We’re on the road – Day 20 Lakes, timber, wine and thunderstorms

Blue Lake, Mt Gambier
Blue Lake, Mt Gambier

Before we left Mt Gambier today we had one last place to visit – the famous Blue Lake. One of four crater lakes in the region, only two remain as the water table has dropped over the last 30 to 40 years. The Blue Lake is a large monomictic crater lake located in a dormant volcanic maar. There are conflicting opinions about its last eruption, dates ranging from 28,000 to 4,300 to 6,000 years ago. With an average depth of 72 metres with its bottom being 30 metres below the level of the main street of Mt Gambier. The Blue Lake supplies the town with drinking water. From December through to March the lake changes colour to a vibrant cobalt blue. The rest of the year it is a steel grey. Exactly what causes this colour change is not clear. However, it is thought to have something to do with the warmer water temperature in summer months causing a calcium carbonate to precipitate out of solution . The micro crystallites thus formed result in a scatter of the blue wavelengths of sunlight. It is a brilliant blue in colour. With a circumference of a modest 1.5 kilometres it is a popular place for people to go walking and jogging.

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It was time to move on. There would have been plenty more to see but that will have to wait for another time. We wanted to visit a Forestry Museum in Nangwarry. The south east of SA is well known for its timber industry. Many European migrants settled and worked there, including lots of Finns.  Dad at the time was the pastor for all the Finnish Lutherans living in SA so he made regular trips there for baptisms, wedding, funerals, church services. I went along many a time with my parents. The largest Finnish family to emigrate here settled in Nangwarry with their 16 children in a tiny little wooden house. I remember visiting them many years ago and wondering how the parents kept track of all the kids. They seemed to be everywhere! Our guide at the museum, a Dutchman, settled there in 1958. He worked in both the forest and factories, preferring the outdoors. A wealth of information, he also knew many of the Finns. It was an interesting visit for us.

SE pine plantations
SE pine plantations

The South East of SA is iconic for its production of forests and extensive wood processing industry, which is the largest regionally-based manufacturing industry in the State. SA has about 188 110 hectares of plantation forests. Of this 128 400 hectares are softwood, (mostly radiata pine) and 59 710 hectares are hardwood, (mostly Tasmanian blue gum). About 2.5 million cubic metres of softwood logs are harvested in SA annually which is equivalent to the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

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Sadly, as we were informed by our verbose guide, many of the factories have been closed down and production moved elsewhere. We import woodchips to China. And buy it back as paper!

Here’s a bit of trivia for you –

• There are 17 trees in an average house frame. • One tree can produce a dining table and six chairs. • A timber floor for an average house uses three trees. . • One pine tree can produce 2 000 rolls of toilet paper. At its height Nangwarry had two factories producing ice cream sticks two shifts a day, seven days a week. One pine tree can produce 2 000 rolls of toilet paper.

SE wine growing region - Coonawarra
SE wine growing region – Coonawarra

Having spent way longer than intended at Nangwarry, we were keen to move on. We’d left breakfastless and hunger pains were biting. As were heading into the south eastern famous wine growing region of Coonawarra brunch in a winery seemed the thing to do. This is the view out of our restaurant window where we lunched on a sumptuous feast of lamb and chicken roulade. As I was not driving I indulged in a glass of the wine matched with my lamb dish. A deliciously velvety deep red something or other.

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Established in the 1890’s the Coonawarra regions resembles that of Bordeaux in France and is renowned for its cabernet sauvignon and shiraz in particular. Approximately 130 vineyards and 28 wineries are located in the region. Coonawarra is aboriginal for ‘honeysuckle’.

Thunderstorms on the way home
Thunderstorms on the way home

As we neared Adelaide, we drove slap bang into a four cell thunderstorm about 60 kilometres out. Driving through the Adelaide hills was reminiscent of the horror drive in the Victorian Alps white out. Visibility was just as bad but didn’t last as long. It’s nice to be home. The dog is alive. The house is still standing.

©  Raili Tanska

15 thoughts on “We’re on the road – Day 20 Lakes, timber, wine and thunderstorms

  1. I remember going to the blue lake as a kid, l can still remember the visit the lake was blue back then would have been about 41 years ago so would have been about 10 years old then, l have so enjoyed your trip reading along as you went on your holidays.

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