Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mount Gambier - February 2017

14 February 2017 and we were off  to Mount Gambier to play another Victoria versus South Australia cricket match, this time with the over 70s team. We drove to Mount Gambier via Ballarat and stayed at the Quality Inn Presidential on Jubilee Highway.
While the men went to practise on the ground in readiness for the match the following day, I went for a walk and found a small park containing the entrance to the Engelbrecht Cave.
The limestone cave, beneath part of Mount Gambier, contains a lake and a number of chambers. Two of the chambers can be visited, however when we were at Mount Gambier the cave was closed for maintenance. Something to put on the list for another visit.
Entrance to Engelbrecht Cave
On the way back to the hotel I noticed a tower on the hill. This is the Centenary Tower, opened to the public in 1904. The foundation stone was laid on December 3 1900 to commemorate one hundred years since the sighting and naming of Mount Gambier by Lt Grant when sailing to Sydney on the ship, Lady Nelson.
Centenary Tower
The Meet and Greet was held at Jens Hotel in Commercial Street East. The hotel, built on the site of the first hotel in Mount Gambier, dates back to 1884 and was built by Johannes Jens. On the way back to the car we stopped to view the Cave Garden which is lit up at night. The roof of the cave collapsed thousands of years ago leaving this sinkhole which was used as the main water supply for the first European settlement in 1847. It is now a picturesque garden in the middle of town.
Cave Garden
Next day was the match at McDonald Park.
Victoria Over 70s Cricket Team
Victoria Over 70s batted first and were 4 for 165 at the end of the innings. Ian Gibson(ACS) 33, Arthur Pritchard 23, Ian Longmuir 18, with Ian Hammett rtno 35 and Wavell McPherson rtno 40. In reply South Australia could only manage 54 runs. Ron Kasputtis 2/11, Robin Court 2/11, David Hopper 2/0, Bruce Pooley 1/13, Phil Forsyth 1/14 and Dick Stumbles 1/3 - all bowlers with wickets. Wavell McPherson man of the match - 40 not out and 3 stumpings. Gary Paget was Umpire and Scorer (not at the same time). This was a great team effort.
At the Frew Oval the South Australia Over 60s defeated the Victoria Over 60s team. In the evening members of all the teams met at the Linksview Restaurant for dinner and presentations.
A short walk from the cricket ground is the information centre with a replica of the Lady Nelson at the front. Inside is an interpretive centre providing information about the development and history of the local area.
The Blue Lake
Next day we decided to explore part of Mount Gambier before driving home. We started at the Blue Lake which is a short drive from town. There is walking circuit from which you can view the lake whose water turn blue in the summer months.
The Blue Lake
After walking part way around the lake we found steps leading to a tunnel under the road to the Adam Lindsay Gordon Lookout. We then went for bushwalk into the crater where the Leg of Mutton Lake once existed until the water table dropped.
Leg of Mutton Lake
It was a pleasant walk with lots of birds singing in the trees. In the 1800s a nursery was located in this area to propagate many of the trees, including pine trees, now growing in the region. In the distance there were views of water towers looking out over the trees.
Water tower from Leg of Mutton Lake
On the way back to the car we passed a monument to the pioneer farmers in the district.
Our final stop, back on the Jubilee Highway, was the Umpherston Sinkhole.
Umpherston Sinkhole
This former cave was landscaped in 1886 by James Umpherston.
Umpherston Sinkhole
In some sections it is possible to imagine how this was once a giant cave thousands of years ago.
Umpherston Sinkhole
At night the area is floodlit and apparently the local possums move into the area to feed.
Umpherston Sinkhole
Mount Gambier is a great place to visit. On another visit we would further explore the parklands near the lakes, particularly around Valley Lake and Centenary Tower. There are also a variety of locations a little further from town to explore if time allows.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Perth - Food

Holidays are always a chance to try different restaurants and we dined at several restaurants within easy walking distance of our hotel during our stay in Perth.
Caffe Italia was a short distance from our hotel and we dined there on two occasions. This is a great Italian restaurant with a wide selection of dishes including varieties of pasta, gnocchi and pizza. On the first visit I had the chicken parmigiana and the scaloppine al funghi on the second visit - both great dishes. We also shared entrees of bruscheta al pomodora and calamari fritti. This is a very busy restaurant and when, on the Sunday, we were looking for somewhere to eat there were queues waiting for a table. We went for a walk and were able to get a table a short time later. On our return visit later in the week we arrived at the restaurant relatively early but while we were enjoying our meal we noticed queues forming again.
On our free day during the cricket championships we had lunch at Jaws Japanese Sushi restaurant in the Hay Street Mall where we enjoyed trying selections from the sushi train. On the Friday evening we selected from the sushi train at the East Perth Jaws restaurant, also in Hay Street, a short distance from the hotel.
The restaurant at the Comfort Hotel in Hay Street Perth is the Bluerock. This is where we had a Continental Breakfast each morning. Compared with a number of hotels where we have previously stayed a really good selection of cereals (for adults) including muesli was provided as well as natural yoghurt and a variety of fruit. I enjoyed breakfast on this holiday. There was also toast, a selection of pastries plus cold meat, hard boiled eggs etc (there were a number of visitors from Europe staying at the hotel). A hot breakfast was also available and, in the restaurant garden, egg and bacon rolls were cooked and sold to passers-by on their way to the cricket at the WACA around the corner from the hotel.
We also had dinner at the Bluerock on two occasions. While the test match was on a special menu was provided.
While in Perth we discovered a Miss Maud pastry house in the Carillon City Arcade. This cafe serves good hot chocolate. We also had a light lunch there one day. There are a number of these cafes, based on Swedish Pastry Houses, throughout Perth and suburbs.
On the Saturday night the First Division Victorian teams had dinner at the Antico Caffe on the corner of Plain Street and Royal Street, East Perth. The restaurant is close to Gloucester Park, where the Championship Meet and Greet was held, and the WACA and a short walk from the hotel where we stayed. This is another fine Perth Italian restaurant and I enjoyed the risotto.
Another team dinner was held at The Royal on the Waterfront, a hotel and restaurant diagonally opposite the Antico Caffe. The colonial beer battered coral trout and chips was very good.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Perth - Drive to the Swan Valley

On our last day in Perth Gina and Andrew took us for a drive to the Swan Valley, north east of Perth.
Bindoon Bakehaus
Our first stop was at the bakery at Bindoon, 84 km from Perth city, where we had lunch. The bakery is the main attraction in Bindoon and was a popular stop at lunchtime, particularly for motorcyclists.
Gina and Andrew then took us for a drive through part of the Swan Valley.
Margaret River Chocolate Company
We stopped at the Margaret River Chocolate Company at Swan River where we explored the range of chocolates and I sampled their hot chocolate.
Vineyards abound in this region and there are also orchards and some market gardens.
Around the corner from the chocolate factory is Lavender Bistro and Boutique where we stopped to have a look at their products.
Before arriving home we stopped off to watch part of a cricket match in which Chris was playing - a good way to end a cricketing holiday.
The next day we returned home to Melbourne after ten days in Perth.

Perth - exploring beaches

After the completion of the Senior Cricket Australia National Championships we stayed in Perth to spend the weekend with my brother and his family. This was also an opportunity to explore Perth outside the central city and cricket grounds.
JOONDALUP LAKE: Recently a duck had made a nest in my brother's garden and eight ducklings were hatched. When the duck family was ready to leave they were escorted to Lake Joodalup where hopefully they are now living safely. We therefore wanted to see the lake, the home of many ducks and other water birds.
MATILDA BAY: We had lunch at Matilda Bay on the Swan River, a peaceful place with views of Perth and the nearby marina.
Andrew relaxing - taking in the view
COTTESLOE BEACH: North of Fremantle is Cottesloe Beach.
Cottesloe Beach Pavilion
When we arrived a shark spotter plane flew over the beach, the alarm sounded, the flags on the beach were removed and the swimmers left the water. Only one swimmer ventured back into the water for a short time before deciding to return to the beach.
View of the beach
Looking towards Fremantle
HILLARYS BOAT HARBOUR: Hillarys Boat Harbour, south of Joondalup, was the final destination.
We explored the shops and had a drink at San Churros before returning home.

Perth - Fremantle (part 2)

We arrived in Fremantle at lunchtime and after a lunch of fish and chips at E Shed Markets we then made a quick visit to the nearby Western Australian Maritime Museum.
WA Maritime Museum
On our visit we saw a number of interesting exhibits on early visitors to the Western Australian coast before European settlement, sea trading along the Western Australian coast and the development of fisheries by Europeans, particularly families from Italy. Australia II is a featured exhibit at the museum. The memory wall shows the significance of Fremantle as the first entry to Australia for many new migrants.
Dugongs - mother and child
STS Leeuwin II
 Older buildings have been retained in many Fremantle streets adding character to the city.
High Street, Fremantle
High Street, Fremantle
At the end of High Street we located the Round House. The Round House was built in 1831 as a prison and in 1837 a request was made by the Fremantle Whaling Company for permission to build a tunnel from Bathers Beach to High Street. The tunnel was used to transport whale products from the whaling station jetty on the beach to the settlement.
Round House and Whalers' Tunnel
We walked through the tunnel to Bathers Beach. Bathers Beach was where Captain Charles Howe Fremantle claimed British sovereignty over the west coast of New Holland in May 1829.
Looking through the tunnel towards the beach
Interior of the tunnel
During World War II the tunnel was used as an air raid shelter. A small side tunnel was excavated to provide access from cottages above to the tunnel if required. From 1905 to 1919 electricity cables ran through the tunnel while from 1916 to 1975 a sewerage pipe also ran through a trench in the tunnel.
Bathers Beach
View from beach towards tunnel and Round House
After exploring part of Fremantle for a couple of hours it was back on a ferry for the return trip to Perth.