South Australia here we come

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June 11th 2012
Published: June 11th 2012
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Victoria/South Australia Border Victoria/South Australia Border Victoria/South Australia Border

on the Wimmera Highway
Blog 25 - South Australia here we come Sorry for the delay. I placed the photos in this edition of the blog and began the draft on 22nd January. A LOT has happened since then. It’s going to be a big one, so sit back, relax and enjoy.

It was Monday 9th January when we crossed the border into South Australia. We spent 2 nights in Naracoorte Showground in cold windy weather. Naracoorte Caves National Park was listed on the World Heritage List in 1994, “recognising the universal value of the incredible fossil deposits found in the caves” in 1969.Victoria Fossil Cave contains the remains of marsupials and other long extinct animals in the largest deposit of fossils yet found. It was truly amazing to think that for thousands of years, creatures roaming the countryside were falling into the sink holes in the limestone caves, unable to escape. Their carcasses – thousands of them – piled up over the years, so much so that the sinkholes were finally blocked up. This left a 500,000 year record of life on earth. The limestone caves with their beautiful stalactites and stalagmites are just as awesome.

Mt Gambier was our next destination.
Inside the Victoria Fossil CaveInside the Victoria Fossil CaveInside the Victoria Fossil Cave

This skeleton represents an extinct tree-eating kangaroo.
Travelling through the Coonawarra region saw us visiting yet another winery. We have met some of the loveliest people working the cellar doors. They are extremely interested in what we are doing and we are keen to learn a bit about them, too. This young gentleman was about to do some travelling – for his honeymoon in a few weeks’ time! You may have heard of Mt Gambier’s famous Blue Lake, which is a beautiful cobalt blue (a new friend referred to it as “Whitsunday Blue”). It’s blue in summer time and then in winter, it turns a green-grey. It is situated in one of 3 extinct volcanic craters and provides the city with its drinking water. There are other blue lakes in the world but none changes colour so dramatically every year. There are walking tracks and beautiful parklands all around the craters so we got some much-needed exercise.

Mt Schank, Port MacDonnell, and Nelson are all within a short drive from Mt Gambier so off we went to explore those areas. We climbed Mt Schank, 158m above sea level to get an amazing view of the inside of the crater and 360º out across the plains and
Umpherston's Garden in Mt GambierUmpherston's Garden in Mt GambierUmpherston's Garden in Mt Gambier

Created when the cave imploded it is now a sunken garden, created by James Umpherston in his front yard in the 1880's! At night time the garden is flooded with lights. It's a great place to visit and you can feed possums as well.
to the sea. Then we travelled on to Port MacDonnell for a wander around the old lighthouse site and the beautiful rugged coastline before sharing our fish and chips with the seagulls. “Port Mac” is known as “Australia’s Rock Lobster Capital”, but at $80 - $90/kilo we decided to give it a miss … unless we caught our own of course!

It was quite blustery but Wendy spotted a large seal in the waves and then a dolphin near the jetty. We crossed the border back into Victoria to visit the quiet coastal village of Nelson, which lies at the mouth of the Glenelg River. There are more caves to explore, some of them completely submerged, so only a few people have the pleasure of seeing them ….. those who have a wetsuit and cave-diving experience Not for us!

Talk had begun about the possibility of us visiting Kangaroo Island. Would we take the van across? That could be expensive. Would we just take the car and some camping gear? We don’t have a tent or sleeping gear and only a small car to carry all the necessities. Island accommodation could work out to be expensive. Then one
Flowering gumsFlowering gumsFlowering gums

These beautiful trees are all over the place and we were lucky enough to see them in bloom.
day a van just like ours, towing a car just like ours arrived at the park. They had just come from “KI” with their whole rig. They enthusiastically told us, “Go, just go, and take the lot with you! You’ll love it! Just stay as long as you can, it’s beautiful, and you won’t want to leave!” Decision made!

Day 1 out of Mt Gambier saw us heading to the coast again where we got our first “experience” of a warm-summer-holiday-at-the-beach kind of feeling. Travelling through Southend, Beachport and onto Robe we were disappointed that a sea mist had blown in and made things rather cool again. We were also NOT IMPRESSED with having to pay $40 a night for a powered site. (Holiday time on the coast!) Peter’s Mum and Dad visited Robe many years ago, soon after we got our first 4WD vehicle. Dad bragged about having driven his Ford Falcon on the beach at Robe! Of course we did the obligatory drive on the beach at sunset, and there were indeed lots of 2WD cars on the beach. The sand was very firm indeed. (unlike other places we have recently visited).

Kingston is another port
On the way back downOn the way back downOn the way back down

We did lots of walking around Mt Gambier.
well-known for lobsters – in fact – Larry the Lobster greets tourists to the town. Kingston’s history is preserved in buildings that are still functioning since the town’s establishment in 1856. Many towns in the area are very proud of their heritage which is evident in the immaculate condition of the old buildings. We love seeing the post office and the banks being run from the original buildings. So many towns these days pride themselves on their progressive outlook and it’s sad to see the old solid structures standing idle, or worse, demolished.

Kingston is an RV Friendly town, which means that services are geared up for the travelling public. Long-term and short-term parking in town for large vehicles, the ever important “dump point”, etc, etc. We learned that there are 3 spots along the coastline in town where we could park overnight so we decided to stay for the night. We had only driven an hour that morning! We chose the car park alongside the jetty. As it was still school holiday time, there was a lot of fishing activity during the day, but not for us! We STILL haven’t put our lines in the water! Besides, the wind was blowing quite strongly again. The next day was Australia Day, so we partook of breakfast in the park, prepared by the local Lions Club, before heading for our next camp spot, 19 km further up the road. The Granites is just a few rocks stuck in the sand, a bitumen car park and a viewing platform. Nothing else. Oh yes, and a strong, blustery wind. Never-the-less, we chose to stay.

The following day saw us following The Coorong, the protected coastal reserve 45km long and less than 4km wide at the mouth of the Murray River. We stopped off at Meningie to be astonished by reading the story boards there. Read the photos and let us know if you’re as flabbergastered as we are. When will common sense prevail?????

Our next stop was for 2 nights at the rest area at Langhorne Creek – another flourishing wine-growing area. (Thanks Cheryl and Andy for bringing it to our attention in your blog). Our next taste of holiday high prices was at Victor Harbour. We wanted to stay here for quite a while, but at $47 a night for the beachside park, we decided to find an alternative.
Beautiful Blue LakeBeautiful Blue LakeBeautiful Blue Lake

Can you see Mt Schank in the background?
The Victor Harbor Holiday Park, part of the Family Parks Group, was a much more viable option. Peter was feeling unwell so visited the doctor a few times to make sure he was well before we ventured to the more remote Kangaroo Island. On Monday 6th February, we had a telephone interview with the manager of Bluegums Riverside Holiday Park in Eildon, Victoria and agreed to drive across to meet him face to face on Thursday. In the meantime, we responded to another advertised position at Aldinga Beach, SA. We drove across the Fleurieu Peninsular to meet with the owners/managers of a lovely park there. Unfortunately for us, they were looking for a couple who had a bit more experience than us. On the Tuesday, we were on the road again, heading East! We left the van at Lockie & Tracey’s and drove the remainder of the trip in the car. We stayed 2 nights at Bluegums, meeting the owner and the yet-to-start Managers. We loved the beautiful green hilly countryside, the very full Eildon Reservoir, the fresh trout, and fast flowing Goulburn River. We got the job, so back to Horsham to collect the van, and back to Eildon

to commence work on 15th February. KI would have to be visited another time! Peter was still not well when we started work at Bluegums. We had one day off per week which was generally spent visiting the slightly larger township of Alexandra to do our grocery shopping and visiting the doctor. It was on one such occasion that we bumped into one of our neighbours from Avoca Beach. Small world! It wasn’t until Wednesday, 27th March that an ultrasound of Peter’s abdomen showed the complications in his spleen. The doctor was sure that it was “Malignant lymphoma” – Malignant not having the same meaning as with tumorous cancers. An urgent appointment was made with an oncologist in Melbourne for the Friday. The doctor suggested that we go prepared for a hospital stay. The appointment was for 11am and by noon Peter was being admitted to Epworth Eastern Hospital in Box Hill.

To cut a long story short – he had several scans, a bone marrow biopsy, and 6 months of chemotherapy was commenced. He was in hospital for 10 days over Easter, and our daughters, son-in-law and granddaughter came to visit. We decided to resign from the job and come back to the Central Coast to be with family, friends and support team for the remainder of the treatment. Our dear friends James and Judy came to Eildon to collect us and drive us home. Wendy’s number one goal now is to upgrade her driver’s licence! There were also other challenges to overcome. The insurance policies on both the car and motorhome had expired, and the “van” was unregistered. Have you ever been interstate when rego on your heavy vehicle is due? Too many complications to mention here, but it made life interesting to say the least.

We arrived back “home “on Monday 23rd May to begin a whirlwind round of medical appointments to organise the smooth continuation of the chemotherapy regime.

Peter is coping really well with the treatment and all the tests he has to undergo. The poison that is pumped into him on a fortnightly basis is not causing too much discomfort or side effects. He has lost his hair and is a lot skinnier than he used to be, but he still has a good appetite and does not suffer any nausea, so the weight is slowly coming back on. All the
Still more infoStill more infoStill more info

Does this bother anyone else? or it it just us??
other occupants of the house are working on reducing their weight and generously offer Peter to take some of theirs.

We are now ALMOST half-way through the Chemo sessions and are looking forward to being 100% before too long. Peter’s naturopath and chiropractor are delighted with his progress which makes the both of us feel even more positive about a complete recovery.

We are both extremely pleased to be here with all our loving friends and family, in a positive and supportive environment. Our only regret is that we had to leave Bluegums and the wonderful new managers there who, in only a short time, became lovely supportive friends. We will return to Eildon one day soon, and may even be able to give Kim and Shannon some well deserved time off – but only for a little while, as there’s a big country out there waiting for us!

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Additional photos below
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Crossing the Murray River at Wellington SACrossing the Murray River at Wellington SA
Crossing the Murray River at Wellington SA

Our first adventure on a ferry.
A Victor Harbor IconA Victor Harbor Icon
A Victor Harbor Icon

We didn't get to have a ride on VH's famous horse-drawn tram - we walked out to Granite Island on the Causeway... and then walked around the very windy island. We did take a ride on the Cockle Train along the coastline to Goolwa.

11th June 2012

How the heck are ya
Great to see your on the road again...on the road again just can't... sorry Willie Nelson memories. I look forward to see you both, stay safe and well Hugs Tony G
13th June 2012

Get Well
Hi Pete. Sorry to hear you are unwell and going through that rotten chemo. We hope you recover quickly and you and Wendy are off on more wonderful adventures. Sending you all our love and best wishes, Debbie & Ken
14th June 2012

Wendy and Peter well that was a great blog. I'm so happy that Peter is doing well and is on the road to recovery(no pun intended) but I'm sure you will be on the road again soon and sharing you're wonderful experiences with us.

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