Mt Gambier! The Portland of Australia

Ahh, Mt Gambier.  The second largest city in South Australia.  Believe me, that's not saying much.  South Australia is not exactly a thriving metropolis kind of state.  But Mt Gambier is really quirky, and that's why I love it.  It's about a 5-hour drive from Melbourne, and we stayed there overnight on our way to Kangaroo Island.  I had been there once before with friends and couldn't wait to show Phil its wonders.  The drive there is a bit boring, other than the Grampians there's not much but paddocks and trees.  Throw in a holiday weekend and even the sleepy fuel stop towns are all closed up.  The Maccas (McDonalds) however was complete chaos.
The Grampians
Mt Gambier and the Limestone Coast region is in an extinct volcanic area, giving it some interesting topography.  Lots of conical mountains over a bed of old limestone, and then throw in a few caves - over 600 to be exact.  We decided to explore these unique features, and first up was the Engelbrecht Cave.  The original cave owner used it as a dump but the city has since removed all the garbage and opened it up for visitors.  The entrance is right smack in the middle of town and a staircase took us down into the first of two chambers.  The main features of this cave are some pools that are known to be good diving spots.  The water is really clear and makes for good exploration.  The entrance to the second chamber is also down the main entry and has another pool down below.

The entrance to Engelbrecht Cave
Inside Engelbrecht Cave
Next we went to the Blue Lake, which, as you may have guessed, is a lake that is blue.  It's quite a strange neon shade of blue during the summer months, but with the cooler autumn weather the colour was headed towards its winter shade of grey.  It is a volcanic crater and holds the town's water supply.

Blue Lake
Then we took a peak at Cave Gardens, and it's much cooler relation the Umpherston Sink Hole.  This sink hole is bizarre.  Around a hundred years ago someone decided to turn it into a garden, and it now looks like the Secret Garden of sink holes.  There is a fountain on one end, lush gardens, and even a bbq and picnic table under a rock overhang.  There are also several beehives and lots of possums.  At night the sink hole is illuminated and people bring fruit to feed the possums.

The Umpherston Sink Hole
My dad exploring the sink hole
My parents and I in the sink hole
After catching a bite to eat a really good local Thai restaurant, we headed to bed in preparation for the next day's drive towards Kangaroo Island.

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