Day 16 - Port MacDonnell to Beachport

Trip Start Apr 17, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Beachport Conservation Park - 3 Mile Bend

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yet another chilly and windy morning. We had heaps to do so it was a quick breakfast and pack up of our camp. We did a very quick trip into town to "try" to find coffee. We saw what looked like a cafe, we parked and went in. A woman who looked like she had been through 6 rounds with Milo Kerrigan was inside. She was distracted by some task I can't quite remember, anyway she looked at us and made a grunting noise.

Still unsure as to whether she worked there or not, we stood there uncomfortably for another few minutes before bursting into laughter and declaring the place a hole. We then walked out - dumbfounded at the service and hospitality of the place. Since it was only 45 minutes to Mt Gambier we figured we would wait a bit longer for our coffees. The drive was scenic - coastal farms, well watered, plenty of birdlife such as wrens and small honeyeaters like New Hollands. We had to drive at a reduced speed (approx 70-80km/h in 100 zones) to avoid harming anything.

We got to Mount Gambier and did a quick drivethrough of the CBD. Once we had worked the place out we visited the cupcake coffee shop. Now this was a pretty cool place, they only sold cupcakes and tea/coffee. They didn't have a fancy menu and they didn't sell crap. Everything was nice. They also happened to do toasted sandwiches so we grabbed a toasty each and enjoyed our coffee and brunch. A little further around the block we were walking around the council buildings when we stumbled across some cave gardens and then the Engelbrecht Cave. Unfortunately we didn't have time to wait until the next tour (that night) but we descended the stairs and took a few snaps. They had an automated light show which would've been good to see, but hey, we can always see it next time!

After a brief explore on foot, we headed back to the van so we could drive up to the Blue Lake which is pretty much THE sight to see in Mt Gambier. It was about 5 minutes from the city centre to the Blue Lake area whic in fact is not just one lake but a whole series of lakes - some of which no longer contain water. It was bitterly cold so everytime we got out to take photos we would only last a short while before bolting back to the car. After checking out all of the lakes we realised that it was only freezing if you were facing the southerly wind and that there were some nice North facing vantage points where it was most pleasant. We then stumbled across a pretty darn good caravan park which made us consider unloading the bikes and staying in comfort but since it was so cold, and we had already seen most of Mt Gambier, we really wanted to camp in the Wilderness that night, so we hit the road towards the coast via Millicent.

When we arrived in Beachport it was about 4pm so whilst sightseeing, we were keeping an eye open for places to camp even though we were pretty sure that the Conservation Park was going to be the one because we had read about it days earlier whilst researching possible routes. The town itself had a huge (approx 1km) jetty which looked like fun - we made a mental note that we would do this tomorrow. We then did a quick lap of the Beachport Scenic Drive which winds around the bays, beaches and cliffs on the coast west of the town. There were some nice lookouts which were "going off" (so to speak) during the late afternoon. The Pool of Siloam was also kinda cool. It is a super salty pool which is great for floating in during summer but since it was about 13 degrees it wasn't too attractive to us.

After this we did a very quick visit to the lookout at the top of town (basically a rough 4x4 track behind some houses), after which we decided it was time to set up camp. We had the conservation park waypointed in the GPS so we were in 5 minutes. Of course, as is always the way, we had to check out ALL the possible campsites available before deciding on one. At one point I tried to drive around a boggy bit as the lake was not full. The salt was a bit deceiving and we sunk a few inches and lost traction so our rear wheels spun. I could have let some air out of the tyres but I thought I'd try some other tricks first. I did the old reverse, forward, reverse trick until we had enough momentum to bounce out of the track we had made. I love a bit of a challenge. Now, I know some of you are thinking "Jeez mate get a 4wd"....but you see I already have one. I made the conscious decision to take a 2wd camper on this trip because anyone (or most people at least) can use a 4x4 to get them in & out of tricky places. The REAL skill and challenge is to get a 2WD into (and out of) these places.

We chose our campsite based on (a) view of the lake and (b) distance from other campers......
(a) was good and (b) was far.....

After we set up camp, we went for a quick walk around the area as the lake was looking quite serene at this time of day. There was only one other campsite in use and they were a retired couple right down the other end. This was our first non-powered camp since we had purchased our replacement inverter in Warrnambool (after the 1st one blew) so it was quite exciting to be 100% self-powered with every mod con you could think of. We watched digital TV whilst streaming music off the net with an iPad and charged our phones. As we had been to Mt Gambier that day we YouTubed lots of Dave Graney tunes and stories. The inverter worked perfectly - no hums, interference or anything. I can't quite remember what we cooked for dinner but it would've been yummy I'm sure. The night drew on, the temperature dropped and the drizzle/rain continued.

We went to bed around 11pm excited to be getting close to the Coorong......
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