We visited Mount Gambier, South Australia, which is famous for it’s Blue Lake that changes colour to a brilliant blue colour in November and remains that colour over the summer each year. Since we visited in winter, the colour was not the same vibrant blue, but it was still interesting to visit the lake which is formed in a crater, and you could definitely see the difference in colour between the blue lake and the lake in the adjoining valley.
The sinkhole was originally on a private property, where the Umpherston family developed the gardens in the 1880’s. Umpherston Sinkhole was once a cave formed through dissolution of limestone and the sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber collapsed downwards. Now the topsoil down on the floor of the cave forms the perfect environment for the sunken garden.
Mt. Gambier is built on the slopes of an inactive volcano and features several other sunken cave gardens as well as nearby attractions such as Tantanoola Caves with it’s pink dolomite caverns. The area is known as the limestone coast and many buildings are constructed from blocks of local limestone, which makes it a most attractive town.
Today, another gorgeous gorge. When we arrived in Fitzroy Crossing, we decided that we had to take the little boat cruise that goes up through Geike Gorge. We have done it before, but our friends had not, and we thought it was worth going again as this is another very special place.
There are lots of fresh water crocodiles in the water or sunning themselves on the waters edge.
As we drove south from Kalbarri on our way to Cervantes, we were amazed to see this Pink Lake at Port Gregory. It was quite an amazing bright pink colour, and the lagoon went on for kilometres. The Hutt Lagoon is a superb example of a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs when algae ‘blooms’ and produces beta carotene – a pigment that has become a lucrative aquaculture crop.
We stayed in Cervantes which is a small cray-fishing village on the Western Australian coast. Nambung National Park is around 20 km from Cervantes. The hundreds of limestone formations that make up The Pinnacles in the National Park are quite amazing to see. Each separate pinnacle can be up to five metres high, although most are smaller than that.
Some of the pinnacles are quite sculptural in appearance, and look wonderful set amongst the rippling yellow sands of the park.
We spotted these galahs perched on top of a pinnacle. There are meant to be lots of animals that live in the park, but most are nocturnal except for kangaroos and emus. However these galahs were the only living things we saw.
As the evening came upon us, an approaching storm made an interesting backdrop to the spectacle of the pinnacles spread across the horizon.
On leaving the park, this white expanse in the distance caught our eye. The sands are so white it doesn’t take much imagination to see it as a snow covered hill.
Returning to Cervantes, where we were staying, we called into Lake Thetis which is world renowned for the stromatolites that grow there. Lake Thetis is a shallow lake formed between sand dunes, about one-and-a-half kilometres inland, dating back around three or four thousand years. It is very salty, and is fed by rainfall and groundwater, so its water level rises and falls with the seasons. Although salty, it is full of life, the most obvious being the cyanobacteria which have produced the stromatolites along the south and western sides, and the microbial mats which line the lake all round. Until the 20th century, the only evidence of stromatolites was in fossil form and scientists presumed that these unique biofilms were extinct.
At Fitzroy Crossing we stayed at the old Crossing Inn camp ground. In the evening we took the Geikie Gorge sunset boat tour which took us along the gorge through the wonderful limestone cliffs. There were heaps of freshwater crocodiles basking in the sun on the banks of the river.
The white colour at the bottom of the cliffs shows the height of the water when the rains come. During the wet, there are no boat tours as the whole area becomes flooded with many metres of water and when the flood recedes there is around 8 tonnes of sandy soil to be moved again before the boat ramps and pathways can be found.
The limestone cliffs are eroded into artistic and wonderful shapes. There were lots of fairy martens nesting under the rocky overhangs.