Robe, Mount Gambier, Halls Gap
72 days away
433 km / 269 miles since last post
20,819 km / 12,936 miles total
We stayed in Robe for a little while this morning to check out the jagged coastline. It looked very rough, with some interesting sights including Doorway Rock and an obelisk construction.
After leaving Robe, we headed south towards Mount Gambier. Along the way we passed lots of pine tree plantations. It was quite weird to see huge forests of very neatly planted trees!
At Mount Gambier there are remains of Australia's volcanic history. The town sits just on the edge of an extinct volcano, in the centre of which is the amazing Blue Lake. In summer the lake is brilliant blue, although it does change colour depending on the season. We took a walk around the lookout area and decided to stop here for lunch. The weather has certainly cooled today, especially with the wind. It was a big change from the heat of the last few weeks.
Mount Gambier is only 16km from the state border of Victoria so we decided to press on. As we drove through the area of Casterton we saw some attractive countryside. We decided to head towards The Grampians National Park before the end of the day. However, just before Coleraine (our chosen route north to The Grampians) we were stopped by a police car and fire van. We had been hearing reports of bushfires in Victoria, and it turned out that this was the reason for being stopped. The officer advised us that we couldn't proceed as there was a bush fire ahead which had taken down power lines. He told us the alternative route, which meant backtracking 30km, but at least they seemed to have things under control.
We turned on the radio to listen for news and heard that a man had received 50% burns trying to release stock in Coleraine. They also advised that Melbourne was experiencing the highest temperature on record - 46.4 degrees! It became clear that the radio program we were listening to was an emergency broadcast, and the seriousness of the bushfires across Victoria was made very apparent.
The main bushfires were in the eastern part of the state and things appeared to be getting worse as time went on. At one point the radio announcer was taking calls from the public who were being affected. The most frightening was a woman who called saying that she was in the house with her children and could see fire at the end of her road. Eventually, we heard that she had made it out to a friend's house. However, another guy called up advising he was in the town of Kinglake. He said that there was no way out of the town as all the roads were blocked by fire and he had no way of fighting the fire himself. You could hear the panic in his voice which eventually disappeared as the phone line was cut off. The next thing we heard was that the entire town had virtually burnt to the ground. Very scary stuff.
We eventually made to Halls Gap in The Grampians. The campsite is very quiet and pretty and on arrival we spotted a few Crimson Rosella parrots by our van. We bought some seed from reception to feed them. The parrots were really cute and landed on your arms and hands to gobble the seed. The noisy cockatoos also wanted feeding, and in no time we were completely surrounded - it was quite amusing! We also noticed that in an open area right next to the campsite there were lots of kangaroos, we must have seen about 40 of them dotted around. We've never seen so many wild kangaroos in one place, it was amazing.