Feb 5- Mt Gambier State Forest

A big drive through the South Australian border and across to Piccaninnie Ponds where we checked out the main pond. It’s amazingly clear. We then walked around the track to see the channel which has a weir that seems to manipulate the water levels in the main pond network. There were some people snorkelling but with signs indicating a permit was required (which we already knew from Dave W) we decided to have a look at Dave’s suggestion of Ewans Ponds. Again, beautiful clear water and it was hard to not launch in from the pontoon. A dip of the foot into the water made us realise why others were in wetsuits! But we decided a quick swim – just short enough not to set in hypothermia – couldn’t hurt.

The water clarity was incredible and Josh swam the boys out a little way one at a time with their snorkels and masks. The boys were in for about a minute each (skinny little Cammy more like 40 seconds). After five minutes Josh was out and it was nice getting in the car to warm up.

We drove along the coast through Port MacDonnell and then inland towards Mt Gambier. We stopped at Mt Shank – a volcano that stands out in the flat landscape. Interesting that is has a dry crater (above groundwater level probably) and erupted only a few thousand years ago.  Not long after we got to the Mt Gambier Blue Lake and we were just amazed at the colour – it takes a while to take it in.

Pot MacDonell - original government services building

We navigated around Mt Gambier and did some shopping with a plan to head just out of town and see if the nearby state forest offered some camping opportunity. About 15kms out we reached pine plantation and turned off onto a well maintained forest road. Off that onto a smaller road and then off that into a large wide open grassy fire break. It was flat, nice sandy soil (Josh gets a bit like Tony Grieg sticking the keys in the pitch to see whether the tent pegs will need a hammer or just a foot-push). We set up and all-in-all it was a private, peaceful spot. The boys found lots of fun in the pine forest.

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