Friday, November 2, 2012

Fri 2 Nov - Naracoorte SA

We woke up to an overcast, but a lot milder morning.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast from the excellent camp kitchen and the excellent camp chef (aka Camp Chef of the year 2012, Hans' somewhat biased opinion).

There were some interesting vehicles at the campground...
We decided to delay wine tasting a day and instead explore some of the local natural features - Naracoorte World Heritage listed fossil caves and Bool Lagoon bird reserve. Both were excellent.
We started at Naracoorte Caves National Park and had an hour spare so thought we would do a short "hike" of 1.6km return to the "Limestone Cliffs". Both these proved a bit of an overstatement. The hike was partly trying to follow a long overgrown grass path down to the cliffs which turned out to the limestone blocks or walls only about 3 meters high! Funniest part is you are pushing through the long grass and all of a sudden there is a sign with a hand in the stop position and announces the "hike ends here". What???

The most interesting element was a tree that apparently had been split apart by lightning and now was blocking the path.
Here is Di outside the Visitor's Centre with a dipotridon(?), another large animal roaming these woods once upon a time...
The one hour tour of the Victoria Cave was led by a really knowledgable guide (and she sounded like a kiwi??) and our group of 6 spent the first half of the tour having the cave features pointed out and explained, the features were all well preserved, then into the second part of the cave to hear and see the fossil remains of long extinct animals known as Australia's Megafauna.
Modern day kangaroos, wombats, echidnas lived beside their giant cousins - giant tree eating kangaroo, giant wombat and giant echidnas. The giants died out after the arrival of humans to Australia 60,000 years ago.
The modern day kangaroos have been tested against ancient fossil bones from more than 200,000 years ago with no signs of further evolution of changes. They were exactly as you see them today.
The fossil cave is enormous which is one of the reasons that that the park has World Heritage listings. It is some 60 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2-6 meters deep. Only 5% has been uncovered but has already shown 100 species collected in the cave (by poor animals falling into the holes in the roof of the caves and then not being able to get out), which happened continuously from 500,000 years ago up to 213,000 years ago. The bones ended up mixed and in layers. Really very interesting and no wonder that this area is a protected world heritage site.
After a morning tea break outside Naracoorte Caves National Park Visitor Centre, we headed over to Bool Lagoon and National Park to explore their boardwalks and the area. Very important ecological zone for wading birds, rare legless lizards and frogs. Birds were everywhere and the swans, with their cygnets, herons and swamp harriers looked great.
On the first boardwalk, the walk ended up at this little hut, which one could normally go into. However, there were a few warning signs on the door, about "beware of bees". We stayed outside and then went back.
We did a second walk where the boardwalk took to us through a path through very high reeds and then got warnings about snakes - Browns and Copperheads live here. We walked more cautiously after that. We did catch a glimpse of a snake leaving the path at the end of our walk but up to that point we had been stomping just to be sure.
We finished off our visit to the Bool National Park and wetlands with a lovely picnic lunch by the lagoon and then into town to find free wifi at the public library for more blogging.
As we were at Naracoorte Public Library typing away, a text message arrived from young Jeremy... He got his first job... at KFC. Fantastic!!!

Dinner will be pasta boscaiola with red wine at the end of a very relaxing and interesting and again, different day.

However, when Di went ahead of Hans to the excellent camp kitchen to prepare for dinner, the kitchen was hogged by a very large crowd of rowdy seniors (we heard later that they were 2 motorcycle clubs meeting).

Di overheard one of the female participants saying "pity anybody coming here for a quiet dinner". Di just turned around and went back to our campervan. Hans then went back to the camp kitchen to pick up a few things from the communal fridge and one of the ladies came up and apologised for "scaring away your wife". No worries. It was nicer to have dinner by the campervan anyway.


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