Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There And Back Again. Chapter Six, A Journey In The Dark

Section one, subparagraph 3, item two.

Alexandra Cave Part One

Why part one? Well, that's cus these are the pictures that YT (Yours Truly, that's me) took, as opposed to the pics WP (Wifey-Poo) had tooken. We have different styles of foa-toa-graffiness-itude-eeality. I also have awesome spelling skills.

Part two of Alexandra Cave will be, of course, the pics from WP. But you probably could have figured that out without me help.

I have a lot to tell y'all about Naracoorte. Friendly place, never been in a friendlier place, in fact. But that'll have to wait as I've kept all of you (is it up to 20 yet?) on the edge of your seats (and don't the edges of the chairs make your feet fall asleep? Well, for me it does) long enough.

We started with an hour long tour of the Alexandra Cave. It was supposed to be 45 mins, but SOMEONE (YT?) just kinda had to stretch it out a wee bit :)

I've about 50 pics I want to show you, but I don't think I should embed them all. See? Sometimes I think even when I don't!

What I've done is make a slideshow for you. The controls *should* be pretty well self-explanatory. I'm also putting up a direct link through to the flickr page where all the full size images live.

Let me know what you think, and if there's any shots that anyone wants ultrafullsize just lemme know, no worries.

Firstly, here's the direct link to where the pics live at flickr. Just a reminder, you can click on any of the thumbnails to see a larger pic. However, you want to make sure you then click the "all sizes" button to see the pic at 1000 by 750 pixels.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnndddddddd, here's the slideshow!

Just click on that big ole friendly arrow in the middle to play the show.

But of course you want to see the pics big ole full sized like. Right? Well, notice that in the lower right hand corner of the slideshow (once you've got it playing) (just rollover it cus it don't bite) there's a little box with four arrows pointing outward? Ah, you found it, good on ya! Just click on that box and it'll play full screen on your monitor. Cool, no?

There's a whole bunch of other controls and options for you to use and play with. Go on, have fun!

PS: I am disappointed with my readers... absolutely NO ONE realised that the lead singer and song writer from AC/DC (of which I bastardised the lyrics of the song Big Balls to become Big Claws) hailed from the same little town in Western Australia as did Sir James Barrie.

Ok, maybe that one was just a bit obscure...

Monday, March 30, 2009

There And Back Again. Chapter Five: The Black Gate Is Closed

Before we even think about starting with this post, here's a beaut pic of the goal:

Just click on it for full sizedness, you'll be happy.


But first, let's have just another picture of a sawdust-stuffed cat-hide thingy that no taxidermist would ever take credit for:
mr flopalotofit

And how's abouts a big ole aussie shout out to a bloke who hails from Peter Pan land?
big claws
I've got big claws
I've got big claws
They're such big claws
And they're dirty big claws
And he's got big claws
And she's got big claws
But we've got the biggest claws of them all!

So my query to you (I think I'm up to 13 readers now, woo-hoo!) is what is the connection betwixt Peter Pan and the claws of a cockatoo? No more hints from moi, so start your googling fingers!

Back to the show, cus the show must go on.

Upon our arrival in Naracoorte, we drove to a motel. A motel with which I had previously (like 2 months previous) made bookings for YT and WP. They have BBQ facilities and microwave ovens in each room. That suited us just fine since I had already prepared a meal that only needed to be nuked upon our arrival.

Food for the ensuing two mornings was gonna be eggs, bacon, toast, etc. The evening meal on the second day was also ready to be cooked.

This particular motel (not naming names) is situated right smack dab in the middle of hustlin' bustlin' Naracoorte. It also had a "No Vacancy" sign out front and that made me happy that we had reservations (in every sense of the word).

Hmmmm, Mr Downes? No, I can't find that name at all. Could it perhaps be under another name?

Needless to say, the conversation to check in did not go as planned. I was nice. So was WP. In fact, she was the first to point out that even if the owner (who I spoke with on the phone) did show up and remember me or my accent (almost ten years now and no aussie accent at all) that there wouldn't be room anyways since they are booked out.

We certainly didn't want to toss someone out, and they could find no record of us ever making a booking or giving them a cc number for the deposit.

Fortunately, everything always works out for me. Has for the last 5 decades.

We always travel with me little ole campstove. It's neat, compact, and cheap. Folds up to the size of a small briefcase, and that includes the butane cartridge. I made five meals offa that puppy on this trip and didn't even need to put a fresh butane cartridge in it.

I also noted a few other motels on our way into "town". Two of them had vacancy signs posted. And there was even a caravan park (love em!!!). And a big ole swimmin' hole with bbq facilities!

No worries mates!

We ended staying at a Comfort Inn. However, this was not a normal Comfort Inn. This Inn was the VERY ORIGINAL INN FROM THE SCOTTISH FOUNDER OF NARACOORTE. You can read all about it here.

The ole WM (William Macintosh) didn't have bbq or any cooking type stuff, so we thought we'd have a looksie through town to find a barbie. Turns out that we ate 4 meals over by the big swimmin' hole that had a barbie (too slow though, used me own cooker) and a fairly sizable swimmin' hole.

The swimmin' hole in Naracoorte is very cool. Size of 7 oly-pools it is. Yep, neato:
gone swimming

Never woulda found this place if the reservations hadn't been lost. See? It all works out, dunna why but it just does.

There's also a great tile mosiac on the crappers by the pool. Have a look:
large mosiac

I think the artist had a huge supply of disused tiles cus she made awesome stuff out of rejects:
mosiac closup

Here's where we is, just click on the pics to bring em up full size:

And I just HAD to git the crayola crayons out :)

And just cus I think overhead fotos (like, maybe, birdseye?) are neat, here's where we wuz:

Oops, gotta git the paint out:

Just a gentle reminder to y'all: if you want to see a pic larger than life then just click it!

And here are two reasons to continue along with the saga --just click the pics for big ole huge full-sized goodness!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

There And Back Again; Chapter Four, Keith to Naracoorte

On The Doorstep

But of course since this is my blog and my travel-log, I get to put in whatever the heck I want. So y'all's'in's will just hafta put up with TWO (count them) pictures which do not pertain to the trip to Naracoorte.

The first picture happens to be of the black furry object that I keep around. Every once in a while I toss it's useless hide outside. It ends up in some positions you'd expect from a furry, useless, sawdust-filled, no-brained, large-fanged, critter.

See for yourself:
flopped cat
Notice the bits of grass on his left flank? That's cus when I tossed his butt outside he landed on his left side, overturned as he skidded along the lawn, and then slid to a stop upon his right side.

Cockatoos are much bigger than rainbow lorikeets:
more birds
See the bloke hanging on to the feeder upside down? I've seen the cockatoos do that too.

Let's join our intrepid explorers as they leave Keith on their way to Naracoorte!

Here's the standard view the driver sees (and has seen, and will continue to see) for the next gazillion kilometres --that's around 3,141,592,653,589,793 miles, but who's counting?
Does anyone want some pie?

As usual (and as all awesomely great fantasy writers do) I've provided you with a map:
keith to naracoorte

As usual, I just really felt the need to scrawl all over it:
keith to naracoorte painted
Doesn't that help?

Notice that since this is kinda like a graphical topo map (terrain map?) there's some various ridges. See how the ridges are kinda, like, sorta lined up along some axis that, just a bit, looks like it might be parallel to the coast? Hmmmmmm, perhaps a few million years ago each one of the ridges could have been coastline? And the fact that they are not only limestone, but that they are so recent (meaning within 5 to 20 million years or so) that there are still some non-solutionised (I made that word up) shells in the limestone matrix????? Here, let me help you see the ridges:
keith to naracoorte old shores

Science class has now been dismissed, let's move on to Padthaway. Their main store has really good ice cream, BTW.

Don't blink!
welcome to padthaway

Padthaway is a very large, thriving metropolis of 218 folk. Hmmmmm, too big for me. They have some an awesomely great sh*tload amount of ground water and also have some really cool modern artsy-fartsy type stuff.

Here's a picture of downtown Padthaway:
downtown padthaway

This is "where it all happens" at Padthaway. From right to left, there's a phone booth, then a liquor store, the post office, a trash bin, the store (which also includes a deli), a petrol (gasoline) pump, a trailer to live in, a picnic area, and finally a shed.
more downtown padthaway

I just love the bowser (fuel pump) being on the sidewalk!

As we leave Padthaway, we see lots and lots and lots of vines:
more vines

This next section may bore you a bit, so I'll just post a pic of the information board on the outskirts of Naracoorte upon our arrival:
we have arrived

Do you think that the motel in "downtown" Naracoorte would have our reservations on file? You know, this place that has a sign in the window stating "No Vacancy"?

You're right; they didn't!

Stay tuned campers :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

There And Back Again. Chapter Three: Tailem to Keith

Before I get started with today's travel post about our Naracoorte trip, how's about a parrot picture? This is not one of my better parrot pics. Well at least as far as quality is concerned. The sun was just rising so only the top half of the galah is in the sun, whereas I had the camera set for the lorikeets that were in the shade below him.

However, it is a really cool pose by all them buggas. Does anyone want to take a crack at a caption? Just leave a comment with your caption, no worries.

gimme a title

See? Isn't it just begging for a cool caption?

Next up: The Cat!

This picture of His Royal Highness, Lord and Master of All He Surveys, Prince Bagheera should confirm to you that I really don't have a live cat. I just have a cat-shaped skin with fur on it filled with sawdust that I toss around the yard and take pictures of...

Back to the trip to the caves!

Here's the closeup map of this leg:
tailem to keith

And of course I just had to get the crayons out:
tailem to keith painted

If you look at the map of the overall trip
overall painted
you'll notice this leg is longer than the first two legs combined. Why is that, you ask? Cus there's just not that much there.

And it's flat.

And the road's in good nick.

So is the car.

Speed limit is 110 kph (70 mph) which means you can safely do 75 mph before the cops even glance at you.

Did I mention that WP's 25 year old four door sedan got 30 mpg during this trip? And it was loaded with all our crap too.

We did have one bloke pass us doing at least 150 kph. We looked at each other and said, "Gee, he must be trawling for a police car." Sure enough, 15 minutes later we passed him as he was pulled over on the side of the road. A car with spinning blue and red lights on top was pulled over with him too. Yup, that's one way to meet a cop!

Remember, we are heading to Naracoorte so see things like this:
go away

But just what is at Coonalpyn? This is the place we took a quick leg-stretch at, BTW.

Well, for starters there is a sign:

And there's lots of grain silos:
grain silo 01

There's a railroad that runs past the back of the silos for loading:
grain silo 02

Keep in mind Coonalpyn is not a big town. It's rather small. And yet these massive silos greeted us all the way down to Keith.

Hmmmmmmm, what could they be storing?

Turns out the region around Keith --of which Coonalpyn is part of-- is known as The Lucerne Capital of Australia. Lucerne is often referred to as The King of Fodders. In fact, this region is the largest lucerne growing region in the entire Southern Hemisphere!

What is Lucerne? You may know it as alfalfa.

All those hundreds of huge silos we drove past? Full of alfalfa seeds. To be exported all over the world. And the alfalfa hay makes awesomely great cattle feed.

The town of Keith really makes a big to-do about them above facts, and rightly so. The area used to be called The Ninety Mile Desert. Till someone found out what trace minerals are missing from the soil and just what kind of fertilizer is needed to grow train loads of alfalfa.

And then when the discovered the underground aquifer that can pump out over 100,000 litres per minute without damaging the water table... Well, you can sorta guess how quickly the agriculture took hold here 50 years ago.

Now, most of the area was native scrub. Which means that some really hard-working blokes recently back from WW II had to clear quite a bit of scrub. No, these weren't forests as it was very poor soil. This is one of the very few times that me (as a die-hard enviro type) agrees with what was done.

Anyways, the blokes worked very very very hard. So (obviously) there should be some kind of monument to their trials and tribulations as they toiled in the desert scrub.

Naturally it had to be "different".





pole rover

Yup, that's a land rover on a pole! And it's a real one too. Check out this closeup (just click on the pic to see the detail!)

Keith was a very nice town. And very GREEN! I haven't seen this much greenery since I've been down here (9 years now). Cool.

And lastly, a couple of shots to remind everyone of where we are headed on this journey:
just too cool
The bloke standing up is a marsupial lion which has been extinct for a long, long time. You can probably guess what the other critter is.

Does anyone remember the Far Side cartoon entitled "How Nature Says DO NOT TOUCH"? There's four panels, one of a porcupine with it's quills up, another with a rattlesnake rattling it's rattler, I forget the third, and the fourth was something like a bloke with a shotgun.

Does anyone remember that? Well, here's the ancient world's way of saying DO NOT TOUCH:

Ya just GOTTA click on this for the full-sized image!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

There And Back Again: Chapter Two; Strath to Tailem Bend

or you might call this chapter "Flight To The Ford", but then again you might not. Although we did defintely hurry our way along to the Faerie Crossing, we certainly weren't fleeing anything. Unless you count putting as many kilometres betwixt ourselves (in the car, it's mobile) and the homestead as possible without blowing an engine...

Here's a pic of the area we traversed. Just click on it so you can see it full size, no worries.

Oh, but wait! What's that you say? You have no idea what route we took??? Gosh, I am sorry and I do apologise profusely. Here, let me help:

Go ahead, click the map. No worries mate.

Here's a pic of the prize we are chasing after:
Click on it, I dare ya. I double dare ya! Harumph... wuss.

Bee-four we get to any of that cool stuff, we first must depart from the parking lot at the middle of Strath. However, I was distracted by these two buggas:
fornicating bugs at strath
Yes, I do tend to notice (and get distracted by) tiny, weird critters doing their tiny, weird critter thingy --at least that's what WP calls it, ahem.

The drive along the northern coast of the lake.

Doesn't this look thrilling?
langhorne creek
Why, look! More vines!

My gosh! A dry lake! Do you think we are in the middle of a DECADE-LONG drought?
another dry lake
Naaaaa, it's just "seasonal"...

I was bored, so shall you be. THHBBTTTT!
fun drive

falling asleep

Now, this next picture will totally blow you away! This is the end all, be all, picture that there ever was!






thriliing view

And here is absolute PROOF that I see the world through Rose-Tinted Glasses!
staying awake

Oh No! The Faerie is shut down till noon today! Hmmmmmm, guess even fairies need some dregding out every once in a while.

This is where we want to go:

Let's just zoom in a bit on that thar far shore...
closeup destination

Of course we had to wait for the dredging to finish. That means I got to take some pics of the town centre of Wellington. Yes, the Courthouse has it all!
bustling wellington

Yo, Ish! Can you find out how may pounds of gold that is?
lotta gold

Hmmmmmm, nope. Still workin'. Of course one of those blokes on the left NEVER moved from his/her perch for hours. Damn. If I had to work, then that'd be the job.
rinse and repeat

I'm reminded of the Fort Knox construction days...
ferry crossing

Please notice the blokes hard at work. Sorta reminds me of home...

Fast-forward past another boring part... and we are in Tailem Band. Look! They even have a train:
tailem bend 01

And the obligatory pub:
tailem bend 02

What's a country town without a drive-thru boozateeria?
tailem bend 03

At those prices, I'm very glad we brought our on cooler full of homebrew!

Just a reminder as to WHY I'm doing this:

Just click on the pic to expand it all the way up to its full-sized, technicolor glory! Why? Cus these are just sooooooooo cool!