“Do you want a photo of the lobster?” John asked. “I can pull over.” We had passed through Robe and stopped for coffee. It was a delightful experience because of the shop owner. It was her first day in business and she was excited and happy. We praised her coffee and wished her well. The answer to John’s question was yes and no. And as you can see, yes won.
Why was it a split decision? Because of the lady in the coffee shop. When I write about a destination that’s less than magical, I am always aware of two issues. First, just because I don’t especially like a place doesn’t mean it isn’t heaven to someone else. Secondly, just because I’m not touring the Taj Mahal doesn’t mean I’m not having a good time and meeting wonderful people, in this case small-town Australians.
Our journey began that morning in Mount Gambier, South Australia’s 2nd largest city. We had planned to check out its #1 tourist attraction, Blue Lake, which sounded a lot like Oregon’s Crater Lake, but we didn’t. The weather was miserable, a cold and rainy mid-autumn July morning. Also, John and Trish, our travel mates, had seen it before. The Lake was the #1 “Must See & Do” in The Limestone Coast magazine. “Tour the Blue Lake and learn the mystery of the colour change,” it enthused, “and drive or walk around the Blue Lake crater rim and enjoy the spectacular views.”
We were soon driving The Limestone Coast between the 5-compass Great Ocean Road and the 5-compass wine country south and east of Adelaide and seeing emus in the bush. The first town was Millicent, home of the Bandits baseball club and a Kimberly Clark paper mill. Millicent seemed to be all about sports, which is not too surprising in sports mad Australia. Millicent’s sister city is Seguin, Texas.
On to Beachport, which has the 2nd longest jetty in South Australia. Other attractions include Salt Lake and, according to Wikipedia, boobialla scrub. To my knowledge, I saw neither.
The giant lobster’s just outside Robe. Its “Must See & Do” list includes: take the self guided Heritage Walk through the town (quaint cottages), see the Chinese Monument, visit Cape Dombey and take a photo of the famous obelisk, go fishing! I did none of these because I was drinking coffee (order a long black to get an approximation of what Americans like) and spending time in the impressive, new-looking visitors’ centre. I did, however, get a photo of the big guy on the Princes Highway outside a restaurant named, unsurprisingly, The Big Lobster (…the most mouthwateringly delicious of all Australia’s big Things” its ad promises).
On to Kingston. Although a bit sleepy and nondescript, Kingston animated John because his father and our great friend, Robert, worked in its post office as a young man. As an adult, John had spent some time here so we had a nostalgic, slow drive around town. My only vivid memory of Kingston is standing on a promontory overlooking Gulf Saint Vincent in wind so strong that I was unintentionally walking.
The 2-lane Princes between Kingston and Wellington was more than 100 miles of nothing, a Kansas straight road with mostly brackish, still water views to the left and flat scrubland to the right. The map told me it was Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal land.
At Wellington we crossed the swift flowing but narrow mouthed Murray (Australia’s Mississippi River) on a ferry in about 5 minutes and headed for Langhorne Creek, a town that looked exactly like a crossroads village in rural Illinois to me. Here the day perked up.
To be continued tomorrow.