Oct 2012 – Portland & Mt Gambier Tour

Report by: John Davies, Eric Chaney & Michael Dwyer
Photos: Gordon Lindqvist

The week began with a muster meeting on Saturday evening over happy hour drinks in the camp kitchen of the Portland Tourist Park.

On Sunday, fifteen hardy souls braved the cold and windy conditions for a ride towards Cape Grant, ably led by Gordon. A close up encounter with the Alcoa Smelter was soon upon us, before continuing along the coast. A brief stop at picturesque Yellow Rock allowed time for photos and, for those with no sense of smell, a quick visit to the disgusting toilets. Lunch was at Cape Nelson, where the south westerleys were at their fiercest. Some braved the elements to explore the lighthouse and surrounding cliffs, some took shelter in Isabella’s café, while Gil managed to find a soft mattress of pigface for a catnap out of the wind.

On the return journey, the numerous wind turbines bore testament to the challenges faced by cyclists around the Portland area. A relaxing BBQ was a fitting end to the days labours.

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Monday’s ride was a complete contrast to that of yesterday. Quite simply, it was perfect in every way, and ably led by David. It began with a brisk ride to the north, along the coast, much of it aptly named Dutton Way!, before turning inland towards Gorae. The wind free conditions were most welcome, while the ride was led at a pace that suited everyone. David and Marilyn had chosen a supurb relaxing lunch spot in a forest setting. The familiar rolling hills on the return home provided excellent cycling.

The happy hour that followed the ride was notable for Di’s cut hand – a result of her attempts to recover broken glass out of the camp washing machine!

Thankfully, Bernie was fit again to lead Tuesday’s ride, which began in a westward direction towards the Bridgewater Lakes. After only a few kilometres, David suffered a cut tyre-courtesy of VicRoads-which unfortunately required that he and Marilyn returned to camp. Once again the ride was accompanied by strong winds and rolling hills. Coffee stop was on a wind free boardwalk at Bridgewater Lakes with lunch on the cliffs at Bishops Rock. Another idyllic spot, surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings, chosen this time by Bernie and Carmon.

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Di, Eric and Michael were missing at lunch, having chosen to explore Bridgewater and the surrounding white knuckle coastal paths.The day ended with a pizza night in the camp kitchen, preceeded by a callisthenics demonstation by Michael.

In summary, Portland and its surrounds had provided spectacular scenery, some challenging rolling hills, and yes, some windy conditions.

We all packed up and left Portland Caravan Park. We said goodbye to Carolyn & Bruno, Sue & Alan all of who had other commitments. The Portland Tourist Park http://www.holidayvillage.com.au/ (select “Tourist Park”) is one of the best we have used for any Tour.

The journey of just over 100km to Mt Gambier in Motor Vehicles was uneventful. On the way Di and Eric had a fantastic tranquil paddle up the Glenelg River at Nelson; the Bush is right to the river’s edge on both banks, the river had little current and was glassy smooth. There were no motor boats to disturb the serenity, birds were the only sound, a seal was fishing near the main road bridge. Di has her own Kayak and Eric hired a tub-like Kayak at Nelson.

We arrived at Kalganyi Holiday Park at the northern extremity of Mt Gambier. Kalganyi now has the bonus of a new large shopping mall right next door. Our regular evenings get together provided an opportunity to convivially resolve the problems of planet earth with widely different philosophies.

Horizontal rain showers caused the Thursday ride to be deferred to Friday. Everybody went exploring by bicycle or car in the afternoon after the showers reduced in intensity and frequency. David and Marilyn viewed a film at the Mt Gambier Discovery Centre that showed graphically and succinctly how the geology of the region evolved the Blue lakes and sink holes – a recommended attraction to visit. Bev and Gordon reviewed the History of the region at the library. Di, Gill, Michael and Eric rode around the sink holes, circumnavigated the three crater lakes including riding down to Valley Lake. The Umpherston Sinkhole Gardens being the best showcase of the sunken gardens.

Slowly abating showers and winds greeted us on Friday Morning. We left camp at 10am with Marilyn Partington leading us on good sealed roads through farmland and forest to a fabulous bush picnic at Telford Scrub Conservation Park. The lunch site was equipped with tables and a bush board walk. The return journey started with a forest dirt road, very pleasant and sheltered. Then a sealed road with undulations turned into the steady wind. An enjoyable outing, despite the random wind gusts and light showers. Thank you to the Partingtons for a well-researched ride.GL3_2012-10-26_GL_P1140296

The roads around Mt Gambier are good and in general, little trafficked. Travelling south to Mt Shank, we passed through more beautiful countryside, rich soils and green, green, green. As we learnt from all the tourist brochures, it was once very volcanic; there are no volcanic mountains to ride up but just lots of little hills and Mt Shank is really one of these. And lots of undulations, and then more.

We rode to Mt Shank and some hardy souls including the stalwart Trevor, decided to walk up it. The others waited and discussed such weighty matters as photo shots and how the aborigines had legends of active volcanos. This meant their history went back four and a half thousand years.

Gordon and Bev arrived by car for lunch at Mt Shank; no seats, what woe. We then got going to visit some more sink holes. Two decided enough was enough and took the main road home with a rousing tail wind.

The get together that night was in Gil, Di and Michaels chalet where everyone could gather for happy hour and nibbles. Yet another good day.

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