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Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Mount Gambier
January 16th 2010
Published: January 20th 2010
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$1 for a towel!$1 for a towel!$1 for a towel!

Anna finds herself wrapped in the towels!
Day 265 - Mount Gambier

Wakey wakey, rise and shine! Considering out late night we were up and with it at a reasonable time unlike some people who shall remain nameless!! We played with the girls for a little bit and of course with the gorgeous Harry who does the best commando crawl for a baby that we’ve ever seen. He crawls headfirst but manages to swing round every now and then to make sure you’re still watching, very funny. The older boys are great company too, easy going and don’t seem to mind the constant ribbing that we’re giving them.

We have a little fan club in the two dogs Daisy and Wilbur, we absolutely love them and they’ve started to sit in the caravan with us for a bit of fuss and attention which we are only too pleased to give them. They’re just beautiful dogs, Wilbur is quite quiet in comparison to Daisy who hasn’t got an off button and will jump on your lap if you look at her in the right way.

With the chief cook in bed still it was left to John & Darryl to whip up a tremendous breakfast of muffins, bacon & eggs. Grant did manage to eat a couple but then he seemed to disappear under the covers again which prompted a visit from cousin number one (me) followed by a visit from daughter number two (Amy) although we nearly didn’t make it out of the bedroom alive, wiffy or what!! Sorry cous!

While a lot of this was going in I’d tucked myself away in the caravan to try and finish off the blogs, still struggling to keep up. Must learn to ramble less!

Everyone was keen to get out and about so we headed for Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park. We walked along the beach in the direction of 8 Mile Creek where the freshwater meets the ocean. The beach here is fairly well known as a decent surf beach in winter but in summer it’s pretty flat and today was no exception, flat as a pancake and perfect for skimboarding. The boys give it a really good shot, even the girls have a bit of a go with John pushing them from behind, we can’t fail to smile as they all get a soaking.

It’s not the warmest of days, the wind is quite full on and there’s a few blue bottles on the beach so none of us venture too far into the chilly water. Talking of water which isn’t warm, Piccaninnie Ponds themselves are just freezing. This is somewhere we really wanted to come and snorkel but the temperature of the water is not the least bit inviting. That didn’t stop John though and in no time at all he’s stripped to his jocks and diving in! It was enough to take our breath away let alone his! Mad fool, you can tell he’s a cop!

We didn’t have the courage or the underwear to do the same so instead decided to warm up with some fish and chips in the beach café at Port Macdonnel and come back a bit later if we really, really decided we should snorkel. I was secretly hoping it would pour down with rain to make it slightly warmer and guess what, on the journey to the fish and chip shop it did just that! Oops, I should be careful what I wish for!

The fish & chips were fabulous, we’re having so many treats thanks to Grant & Anna at the moment. They’re doing our travelling budget the world of good!!

We talked a lot about doing the snorkel, both of us really want to but there’s an added complication in that we should really get a permit before we enter the water as it’s a restricted site. We pop into the visitors centre in Port Macdonnel where we’re treated to a cheery “I’m not sure if I can help you with what you want to know but I can tell you the cricket score!” Bless him he was lovely and was actually very helpful although he couldn’t issue us with a permit, we needed to phone the Department of Conservation for that. We rang the number given but it was diverted to a very friendly ranger working at the Coorong. After a lovely chat he agreed that we should just go for a quick snorkel and if anyone questioned us being in the water without a permit then we should give them his name. Result, we were on our way - alone as everyone else had bottled out!

I should explain what all the fuss is about really. There are actually two different freshwater dive and snorkel sites in this area, Ewens Ponds and Piccaninnie Ponds. We take a drive to Ewens first and find a similar set up to Bitter Springs back in the Northern Territory. You get into the first pond then snorkel through to the second pond via a long thin channel then snorkel through to the third pond where you clamber out and make the 2km walk back to the start. The water is pretty chilly and we’re both a bit concerned about getting a cramp part way in and being too far from ‘land’ to do anything about it. Gosh, we really are wimps these days! We’re still determined to get in at Piccaninnie Ponds though, regardless of the chill factor so we turn tail and take a drive over there.

Piccaninnie Ponds is a freshwater dive and snorkel site within the conservation park. It’s said that the crystal clear waters of the ponds have been slowly filtering through the limestone and forming the features of the ponds over thousands of years. There’s a series of caverns here, or so we’re led to believe, which are a good challenge for divers but not accessible to us mere snorkelers. We’re just interested in viewing the pretty depths of the chasm and checking out the boasted 40 metre visibility.

The wind had really got up by the time we made it back there, of course it was completely deserted - no way was anybody else dumb enough to get in here without a wet suit. We didn’t dive in but we did gentle lower ourselves into the chilly waters. It took our breath away from the outset so we were quick with our exploration! What we did see was amazing though and the water is crystal clear and the most magnificent colours. Snorkelling here on a 40 degree day would have been awesome although even then we suspect a wetsuit is really the way to go! The reeds, the entrance to the cavern and lots of tiny fish were all visible from our position quite close to the platform, we didn’t venture much further out although the longer we stayed in the water the warmer we appeared to get but that was probably our bodies just shutting down from the extreme cold. We clambered out and ran straight for the car then motored home for a hot shower. Were we crazy? Probably but we’re glad we did it.

The hot shower was good but after that Luke said he fancied a game of cricket and so off we went again. The boys plus me set up the game in the local park and proceeded to have a great ‘mini ashes’! Considering that cricket is not our thing the Pommes put on a pretty good show but it was Luke & Jarad that stole the game. Their ‘brotherly love’ is awesome and the competitive spirit very strong. Good on you boys, good show.

Dinner was a delicious lasagne with a ‘secret’ ingredient - Mountain Bread instead of pasta layers. It makes it really light and very tasty, something to try in the future. What with Chicken Snitzels plus a huge amount of salad we certainly weren’t going to go hungry …. and then Kate brought out Pavlova!

Another Wii challenge loomed but before that got underway we raised the stakes to the masses and got out Rummikub! The response was awesome and we soon had Charlotte, Amy, John, Luke, Jarad, Grant and of course the two of us playing the tactical numbers game. Charlotte and Amy pick it up really well considering they’ve not played before and they’re both so young. One game led to another but inevitably it gave way to a second Wii challenge!

The youngsters went off to bed but it wasn’t long before Luke & Jarad reappeared from the tent. Luke had a pain in his foot, it looked like a splinter. Jarad’s eyes lit up with joy as Dad John proceeded to remove said splinter from brother Luke’s foot. There was plenty of wincing from Luke and glee from Jarad! If that sounds harsh then I probably haven’t explained in enough detail quite how much jip Luke gives Jarad, this was pay back!!!

Back in the tent and the boys took a long time to go to sleep, they had me in fits of laughter although neither of them knew it as they giggled and chuckled to one another. Their antics were very funny and they are both great fun to be around.

The Wii challenge really went downhill for me and Dar tonight when we were beaten by John and Grant at Tennis with them playing left handed and with their feet!! It wasn’t good!! Instead we challenged them to Golf but on the 7th hole I folded, I was in the lead but I was shattered and bed was yelling, not just calling!

We leave here tomorrow after an absolute blast over these few days, what with little baby Harry and his beautiful smile, John & Kate being fabulous hosts, Luke & Jarad offering sports challenges & laughs all round plus Daisy & Wilbur with love and devotion galore we’ll be completely lost without them.

Dar and Sar

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