†If you pick the southern most town & point in South Australia, you would be 466kms southeast of Adelaide, 5700kms from the South Pole, 1200kms from Sydney & 3100kms from Darwin & ok, 384 400kms from the moon. In fact, you would be in Port MacDonnell, an area that is very rugged,† windswept & part of the stunning Limestone Coast that extends from the Coorong National Park, Naracoorte in the north down to Port MacDonnell in the south & a few kms out to sea.
Along with its stunning coastal vistas, the region encompasses villages and towns like Beachport, Southend, Robe and Kingston SE. It is known for the famous Coonawarra wines, tantalising produce, great fishing all with little towns steeped in history, limestone caves, sink holes that people scuba dive in & fascinating beaches.
This limestone rock shelf extends into Victoria to Moonlight Head & includes Port Fairy, the 12 Apostles, Port Campbell & Warrnambool, but this area is called the Shipwreck Coast, due to the many ships that hit the rocks & sank.
The area is noted for being one of the best suppliers of the Southern Rock Lobster, an industry that is worth $250 million annually to the South Australian economy.
†The weather was not the best when I was there but decided to venture out to the isolated Cape Northumberland, just a short distance out of town. What a stunning rugged coastline with distinctive rocky formations including a feature which the locals refer to as the Petrified Forest, which is not petrified wood although the locals still know it by that. Frog Rock, just like Rhino Rock and Captains Head Rock, are believed to be named because they look like a frog, rhino and captain's head. The latter is no longer recognisable as the years have eroded its character.
It was very humbling watching the power of waves, driven by fierce winds, pounding
away at the coastline, shaping it as has been the case for 26 million years. The 2 seals & colony of Cormorants didnít seem to mind the rough seas though.
The first lighthouse on the Cape was completed in 1857. It was built on towering cliffs on an extremely exposed part of the coast & needed a stone wall to be erected around the keeperís cottages, to make it safe for them. A new lighthouse was built in 1882 to replace the unsafe original one, while the stone cottages nearby were replaced by wooden ones in 1909. By 1919, all the original buildings had all been removed & today there is only a stone seat marking the site, with a plaque honouring the memory of the first keeper, Capt. Ben Germein. In March 1936 the power was converted from kerosene to electricity, & in 1972 the lights electric operation was converted to tungsten halogen. In July 1977 the light was converted to automatic, then finally de-manned in January 1990.
From Port MacDonnell, I drove to Mt Gambier, some 28kms away for the next part of the journey, as I was keen to see the beauty of the Blue Lake & Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul, (or the Sunken Garden) which is one of the most spectacular gardens located in the Mount Gambier region, the size of which must be seen to be believed, and headed straight there.
The stunning garden was created in 1886 by James Umpherston, a Scottish farmer who emigrated to Australia in 1839, became a noted settler of Mount Gambier through his farming & business ventures, a councillor, first President of the Pastoral & Horticultural Society in the area, later to be elected to the South Australian House of Assembly.
†As the path descended into this oasis that is some 20m deep & 50m wide, having been formed by millions of years of erosion & collapse of a limestone cave, the stunning garden opened up via terraces & paths that meandered through the vast array of plants, we are greeted by a possum, one of many that come here to feed, eager for a piece of fresh fruit, which it ate without worrying too much about the people that were present & obviously well accustomed to them.
Giving these animals bread, is a definite NO, NO!
The garden is free to enter, open every day until late in the evening.