Holmes Jungle

Experience : Holmes Jungle Nature Park

Holmes Jungle

 

We woke up early on Take A Walk In The Park Day to head over to Holmes Jungle before the day got too hot. The nature park covers about 250 hectares and protects a monsoon forest, right on the fringe of Darwin’s northern suburbs. We visited at the end of the Wet Season so it was a bit damp and overgrown, but we had a fantastic journey into what seemed like another world.

 

We parked the Troopy at the Hilltop Picnic Area and took the Woodland Walk to the forest. It was strange how quickly the environment changed from dry and grassy to damp and shady. We were suddenly surrounded by tall trees and loud shrieks coming from the canopy. We came across a Keelback Snake and Jewel Spider before the path narrowed and all but disappeared into the tall green grass.

 

Keelback Snake - Holmes Jungle

 

We pushed our way through the grass, which was about 2 metre tall, and moved as quickly as possible – we’d already come across one snake and we didn’t want to see another one! We came out of Holmes Jungle with grass seeds all over our arms and legs, but with big smiles on our faces. It was quiet an adventure to come before the annual cleanup after the wet season.

 

Jewel Spider - Holmes Jungle

 

The Blue Lake

City Profile : Mount Gambier

The Blue Lake

 

Our intent was to stay a while in Mount Gambier.  It is the first major city along the Limestone Coast and we were looking forward to rest and recuperation while checking out the attractions, including the famous Blue Lake.  Of course, our first stop was the Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre to get some maps and brochures, and they also offer a tour to learn about the history and geology of the area for $10.

 

Mount Gambier was first sighted in 1800 by Lieutenant James Grant of HMS Lady Nelson, but it was officially discovered in 1839 by a guy from Portland.  The first pub was located on the same site as Jen’s Hotel, but the oldest remaining pub is the South Australian, which was built in 1860.

 

After we settled in at Blue Lake Holiday Park, located snugly between the two crater lakes, we went for a stroll into town for a mini pub crawl, which ended up being quite a big night.  We were putrid in the morning but still dragged ourselves out of the tent to go for a looooong walk/hike around the Valley Lake crater, and spent the day in the library, researching and writing at the air-conditioned library!

 

 

We loved Mount Gambier, its sinkholes and lakes, its friendly locals and health conscious community.  We were happy to hear that they are starting a campaign to promote local and organic produce by starting up a farmers market every Saturday morning.  To launch the campaign, the Main Corner was screening Food Matters, a documentary about how the quality of our food can either help us or hinder us.

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

The Lady Nelson Information Centre

This landmark should be the first stop for anyone passing through Mount Gambier.  Collect a map of the town, information about local attractions and a few souvenirs after checking out the full size replica of HMS Lady Nelson, the first ship to sail eastward through Bass Strait.  It was upon the Lady Nelson that Lieutenant James Grant sighted two mountains and named one Mount Schanck and the other Mount Gambier.

 

The Crater Lakes

What a sight!  The beautiful lakes of Mount Gambier were formed by volcanic activity which left craters rimmed with ash and basalt.

 

Blue Lake provides the drinking water for the entire town and has a great walking trail around the rim that is 3.6km long.  Each year in early November, the lake changes colour from dark blue to deep turqoiuse, which remains until February.

 

Next door is Valley Lake, which is guarded by the Centenary Tower – a monument that was built in 1900 to commemorate 100 years since the first sighting of Mount Gambier.  It also has a walking trail that is a bit more challenging, but there were so many butterflies and cicadas around that we were too busy admiring our surroundings to notice the workout.

 

 

Main Corner

This great building at the corner of Commercial Road and Bay Road is a multipurpose space that provides documentary screenings and insight into the history of the area. It is the home of the Riddoch Art Gallery and there are spaces available for concerts, lectures and private functions.

 

 

Cave Gardens

Right in the centre of town, between the Main Corner and the Library is the Cave Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area surrounding a sinkhole.  There are multiple viewing platforms and a nearby rose garden.  The sinkhole used to be the original water source for the town.

 

 

The Library

We have nothing but praise for the Mount Gambier Library.  It was awarded the best small city public library in the world and is a vibrant space that was built 3 years ago.  It offers free internet via wifi and 18 public access computers, TV and video game access, and private room bookings, and has an onsite café.  It also hosts craft markets seasonally on Sundays from 11am.

 

We spent a lot of time here, not only to escape the midday sun, but also to research the history of the area and write about our past adventures.  The staff were super friendly, very accommodating and went above and beyond to show us around and ensure we were comfortable.

 

Umpherston Sinkhole

Another landscaped sinkhole to the east of town.  The hole is filled with hydrangeas, with bees building their hives in the cavities and holes of the surrounding limestone. There was a very friendly possum that wasn’t afraid to come up to us for a sniff, and they even had an electric BBQ and picnic area at the bottom of the sinkhole, shaded by overhanging rock.

 

 

Caroline Sinkhole & Hells Hole

Just south of Mount Gambier is a pine forest that conceals two sinkholes – Caroline Sinkhole and Hells Hole.

 

Caroline Sinkhole was easy to find and after a quick walk from the car park, we were confronted with a breathtaking view.  The sinkhole was formed by water erosion.  Acidic rain water dissolved the limestone along weakness points, eventually developing vertical and horizontal caves that increased in size over time.  The caves got bigger and bigger until the surrounding limestone collapses, leaving a sinkhole.  The Bunganditj people of the region once used the sinkhole for shelter, and the European settlers used to pump water from the bottom for farming.

 

Hells Hole was a little more ominous.  A locked fence prohibited us from driving closer so we parked at the edge of the pine forest and walked in.  There was a clearing about 100 meters that featured a tiny forest.  An overgrown walking path led us to the hole, which was full of dark, stagnant water.  There was a gated platform for people who wanted to dive in, which we immediately thought was a silly idea.

 

 

One of the information plaques along the walk had a really great quote on it:

 

“Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.”

 

FOOD & ACCOMMODATION

Metro Bakery & Cafe

We were keen on second breakfast so we checked out Metro Bakery & Cafe.  It was spacious and clean inside so we ordered a continental omelette with greek sausage, fetta and pumpkin, and eggs benedict.

 

Our food and coffee came out quickly.  The eggs benedict was a little different than usual – it had bacon instead of ham.  Dave got a little excited and inhaled it.  The omelette was tasty but needed something refreshing in it like spring onion or spinach.

 

Overall, it was pretty good and we walked away will full bellies.

 

 

Blue Lake Holiday Park

Bay Road – 08 8725 9856

 

This place was awesome.  Only 2km from the center of town and right between Valley Lake and the beautiful Blue Lake, this BIG4 holiday park was the perfect place to spend our nights in Mount Gambier.

 

Camping at BIG4 Blue Lake Holiday Park

 

Check out our post on this great BIG4 Holiday Park.

 

 
 

 

Juz is not impressed with delivering junk mail...

Travel Jobs : Junk Mail Distribution

Hi folks – Juz here.

 

Since quitting my job two weeks ago, I thought I’d try out a job that might potentially suit backpackers and travellers who can only do a few shifts before moving on.  I went on www.gumtree.com.au and found an ad looking for walkers to deliver pamphlets.  I had never done anything like it so I thought I’d give it a go.

 

I rang the number provided and the guy invited me to the warehouse to talk about the role and said that if I wanted the job, it was mine.  When I arrived, there were a few people there loading up their car with newspapers and bundles of catalogues.  I met up with the guy and he sat me down in his office, gave me a rundown of what I’d have to do and I said, “sure, let’s do this”.

 

He assigned me to a small area, showed me my pile of junk mail and newspapers I’d have to deliver, then advised that sorting and collating the catalogues would take about an hour and the delivery should take 2-3 hours, so for around 4 hours of work, I’d get $47.  I wasn’t impressed but was still willing to complete the task.

 

I loaded up the truck with my papers and drove to mum’s house for lunch.  It wasn’t until I started the sorting and collating the junk mail in her lounge room that I realised I was an idiot.  If I was to sort and collate all the junk mail by myself, it would have taken a lot longer than an hour.  Mum saw my agony so she sat down to help.  We finished it in about two hours – working together.

 

“Mum, today is going to be the worst day of my life…”

“Will you be able to finish all of this today?”

“Probably not – I’ll have to finish it off tomorrow.”

“Well then tomorrow will also be the worst day of your life too…”

 

[LOL]

 

As mums do, she cleared her schedule and offered to help me do the rounds.  It was a warm, sunny day, we were looking forward the physical activity, and it would have been a nice way to spend time together before Dave and I leave for our adventure.

 

We drove to my assigned delivery area, devised a plan of action and loaded ourselves up with the gear for delivery.  We had a nanna trolley and two backpacks that we wore on our fronts – mum bore the local papers while I had the junk mail and dragged the nanna trolley full of supplement junk and papers behind me.  The rounds started at 3:30pm.

 

As we were walking through the suburban streets of Caulfield, I thought to myself, “How was I supposed to do this on my own?”  There were two newspapers to delivery, plus a stack of assorted junk mail.  I would have had to park the car close by and be constantly going back to replenish my backpack – it would have taken ages!

 

After the first section of houses, Mum had the energy to keep going and I wasn’t going to call it a day when I had such willing help.  We smashed out another residential block and managed to complete three quarters of my area by 5:30pm.

 

The last quarter was a commercial block that only receives the newspapers – a burden I was willing to carry on my own the next day.

 

 

The Verdict

It wasn’t the worst two days of my life.

 

The fresh air, sun on my face and chatting with mum was pleasant.  The shit part was carrying the heavy papers on our shoulders (sore back), and walking encumbered with this burden for hours (sore feet), and only getting $47 for all that time and labour (bullshit).

 

The verdict – not worth it.