Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Princess Margaret Rose Cave & Blue Lake

Got the next three days off, so I thought I would put my new car to the test and have a drive around. Quiet a few people have suggested visiting Mt. Gambier just over the border in South Australia. They have a large blue lake which is worth seeing. So I set of after a while and started driving towards what I though was Mt. Gambier. After some hill billy ride around the area with who knows where I passed through I saw a signpost pointing towards the Princess Margaret Rose Caves, a cave which Stocky highly recommended me to visit. I arrived just in time for a guided tour through the cave system. Unfortunately it is currently school holidays and a lot of the group consisted of family's with younger children. With the fairly large group we walked down 68 steeps to the cave and the guide explained all about stalagmites, stalactites and different formations down there. Some of them not even been explained by science yet. After getting out of the cave I had a short walk down to the Glenelg River, which was the river that caused the caves to form. Had a break on a yeti with no other sound around except natures. No cars in the distant, no families, no loud people, just the birds and two swearing fishermen upstream. Don't know if they lost a fish, but I could hear them.
After that back towards my original goal of Mt. Gambier and after a few U-turns and a few extra k's of driving I arrived in the town. First thing was to get some info on what to do and accommodation. As I couldn't find any tourist info on any maps I asked in a kiosk at the roadside and got tons of information. She did advice me to go to the “proper” one for the accommodation question but before that I visited the Umpherston sink hole just outside the back of the kiosk. A sink hole that a guy back in 18somewhat turned into his own private English garden. A group of volunteers cleaned it up a bit a few years ago and the public has been granted access since then. It is deep. After that it was time to get lost in Mt. Gambier. After driving around in circles and wrong turns for a while (my navigation is pretty crap in that way, sun has got me completely screwed up) I ended up parking in a Coles supermarket and having a salad for lunch after which I had a haircut and a chat with the girls working in it. Australians are always surprised to hear that I am German.
After that I went up to the Blue Lake, the lake that Mt. Gambier is known for. It is freaking massive. I was expecting something but not volcanic crater rising a few hundred metres out of the ground with a lake that has a road running 3,6km around it. Stopped and had a walk around the lake which made it seem smaller. Met a load of joggers and arrived back at the car after about half and hour. Looked for accommodation after that, but most where camper sites and others to far from the bars and pups in the centre. In the end I opted for just parking in a supermarket car park and sleeping in the back of the car. Haven't got a mattress or pillow installed yet, but will do.

Had some dinner in an Irish pup just a bit away and a small chat with the pup owners and some locals about wildlife loving cars so much. Meet up with a two guys my age after they left and they turned in to a group of about ten people my age. Had a chat, a few drinks and went to one of theirs new home. Hasn't been furnished yet, thought. After a while the two I meet at first took me back to my car and hopefully for a nights rest. See where things go tomorrow.
Made a short vlog, which can be found at YouTube.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Working, Footy & Car searching

Before coming to Australia I had read a few blogs of people who had come to work and travel down under. Surprisingly, after a few months, they always seemed to have a lull in activity on their blogs. I don't know if it is for the same reasons as I have found myself in, but here comes the explanation.
After getting back from King Island to Reds, I had a week of just doing farm work on Reds property. Meanwhile I was looking for somewhere more permanent to work, so I could save up some Australian earned dollars to go travel. The ultimate goal was to buy a car that could take me pretty much everywhere, but didn't use a lot of fuel. Asking around and with a bit of help I found a more or less constant workflow in a dairy farm about 10km away from Reds. So after being introduced I started working for Stockys (as my boss is called). The first month was near constant work, as it was the season where all the cows are calving and have to be AI'd after that. The cows being milked don't care if it is Saturday or Sunday, so it was weekend work too. More so as Stockys other worker (“good” Jay, Digbys got a “bad” Jay too) has those two days off. On Wednesday evening I had off nearly every time as I tagged along with Red to go play badminton and also have a few drinks at the pub afterwards with the locals.
I helped Grinner with lam marking a couple of times. He just lives the other side of Digby. Luckily Reds mum Jossie let me borrow her car most of the time to get around and to work. We went fishing at night on the Glenelg river just over in South Australia in a riverside hut with Luigy and his girlfriend Marianne. Nearly all the names here are nicknames. I don't actually know most of the locals real names and they don't always coincide with the real names. Luigy, Marianne and me didn't catch a thing that night, but Red had two small fish on the hook which he had to throw back again.
We also visited Melbourne a couple of times. The drive there is pretty arduous, taking a few hours (three to four) and the road not being in the best conditions. Mostly it was dark on the way back, so the Roos are a constant threat as well. Just coming back last Tuesday, Red just managed to dodge one just outside of Hamilton. It wouldn't have been as bad as it could have been, as we where in his UTE and it has a Roobar on the front, but still, avoiding is better than hitting.
A few weeks back we went to visit a football match in the MCG. We where acompanied by Luigy and Marianne again, as Red and Luigy are Horthorn supporter and can get free entry (plus one extra) when they play. Marianne supports the other team, but was still aloud to come along. Horthorn beat the others, but everyone said that was nothing unexpected. Due to that the stadium, that can accommodate 100.000 people, only had 30.000 people watching.

And one of the last times in Melbourne was last Tuesday. Red has left for Perth yesterday, visiting a friend for a party and going fishing. As I have saved up enough in the two and a half months I have worked at Stockys and the one month before that on King Island, I finally wanted to purchase a car. A car grants a lot more freedom on this vast continent than a bus, train or any other form of public transport does. Inside the city's it's no problem, but outside is were they really pay of. Without a car I would have never met all the people around Reds place. I consulted the internet before buying one and had a look at the market on the internet for a period of time, but you still want to go and actually look at what you get before buying. We actually wanted to go two weeks prior to that, but due to a wave of sickness passing through the area that left me weak and most farmers around here bed ridden for at least a few day (Red was one) we had to scrap that idea and recover. But on Tuesday we managed and visited a few dealers. My price limit was set at 3000$, so I wasn't expecting anything new and flashy looking. The things it had to have where a low fuel consumption, a long body (so I can sleep in the back if necessary) and, if possible, 4WD. That narrowed it down to a few models and in the end I got a 1999 Subaru Forester. On average it had 100.000km less on the odometer and it looked cleaner and well looked after. As the dealer that sold it hadn't got the road worthy certificate for the car yet but was confident it would pass, I signed the buying papers and drove back home with Reds. As they need to take it to a licensed garage for the RWC it would take at least a day for them. Due to Red leaving for Perth on Friday anyway he drove down and I picked it up. Drove back home after tanking in a fuel station where the computers where dead (one angry customer just up and left) and headed out in the thick of rush hour. I was back at Reds place at half past nine at night, luckily not finding any kangaroos or wallaby's.

So, now I have a car. And I cant wait to get rid of it and the money it is costing me. From fuel, repair parts, registration and insurance I hope it is worth it in the end with granting me the freedom that only a car can over. I'll be working this and next weekend for a bit of extra cash, go and do “backpacky” things in the week and then head of in about one and a half weeks. Probably along the coastline from Melbourne to Sydney.