The Big Lap - Mount Gambier, Mt Schank, Port MacDonnell

Photo taken at Riddoch Bay near Port MacDonnell



We chose to stay at Mount Schank just 15min south of Mount Gambier and in between Mount Gambier and Port MacDonnell.  More about Mountt Schank later.

Mount Gambier and surrounds are above a massive underground river system.  There are also a lot of extinct volcanos.  As such, there are a lot of sinkholes in this area and blue lakes due to the limestone deposits.  Divers love it here.  In fact it is where the divers that rescued the boys trapped in the underground Thailand cave came from.  

The Blue Lake is located right in town and is an extinct volcano.  The water is indeed a deep blue.  There is a paved path all around the Blue Lake where we saw plenty of people getting their exercise.  The road also goes around the lake and has plenty of lookouts for a good photo opportunity.  See pix below.

On the drive from Beachport to Mount Gambier there is a ton of pine forrests.  It was nice to drive through.  Then the scenery changed to natural forrest with tall trees and plenty of bush.  A nice change from much of the desert and savannah type landscape that we have come through going down the centre of Australia.  Excuse the photos as I was taking through a dirty car front window.

We had a nice lunch at the Commercial Hotel in town.  They had a salad bar too with plenty to choose from to accompany our meal that we thought was a great idea.  The staff were friendly and food was nice.  I would recommend this pub.

We wanted to visit another cenote or sinkhole and chose Hells Hole not too far out of town.  The scenery driving there was nice and the path leading up to the sinkhole.  If you suffer from vertigo or are scared of heights, it's probably not the place for you.  Hubby had to get me to take photos on his camera for him and he does not like heights.  You go out onto a platform that jutts out over the sinkhole so it is a bit scarey.  It's difficult to get a good shot because there are bars all around.  I took a video which probably shows it better than the photos.  See below.



We stayed in the free campground next to the Bellum Hotel.  This is a popular place and got quite busy.  I gave the Bellum Hotel a 5 star Google rating as it ticked all of our boxes.  You need to be self contained as there are no facilities available outside pub hours.  Pub opens at 12 noon.

The meals that we had here were restaurant quality.  Thanks to the chef.  She was actually in the bar when we arrived, so a jack of all trades.  I had a little play with my Lensbaby Edge 35 lens here.  Excuse all of the photos but I like them.  😉

  Highly recommend staying here.

Opposite the Bellum Hotel is the turn off to the Little Blue Lake, a cenote in the middle of nowhere.  It's just a few k's down the road in amongst the farmland.  Popular little spot and very picturesque.  When we arrived there were a couple of guys jumping off the cliff.  They were in wet suits which shows that the water here is very cold.  We didn't go for a swim as it was not warm enough for us, but there were a few brave people jumping in off the pontoon.  There was a lady from the ABC with a drone documenting the sinkhole.  A great place for photography.




This is probably the closest town to the Victorian border.  Port MacDonnell claims to be the lobster capital.  So of course we had to taste the local lobsters.  OMG!!  More about that later.

Our first introduction to Port MacDonnell was the beach esplanade.  We spied a fish and chip shop across the road from the beach and couldn't wait to taste the local seafood.  OMG!  Heaven!!  

Parade Fish & Chip Shop is bright blue.  You can't miss it.  We cannot speak more highly of the feed we had here.  The fish is the freshest we have had for a long time.  The potato scollops are cooked perfectly.  And the seafood scollops!  The best I have EVER tasted!  5 Star review on Google.  
We had our seafood lunch across the road at the beachfront park.  Seagulls got nothing! 😉

Heading west along the beach front, Port MacDonnell looks like a sleepy little fishing village.  We reckon however, that this place 'goes off' in the summer holidays.  

We drove up and around the rugged coast line called Cape Northumberland.  There were lookouts dotted along the coastline and you can park up on these for a free overnighter if you are fully sufficient.  It was very windy though and there were warning signs everywhere advising not to get too close to the unstable cliffs.  

The views however were absolutely stunning.  The water is a deep blue and dotted with white water waves where there were reefs.  Great for photography.



As I said before, Port MacDonnell calls itself the lobster capital.  So we just had to grab a local lobster.  My tongue was hanging out!

We picked up a reasonably priced one at Five Star Seafoods in town and a couple of fresh lemons.  You can tell the lemons were fresh off the tree as they had the fresh smell and were very juicy.  So different to the lemons that you buy from the shop.  Anyway, I do not need to tell you how good the lobster was!  You will see it from the photos below.  I am drooling right now just remembering our lobster lunch.

I found Brown Beach quite a while ago on a Google and Wiki Camps research.  We changed the itinerery a few times and so I had to discover it all over again.  We are glad that we stayed here overnight.  It's free in the carpark, toilets are there and the beach is awesome.  It was a 35C day so we went for a couple of swims.  It's been a while since I have been into the surf and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It was sooo good.

We stopped off at Riddoch Bay for a photo shoot.  The surf here is relatively calm and the view is gorgeous.   Header photo was taken here.  Close by I spied the big Fairy Penguins.  Well it's probably not a 'real' Big Thing, but since here is where you can view the fairy penguins, I had to get hubby to stop so that I could get a photo as we didn't see any for real.  

So, as I said, we stayed in the Brown Beach carpark for a night free.  There were midgees here but they disappeared once the sun went down.  You can drive down onto the beach but be careful as there are places where the sand is soft.  We watched one guy get bogged.  It's a popular surf beach.  Got a little windy late at night.  We were the only ones camping overnight so that was good.  


Brown Beach was our last stop before the Victoria border.  Next stop will be at Koroit in Victoria.

We will now need to be careful as all of the places that we have been to up until now have been relatively COVID safe.  We know that we will eventually contact it.  You would have to be stupid not to think this.  

However, we will now need be extra careful.  I have taken to wiping my face mask with tea tree oil as at least I can smell something better than cotton.  Errr, grose.   And I plan to pick up some nice smells to put onto my face mask.  Wearing one of them is so clostophobic for me unless it smells nice.  😉



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