Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 9, 2018

Pictures from Phuket

3/4/18

From Hanoi we headed back to Thailand, flying to Bangkok and then Phuket. Phuket was our last stop for the trip, and we were planning to relax after all the racing around we had been doing!

We got to our hotel fairly late in the afternoon, so once we checked in we headed to the Karon Temple night markets where we had a look around and then got some dinner.

4/4/18

This morning we did a bit of a tour around Phuket to see some of the sights.

Our first stop was the Karon View Point where we got a great view over the coastline.

Karon View Point, Phuket

Next we headed towards the Big Buddha. On the way we had an opportunity to have a photo with a baby elephant. The poor thing was chained in a small enclosure, so I didn’t participate in that.

The Big Buddha was definitely worthy of its name. The main statue is massive, and there are several smaller statues around. While the main statue is complete, areas underneath and around are still under construction, and being fundraised for.

Big Buddha, Phuket

Next we went to the oldest and largest temple in Phuket, Wat Chalom. We walked to the top of one of the buildings, so we could see the view of the temple grounds, and we also saw people lighting firecrackers in a large chimney, as an offering.

Wat Chalom, Phuket

The tour then took us to a few ‘shopping spots’ – a cashew factory, honey farm and duty free shop before stopping in Old Town. We decided to stay there and look around a bit more rather than heading straight back to the hotel.

In Old Town we wondered around, looking at the Sino-Portugese architecture as well as some street art. We also got some lunch before catching one of the local buses back to Karon.

Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town

In the afternoon we got a foot massage and relaxed!

5/4/18

This morning we had an early start, being picked up at 4:50am to head to Phang Nga Bay. Once we got on the boat we were in time to watch the sun rise before getting to Panak Island.

Sunrise, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

It was low tide, so we walked through the caves until they opened up into a mangrove filled lagoon. Because the tide was low, we could see mud skippers walking along the mud, and fiddler crabs, as well as the spreading mangrove roots.

Panak Island, Thailand

Next we headed to Hong Island, where we hopped in the kayaks and paddled through some caves into the islands central lagoon. As we passed through the cave, the karsts of the island opened up towards us, it was beautiful! The tide was still quite low, so we had a little walking to do before we hopped back into the kayaks and paddled around some more.

Hong Island, Thailand

Hong Island, Thailand

After that we went to Khao Phing Kan, which was the viewpoint of Ko Ta Pu, also known as James Bond Island. It was a little busier here, but still not too bad!

Ko Ta Pu (James Bond Island)

Back on the boat we had a delicious lunch, which lots of Thai dishes, before heading back to Panak Island where we had time for a swim before heading home.

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Overall the tour was fantastic. We did it with Two Sea Tour, and the early start meant we got to a lot of the locations before they got busy. We even had Panak and Hong Island to ourselves briefly, and could take some moments of silence to listen to the surrounding birdlife, and really appreciate the stunning locations. Phillipe, who ran the tour was amazing, and really impressed us with his respect for the area and environment.

When we got back to our hotel we got a massage and took it easy for the rest of the day!

6/4/18

This morning we had a walk along Kata Beach, and had a swim and did some snorkelling. It was a bit cloudy initially, but once I got a bit further out there were thousands of tiny fish in schools, and a number of larger fish.

Snorkelling at Kata Beach

Then we had yet another massage, got some lunch and went to Patong for a little bit. Looking around Patong made us glad we were staying in the slightly quieter and less seedy area of Kata.

7/4/18

Today was our last day, so we relaxed with another massage and a facial before we had to pack our bags and fly home.

 

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Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 5, 2018

Halong Bay to Hanoi

31/3/18

The overnight train from Hue reinforced why I don’t like overnight trains and between the bumps, the noise and the hard mattress we reached Hanoi a bit short on sleep!

We had a bit of a rest and some breakfast before we hopped on a bus heading for Halong Bay. I managed to have a bit of a snooze before we stopped at a traditional ceramic village and saw some painting and firing.

Once in Halong Bay we caught a tender to our junk and then enjoyed a delicious lunch as we set sail.

The scenery around Halong Bay is amazing with the numerous limestone karsts jutting out of the water with more distant layers fading to paler and paler shades of blue towards the horizon. The magic is contrasted with the huge numbers of boats in the area and floating rubbish. However, it was still very lovely and maybe a bit of reality is a good thing when you’re on holiday!

After lunch we visited Ti Top island which has an artificial beach and 427 steps leading to a temple. The island was swarming with tourists and the climb to the temple more of a challenge due to the number of people than the steps. It made for an interesting experience and the view from the top was worth it!

Then it was back into the tender to visit Luon Cave. We kayaked through the entrance cave and ended up in an amazingly peaceful enclosed open air inlet surrounded by limestone cliffs. We even saw some monkeys swinging through the trees!

Back on the boat we watched the sun setting and the lights of the other boats come on before we had another delicious dinner. The chef did an amazing job with the vegetable decorations!

1/4/18

I woke up early this morning to watch the sun rise but unfortunately the smog and clouds combined so I couldn’t see much. It was still nice sitting on deck as the world slowly came to life.

After breakfast we went to Sung Sot cave, also known as Surprising Cave. The cave has three segments, with the final cave astounding in its scale and grandeur.

That was the final stop for our Halong Bay trip and we enjoyed the scenery on our way back to the mainland. The chef also showed us how he created some of the vegetable decorations (I’m still not sure if I’ll attempt them!).

For lunch we stopped at the Hong Ngoc Handicraft center, which helps provide work for those with disabilities and then headed back to Hanoi.

In Hanoi we walked around and visited Hỏa Lò Prison, which had some interesting exhibits on the Vietnamese political prisoners kept there by the French (and how many of them escaped) and the US POWs.

Then we had an interesting walk to Hoàn Kiếm Lake and through the Old Quarter where we had dinner and a stop on beer street.

2/4/18

This morning we did some more exploring of Hanoi.

Our first stop was the Temple of Literature. There was some kind of ceremony that morning and the place was buzzing with primary school children, many who yelled out ‘Hello’ as we went past.

Next we went to the Ho Chi Minh complex where we saw the outside of the dominating mausoleum and Presidential Palace as well as having a closer look at the houses Ho Chi Minh had lived in. We also saw the One Pillar Pagoda.

Then we headed into the Old Town. We had a short walk along Train Street, where the houses lean over the train line and people have to pack up things in front of their houses when the train comes.

In the Old Town we meandered along the streets, looking at the different types of shops. Each street has a traditional speciality and we found one street selling lots of door handles and another selling every variety of remote control (although I’m not sure how traditional that one is!).

We made our way to the Dong Xuan Market, which was incredible. It’s mainly a wholesale market so we weren’t really hassled, but there are so many stalls selling fabric and clothing and the aisles between them are so tiny and full of people just getting through is a challenge!

As usual we had a tasty lunch before getting a massage. Then we went to the Womens’ Museum which I really enjoyed. Everything was really clearly presented and it was fascinating learning about the different ethnic cultures throughout Vietnam as well as costumes and some of the women in Vietnam’s history.

For dinner we went to KOTO which helps with hospitality training for disadvantaged youth and I think it was the most delicious meal of the trip!

Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 2, 2018

Hoi An to Hue

27/3/18

This morning we had an early start, flying from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang, and then getting a bus to Hoi An.

Once we arrived in Hoi An we had a walk around the Hoi An old town. While we were there we visited the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation, which had some amazing dragon statues, as well as the Japanese Covered Bridge. We also had a bit of time to check out some of the many tailors in Hoi An and I ordered a dress and some shoes.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a rest and a swim, before heading back to the Old Town to do a cooking class. A few of us did a class at The Green Mango, and it was a fantastic experience.

We made smoked duck rice paper rolls, green mango salad with squid, noodle soup, sea bass in mango leave and mango sticky rice. Everything was delicious, and our instructor, Hai, led us through each step and got us to try ingredients and herbs along the way, so we could see how the dishes came together.

After eating our meals (and no cleaning up after we ate!) we walked around the Old Town, looking at all the amazing lanterns. Along the river were lots of boats and people releasing floating lanterns into the river. We crossed the bridge to An Hoi, and walked around the night market there.

28/3/18

This morning we headed back into the Old Town, as I had to do some fittings for my dress and shoes, and we also got a foot massage while we were waiting.

After some lunch, where we tried one of the Hoi An specialities, White Rose, we caught a taxi to My Son, the largest Cham ruins in Vietnam. The ruins were overgrown in parts, but very enchanting, and worth the visit.

Back at the hotel, we had another swim before heading back into the Old Town. Once there, I had a final fitting of my dress, which was lovely, and my shoes. Unfortunately one pair of the shoes didn’t fit as there was a bit of a mix up with my orthotic insoles, but the other pair was great. Getting only one pair did mean I could close my back pack though! Then we had another fantastic dinner.

29/3/18

Today we left Hoi An and headed for Hue. On the way we went through the Hai Van pass where we travelled through a very scenic mountain pass, and then stopped by Tam Giang lagoon, which was gorgeous.

Once we got to Hue, we had lunch at a local family’s house, which was delicious. There were so many courses, and so much food that we almost needed to roll out of there! At our next stop we were able to walk it off though!

Next we headed to the Citadel and Imperial Enclosure. It was very impressive and we visited the Hall of the Mandarins, Thai Hoa Palace, To Mieu Temple Complex and the Dien Tho Residence, as well as seeing many of the ornate gates and gardens.

That took most of the afternoon. In the evening we went to a local style spot for dinner. We were still full after our lunch, so just shared a number of starters, which was also a delicious option.

20/3/18

Today we headed on a motorcycle tour of Hue. I haven’t been on a motorbike often and I was surprised at how stable it was, riding around the streets! Our first stop was Thien Mu Pagoda, which had a very impressive seven story tower, as well as some lovely bonsai and gardens. It also had a huge number of cicadas, and in some areas the sound was almost unbearable!

Then we hopped on a dragon boat for a leisurely ride along the water. Once we were done we hopped back on the motorbikes. It was lots of fun, winding along narrow country lanes. Our next stop was the Tomb of Tu Duc, which was again very impressive and extensive.

Then it was back on the motorbikes for our final stop of our tour, lunch at a pagoda Hoa Quang. It was a vegan lunch, and we had multiple delicious courses, and again were extremely satisfied by the end of the meal! The motorbikes took us back to our hotel, where we had some free time before we headed off again.

In our free time we went and got a massage, which was lovely!

We finished the day by getting onto an overnight train, heading to Hanoi. For some reason we managed to score some free fried rice to keep us going!

Posted by: lindsaygoes | March 27, 2018

Hopping around Ho Chi Minh City

24/3/18

Today was our last day in Cambodia, as we headed for Vietnam. We caught a public bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon but we still had time to visit the Ben Thanh markets before dinner and buy a couple of things.

25/3/18

This morning we started a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. As it was a Sunday morning the streets were fairly quiet as we walked to the departure point of the Post Office, so crossing the street was a but simpler than at night.

Before we reached the Cu Chi tunnels we visited a local house where we saw how to make rice paper for rice paper rolls and even had a go making some (my attempt wasn’t very good!). We also saw some of the plants the family were growing such as tapioca and rubber trees and fed their pig.

Once we arrived at the tunnels we watched a propaganda video before being shown some of the ingenious things the Vietnamese guerillas had done to hide from or fight the enemy. We saw examples of the hidden tunnels entrances, examples of some of the nasty traps they used and squeezed through a section of tunnel (which has been enlarged for foreigners). To finish we tried some steamed tapioca root and banana leaf tea which the guerillas survived on through the war. Not the most exciting of cuisine!

Once we got back to Ho Chi Minh City we visited the Independence Palace, which was South Vietnam’s Presidential Palace and is still in much the same condition as the 1960s.

Then we went to the War Remnants Museum, which was packed with people. Some of the exhibits were quite difficult to view, particularly the effects of Agent Orange and the images of some of the birth deformities it resulted in, and the section on the torture that occurred.

Then we had a walk through the city and saw the Opera House and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Building before we got too hot and relaxed with a massage.

When we went out for dinner we were directed up an old flight of stairs with no signage. After briefly wondering what we were in for we got to the top and a lovely restaurant with delicious food.

26/3/18

This morning we headed for the Mekong Delta. We went to the island of Bến Tre where we hopped in a boat for a short trip along the river, eating some fresh fruit along the way.

Then we visited a local house where we tried some home made coconut candy, which was very sweet and delicious, and some pandan tea. After that we got into some smaller boats which were paddled by some local ladies (they moved at a pretty good pace) along some of the narrower waterways.

At the end of the boat ride we hopped in a tuk tuk and headed to lunch. Lunch was at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront and was multiple courses of delicious food. The most impressive was the deep fried elephant ear fish which we put into rice paper rolls.

Then it was back into the bigger boat. On the way back to the bus we were served fresh coconut juice in the coconut. Yum! Once on the bus we had a brief stop at a local store where they were making banana sticky rice and coconut candies.

Once we got back to Ho Chi Minh City we went for a walk and up to The View Rooftop Bar where we had a great view of the city as the sun went down.

For dinner we grabbed some tasty street food.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | March 24, 2018

Getting pensive in Phnom Penh

21/3/18

We woke up this morning to rain, so I was very glad we had seen sunrise at Angkor Wat the morning before.

This morning we were leaving Siem Reap, and on our way out we stopped at some floating villages on Tonle Sap (an enormous freshwater lake). We visited two villages, Kampung Kelang and Chong Prolay.

In Kampung Kelang the houses were all on stilts, so they were above the water line in the wet season. It was amazing to see how high up the water comes in the wet season.

In Chong Prolay the houses are floating on the water, held up by boats, bamboo rafts and empty barrels. They have to move the houses a few times a year to avoid storms in the wet season, and then make sure the houses don’t get bogged in the dry season. As well as the houses we also saw some green bean farms, and fish farms and traps. Unfortunately we had to stop the boat a couple of times while they removed netting and rubbish from the propellor, and we saw other boats doing the same.

Between the floating village and our evening stop we stopped for lunch.

This evening we were staying in a home stay at Sambor Prei Kuk. We had a walk around the village, and saw some of the plants they were growing. We saw cashews, mangos, bananas, kapok, pineapple and more. We also saw the local school and temple where they were having a celebration for the ancestors.

The dinner at the home stay was very tasty, with a chicken and cabbage stew, pumpkin and egg, and green beans and pork, followed by local bananas.

Our home stay was located very close to the temple, so we got to listen to the celebrations on loud speaker until 11:30 at night!

22/3/18

This morning we got woken up early by roosters and puppies. It was still relatively cool so we went for another walk around the village and saw all the kids on the way to school, and said hello to many of the locals.

After breakfast we said goodbye to our host family, who had been lovely and welcoming and friendly.

Then we headed to Phnom Penh. On the way we stopped at the village of Skoun, where they had lots of stalls selling deep fried crickets, cockroaches, silk worms and tarantulas. I tried a cricket, which was crunchy and salty, and a silk worm, which was a bit too chewy for my liking. I wasn’t brave enough to try the tarantula or cockroaches.

Once we got to Phnom Penh we went to do some sightseeing. Our first stop was the National Museum. The museum itself was a lovely old building with a beautiful courtyard and gardens, and housed lots of old sculptures and statues.

After the museum we had some lunch while we waited for the Royal Palace to open. We were one of the first in, once the Royal Palace opened, and so we could get a good view of everything that was open before it got too crowded. We saw the coronation hall (from the outside, as you couldn’t go inside) as well as the Silver Pavilion, with its Emerald Buddha and solid gold Buddha. We also had a look at some of the other buildings and stupas, and went into some of the exhibitions of old photographs and royal items.

From the Royal Palace we took a tuk tuk to Wat Phnom, which sits at the top of an artificial hill, and walked up to the top by the main stairs and then wound our way down through some of the other paths and gardens. Then we continued on to the Central Markets, where we meandered through some of the different sections selling food, kitchen goods, jewellery, clothing, and of course, souvenirs.

We then walked back to our hotel, before we went for dinner. For dinner, we went to Friends Cafe, which is run by an NGO and trains homeless youth. The food was more modern fusion style and was delicious!

23/3/18

This morning we headed for some of the main sights in Phnom Penh, the killing fields and prison.

First we went to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, which was one of the many killing fields from the Pol Pot regime. Our guide had been 9 years old when the regime ended, and told us some personal stories as we walked around, as well as some of the stories of the atrocities that had been committed there. As well as the massive stupa which contained numerous skulls and bones stretching into the sky, there were bones that had been collected since that was built around the killing fields. It was a very sombre visit, and our group hardly spoke while we were there. I took some photographs, but felt uncomfortable taking many, and didn’t take any in the stupa itself.

Our next stop was the Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum, which had been a prison during the Pol Pot regime. While we were there, we met three of the survivors from the prison. One, Norng Chan Phal, had been a small boy, and had hidden with some other children when the guards were going to kill them before the Vietnamese arrived, and the other two had been two of the prisoners who survived when the Vietnamese arrived. The story of the child survivor was particularly moving, hearing about how they had treated his mother. It must be very difficult to retell their stories day in and day out, and relive the trauma.

I think it was important to visit both of these locations, and try and get a picture of the horrors that occured. Visiting them, and meeting the survivors made it feel a lot more real, rather than an distant story in the news. However, after visiting them, we were very drained, and didn’t feel like doing much more sightseeing, so after that we had lunch, a massage and then took it easy for the rest of the day.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | March 22, 2018

Sightseeing in Siem Reap

18/3/18

The next morning we left Bangkok bright and early and headed towards Cambodia. After a few hours we reached the border and passed through Thai and Cambodian immigration with no problems. We had one further stop before reaching Siem Reap in the afternoon.

After a refreshing swim we walked to Pub Street, had dinner and had a look around some of the markets.

19/3/18

This morning we went and got photos for cour Angkor temple passes, and then set off to explore some of the temples.

Our first stop was Angkor Wat itself, a massive complex with amazing architecture. We entered from the back, at the East entrance, and spent a few hours there, learning about different stories associated with some of the carvings and statues. The line to climb to the top level was very long, so we skipped that and spent some extra time exploring the massive grounds (while attempting to stay in the shade as much as possible).

Then we headed to Angkor Thom, the city which is spread over an even larger area, although because it is so spread out it is difficult to appreciate that it is one large city. We entered through one the South Gate, and saw the statues of gods and demons pulling snakes. Once we were in Angkor Thom we went to the temple Bayon, which has 216 massive faces, four on each of its 54 towers. The way the faces were put together from multiple massive blocks was a real testament to the builders.

Our final temple stop for the day was Ta Prohm (the tomb raider temple). There are still several trees growing over the ruins, which really adds to the perception of age.

Then we headed back to Siem Reap, before heading back into town for dinner, a massage and some ice cream.

20/3/18

We had a very early start this morning to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was the day before the equinox, so the sun rose very close to the central tower of Angkor Wat, and the sillhouetted reflections in the pools were stunning. We had a yoga teacher with us, and while we were waiting for dawn she took us through some stretches in the ruins.

Once the sun was up we went back to Angkor Thom and visited the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, both of which had some amazing intricate carvings.

The next temple we visited was Preah Khan, which was a maze of corridors and intricate carvings.

Then we headed back to our hotel for some breakfast, before grabbing a tuk tuk to take us to some more temples. The next temple we visited was Prasat Kravan. This was a small temple, made from rose coloured bricks rather than massive stone blocks like the other temples we had visited, and we even got the place to ourselves for 30 seconds or so.

Our next stop was Pre Rup, one of the taller temples we visited. We climbed the stairs to the top, which was worth it for the views of the complex.

Then we went to the East Mebon temple which was a bit flatter, but still felt very large.

Following that we went to Ta Som. This temple still has a number of trees within the walls, and felt very peaceful and serene, as well as having a bit more shade!

Finally we went to Neak Pean. We had to walk across a long boardwalk to reach the temple, which consisted of a large pool surrounded by four smaller pools, with a large temple in the central pool. Not what we were expecting, as it was quite different from the other temples, but definitely worth the visit!

Then we tuk tuk’d back into town and visited a Cambodian handicrafts market which had some beautiful creations, before grabbing a delicious lunch.

After lunch we tried out a fish pedicure, which was a relaxing way to spend half an hour once you got over the initial ticklishness!

After a break and dinner we headed to Phare, the Cambodian Circus. It was an animal free circus, and the performers were very skilled. One thing I particularly loved, was how simple the props and costumes were, using brooms and coconuts, leaving the emphasis very much on the performances.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | March 18, 2018

Buzzing around Bangkok

15 -16/3/18

It was getting on in the day when we headed to the airport for our next trip – South East Asia. The flight started with multiple babies crying but they all settled pretty quickly and there were no delays.

Once we got to Bangkok it took a little time to get through immigration and find our bags and then we couldn’t find our transfer. After asking around we managed to find the sign – the guy meeting us had gone to the toilet. Eventually, after battling some of the Bangkok traffic, we arrived at our hotel and checked in (thank you extra nights accommodation).

After some breakfast (banana pancakes, yum yum) we headed off to do some exploring. Our first stop was the Grand Palace. We had cleverly timed our arrival to match a number of tour buses and the place was packed! Once we got used to the mass of people we could try to appreciate the ornate buildings and statues. We also saw the Jade Buddha in its chapel.

After the Grand Palace we walked to the National Museum. Several of the buildings were being renovated so we couldn’t see everything, but it was still nice to get a break from the crowds. The museum had a range of exhibits from some of the buildings themselves to statues and artefacts, clothing and ornate golden carriages. Then we headed to the Museum of Siam which was a bit more modern and interactive and focused on the concept of ‘Thainess’. It was quite interesting and quite thought provoking on identity.

Then we headed back to our hotel before walking to Khao San road where we did a bit of people watching while we ate some food before walking to a quieter street where we got a massage.

After a bit of a rest we headed out for dinner and also checked out some of the stalls on the streets before having an early night.

17/3/18

This morning we grabbed breakfast and had a little wander before starting our Tuk Tuk tour.

Our first stop was Phra Sumeru Fortress where we learned about some of the history of Bangkok. Then we hopped back on the tuk tuk and headed to Wat Ratchanatdaram which is the only remaining Buddhist temple with an iron roof. We also walked through the amulet market before leaving the temple. Then we headed to the Golden Mount which has 318 steps to reach the top. It had a great view of the city and was definitely worth the climb!

Next it was on to Phahurat Market, which is in the Indian part of Bangkok and had stalls full of ornate fabrics. Our next stop was more markets at Pak Klong Talad, the flower markets. The halls were enormous and filled with so many flowers, primarily for religious purposes.

Our final stop for the tour was Wat Po, which housed a giant reclining Buddha as well as numerous other smaller Buddhas, a massage school and traditional medicine inscriptions. All in all, the tour took us to some great spots.

After Wat Po, we grabbed some lunch and then took the ferry to Wat Arun, another beautiful temple.

Then we headed back towards the hotel and had another massage and some coconut icecream. Very tasty.

After a short afternoon rest to get out of the heat we grabbed some dinner and I had a banana and nutella pancake from a street steal for dessert.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 28, 2017

Naracoorte to Warrnambool

Friday 25th August

We were leaving Victor Harbor today, and on our first stop was Old Tailem Town, a Pioneer Village which is full of historic buildings which have been moved to the site. There are over 100 buildings, and while it is getting a bit decrepid, I felt it added to the charm, making everything feel older and more authentic. It was a great place to wander around and take photographs, and the couple running it were very friendly.

On the drive to Naracoorte we had a couple of brief stops, seeing the Coonalpyn Silo Mural and the Landrover on a Pole in Keith – always good to stretch your legs on a long drive!

When we got to Naracoorte we visited The Sheep’s Back museum which was very well presented, and had some interesting exhibits, and then we headed for the Naracoorte Caves, which have World Heritage Status due to their fossil record.

We went through the Wonambi Fossil Center which had some animatronic exhibits, and then walked through the Stick-Tomato cave which had some fantastic rock formations as well as an open section which was full of ferns.

We then had a guided tour through the Victoria Fossil cave, which again had some amazing rock formations, as well as some fossils from where prehistoric animals had fallen into the cave. They also had some recreated fibreglass skeletons of some extinct megafauna whose bones have been found in the cave.

Saturday 26th August

From Naracoorte we drove to Mount Gambier and then had a bit of an explore. Our first stop was the Cave Gardens in the middle of town, which were some gardens in an old sink hole with a large cave at the bottom that you can look into.

Then we headed to another sink hole, Umpherston Sinkhole which was enormous and you can walk right down into it, amongst the lovely gardens.

Next we drove around the Blue Lake which is in one of the extinct volcanic craters of Mount Gambier. In the summer it turns a bright blue, so unfortunately we didn’t see that, but it was still a lovely spot.

After that we walked up to Centenery Tower which had a fantastic view over the area, although we couldn’t climb the tower as it wasn’t open yet. Although, I was still recovering from the steep climb up to the tower, so I wasn’t too upset!

By that time our next stop was nearly open, so we headed to Tantanoola Caves which is one of the most spectacular caves I have ever been in to. It’s very small, but you walk in and ‘Bam’ the beauty of all the rock formations just blows you away. Everywhere we turned there was something else to see.

Then it was a drive to our final stop for the trip, Warrnambool. We visited the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and had a walk around all the old buildings and exhibits which was very interesting. After a bit of a break, we headed back for the evening sound and light show there, which was really well done.

Sunday 27th August

Today we headed home. We made some brief stops at some of Warrnambool’s lookouts, and then the trip was over!

Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 25, 2017

Port Pirie and Victor Harbor

Wednesday 23rd of August

It was an early start this morning, as we were aiming for Victor Harbor, about 463 kilometers away (if we were taking the fastest route, which we weren’t).

We had a couple of quick stops at Wilson and Kanyaka Ruins, old abandoned settlements that have been preserved, then headed for Port Pirie for a bit of a break from driving.

In Port Pirie our first stop was the Port Pirie Regional Tourism and Arts Center. The art gallery featured beanies from the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, and had some amazing creations! We also saw the Shakka the Shark exhibit with a fibreglass replica of a great white shark that had been caught in some nets in the area. She was enormous!

Then we visited the National Trust museum which was housed in the amazing old buildings of the Railway Station, Customs House and Police Station. The tower had a great view over town and there were some interesting old artefacts.

From Port Pirie we headed towards Victor Harbor, with a brief stop in Gumeracha to see the Giant Rocking Horse. It was raining at the time, so I just enjoyed the view from the car.

Once we got to Victor Harbor we had a look around the center of town and then walked to the top of Rosetta Head (the Bluff) which had some amazing views of Victor Harbor, Granite Island and the surrounding area.

After that it was getting late in the day, particularly after so much driving so we settled in for the night.

Thursday 24th August

We had a bit of a lazier start this morning as we were in no hurry to be anywhere.

Our first stop for the day was Granite Island. As we were walking across the causeway to the Island the horsedrawn tram was coming the other way, so it was good to see that. As it passed us, we could see the ‘L’ tag on the back! The walk around the island was really lovely, getting a good look at the island, and we even saw some whales in the distance! As my last two whale watching experiences in Monterey Bay (USA) and Kaikoura (NZ) involved no whales at all, it was good to finally see some!

After Granite Island we headed for Hindmarsh Island and saw the mouth of the Murray before having a bit of a drive around the Fleurieu Peninsula. We stopped at Hindmarsh Falls, Waitpinga Beach and Cape Jervis, where we got a look towards Kangaroo Island, as well as Glacier Rock.

Once we got back to Victor Harbour, we did some sections of the Hindmarsh River walks, just to make sure we ticked off all the attractions with Hindmarsh in the name!

Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 22, 2017

Flinders Ranges Rambles

Monday 21st August

We headed off early this morning, with a long drive to get to the Flinders Ranges. We weren’t far out of Broken Hill when we saw a Quarantine Sign for South Australia, with fruits, vegetables and plant matter restricted. We started scoffing down some of the bananas in the car before seeing another sign that the Quarantine bin was 220 km away. Apart from some lovely scenery, and lots of road kill, we didn’t see much until we reached the quarantine bin where we sadly got rid of our bananas and mandarins.

It wasn’t far from the bin to our next base point, the town of Hawker. In Hawker we grabbed some lunch, checked into the caravan park and headed off to see some of the local sites and view points.

The first stop we went to was Castle Rock, which was just a short walk from the road through some scrub. Unfortunately by the time we got there it was starting to rain a bit, so we didn’t stay long to take in the view, but did see some kangaroos.

Then we headed to the Jarvis Hill Lookout, which was a bit more of an uphill walk, but by this time the sun was out, and it was definitely worth the (fairly short) hike for the amazing view.

Our final viewpoint for the day was Camels Hump lookout. Initially we drove past it, so had to backtrack a bit, it was definitely more obvious driving into town than out of town. Again, it was a fairly short walk up to the rock formation, but lovely in the sunshine.

For dinner we had the option of the Hawker Hotel/Motel, or the Hawker Hotel/Motel, so we chose the Hawker Hotel/Motel, and had some pretty tasty fish and chips.

Tuesday 22nd August

This was our main day to see the Flinders Ranges so we headed out of Hawker early on to make the most of the day.

We stopped at a few viewpoints on the way to Wilpena Pound: Arkaba Lookout, Elder Range Lookout and Rawnsley Lookout, and then from the Wilpena Pound information center we started the Wangara Lookout hike.

The first part of the hike was also part of the Hills Homestead walk and was fairly flat and easy, heading to the Hills Homestead, which was built in the early 1900s but restored in 1995. The hike up to the Wangara lookouts was a little more intense, but definitely worth getting to both the lower and upper viewpoints for the amazing views over Wilpena pound. On the way back we saw an emu with a clutch of emu chicks – so cute! The walk was about a 7.8 kilometer round trip.

From Wilpena we headed north to Hucks and Stokes Hill lookouts and then on the way back headed to Bunyeroo Gorge. Again there was some amazing scenery and wildlife around with kangaroos, emus, lizards and birds.

Heading back we had a short hike to Arkaroo rock, which has some amazing 5000 year old Aboriginal cave art, which is really well preserved. It was definitely worth the walk (around 3km round trip).

Then we took the scenic route back to Hawker, taking the Moralana Scenic drive. Unfortunately it was getting a little late in the day to do the walk to Black Gap (the other entrance to Wilpena Pound) but it was still gorgeous scenery and we also stopped at Surveyors Lookout on the way home.

Then it was back to Hawker.

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