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May 21, 2014

Now to try to pick up from where I left off from my notes & photos. Have been too busy over the past couple of weeks to keep this up to date- supposed to be retired!
The next part of our SA touring was heading north up through Penola, Naracoorte, Bordertown, Mannum & finally to Loxton.
The trip up to Penola from Mt Gambier was, as usual, through sheep, some cattle & a little grain. Getting dryer the further we get north. We only drove through Penola in 2010 on way home from WA over to see friends at Melbourne. This time we spent a few hours looking around, with the first stop at Petticoat Lane whose custodian is the National Trust of SA. There are a series of restored cottages & gardens from Penola’s earliest settlement.

This is Petticoat Lane which runs down beside the school where Mary MacKillop taught.

The first was Gammon Cottage, 1860s and is now a studio & art gallery which was closed the day we were there.

This was around the back of the cottage.

The next one we came to was Wilson Cottage (1860s). It is now a vintage clothing, accessories & collectables store but was also closed.

Wandering a little further down Petticoat Lane we came to Davidson Cottage B.& B (1861)

The “sculpture” was interesting if you could call it a sculpture- note the tiny animals crawling over the dog if that is what it represents!
The last of the cottages was the Sharam cottage & herb gardens. The slab cottage was 1850 and the second cottage mid 1860s. We were able to wander through to the back & pick some beautiful fresh herbs. Oh how I have missed my herb garden at home.

Imagination- a baby bassinet constructed from a drawer.

And now to get some fresh herbs.

Another of the old buildings- a Cobb & Co booking office.
As it was not a very nice day & we had to walk past a bakery to get to car, guess what, we decided to have lunch before going to the Fantasy Model railway.
This was certainly like no other railway exhibition we have seen! Children to adults of all walks of life would have to be fascinated with what is incorporated in this building, all done by one man, a sculpture, architect, painter. It is the only large scale one in Australia & he was telling us that he has been asked to take it to the Gold Coast & spots overseas. He is still working on this one. They were not open the day we were there but the tourism Lady rang him & we got a guided tour .

Merlin’s World is a large indoor environment adjoining Rose’s Tearoom.
It is all just too hard to explain & harder to photograph to enable all the intricate detail of the people depicted, the machinery, animals, scenes. I took lots of photos so hope you can pick out some themes.

In the Centre of Merlin’s World is a huge crystal clear pond with an underwater village, overseen by King Neptune.

There is a Willy Wonker’s Wonderland.

There is a Merlin’s Castle & School of Wizardy & a 4 meter high castle as well as a Hotel Dracula with 9 different themed room dioramas, all family friendly.

It was fun trying to pick out the different Rock & Roll icons in this window.

All the Super heroes above.
Outside is an enchanted water garden kingdom, with the gardens backdrop an 1850s cottage called GLENGARRY built by the founding father of Penola Alexander Cameron.
There are large castles, on land & floating in the pond, with waterfalls coming from towers & turrets- it is called Watertopia.

After a couple of hours at the above we headed up to Naracoorte, driving through the Coonawarra wine region. For klms there are wineries both sides of the road.

Some if the vines have already been pruned & they certainly look much tidier than the ones waiting to be done. Not good photos as forgot to change setting! Duh! There was too much traffic to pull over to the side on the narrow highway.

Stopped once again to have a look at the Father Cowoods sculptures beside the road.

The countryside seemed to deteriorate as we headed north, needing some rain by the looks of the paddocks and there were more grain fields as well.

Decided to drive in to have a look at Bool Lagoon Y mayve spend the night there but need a permit so decided not spend the night there. As there was a overnighter at the turnoff to the lagoon and only 17k sth of Naracoorte that is where we stopped for the night. #71 in Camps 7. It was beside the road but this was not a very busy highway.
Into Naracoorte the next morning to the info centre to find out about the cave tours- not as though we had never been in one before but these are Heritage listed sites. We decided to go into the Alexandra Cave which was only a 30 min tour & was available at 1.30pm. Now, we had a few hours to “fill in” so decided to head back out to the Bool Lagoon itself – what a disappointment! if there had been water I can imagine the difference. Rather annoyed that we were not told there was no water. Anyway we drove around in time to get back for the tour.

Imagine when this is full with water & the bird life which would appear.
We sort of got lost, or rather Karen on the Navman did, ended up behind a grader around some farms. A few bales of winter feed stacked.

Got back to the caves in time for our tour which was $28 ( both of us with concession) The tour guide was from China & has been in In Naracoorte for 5 years. She did an brief talk before the tour as well as pointing out, above ground, where we would be walking underground. Starting at the left of the bottom photo we would be walking right to come out under the cafe on the right of the photo. It covers 240 metres with 60 steps up & down.
The Alexandra Cave is younger & smaller than the other cave displays. The highlight is the small reflections in the Mirror Pool.

This Banksia is very prevalent over in WA. Called, I think, the Ice cream or the Lillipop banksia. Should look it up to be sure.

Much more interesting with a tour guide, but, I am not convinced as to how they work out the time frames of all this geological “stuff”.

This last photo is the reflection one.

Every time we walk out of a cave we say “Right, no more caves” but that never seems to happen. From ones we have seen, Chillagoe (QLD) and Abercrombie(NSW) have been our favourites.
Our stop for this night was at #50, the Mundulla showground, arriving there in awful weather as well as there being school children doing sports.
Here is the “Ranger” who accepts your $15/pn for power. We intended staying here for 2 nights, to do some washing as well as up to Bordertown to have a look at the white
(actually the big greys) kangaroos.

Was going to do the washing before going up to Bordertown but no water- reported it at the store, there was a note in our van door when we got back saying that pressure pump had been fixed so quickly got into the washing while the sun was shining. Most got dry during the afternoon but as it was under the awning I was lazy & decided to leave there overnight. What a stupid thing to do as there was a pea soup fog the next morning & guess what- wet washing again to be taken into the van. Had it hanging every where.
Ok now up towards Bordertown which we had a quick stop at with Catriana & Chuck last year- lunch at the old Police station now the tourist centre and a cafe. The cafe has been built around the old jail.

Last years photo showing the old police station inside the cafe building.

This farm has an original shearing shed with thatching still on the roof, which can be seen from the road but we turned off to have a better look. It was a farm museum which we did not tour- just another museum!

On the road again. 100 ks up the highway to Pinnaroo, which is the potato growing capital of South Australia. We had lunch here as well as filling van with water. The couple at the tourist centre were very helpful.

Now we were heading NW up to Karoonda to # 124 at Karoonda East, for the night. Got there & it is right beside a railway line which did not look as though it was used, at least not very much. Because there was still a lot of the washing damp it was all put out into what sun was left for that day. It is really quite amazing how quickly clothes dry in the van while travelling though- got it all dry thank goodness.
Next day was Mother’s Day & I was, as usual, reading with my cuppa in bed about 6am when even Bruce was woken with a train whistle- obviously line is used!

I guess there is a first for most things,even if one has to ask!

We did a good walk around Karoonda last year so shall use those photos.

From here we put Bowhill into the Navman but we tried to argue with “Karen” & because we did not go where she wanted we ended up back a Mannum which we had intended not to go into. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we filled up the water, got fuel as well as back up to the lookout for the photos which I had taken on our way south – with no card in the camera!
The view form this lookout give one a good idea of what the mighty Murray is all about as far as House boating is concerned- so many moored.
As it was lunch time, I cooked our main meal then we had our showers before filling the water tanks.

Had decided to spend this night at the Big Bend Lookout, # 165 Camps 7. We had the spot to ourselves & the traffic passing by was not as bad as we thought it would be the the next morning was magic with the mist over the river.

Once the mist lifted everything looked so peaceful.

As we had bypassed Swan Reach on the way down that was our next stop. Only a small town along the river and we decided to cross on the ferry to have a look at the rest area which is #164 the Tenbury-Hunter reserve. Also has a dump point.

Blanchtown was the next small detour and this is the site of the 1st lock on the Murray Rv.

The old bridge is a great spot for looking down the river & over the houseboats moored below.

It is not often that you can stand above birds to take their photos, particularly so high above the water.

Lake Bonney at Barmera was our choice for a couple of days so we headed there. This was sunset the first evening.

Day break the next morning with the water like glass.
The days here were perfect, no wind, not cold and perfect sunny days.

The Red Fin were spawning while we were there & the water birds were there

in the hundreds.

These ruins are beside Lake Bonney.
After leaving here we headed into Loxton to meet up with friends whom we last saw in WA last August, then we went to John & Faye, other friends who live in Loxton to spend a few days with them.
We have not really been into the main part of Loxton on previous times here & did not realize it is so big. The autumn colors of the trees are lovely, golden & claret ash. The Gazania daisies line the roadside everywhere in SA.

One of SA wonderful old hotels.
The full moon rising over Faye’s roses.

While here Bruce decided that he needed to check the shackles on the van so John helped him replace the lot. John got him back by Bruce helping him to bag pumpkins!

FAye explained that the grape vines everywhere are looking so awful – it is bacause within the next few weeks they will be pruned right back for new growth to appear for next years crop.

On Sunday we did a round trip to Martin’s Bend & Berrie to check out the camping situation there. IT is a big area but mostly under widow maker trees & if it rained could be rather muddy.

We also had a look at SS ELLEN Park at Lyrum & decided that is where we would go when leaving Faye & John’s yesterday. This park is beside the river & ferry at Lyrup with flush toilets and 4 power points.

Wednesday 21st 6am.
I was hoping that there would be a mist over the river this morning but nothing. The water was so calm until the ferry had to bring traffic across.


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