3 July 2010
The good news is, we weren't stuck in the mud this morning and we didn't freeze to death in the night. With no electrical connection and very little water to wash dishes, breakfast was toast made in the teeny tiny gas oven with peanut butter slapped on and coffee made by boiling water on the gas stove and poured into a French press (plunger) accompanied by fresh strawberries, kiwifruit and orange juice (o.k., the orange juice was not fresh squeezed, but still...not too shabby overall). As we drove out of Dartmoor's town centre, we saw the most amazing sculptures carved out of tree trunks:
Some interesting tree trunk sculptures in Dartmoor, VIC outside of where we free camped.
We got up early (for us) and hit the road straight after breakkie. Our first major stop was Mount Gambier, near the South Australia (SA) border. The main attraction there is the Blue Lake which is on top of a volcano. Unfortunately, it was very overcast today, so the lake wasn't nearly as brilliantly blue as it can be (at least, it wasn't nearly as blue as the guide book showed it to be). It created a wonderful opportunity for a brief geology lesson as the sign described how the lake came to be formed and the different layers of rock. Devon was especially fascinated and Jenna enjoyed sketching the scene in her diary. Sydney Rachel was just happy to be out of her car seat.
Blue Lake / a geology lesson / Jenna with Lily the Mud Hippo
We drove for probably five hours today - surprisingly, most of it looked a lot like Nebraska or Kansas in America...that is, until we turned off the main highway and found ourselves on a ferry that crossed a river over to what became picturesque wine country. The kids did subtraction and multiplication flash cards during the drive (and watched The Bee Movie).
A stretch of road nearing the South Australia (SA) border / Liz having a go at driving while on the ferry!
Lunch was quick sandwiches in the campervan and a giant coffee for me from a Shell station before I took a turn driving.
Highway 1 is abundant with warning signs to "Take a Power Nap Now" and that "A Microsleep Can Kill". It's very reassuring, actually. But, the most frightening sign I've seen so far is the one defining the occasional post along the drive illustrating where people have been injured, or worse, died on the highway:
Crash marker along Highway B1 (don't worry, Mom, we drive the speed limit - usually less due to the sheer size of our vehicle)
Our next major stop of the day was at the Bleasdale winery. We sampled a few of their Potts Family wines and had a personal tour of the cellar which houses an old wine press made of red gum timber. It was built in 1892 (Civil War era for the Yanks reading this) and has a giant lever which manipulates a twin press. The lady who helped us and showed us around was most friendly and accommodating.
Devon and Sydney Rachel enjoyed kicking a ball around in the field at Bleasdale Winery.
We drove through the McLaren Vale wine region, home to some familiar Aussie wines including Rosemount among others perhaps not so known to Americans (like Clarendon Hills, d'Arenberg, and Kangarilla Road). After many, many a windy road, we arrived at the McLaren Vale Lakeside Caravan Park. There are vines growing on either side of the valley. The receptionist was quite friendly. She said she travelled for three years like this.
Dinner was pesto pasta with cheesy toast and salad. We did laundry and all took a much needed shower (I think it's been four days since we all were cleansed!). This time around, we decided to try the "en suite" style of camping where you drive up to a small building with a bathroom (in this case, it had a shower, sink and toilet). I have to confess, I'm not amazed at the en suite experience, but the increase in cost is not much...$6 more in this case. Although, it does beat having to schlep it to the toilet block in the freezing cold!