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Capital of wine and green energy
South Australia is a central-southern state in Australia covering some of the most arid parts of Australia with capital city of Adelaide. Best known for wine production in Australia, this state has a lot more to offer. It’s a known fact now that South Australia is the leading producer for wind power in Australia and it’s moving fast towards green energy.
We found ourselves traveling to this state last weekend with our Great Ocean Road trip. Having arrived in Cape Bridgewater, which is around 1-2 hrs from the border with South Australia, we decided to give it a chance and visit Mount Gambier, the second biggest city in the state after South Australia.
Blue Lake, Mount Gambier
Competing for one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve seen, Blue Lake has a more interesting story than just providing fresh water for the people of Mount Gambier.
It turns out that Blue Lake is placed on one of the volcanic craters of the extinct volcano Mount Gambier. This magnificent shade of blue stays only between December and March, when the lake transforms into a darker grey colour. There is no official explanation for that happening, but the most reasonable has to do with the water’s changing temperature in the winter.
There are more viewing points around the lake, so it’s fun to drive a bit around to see more of this wonderful lake, but for the adventurers out there, you can also find a hiking trail of almost 4 km.
We’ve been lucky to see this marvelous shade in early March, a couple of weeks later and we would have missed all the charm, so make sure to include this lake in your travels if you’re going there in the Aussie summer!
We later went in search for food in Mount Gambier, feeling a bit disappointed about the city! It was the Labor’s Day 3 days weekend so we assumed everyone is out of the city because the place felt deserted. After we had our lunch at a Mexican Fast-Food called Zambrero, we wandered around the area discovering possibly the most interesting thing there can be in a city: A cave!
Cave Gardens: Not your usually city attraction
The place is very easy to find, it’s right next to the Town Hall. Now, this cave may not be enormous in order to provide an Indiana Jones kind of experience, but it’s sure a breath of fresh air and definitely not something you’ll find in every city!
What I liked most about this place is that was randomly discovered, and it turned out not to be the only cave around Mount Gambier! We visited two more impressive caves later that day.
Umpherston Sinkhole or The Sunken Garden
Ok, this place is not a cave anymore, but a sinkhole. That doesn’t make it less interesting though! The roof collapsed, making this place a natural sinkhole. The Umpherston Sinkhole was made into a garden by James Umpherston in 1886. The story of the place is very interesting, being related to the Umpherston family. I will not tell you all of it, since it’s much more interesting to read it from the panels while you are actually there, imagining the steps through which this urban garden passed through! Oh, and did I mention this place is free to visit?
Apparently there is also a resident colony of possums which make an appearance at dusk, but unfortunately we didn’t witness it!
Being there I was telling my boyfriend how this place could make a wonderful location to hold a wedding, so imagine my surprise when we met somebody at our next stop that got married here!
What I found interesting about the Umpherston family, is that they had built a house inside this sinkhole, and back then, there was even a small lake inside of it. Crazy right?
The place is not too crowded with tourists, which made me like this place even more! A wonderful place where you can chill in the summer days, as the temperature is definitely lower down there!
Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park
Saving the best for last, this place has some of the most impressive cave decorations I’ve ever seen! This spectacular cave, set into a cliff face, is believed to have been exposed by the constant pounding of the ocean. Over time the sea has retreated leaving behind a cavern of interesting shells, pebbles and seal bones.
The entrance fee for this cave is 14 AUD and can be done only with a guide group, which makes it more fascinating, as you’ll find out the story behind this marvelous cave!
Tantanoola Cave may be a small cave but it’s definitely an impressive one so include around 1 hour of your day to purchase the tickets and get it with the group. You’re also allowed to stay and make as many pictures as you like, and it has no stairs, meaning it’s easily accessible.
Our stay in South Australia was brief as we went back to Victoria in Cape Bridgewater where we had our stay. It’s good to know that driving from Victoria to South Australia, there’s a restriction for seeds and fruits and there are multiple signs along the road warning to get rid of them in special contamination containers found before the border. “Welcome to Australia”, we thought once again, as this is the first time we encounter such regulations even for traveling in the country! Also, coming back to Victoria, the regulation is for potatoes… which got us a bit amused I must say!
If you’re new here, don’t forget to check the other part of the trip in this Great Ocean Road Trip: Major Attractions and Hidden Gems article, as you’ll find some valuable advice and stunning photos of the locations we’ve been.
What about you? Tell me in the comments which one of the caves in South Australia impressed you the most and which is your favourite cave in the world?