Page 116: South again to Adelaide, Mount Gambier then Portland in Victoria
  Where next?  

     Sitting in the excellent Flinders Range Caravan Park in Hawker on our way back from Lake Eyre we realised that we had no plans whatsoever. Our car's battery was 'dodgy' and we were never sure whether the car would start or not, so a new battery was a priority. We have several friends in Adelaide that we'd love to catch up with and Adelaide is only five hours away. We also have friends in Mount Gambier that we were keen to see again. Then there's the Great Ocean Road which is a 'must see' and which would take us neatly back into Victoria. Does that sound like a bit of a plan to you? Okay, let's give it a go.

      So here we are in the Adelaide Beachfront Caravan Park. That didn't take long, did it? Last night in Hawker the wind strength increased until it was moaning around the ’van, rocking it in the stronger gusts, and howling through the trees. We awoke this morning to find the trees bending and the branches whipping and thrashing. Was this good or bad? My first task was to take a walk with a compass and determine the wind direction. Had it been a southerly I'd have been back in bed quick as a flash, for headwinds really strain the car and drink the fuel. However it was a north wind. You beauty! We'll get blown all the way to Adelaide. Once in a while you get a win.

      As we departed a woman told us how brave she thought we were to tow a large caravan in that wind. She meant stupid, of course. I don't know what sort of ’van she had but ours is as stable as a rock in strong winds and it didn't give us a moment's anxiety. It's probably the difference between a caravan with a single axle and one with tandem axles. Each has its own advantages.

  The soft folds of hill that we saw on our our way to Hawker (page 113) occasionally gave way to sheer rock outcrops.  
  Tired? Sometimes that road seems to go on for ever.  
      Our only problem arose when we arrived in Adelaide and tried to find the Beachfront Caravan Park at 349 Military Road. Alice, our much maligned GPS navigator, took us to number 349 which clearly wasn't a caravan park. We asked her again and she offered two different locations for number 349, the one we'd already tried and another five kilometres down the road. We tried that one. Sure enough it was also 349 Military Road, but it wasn't a caravan park either. You've probably guessed, the number 349 occurs three times along the length of Military Road. “It happens to all the people using a GPS”, the park receptionist told Pam. Suppose, just suppose, the receptionist had mentioned that fact when we phoned from Hawker, and had given us the name of the nearest side street as a reference? “Almost opposite Ozone Avenue” would have done nicely.

     We'd only just set up the caravan and were sampling our first glass of red when there was a knock on the door and there stood Libby who had replied to my query about 'negative tides' last year. We had been in contact with her ever since though we'd never met before. It was wonderful to finally meet her and so kind of her to come out in the dark to welcome us to Adelaide and invite us to Sunday lunch. Her husband cooks a mean roast! It turned out to be an extremely pleasant and relaxing afternoon. Thanks, both.
       We found Adelaide cold and sometimes wet but after all it was mid-winter. This was not a sight-seeing visit, rather a meet-up-with-old-friends visit. We spent a very pleasant evening with Lyndon and Ann whom we first met in Tumby Bay in 2005, and another evening with Don and Lois. Don and I go way back to my employment days. Pictures of both couples are on page 66 from a previous visit. We also visited Greg and Janet whom we first saw on a boat trip in Geikie Gorge on the Fitzroy River, then became acquainted with in Derby, later to become firm friends in Broome. Pam has their picture in her Journal for 13th June 2008.

      One thing was common to all three couples; though we hadn't seen them for over a year it felt like it was only yesterday. When we knocked on Greg and Janet's front door it was Greg who opened it. I held out my hand to shake Greg's. He ignored it and gave me a huge bear hug. I've never been hugged by a police sergeant before!

      The week passed quickly and on the Sunday morning of our departure it was cold and raining steadily. Until you've gone through the ritual of preparing and hitching up a caravan in cold rain, you won't appreciate the misery of it. After a while I couldn't feel my fingers or toes and I was soaked. See? It's not all relaxation, fun and food. However, after a long hot shower I felt good again and we set off just before the deadline of 10:00 when, in theory, we have to pay for another day. That never happens, of course.

      The 453 kilometre trip to Mount Gambier was uneventful, the rain becoming intermittent after a while, and we arrived at the Blue Lake Caravan Park at sunset. I connected to electricity and water but left the car and caravan hitched for the night as the light was fading. I was going to sort it out first thing in the morning but it's now first thing the afternoon, so if you'll excuse me . . .
  The Limestone Coast.  
       We described this region when we visited Mount Gambier in 2005 so if you'd like to read up on it, please go to Page 5 in the Main Index - click here - or to 21st March 2005 in Pam's Journal to see what she thought of it - click here. The Blue Lake is still blue even though it is not as blue as in the warm months. What turns it blue? I attempted to explain it in my entry on Page 5 from information gathered at the time. I don't pretend to understand it.

      We were in Mount Gambier to visit friends Rob and Colleen whom we first met in Denham, Western Australia in November of 2008. We met them again in Kalbarri and later they visited us in Tamworth.

      Colleen and Rob invited us to their home for dinner. Colleen cooked a lovely roast and we spent an extremely enjoyable evening with them. We saw them again, several times, and the week just seemed to fly by. Suddenly it was Sunday morning and time to hitch up the caravan. Would you believe that the weather came good just in time for us to leave?
  Preparing to leave Mount Gambier - the only photograph I took there.
The Blue Lake Caravan Park was the first to allow me to wash the caravan since we'd left Marree, covered in dust.

     At one hundred and eleven kilometres, the trip to Portland was one of the shortest we've ever done. However, it did involve leaving South Australia and entering Victoria, and that involved setting all our clocks forward by thirty minutes. It also meant leaving sunshine and driving into dull overcast and rain.

      The Henty Beachfront Caravan Park is, as its name suggests, only separated from Portland Bay in the Southern Ocean by a few sand dunes and though the sea is calm, we can clearly hear the breakers along the shore.

      Driving into Portland we came across these attractive trees (below). Anybody know what they are? I have a gut feeling they might be an African variety.

  What are these trees? They are low and wide and give good shade.  
  An unexpected experience.  
  Two groups of men in hard hats and hi-visibility vests. What are they doing, flying giant kites?  
  The ropes were attached to the tips these wings - the left rope is easily visible.
But what is it? Something in a funfair? A mechanical bird? Some sort of aeroplane?
  No, it's a huge wind turbine, one of twenty nine. The crane is lifting the blade assembly away from the generator
prior to lowering it for maintenance. Each blade is 41 metres (about 133 feet) long.
  The men on the rope near the right hand turbine lend scale to the picture. Their rope is attached to the tip of the blade just off the top of the picture. The men on the other rope are out of sight. The crane is swinging around prior to lowering the blade assembly.  
  A second crane now lifts the third blade clear of the ground as the first crane lowers the hub.
The two teams of men pull the upper blades away from the tower and down she comes.
  I had to scoot to another location for this shot of the blades flat down and both cranes disconnected.  
       I don't know what your views are of these wind generators but I think they're wonderful. I just cannot understand the people that have to knock them because they "kill birds" or are "too noisy" or are "harmful to human health". Total cobblers! They generate totally clean power and the wind energy used to drive them is free; let's have more of them. The more they generate, the less the coal fired power stations need to pollute.  
  The Portland Coastline.  
       We saw some beautiful beaches with gentle, curved waves patiently awaiting their turn to caress the golden sand. My God, I'm getting all romantic.  
  The breaking waves created a mist across the bay.  
  The same gentle waves had a far different reaction when they encountered the black cliffs.  
  Tarragal Caves.  
  While driving near Bridgewater Lakes we came across Tarragal Caves eroded out of a limestone cliff face. There are several smaller caves on the far right of the picture.  
  Tarragal Caves.  
  Cape Nelson Lightstation.  

     Three ships were wrecked in the vicinity of Cape Nelson between 1837 and 1863. The first was the Isabella, a three masted wooden barque of 225 tons built in Yarmouth, England. She was carrying livestock from Launceston to Adelaide when, in the dark, her experienced master mistook Lady Julia Percy Island for Cape Nelson and altered course accordingly, sailing the Isabella straight into cliffs on the eastern side of Cape Nelson. Eventually a ship's boat was launched and the twenty five passengers and crew rowed around to Portland Bay.

      In 1851 the Marie also came to grief, as did the Jane in 1863. After the third wreck the Victorian Colonial Government leapt into action and, twenty years later, built a lighthouse.

Cape Nelson Lightstation

     Cape Nelson Lightstation was officially opened on July 7th, 1884. Since then its light has been updated in stages from a simple oil lamp to a mains-powered 1000W (220,000 candlepower) lamp flashing four times every twenty seconds.

      An old generator unit is still there in the locked shed to the left of the tower. I was able to determine that it was driven by a three-cylinder diesel engine which was no longer operational from what I could see through the windows. It would be fun to restore it. I wonder what they use for an emergency power source in case of a power cut? And is there any significance in the use of the word "lightstation" as opposed to the more usual "lighthouse"? The answer is "yes" to the second question; this site combines a lighthouse and an adjacent signalling station. Around 1885 the Russian Scare was at its height and a large telescope, over two metres long, was installed in the signalling building to sweep the horizon for hostile ships. A complete set of signalling flags was available to relay any warnings to . . . someone. We should have taken the tour.

      The lighthouse tower is built from limestone blocks which were quarried locally until the quarry closed. It was thought the tower might have to be completed in brick until another limestone quarry was found which was able to supply the necessary blocks.