Wednesday, January 3, 2018
The word quarantine always makes me think of hazmat suits and the involvement of some toxic airborne sickness. Driving towards the border of South Australia, we passed signs preparing us for quarantine: fruit, vegetable, plants, grapevines and soil prohibited. I half expected for us to arrive at a guarded station with officers ready to scour our vehicle of any Victorian born produce. Anticipating intense interrogation, I felt part relieved and part disappointed to find that quarantine solely consisted of an oversized bin mounted on a deep hole in the ground next to a large sign of what to toss. I found it a bit offensive that our red capsicum, carrots and apples purchased from the Queen Victoria Market weren’t “good enough” for South Australia and above all, I felt wasteful for not being better prepared for our border crossing. This theatrical honor box seemed rather strange to me, but if it helps keep the grapevines in the Barossa Valley strong and healthy, I’ll gladly oblige.
Another thing I found odd about South Australia is the time difference of only 30 minutes. Have you ever heard of a half hour time change? There were many things to consider about this strange new land we were entering on our 6 hour drive to Victor Harbor. Initially, thick logging fields surrounded our drive until we approached Mount Gambier where we noticed a change in the landscape with unique limestone rock scattered about.
When the roof of a limestone cave collapsed and formed a sinkhole, James Umpherston realized that the topsoil here would be ideal for sunken gardens. When we visited the Umpherston Sinkhole, blossoming pink hydrangeas and limestone walls cloaked in green ivy covered the sinkhole. Because of the unique nature of Gambier limestone, sinkholes like this offer scientists a significant place for study. This type of porous rock creates a solid water bearing layer and transfer of rich underground minerals. Bumble bees fluttered about their hives as they busily made honey at the numerous combs lodged in the sinkhole walls. Two single palm trees towered above the gardens as if chaperoning the golden afternoon. Visitors here enjoy this free attraction as the colorful scenery painted a beautiful morning for all of us.
Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake isn’t mistaken in its name. You remember when you were a kid and your mom use to put food coloring in your bath water to make soap time more fun? That’s exactly what this crater lake reminded me of. This must be where Smurfs come to bathe. The unique minerals in the area cause the lake water to change into a bright sapphire depending on the time of year. Locals even get to enjoy using this pure water on a daily basis.
Thanks to a recent travel feature on TV, Anthony suggested we stop in Robe for lunch. Visitors flock to this seaside town in the same relaxed manner they do in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As our journey continued parallel to the Coorong National Park, the scenery felt reminiscent of the Outer Banks even more with long secluded beaches and raw nature. Aside from that, there was nothing around to entertain this stretch except for the occasional “expect the unexpected” billboards. Aussie humor poked serious fun about paying attention on the roads with pictures of animals warped with the likes of cow bottoms and bird tops. “Anthony, if we pass a half horse, half koala we’re definitely stopping to take a picture.”
Our AirBnB in Encounter Bay, about an hour and half south of Adelaide, made us feel at home after a long travel. With a glass of wine in hand, the sea at our front door and aloe on my chest (yes, I actually got sunburn in the car through the windshield), we couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful evening in South Australia.
Next up: “Adelaide Taste Test”