Friday, 28 August 2009
Nelson to Robe - 21st August
That night, the wind that had been following us off and on since the Mornington Peninsula returned with a vengeance and quite a bit of rain. Given that we were in a little caravan park cabin, it probably sounded worse than it was, but it was enough to wake us both up. This did not bode well for the day ahead.
We woke up early that morning to take advantage of the hotplate and cook up a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. The wind had eased, but the day was still uncertain about what it wanted to be. The only definite was 'windy' and the clouds streamed overhead changing the day from grey to blue every couple of minutes. Amazingly, we had a window of no rain in which we were able to pack the car in relative dryness. We thought we'd broken the curse. However, the wind and the rain started again almost immediately and I had to run through the rain to return the keys to the woman who ran the park.
The drive from Nelson to Mount Gambier was again the awful kilometers of pine plantation and it was a relief to reach the city's outskirts. By now the weather had fined up again and we decided that the aquifer tour of the famous blue lake would be a good idea. This is a walking tour of the old pumping station right next to the large crater lake Mt Gambier uses for its water. By the time we started, the weather had changed again and down at the lowest point they take you to, it actually began to hail. Just little tiny bits of ice, but enough to completely chill us and to ruin any photographs of the blue lake which looked decidedly grey. By the time we'd got back to the top however, it was fine again. Kooky.
After this, we'd had enough of touristy stuff and decided it would be nice just to head off to our hotel room in Robe, so we left Mt Gambier and got back on the Princes Highway. The area we were driving though is called The Limestone Coast by the tourist board of South Australia. Taking out the fact the Coonawarra is just north of Mt Gambier and the odd limestone cave here and there, the area and in particular the town of Milicent is overwhelming uninspiring. Especially after The Great Ocean Road. It wasn't 'til we got off the highway and headed towards the coast again to a tiny town called Beachport that the drive again became pleasant. We stopped at Beachport for a break and did the tourist drive outside and around the little town which has amazing views of the coastline. The wind however, made the sea more threatening than anything else and we didn't stop to take a closer look. I imagine in summer the place must be glorious. From there we drove on up to Robe beside what look to be lakes on the map (and indeed are called lakes - Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza) but are really just large, flat dry areas at the moment.
The town of Robe is tiny and you are in the main part before you realise. We'd booked in to a pub called The Caledonian which is an old pub with low ceilings. We'd booked in for two nights in the standard hotel rooms which are smallish rooms directly above the pub with shared bathrooms. After the drive of the last few days, we were pretty tired and Yvette took a nap while I had a bit of a look down the main street. Robe is obviously a tourist town and I would think in Summer becomes incredibly popular. The main street which isn't very long has a ridiculous number of overpriced, city-style restaurants, an exclusive menswear shop and a trendy homewares shop promising "beautiful objects for everyday living". I can't imagine any local wanting or needing these shops and yet there they are, lying in wait for the idiot fucking tourist who can't be satisfied with just going to a lovely country town and enjoying it for what it is. I don't know who's at fault - the people who set up these businesses exclusively for tourists at the expense of the feel of the town, or the small-minded, city-dwelling tourists themselves. Whoever it is, I wish they'd all just die in large, multiple pileups inside their city 4WDs.
I did a quick lap of the main street (which is only thing you can do in Robe) looking for somewhere that wasn't charging stupid money for dinner. Even the pub we were staying in had a 'chef' rather than a cook and were charging accordingly. I popped into the local pizzeria which doubled as the DVD rental shop for a coffee and after a quick look at the menu decided this would do nicely for dinner.
That night we had a couple of beers downstairs in the pub and then went across the road to the pizzeria for some surprisingly rather good pizza. I was still tired from the drive and didn't even stop for another beer on the way back to the room.
Posted by Ross at 16:42