THIS IS A MUST SEE IN MT. GAMBIER
A Mr. James Umpherston had this large hole/cave beside his home. What to do with it? Make a garden of course, and so the stunning Cave Garden was built. In the 1800's there was water in the bottom where Mr Umpherston placed a boat, and went for a sail round the tiny lake.
IN 2012, the sinkhole has changed. A footpath winds its way to the bottom of the sinkhole, lined on the sides with ferns, shrubs and trees. The Lake has disappeared and creeper hangs over the edge of the cave, long enough to nearly touch the bottom.
The area is so lush, but not all is green, there were Hydrangea's adding colour to this beautiful scene.
This was the best sinkhole in Mt. Gambier
Another interesting display at the Umpherston Sinkhole, was of an old Wagon. This wagon was built by James Keegan of Mt Gambier in 1911 at a cost of £80 ($160)
Originally is was an Army Surplus Vehicle, then in 1968, was rebuilt for use as a Crane Truck. The vehicle was last registered in 1979 and was the last working Crane Truck still operable in the South East. The Crane Truck has been restored an is located on the side of the park, next to the Timber Museum.
In 1983, Australia experienced one of the worst Bushfires in history, one which will always be remembered as the "Ash Wednesday Fire."
In the Umpherstone Sinkhole Park where you can enjoy a picnic, I saw logs that had been made into seating, what a good idea! Then I noticed the sign, which told me these logs had been recovered from trees killed by the fires on 14.2.83, and stored under water in Lake Bonney until 1987. After removal from water storage logs were sawn, dried and preservative treated to act as a lasting reminder of the fire devastation and subsequent salvage operation in the forest plantations.
The Umpherston Sinkhole park is located right beside the highway. There was parking beside the highway, so this is where we stopped.
Just a we entered the Park, we came across an unusual sculpture, thank goodness there was a sign describing what it was about, otherwise I wouldn't have guessed!
The Sculpture was completed in 1997 by Ivo Tadic, who was inspired by the geological process of rainwater dissolving limestone over millions of years, thus creating the regions sinkholes and caves.
This is the explanation of the sculpture.......
"The top section of the sculpture represents sinkholes that are open to the sky. The middle section represents hidden fissures created by solution of limestone and the lower section represents limestone prior to any solution activity."
The sculpture is made from Mt. Gambier Limestone, probably formed 15-40 million years ago and is composed of fragments of marine animals. The limestone blocks are strengthened by twin steel columns embedded in a concrete footing.
The Odeon Theatre, a style of Theatre I can remember well! This one was known originally as the Capitol Theatre when it opened on 4th April 1928. I can imagine how "posh" it must have been as seating was provided in orchestra and balcony levels, where "tray boys" and "tray girls" walked the aisles to tempt audiences into purchasing quality Haigh's chocolates! In 1959, it was re-named Odeon Theatre.
The Odeon fin sign is still intact on the facade of the building, even though it is no longer a picture theatre, but now used as a 10 -pin Bowling Alley
Vansittart park was where I found some more beautiful gardens.
The gardens included flower beds and a very nice Rose garden, a large playground with picnic area and shelter, and a War Memorial. The memorial was erected in the centre of the gardens in 1922, in memory of the men from the district who died in the Great War. The entrance gates were opened in May 1959 as a memorial to the fallen of the Second World War. Latest additions are gardens for the blind and a biblical garden. A Krupp field gun which was captured during the Great World War is on display in the gardens.
The Old Town Hall has a clock tower and is a beautiful complex of old buildings in the city centre of Mt. Gambier. No longer is it the Town Hall, but now is used as a Community Arts Centre. This huge building was constructed out of dolomite and limestone in 1882. An Institute was added in 1882 and a theatre in 1906.
Engelbrecht Cave, another Cave we stopped at in Mt. Gambier. In case you aren't aware, Mt. Gambier and the South East of Australia are honeycombed with caves. This huge complex of limestone caves under the city was first explored around 1884. Cave divers have mapped the area, that is how so much is known about the caves.
Engelbrecht Cave extends under seven city streets, and was formed some 30-40 million years ago. At one time it was used as a dump by one of the city's local whisky distilleries.
This Cave was different to the others we had seen, as from the top, there is nothing much to view.
To see the most interesting part, you have to take a underground tour into two chambers. Here is where divers enter the water to dive under the city, and where you learn from the guide how the caves are formed and how the underground water filters through the limestone making its way to the Blue Lake. The Main viewing platform, is 27 metres below the surface
45 minute guided tours
Tours go every hour and all you need to do is turn up at about 10 minutes before the hour.
Approx price for Adults...$10
Not much I can tell you about St Pauls Roman Catholic Church, only that it's another building with beautiful architecture, built in 1855. It has a castellated tower on the right hand side of the building, and in my opinion, worth stopping to view from the outside [locked doors] I liked the fence and the other buildings, a College which was next door.
The Gardiner Fountain is quite an attractive fountain, that was presented by Captain Gardiner, the late grandfather of the late Sir Robert Helpmann, to the people of Mount Gambier in 1884.
The Fountain was constructed in Melbourne, and is claimed to be the first large marble fountain made in the colonies. The fountain is operated on special occasions and is illuminated at night.
A plaque marks the site of a time capsule commemorating the centenary of the City of Mount Gambier. The time capsule was officially sealed on Saturday March 6th 1976 by the Mayor, and will be opened in 2076.
If you are a lover of Roses, which I am, then make sure you check out the lovely Rose gardens by the City Cave garden. The first Rose was planted here in 1909. I was here in May, and the Roses were in full flower and stunning, so many different varieties and colours to see.
The Civic centre is a stunning newish building located next to the city cave gardens. The Sir Robert Helpmann theatre complex in the Civic centre, is where dance and local talent galas are often held. The centre also houses the library. Free use of Computers and free pushbike hire.
For details about what's on, visit the Civic Centre during business hours Monday to Friday,
[9 - 5.30pm]
What else I liked, was the fence between the cave gardens and civic centre. It was made out of steel and had many silhouettes showcasing the history of the city of Mt. Gambier.
The sight of the Cave Gardens might come as a shock to you, as they are located right in the city centre.
This sinkhole was used by the original settlers for water. Water was raised from the hole in a bucket, and then was sold. Nothing like that happening today, as this sinkhole has been made into gardens. There is an easy sloping walkway to nearly the bottom of the cave and to the suspended viewing platforms. During winter, storm water run-off makes its way to the cave forming a spectacular waterfall, nothing was happening when I was there. The Cave is lit at night, and entry to these gardens IS FREE OF CHARGE. The Cave garden has been here since the 1800's.
THE CAVE GARDEN SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW runs nightly in the Cave Garden. The Aboriginal Dreaming of the Cave Garden is told here together with other Dreamtime stories.
FREE SHOW...8pm and 8.15pm nightly (9pm and 9.15pm during daylight savings)
There are quite a few lovely, historic Hotels in Mt. Gambier. The first one I came across, was Mac's Hotel at 21 Bay Road. This Hotel was built in 1881, and in 1903, the pretty lacework railings on the verandah was added.
Nearly all the others I saw in the compact city centre were huge Hotels with lacework balconies. I love those balconies, especially when they are painted and in good condition.
I wasn't out and about at night time to party, it was to have a meal and to see the beautiful historic buildings lit at night. Mt. Gambier actually has a "Night Lights Drive." The drive took us on a short drive around the city centre, starting from the Lady Nelson visitor centre. Lit up on the drive were Umpherston Sinkhole, Sexton's Cottage, the Blue Lake Pumping Station, Potter's Point, the fountain and some other historic buildings.
Was it an "off" night, I don't know, there was hardly a person around, quite dead!
The buildings looked great!