.
of the experience and crashing waves were THE tonic for this Ocker fulla and his Missus.
I finally got to Robe about 6pm and settled into a luxurious hostel called the Lakeside Manor - being stately it was impressive, even if the man that built it wanted it to be more so by adding another story to it. Think leather lounge suits, open roaring fire with a friendly firewood-hand at the ready to stoke it, TV and DVD room, nice hot showers and big open kitchen collecting rain water and visiting tour groups from Adelaide. I chatted with the Adelaide crowd after tea, and they gave me tips that have disuaded me from visiting Coober Pedy (in adition to the cost being prohibitive to my travel budget!)......."all crooks and weirdos go there as it is frontier country", but it still seems appealing for it's radical difference to NZ. Or at least that is what the pictures show. Will think on that.
The next day I resigned to forgoing my modest mileage allowance with AVIS and going the whole hog by driving to Naracoorte in eastern SA and visiting the renound Caves. The weather was really cold and wet,
Mt gambier by bike
white gravel and wet, a great if messy mix
although could not keep me from seing the town at sunrise with the gusting Southern winds buffetting the coast, and me. Also has some waterways developments going on here, so it seems that soon their shacks will be mansions as in many coastal projects. I could not leave the area without having seen Cape Jaffa - every Aucklander worth their salt (regardless of original origin in NZ!) need to visit Cape Jaffa as it is so....un Auckland like. Small jetty with fisherman/ women using cockles (aka TuaTuas in NZ) to catch fish, a servo, and few shacks. Many wineries too, and obviously just growing. The drive to Naracoorte was long and I got used to setting the speedo to cruise control - 110km on open highway and then some. Saw heaps of roos, emus on occasion, and crows. Look, there goes Skippy now! naracoorte Caves was interesting - I did the Interpretative centre and Self guided Wet cave for $15, almost the last of my cash for the weekend, and it was impressive although not as grand as one I had seen in Vietnam 2 years earlier. Many more to explore I am told!! Steady on Pauline. I eventually got
35 mins north of Mt Gambier is the gorgeous town of Penola
back safely after filling to car up, although Nick from AVIS negelcted to pick me up and take me home........a gentle mobile phone call corrected this although I kept the key unwaringly!! All solved now.
Next adventure - maybe, a leisure guide to Mt Gambier. I have found a good pool, and it is open every morning until 9am so a dark ride to the pool it will be for my salt-water fix.
There are more photos below