When we woke up early on Thursday morning, it was raining and we were soooo happy we booked into a cabin in the caravan park in Mount Gambier. It was delicious laying in bed knowing that our gear was dry, we could go to the bathroom without getting wet, and we could stay inside all day if necessary, without cramping up or becoming claustrophobic.
We are not that good at laying around, so by 9.30am we were out searching for a good coffee whilst trying not to get too wet. The Vanilla Bean was apparently the place to ‘be seen’ according to the tv ads, so we headed there first. The coffee was highly overpriced and not that good, and I don’t even think we got ‘seen’ by very many people! Very disappointing.
The rest of the day was spent walking up and down and round trying to ‘seize the day’, occasionally pretending to enjoy shopping inside various shops when we got too cold and wet. It was freezing, and wasn’t helping our initial impressions of this rural city.
In the afternoon we went to a one hour free movie at the interpretative centre about the volcanic craters in the area. It was interesting in its own way and had some unintentionally humorous sections (presenter comes upon some volcanic rock… “…it’s black, and it’s hard…” Unusual for rock).
Jens Hotel sold us a fantastic steak and salad (naturally, given the name!) for dinner, and we amused ourselves with the footpath lights and watched some of the light show.
We finally went to bed glad not to be riding tomorrow.
Friday dawned bright and mostly sunny with just a couple of showers, and we set off on foot to go and see the famous ‘Blue Lake’ and the other craters close by. It was pretty much straight uphill from the CBD, which helped warm us up as it was a chilly morning.
The Blue Lake is naturally blue because of the limestone and other substances found in it or something like that (we were listening during the movie…when we weren’t chuckling or falling asleep). Seeing the lake on the movie and seeing it in real life was totally different. It was incredible!
We walked around the ridge of the crater to the Centenary Tower, which gave us a tremendous view of the craters and of Mount Gambier itself. The path was the steepest climb we have experienced since Tasmania! Actually , because it was only a walking track, not a road, it was even steeper than the Tasmanian roads we have ridden on, but we can’t admit that.
Speaking of hills, we had a few people tell us about the big climbs we were going to have to do to get to Mount Gambier. We didn’t need the granny ring once getting here and didn’t really notice the undulations…sorry…hills. See what riding in Tasmania does for you! We have heard a bit about Lavers Hill on the Great Ocean Road too, and are now very interested to see if it is as bad as people say…or will it be another non-event? We will let you know :).
Tomorrow we head to Portland via Nelson, a day later than we planned. We spoke to a few people, including two bike shop owners and the RAA (Royal Automobile Association), to find out about the roads to Portland. This town is a big port (funnily enough) and woodchip gets trucked here in massive quantities and shipped all over the place. Apparently big woodchip trucks travel on both the Nelson road and the alternative, the Princes Highway, but the general consensus was that the Nelson road would be more scenic and pleasant, and if we went on the weekend there may be less trucks.
We plan to leave at about 6am in the morning for the 30ish kms to Nelson, then another 70ish kms to Portland. Hopefully we will miss most of the traffic, wind and any showers planning to come this way!