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 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)
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 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.
The Blue Lake Rotary Lookout I think is the BEST OF THE LOT!
Pull into the carpark at Rook Lookout tower. When you look across the road at the Blue Lake, you will see written on the guard rail, NOT TO CROSS THE ROAD AS IT IS DANGEROUS!
Instead, what you do, is follow a few steps down the hill from the carpark, this leads to another lookout with wonderful views over Mt. Schank, another extinct volcano. The pathway leads through a tunnel underneath the road, coming out onto a viewing platform overlooking the Blue Lake. Great views from here!
Adam Lindsay Gordon is a well known Australian Poet, Jockey and Politician.
Lucky he was a good jockey, as this probably helped him survive his courageous piece of riding at the Blue Lake. Near from where the Obelisk in his memory is located, in July 1865, Gordon made his famed leap on horseback over an old post and rail guard fence onto a narrow ledge overlooking the Blue Lake and jumped back again onto the roadway. He survived!
This was such a daring riding feat, it became known as "Gordon’s Leap." The commemorative obelisk was erected there, which is where the Rook lookout and Rotary viewpoint are located..
The Centenary Tower overlooks the famous Blue Lake from the highest point in the city, no wonder we could see it all the time and eventually found our way there and to the car park. To reach the tower was an uphill walk along a bitumen pathway which had rest points, plus it's a section of the circuit track around the crater of the Valley/Browne's Lakes.
The Flag on the Tower wasn't flying, which meant that the Tower was closed. If the Flag is flying, then the Tower is open.
The Tower includes an extensive display of early photographs of the Crater Lakes area. I did see it lluminated at night, standing like a guard looking after the city! Drinks, ice creams, and souvenirs are available, and a small entrance fee applies.
The Tower was built by public subscription to celebrate the sighting of Mount Gambier by Lieutenant Grant, on the Lady Nelson [ship] in 1800. It was officially opened in 1904
There are another three Lakes, the Valley Lake Crater and the Leg of Mutton Lake Crater and Brownes Lakes. The Valley Lake we viewed from the top and looked down to the Lake, and then we followed the road to the bottom. I read the Valley lake is very popular all year round. Once there, I could see why. Plenty of lawn, an excellent playground, well kept picnic areas including 16 FREE gas barbecues, covered shelters, walking paths, it had everything you could want for an enjoyable family picnic.
FREE ENTRY .....FREE BBQ'S
The Old Courthouse is now known as the National Trust Law and Heritage Centre and the Courthouse Gallery. The Courthouse was built between 1864-1865, and was used as recently as 1975, when it was replaced by a more modern building. Today, the Courthouse is a popular venue for Mock Trials. Visitors can have some fun when they visit, as gowns and wigs are supplied, and you can sit in the jury box, or be the judge, send the prisoner to gaol etc.!
Courthouse Gallery sells a good variety of craftwork and sweets.
OPEN....Noon - 4pm.
Just a little further along Bay street, I came across the historic Christ Church - Anglican Church. What is good in Mt. Gambier, is all the heritage signs infront of the heritage buildings in the city.
This unusual Church was built in 1865 from dolomite. In 1895 the chancel and organ chamber were added. What I thought was lovely, was the memorial porch and lych gate.
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.
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.
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
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.
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