Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Carrick Hill, Dan Koh, East Gate Lodge, Hahndorf, Hans Heysen, Mitcham, Mitcham Bridge, Mitcham Park, Old Bellair Road, South Australia, The Cedars, Tony Knight, Torrens Park, Windy Point
DAY 8: LAST DAY – HAHNDORF & MUGGS HILL
Today was Dan’s last day in Adelaide, being due to fly out later this evening. I had intended to take him to Carrick Hill, a wonderful old mansion that was nearby, with a spectacular garden, and also housed one of the largest private collections of the work by British painter Stanley Spencer. We got there but only to discover that it was closed. This was to be the first disappointment of the day. We then drove up Old Bellair Road to the lookout Windy Point, overlooking Adelaide.
I should have brought Dan here first as it has such great all encompassing view of Adelaide and its surrounding area, notably Glenelg that we had visited only a few days before; something for me to remember next time when I have guest to stay – go to Windy Point first.
From Windy Point we drove further into the Adelaide Hills towards the town of Hahndorf. The main reason why I wanted to take Dan to Hahndorf was to go to the home and studio of Hans Heysen, called ‘The Cedars’, which lay just outside Hahndorf. Hans Heysen (1877-1968) is one of my favourite Australian landscape artists, and ‘The Cedars’ is a truly wonderful place. However, when we got there we discovered that like Carrick Hill it too was closed for the day. 2nd Disappointment.
By this time Dan had announced, ‘I am hungry’; so we drove to Hahndorf for something to eat, and ideally something very German.
Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest German settlement, being established by essentially Prussian Lutherans in 1839-39. Originally involved in agricultural production, it is now a major tourist attraction, mainly because it has retained its unique German flavour with many original buildings still standing and in excellent condition. During WWI the town was briefly re-named Ambleside, and many of its German inhabitants, including Hans Heysen were interred and/or help under house arrest, simply because they were of German descent. The town reverted back to Hahndorf in 1935.
Hahndorf was quite busy when we arrived. We found a park off the main street and then wandered up to find a restaurant. We did – and ate. Dan had – guess what? Fish and chips (again), but with some more vegetables. I had a larger German sausage with vegetables – delicious.
After lunch we meandered up and down the main street of Hahndorf, admiring the buildings and occasionally venturing into one of the many shops along the way.
We came across the Hahndorf Art Gallery, which is housed in an old building that once was an educational academy. We went in – of course. To say that it was quite eclectic would be an understatement in that not only did contain a museum, but also two very sizable galleries that were exhibiting new works by local artists, plus (of course) a very large shops that was full of delightful but very expensive things for tourists.
The Heritage Museum & Art Gallery – Hahndorf
Ground Floor Gallery
Beyond the Gift Shop on the ground floor lay the first gallery. It contained an exhibition by a solo local artist – and it was all about insects. This strangely enough was to become a bit of a motif throughout the gallery; little wonder that I then started to think of Starship Troopers (haha).
2nd Ground Floor Gallery – The Museum
The 2nd Ground Floor Gallery was the Museum, and contained a lovely tribute to Hans Heysen, as well as having some of his original sketches and water-colours. In another adjacent room it housed what could be called historic artefacts from a by-gone era, or just simply tatty old junk – some of the pieces were great whilst others???
The Upstairs Gallery was reached by climbing what was a rather steep staircase located in the gift shop. The exhibition that was being held in this gallery was called The Artist’s Voice, and was an eclectic mixture of modern work by local artists, some good and some not so good.
Dan was rather overwhelmed and had to leave the building and recover outside until I joined him.We then continued along the main street – more lovely old buildings, and more shops – and a Lutheran Park.
We decided that we had had enough of Hahndorf and so drove back to Muggs Hill Road, via Crafters, Aldgate and Sterling. Dan’s final hours in Australia would be spent at my wonderful old 1862 sandstone cottage, East Gate Lodge on Muggs Hill Road. For those of you who have followed this journey. ‘Dan Does Adelaide’, as well as my settling in Adelaide, here are some more pics of my beautiful garden, the cottage, and the surrounding historic area of Mitcham.
Home & Garden
Muggs Hill Road / Evans Road
And so – one chapter comes to and end – and another begins – ‘To New Life’.
DAY 7: ADELAIDE – PORT ELLIOT, PRIMO ESTATE, PORT WILLUNGA
My niece Georgia was in town; ostensibly to visit her aunt and two uncles, one of which was me, but was really nursing a bit of a broken heart and in need of some family joy and laughter with us. My sister suggested that we all go,including Dan, for a swim at Port Elliot, a popular seaside town south of Adelaide. This could be followed by a visit to the Primo Estate Vineyard in the McLaren Valley, and then another swim at Port Willunga before the journey home.It all sounded pretty good to Dan and me, so we said ‘Yes’. As we still had the Hertz hire-car we would take that and follow the others; it was also because of the day before when I got a bit lost trying to get to Port Willunga; better to follow.
Port Elliot is a small coastal town, situated in Horseshoe Bay, about 82 kms south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsular. The town was established in 1852, to serve as a port for ships trading with region who were unable to go to Goolwa due to the treacherous waters at the mouth of the Murray River where it meets the Great Southern Ocean. Goods and people were carried between Port Elliot and Goolwa from 1854 on what was then Australia’s first public railway. Port Eliot’s importance, however, was short-lived. In 1864, after a series of shipping accidents around Horseshoe Bay, the railway line was extended to Victor Harbor, which was considered a much safer place for the shipping trade. Since then Port Elliot’s primary function was to serve as a popular holiday place; which it still is today.
People in Adelaide speak of having a ‘shack’ as a holiday place, and/or ‘weekender’, in places like Port Elliot. A ‘shack’? I don’t think so. A ‘shack’ to me is a colloquial working class term for tiny wooden structure, put together with an assortment of second-hand building materials; a ‘shack’ is not the lovely houses and mansions that have sprung up along the coastline. Still they call these houses a ‘shack’; possibly because it feels like they are retaining some of the casual laconic quality of the generations of Australian workers that has basically all but disappeared.
I had heard a lot about Port Elliot and how beautiful it was, with the water being an aquamarine blue. Unfortunately, it was not a particularly pleasant day, overcast and cold; so not sparkling blue water today.
We had parked near the War Memorial Park on the right side above the beach. We then walked down through the park, which was lovely with lots of rosemary (‘For remembrance’), and beautiful old pine trees.
Local servicemen who had died fighting, especially those from WWI were honoured with individual stones lying at the foot of the massive pine trees.
We walked down to the beach via an easy and picturesque pathway at the base of the War Memorial Garden with views over the beach.
I was determined to go in despite the inclement weather – it was a bit cold and overcast, but at least it wasn’t raining. The others waited. We then went to the seaside restaurant, which was very busy, and ordered fish and chips (again – haha); they were delicious.
We then went back to our respective cars, via the War Memorial Park and pathway, and drove to the Primo Estate vineyard in the McLaren Vale.
I was so glad that Primo Estate was on today’s agenda as Dan had not as yet been to a vineyard, one of the main reasons why anyone would come to Adelaide – to visit the exceptional, large and small, vineyards in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, and the McLaren Vale – and Primo Estate was one of my favourites.
The weather had now considerably changed; it was now sunny with a clear blue sky – and hot. We subsequently drove to Port Willunga – another favourite.
Today Port Willunga is a semi-rural suburb of Adelaide, and a popular swimming and diving place. In the nineteenth century it was a major port, particularly for the fishing industry. It was also the site for a tragic ship wrecking disaster in 1888 when the ship, the Star of Greece went down during a terrible storm with the loss of all lives onboard. The wreck of the Star of Greece lies just off the beach and makes for a popular diving site; alternately you can go and have something wonderful to eat at the fabulous Star of Greece Cafe/Restaurant that sits on top of the small cliff face overlooking the beach, and the site of the shipwreck.
On the actual beach, just a bit further down lies the ruins of Port Willunga’s jetty, which was destroyed in 1915, effectively ending once and for all Port Willunga’s position as mercantile port, and beginning its rise as a popular recreational destination – and it is wonderful!
Cricket on the Beach
And other fun activities
All in all – another very good day, which was effectively Dan’s last day in Adelaide. Little wonder that he later crashed out completely.
DAY 6: ADELAIDE BEACHES – Somerton & Glenelg.
Today was going to be full of activities, going to certain things in and around Adelaide. As it turned out, however, we didn’t do any of these things. It was a very hot and a very lazy day – Dan didn’t surface until 2pm. Because it was hot I suggested to Dan that we go the beach for a swim. He liked the idea so away we went. I had intended to go to Port Willunga, but I got lost and a bit confused, and in the end drove to Somerton Beach.
It was a lovely sunny late afternoon, and it was clear that simply lying on the beach and relaxing was exactly what Dan wanted to do.
From the relative peace and quiet of Somerton Beach we drove to Glenelg Beach, one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches. Even though it was late afternoon-early evening it was rather busy. There were lots of people, locals and tourists, indulging in Glenelg’s beach culture, which is basically similar with other major popular beaches throughout Australia. One activity that was particularly in full swing was a Beach Volley Ball tournament.
With the sun starting to go down we wandered up to the promenade jetty, past the Hindmarsh Memorial to the early settlers who established Glenelg, and the old Glenelg Town Hall, then into the main plaza. This central plaza was surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurant. There were a number of activities happening, all at the same time, in this busy precinct – including buskers, children playing in the central sprouting fountains, and what appeared was a gathering of like-minded people who were the proud owners of a particular breed of dog.
We found somewhere to eat – more fish and chips – followed by an ice cream and iced coffee – enjoying watching people at play.
Afterwards we wandered around, checking out the old buildings that had charm, grace and character, and the new modern concrete monstrosities that had none.
Finally, we agreed, it was time to go home. More sleep time. A relatively uneventful but very relaxing day.
Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Alex Frayne, Australia, Charles Maddison, CLARENDON, Fleurieu Region, GOOLWA, Goolwa Wharf, Hindmarsh Island, McClaren Vale, Mt Barker, Murray River, Old Goolwa Police Station, Onkaparinga River, South Coast Regional Art Centre
As well as everything else going on in my life, I have recently enjoyed a number of one-day excursions to different locations outside of Adelaide. They have all be terrific, adding to the joy and wonderment I am currently experiencing in discovering parts of Australia that I had never been to, nor ever knew were so wonderful. Some of these excursions will be covered in Tony’s Tours: Dan Does Adelaide, whilst others will be given their own post. Two of these are the towns of Goolwa on the Murray River, and Clarendon in the McClaren Vale, two very different towns that are respectively about 100 kms and 30 kms outside of Adelaide.
Clarendon is a small village-town, nestled within a rather large gully near the Onkaparinga River in the Adelaide Hills, about 30 kms south of Adelaide. The surrounding region, is primarily for agriculture, with wheat, peas and potatoes being the major produce grown and harvested in this area. This is in contrast to other parts of what is the McLaren Vale region that is better known for producing top quality wines. Clarendon’s closeness to the Onkaparinga River assisted in making it a relatively important and central place in the late-nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Today it is still central the region, with many of the well-preserved old historic buildings that line the main street and a few in the outer areas, being an excellent magnet for tourists. It is really a delightful little village.
Goolwa is about 100 kms south of Adelaide and is an old historic river port situated on the Murray River not far from where the Murray runs into the sea. Goolwa is aboriginal for ‘Elbow’, and the area was called as such in the early days of white settlement. In the 1830s it was considered as the site for state capital, but the treacherous waters at the mouth of the Murray River made it unsuitable as a port for large ships. It did,however, become a major inland port and of significant importance when paddle-steamers dominated trade on the Murray River and it’s tributaries; this included the inland port towns of Echuna and Swan Hill visited last December (see Tony’s Tours: Xmas 2015). With railways being established in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century and becoming the new dominating method of transport and trade in the developing country, Goolwa lost its importance as major inland port and trading centre.
Today, however, Goolwa is a major town in the area, which also has a significant and diverse annual arts program. This visit, however, was very brief, so I really did not see a great deal of the town. The reason for my visit was to attend the opening of and exhibition by local photographic artist – Alex Frayne. Knowing of my new interest and passion for photography, particulalry landscape photography, my old friend Charles Maddison had invited me to accompany he and his lovely wife, Karen, to this opening; Charles is a friend of Alex Frayne’s.
This exhibition of Alex Frayne’s latest work of photos from his series Fleurie Inscape, was held at the South Coast Regional Arts Centre, which use to be the old (and compact) nineteenth century Goolwa Police Station, Couthouse, and Gaol.
It is a terrific exhibition and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is either in the local area, including Adelaide, as well as those holidaying and/or just passing through Goolwa. Alex Frayne gave an excellent introduction speech, which I found quite inspirational, covering artistic challenges such as the need to have an emotional ‘feel’ for a subject photographed, as well as the need to sometimes edit and remove things from a photo in order to de-clutter so that the main image is clearly focused and highlighted. Terrific!
We also had a quick look through this old historic building, the old Goolwa Police Station, including the well preserved inner courtyard where prisoners could daily exercise. The courtyard also contained three old, solid, and rather terrifying, solitary confinement prison cells.
Afterwards we wandered down to the Goolwa Wharf and the Murray River, taking in a couple of historic sites, as well as a couple of modern oddities, on the way.
We passed by the WW1 war memorial that stands overlooking the main street, and is directly opposite the old Australia Hotel.
On this short walk to the wharf we also passed a beautiful old historic house that once was the Railway Superintendant’s Cottage. Dating from 1852 it has a rather unique structure due to enforced circumstances of not having the (then) normal building structural frames and having to improvise – with a delightful result. The building now is home for the local radio station, with the music of David Bowie being broadcast over speakers in the beautiful garden.
Opposite to this old cottage was a memorial garden to all wars,in which Australians had fought, beginning with the Boer War, and marked by large boulders that surrounded the garden-park.
We passed under the arch of a new modern complex and across is garden-park, that contained a wonderful sun-dial, crossing the train tracks to reach the wharf.
Standing at the modern Goolwa Wharf and looking at modern developments, buildings as well as boats, it is perhaps a little difficult to imagine it full of paddle-steamers and other old-world boats; maybe this is me being too romantic. However, whilst the old paddle-steamers may have gone, you can still catch an old steam train that operates as a tourist attraction between Mt Barker and Goolwa, arriving and departing from the Goolwa Wharf Station, right on the Murray River, the original train station and platform that has been well preserved.
The Goolwa Wharf lies directly opposite Hindmarsh Island, and to the left facing the island the controversial Hindmarsh Bridge; a relatively modern bridge and quite impressive it is own way, yet was and still is a point of contention between ‘white’ and ‘indigenous’ Australians. When the bridge was first commissioned, designed and built in the 1990s it was vigorously opposed by the local indigenous tribes and inhabitants, claiming ‘Native Title’ precedency and that it violated a sacred site dedicated to ‘women’s business’. At this time, transport between Hindmarsh Island and the mainland was a single barge-ferry. Whilst the ‘Native Title‘ claim had legitimacy, nonetheless, in the name of progress, the bridge went ahead; with support from both ‘white’ and ‘black’ local South Australian citizens. The bridge has been opened nearly twenty years, and it has significantly assisted in developing Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island as significant and relatively prosperous towns in current times. Unfortunately, it is still somewhat a tender point with many local indigenous people, who steadfastly still refuse to use the bridge, as did the original protesters twenty-odd years ago in a non-violent shaming response to the bridge being constructed.
We found a delightful modern functioning Brewery in an old wharf warehouse, directly opposite the train station. It was terrific – with the machinery that goes into making ale on display, plus a small operating model toy railway. We ordered some of the local produced and settled in for a chat.
And thus our trip to Goolwa was over; we drove back to Adelaide via the, which offered some spectacular country vistas, finally reaching home about 6:00pm. A truly terrific day.
On JANUARY 15 2015 my nephew, Tom Mackay began his epic journey, walking East to West across India. He is doing this in order to raise awareness for mental health, and is being sponsored by BEYOND BLUE and ADIDAS (Aust.), and others. It will take him approximately months, traveling through parts of Southern India very rarely visited by ‘western’ tourists or otherwise – and he is doing alone.
You can follow, subscribe, and support Tom in the epic challenge by logging on to his blog site – http://www.walkingthewalk.com.au
I will occasionally post photos that Tom has already sent, either to family and/or on his blog site. I will only post his pics with no comment. I do, however, encourage you to subscribe to his blog site as his brief travel entries are excellent, funny, observant, and full of Tom’s wonderful and inspirational zest for life and meeting new people.
Please – if you can, subscribe and support Tom – and share this with your friends and family.
Adelaide, Australia, Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre, Broken Falls, Dan Koh, Dunkeld, Grampians National Park (Geriwerd), Hall's Gap, Jimmy Creek, MacKenzie Falls, Mt Abrupt, Mt Sturgeon, Reeds Lookout, Royal Mail Hotel, The Balconies, The Boronka Lookout, The Grampians, Tony Knight, Willalooka Hotel
DAY 5: THE GRAMPIANS – And the Way Home
I had always wanted to visit The Grampians, a mountain range in mid-west Victoria that is rich in aboriginal history, myth and legend, majestic in its formation, and offering spectacular views of the surrounding region. This brief visit would only allow us a glimpse of the rich joys that lie within the Grampians, yet it was enough; and for me was certainly one of the highlights of this entire ‘Road-Trip’. It marked a fitting climax to what I now realize was a kind of spiritual re-awakening.
Patriotic as the following may sound (and why not?), I have fallen back in love with my own country, Australia. After the nightmare of 2015 when I had felt completely lost and isolated, this wonderful ‘Road-Trip’ with Dan Koh, complimenting earlier excellent ‘country’ experiences such as doing The Great Ocean Road with my sister Alison, followed by Xmas in Wodonga, has rejuvenated me and made me accept and look forward to this current re-invention of self.
To a certain extend all three of these ‘country’ experiences have been ‘Road-Trips‘. They have all involved traveling by car, re-visiting places one first experienced as a child and teenager, and visiting new places never before experienced. The one common factor, or rather response, in these journeys through the Australian countryside, and in particular rural and coastal South Australia and Victoria, has been the joy and wonder found in marveling at the vast magnificent beauty and great spirituality of the Australian countryside. It has all been rather cathartic, releasing old tensions and dominating and painful pre-occupations of the past, and allowing myself to be more the present. In a very romantic and patriotic sense it is as if I am being healed by my homeland. Welcome back, TK!
The Grampians is very, very, very old, millions of years old; its numerous mountains and sandstone ridges, dating from the Devonian period around 400 millions years ago, suddenly and dramatically rise from the flat plains that surround it. As Dan later commented about one of the mountains, Mt Abrupt, its name is very apt to the whole mountain range.
Spectacular from the distance there is also within the Grampians numerous places that inspire awe and wonder. It has a considerably diverse range of geological environments, many of which can be visited, such as the mountain lookouts and aboriginal cave sites that are scattered throughout the entire region.
Aborigines have lived in The Grampians for over 20,000 years. The indigenous tribes connected to the region are the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurring people. The aboriginal word for this region is Gariwerd, but the region was named The Grampians in 1836 by Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, after the Grampians in Scotland. There has been some controversy and debate about the given name of the region, which was finally resolved in 1998, the official title now being – Grampians National Park (Geriwerd). Native heritage and history is strongly emphasized throughout the entire region, exemplified by the number of ancient aboriginal cave sights that can be visited and Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre, which is situated near Hall’s Gap, the main town inside the Grampians – and was on our ‘Must See’ list.
In 2006 The Grampians was placed on the Australian National Heritage list, primarily because of the number of aboriginal cave drawings that are scattered throughout the entire mountain range. The year 2006 was also significant for this region due to a catastrophic bushfire that destroyed virtually 50% of the national park. This was followed in 2011 by some major flooding, and what is more a minor 3.8 magnitude earthquake. However, the regrowth of the Australian native forest is truly extraordinary. It is actually called epicormic growth in which young shoots spring out covering the entire tree in quite a strange and yet spectacular manner. You can’t help but marvel at the Australian native bush, which needs fire to regenerate, and how quickly it does so after fire.
Like other mountains ranges and places in Australia, such as the Blue Mountains, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Hanging Rock, Kakadu and the Kimberly’s, the Grampians has within it many places and sites that have a considerable spiritual depth. For indigenous Australians the Grampians, or rather Gariwerd, is a very important place, with many caves containing significant and unique ancient aboriginal drawings and sketches on the cave walls that date back thousands of centuries, and some of which their precise meaning, the figures and symbols, remains a mystery. Nonetheless, Gariwerd holds a central position to aboriginal Dreaming, particularly creation myths the creator, Bunjil.
Whilst many aspects of the aboriginal Dreaming remain remote, deliberate and/or otherwise, from an Australian ‘white’ experience and sensibility, nonetheless, it is not impossible for this ‘white’ Australian to relish and enjoy many wonderful, imaginative, inspirational and enlightening aspects of the truly extraordinary and deeply spiritual aboriginal Australia’s Dreaming; and which in many cases makes more sense to me that a dry factual analysis. We all like to experience joy and wonder; you can find this in The Grampians. I hope the following will convey that personal joy and wonder that I experienced, encouraging you to think about visiting this truly beautiful place in the world.
Dunkeld, where we had stayed the night at the Royal Mail Hotel, situated at the southern tip of the Grampians, was the perfect gateway to start our journey into this unique place.
We got up early, taking advantage of the terrific breakfast at the Royal Mail Hotel. Well – we tried to start early; dear Dan, however, is not a morning person. Check out wasn’t until 11am so we decided to have a lazy morning prior to our journey around The Grampians, and then the long drive back to Adelaide; but what a lovely morning! Clear blue sky with some light whisks of white clouds Mt Sturgeon towering in the background above the hotel, looking majestic in the morning sun, offering a hint of what was to come.
Check out was not until 11am so we decided to have a lazy morning in preparation for the long day ahead. This was a sensible decision as dear Dan is not a morning person. So – whilst Dan remained snuggled up and dozing on the couch in the apartments living room, I went for swim at the hotel’s pool that looked out to Mt Sturgeon.
Dan came and joined me at the pool, having been woken up by native birds, which he continues to hold with considerable disdain and annoyance. First it was my Magpies at my Muggs Hill Road home, quickly followed by the Lorikeets who were steadily demolishing the half-ripen fruit on the plum tree in my garden. Now it was Kookaburras whose insane cackling was part of this morning’s soundtrack and ambience. He saw one fly directly into a glass door, then just sat there as if nothing had happened. I told him that despite their somewhat fierce look, and that they are expert snake killers, Kookaburras are not the brightest of birds.
He then bravely attempted to enter the water, but found it too cold for an actual swim.
We left Dunkeld just after 11am, and just after a brief visit to the excellent second-hand bookstore, Roz Greenwood Old and Rare Books, which is directly opposite the Royal Mail Hotel.
From Dunkeld we drove north on the Grampian Road up through the centre of The Grampian’s mountain range heading towards Hall’s Gap, passing the very impressive and the aptly titled Mount Abrupt.
Our first pit-stop along the way was Jimmy Creek, a dry creek during Summer and subsequently not currently flowing; but whilst dry on the surface, as I explained to Dan, it was still operating underground. The nearby waterfall was also just a trickle, but enough to grab a refreshing mouthful of water. As we were to later learn, the only waterfalls that were flowing were MacKenzie Falls and its neighbour Broken Falls, both of which we intended to visit.
This was our first walk in The Grampians, and it was wonderful, breathing all that rich mountain air and just being inside an Australian forest – so unique. As well as us there were a couple of families, and we also passed a tour group that were, according to Dan, wearing United Nations logos. Dan was in a rather mischievous mood; this and the fact that he was constantly falling asleep I put down to all the fresh clean air he was breathing.
Our next stop on the way to Hall’s Gap was the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This was truly wonderful; well set out in lovely grounds and modern buildings that complimented the cultural centre. There were two buildings, the first holding the restaurant and a gift shop and an outside exhibition area – with some rather startling and odd statues; the second building housed the actual museum, as well as being a community centre and performance place. We went immediately to the second building, which was an easy walk through the Centre’s park, with a number of public art statues and other objects on display. Inside this second very modern and impressive two-storey building was the actual museum, with an excellent very informative and well-presented exhibition detailing the indigenous history of the region, as well as indigenous art and culture in general. There was also a classroom/studio dedicated to indigenous art and local artists, and a large meeting room that had on its walls numerous modern works by local artists (couldn’t take any photos as it was prohibited). Immediately outside in front of the building was a Corroboree circle, set in the midst of trees and overlooking a creek. Wonderful – and really worth a visit.
The numerous Caves in the Grampians that contained National Heritage listed aboriginal art and drawings, and which date back centuries, were all associated with 20-30 minutes walks, which we simply did not have the time to do. I was disappointed as I really wanted to see these cave drawings – particularly those associated with Bunjil Man who is the ‘Creator’ figure for many aboriginal tribes in Southern Australia. However, I will be back – it will have to wait for another time. I did, however, pick up at the ‘ a sheet explaining the respective figures often found in aboriginal art. This was excellent for me and my beautiful dot painting Women Dreaming / Goanna Dreaming by Helen Nelson Napaljarri.
We had lunch at the cafe/restaurant. Dan had fish, whilst I was slightly more adventurous and had a Kangaroo Pie, which was accompanied by the most delicious native tomato relish and chutney. Very pleasant sitting outside, despite the heat, and fun to be in the company of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo who was eating in a nearby tree. Dan, however, added this breed of bird to his ‘I hate Birds’ list; and whilst I love Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos I did inform him that they are terrors in that they will gnaw and eat through virtually anything.
After lunch we got directions to our next pit-stop, the Boronka Lookout, from the very helpful young woman at the Centre’s Information Desk: ‘Just turn left at the Police Station – You can’t miss it’. So – we drove down Grampian Road and through Hall’s Gap, which was very busy, nearly missing the turn-off – couldn’t see the Police Station, but there was a small sign – we giggled. We turned left going westward and upward along the winding and somewhat ominously named Mt Difficult Road to reach the Boronka Lookout.
The Boronka Lookout is about 15kms from Hall’s Gap and is one of the most popular and visited of the numerous mountain lookouts in the Grampians. This is partly because it is easily accessible, not requiring a lengthy trekking to reach the two viewing platforms. From these two platforms you look respectively eastward and then southward, and the views they offer are absolutely gob-smacking wonderful. The two connected vistas offer an enormous canvas that ranges from the vast plains below stretching eastward and to the north-east as far as the eye can see, and to the south and south-west the rugged mountain ridges and valleys that lie in the heart of the Grampians.
Boronka Lookout – First Viewing Platform
The only draw-back from this experience, and it was literally and figuratively an actual draw-back, was the somewhat reckless behaviour by a group of young adolescent girls who ignoring all the warning signs had climbed over the steel fences to stand at the edge of the rather precipitous and formidable cliff face in order to take ‘selfies’. This was dangerous and rather stupid, as the edge and the rock shelf that were playing around on was not safe, as all the signs stated. I said something – but of course was completely ignored. Still – it was a little unsettling to watch them so we quickly went to the nearby second viewing platform.
There were two young Park Wardens at the Second Platform, chatting casually to a group of adults. I mentioned to them about the adolescent girls who were behaving recklessly on the unsafe cliff edges; didn’t get the response I expected; more a casual shrug and expression of indifference. Oh well – different times – different attitudes – so why bother – just enjoy the view – and move on.
From the Boronka Lookout we drove further westward down to Reeds Lookout and The Balconies, which the friendly young woman at Information Desk at the Brambuk Cultural Centre said was her favourite of the various lookouts in The Grampians.
We then walked along a easy track to the lookout known as The Balconies; due to the numerous rock/sandstone shelves in the extremely precipitous cliff faces in this area. Along this track there was a section that had on either side a vast collection of stone cairns, which I think were associated with indigenous funeral markers, like headstones in ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ graveyards. Very strange – very mysterious.
We finally reached The Balconies and the view was again simply stunning. As with the other lookout there was a group of young people who disregarded signs about staying on the path, keeping behind the barriers and fences, and not going near the cliff faces due to their instability. This group of teenagers, however, were a lot more sensible and polite, and their enthusiasm and excitement was very engaging. They cautiously approached the cliff edges, never going right to the edge, and they courteously got out of the way when asked by me and others in regard to taking photographs of the surrounding spectacular beauty.
Looking eastward at the nearby ruggered grey-stoned ridges that spread before us it is relatively easy to see why Sir Thomas Mitchell was reminded of The Grampians in Scotland, and hence naming this mountain range after them, as the terrain is very similiar in his epic scale and severity. Looking south, however, to the distant shilouteeted mountains that seemed to be blanked in a rich deep blue, it was a breathtaking view that was distinctly Australian.
Dan asked what caused this colouration. I explained that this was partly due to the eucalyptus trees and their interaction with the environment, the subsequent result being this extraordinary natural blue that adds to the joy, wonder and mystery of such mountain ranges. I told him that this unique natural occurrence is common in many of the mountain regions in Australia, particularly The Great Dividing Range that goes up virtually the entire east coast of Australia, and includes the Snowy Mountains in the south and the Daintree and Cape Tribulation in the north (near Cairns); it is also how the Blue Mountains west of Sydney gained their name and identity.
From The Balconies we drove further westward to our final pit-stop – MacKenzie Falls. This and its neighbour, Broken Falls, in the Summer months were the only mountain falls with clear running water to be seen. They lay at the bottom of a gully, reachable by a well trodden and maintained path with steps that at times were very steep. We decided that we would first walk to a lookout that looked down at the two waterfalls.
Along the way to this lookout there were signs about the natural vegetation and flora that surrounded us. One of the things that makes this walk rather special is the number of ‘Black Boys’, a very unique species of native plant, which are clearly visible and present. They have this name due to the round stump, and/or trunk that holds up the green vegetation of this native plant. These They are no longer referred to as ‘Black Boys’ due to the racial connotation; but the modern name also reflects that the attempt to find a universally accepted new name has proved to be a bit elusive. In this case, they were called Kangaroo Tails. Whilst there may be a justifiable reason for all this, nonetheless, this speices of native Australian flora is still generally referred to as ‘Black Boys’. They are a fascinating plant with a number of distinctive features, not just the black stump. For example, it can take up to 6 years for a young plant to mature and develop, which is quite a long time in the plant kingdom. Furthermore, once upon a time, they were a major feature of many native forests. Sadly, over the last two centuries their numbers have considerably diminished in the wild. Some of this is because of bush fires that has ravaged a particular region, such as The Grampians, but also The Adelaide Hills. Their numbers have also declined due to people stealing them from national parks, as well as their own neighbours. People pay exorbidant prices for them, put them in a garden, only to discover a few days later that they have mysteriously disappeared – stolen! Dan was shocked! ‘People really steal this plant?!’ – Well – yes – it’s supposed to have special healing qualities; and in certain cases the owner has them chained up and locked into the earth in order to to prevent thieves from just whisking them away. Dan then suggested that we should take one now. I pointed out to him that that would be illegal and besides ‘Look at the size of them; the ones in front of us. They would weigh tons’. LOL.
But – I digress…
Walk to MacKenzie Falls Lookout
MacKenzie Falls Lookout
We then walked back to the path that took one down to the bottom of MacKenzie Falls. You could see from the lookout that it was a very steep descent; but there were a number of people around, either descending or ascending, and a gathering at the bottom of the falls. It was now, however, very hot, and Dan decided he would rather sit in the car than do the climb down and climb up. I went, saying I wish I could take my board-shorts and just quickly jump into the large pool at the bottom of the falls, freezing though the mountain water may be. Little did I know that it would take me nearly an hour to get down and back again; and I should have taken my board-shorts as, despite signs saying not to, there were a number of people swimming in the base pool.
From the top of the falls to about mid-way to the bottom there is actually what could be called multiple cascades and smaller waterfalls that eventually all come together for the final spectacular waterfall.
The final descent is quite steep, but it is a solid stone staircase for most of the way, with little balcony type inlets to wait for others to pass up or down, or to take a rest. Once at the base of MacKenzie Falls, however, it is a little paradise. There were a number of people simply resting and placing their feet in the cool mountain water; there were also a number of young people who were swimming the large pool at the bottom of the falls, and/or standing under the waterfall, letting the water cascade over their heads. Damn it! I should have brought by boardies!
The journey back to the top was a bit tough. It was no very very hot!!! I drank some fresh clear running mountain water from a stream after the falls, but I didn’t have any water carrier with me. I had to take a couple of rests on the way up – still snapping away with my camera.
By the time I reached Dan and the car I was very dehydrated and exhausted. I was also very excited as I was glad that I went to the base of the MacKenzie Falls, even though it had eaten considerably into our valuable time.
We were still determined to drive to Adelaide, so I worked out the most direct route, which in this case meant crossing the Grampians and traveling south for a bit down the western side of the range on the Henty Highway until we reach the town of Cavendish. We would then take a right turn and head westward to the Victorian towns of Balmoral and Harrow. Cavendish, Balmoral, Harrow? I was intrigued by these towns and their very English names, and wondered if they were anything like their English counterparts. We then would drive on to Edenthorpe, joining the Wimmera Highway until Naracoorte, then on to the Riddoch Highway until Keith, then the Dukes Highway to Murray Bridge, which would then bring us to South Eastern Freeway that would take us all the way home to Adelaide and Muggs Hill Road.
I was so exhausted after MacKenzie Falls that it was clear that unless Dan took over the driving for a bit we would never make it to Adelaide. We agreed that he would take over after I had driven us down from The Grampians and began our journey south to turn off to Balmoral.
I told Dan the towns to look out for in order to make the correct turn right that would get us heading directly westward. Inevitably this meant that we would not always be traveling along designated highways but on small country back streets and short-cuts. This all seemed doable from the information we had on our available maps and GPS. I only had one stipulation – that we don’t take and go down any dirt roads. From my experience, this inevitably leads to some sort of disaster and reversal. Dan took over the driving whilst I had a nap, and he successfully got us the small country town of Balmoral.
Balmoral isn’t anything like its Scottish namesake – well – at least from what we saw, which was only the main street. In the park opposite the Balmoral Hotel I was taken with a rather eclectic number of strange objects inside the park, including a Xmas Tree and WW2 anti-aircraft gun.
I took over the driving and from Balmoral we continued to Harrow – where I missed an important turn-off and mistakenly took the road to Robe. I realized my mistake after about an hour’s driving; searched for quick alternative routes and traveled along back country sealed roads until we rejoined the Riddoch Highway, which after the town of Keith becomes the Dukes Highway that would take us all the way back to Adelaide.
The consequence of my mistake, however, was that it was now sunset. The very last thing I wanted to be doing was driving at this time and at night. It wasn’t just because of the wild animals, kangaroos and koala, as well as rabbits and foxes etc, but also because I am a little intimidated by the numerous large truck that speed along the main roads at this time. I did, however, have another wild animal sitting right next to me who was hungry. I had realized something endearing about Mr Dan Koh – that when he says he is hungry it is best to feed him asap!
We kept passing through small towns, but there was nothing open. I told Dan that there was bound to be something in Keith the next major town on the highway. However, about 12 kms before we reached Keith Dan spotted a hotel on the right-hand side of the road – the Willalooka Hotel. It was open and looked rather busy judging from the number of cars parked out the front. We pulled in and Dan went inside to see if they were serving food.They were – thank heaven! It was a very friendly Australian hotel, taking our orders as take-aways and inviting us to have a drink whilst we waited. The hotel was relatively busy with a number of people sitting down to eat quite large meals of various kinds of meat, or fish, and all with a huge pile of fried chips. I couldn’t work out if the clientele were mainly locals or tourists as they also had accommodation available out the back in the hotel’s rather large grounds. Dan waited for our meals whilst I went out to snap pics of the sunset.
Once we got our meals we wolfed them down – mine was a simple Aussie Burger with the works, and it was delicious; Dan had fish and chips (as usual) and also said that it was very good. Thank you Willalooka Hotel.
Dan offered to drive but I thought it best that I do it considering the possible hazards and challenges of driving at this time of night – animals and trucks! The final part of the journey, however, was uneventful and we reached Adelaide and my Muggs Hill home about midnight. Unpacked and then straight to bed.
And so our ‘Road-Trip’ had come to an end. It had been wonderful – all of it – Robe and The Limestone Coast, The Great Ocean Road, and The Grampians. We had certainly crammed in and achieved a lot for such a short trip, discovering wonderful parts of Australia hitherto unseen – marvelous. I am also very glad that Dan was my companion on the ‘Road-Trip’, and that he enjoyed it, albeit perhaps for different reasons, just as much as I.
This chapter of ‘Dan Does Adelaide’ was over; but we still had a couple of more days before Dan was to fly back to Singapore, which I intended to make as interesting and diverse as possible. So – just a little bit more of ‘Dan Does Adelaide’ to come….
DAY 4: WARRNABOOL – PORT CAMPBELL – THE GROTTO – LONDON BRIDGE – THE ARCH – LOCH ARD GORGE – THE RAZORBACK – THE APOSTLES – DUNKELD – THE GRAMPIANS
After a good breakfast at a nearby cafe (we missed the hotel’s breakfast) we took off back to Port Campbell, driving eastward along the Great Ocean Road, stopping off at numerous sites, including…
Port Campbell – where I indulged in another fabulous swim on the protected beach.
Loch Ard Gorge
And finally- The Apostles