Day 6 (November 14, 2017 – Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia): “The Long Gap To The Halls Gap”
It was about 5:50am when we awoke. Julie was still coughing a lot, and she even complained that she now had blood in her phlegm. The last time I had something like that was in uni when I refused to miss class and exams but class was a total germ factory.
In Julie’s case, it seemed like she could have controlled her cough, but she was intent on letting herself cough whenever she felt like something was in there. I almost felt as if she was trying to force herself to cough. Regardless, I told her that she had to control it because every time she coughed in this state, her throat would wiggle and get really agitated. It might even affect the sacs in her lungs to the point of starting to fill with fluid.
Plus, Julie couldn’t even have codine or some kind of cough suppresant since her body still has trouble de-toxing bad stuff in those medicines. It was also why she couldn’t do a flu shot since they usually contained mercury, and her body still can’t properly filter out mercury.
With the relatively early start, the drive from Kingscote to Penneshaw was pretty uneventful. We were just listening to the Ben and Liam show on Triple J as the signal got a bit stronger the closer to Penneshaw we went.
Eventually at 7:40am, we arrived at the Penneshaw Ferry Terminal, which was still about 50 minutes ahead of the 8:30am departure. Julie got the tickets, but no one said anything about the drivers returning to the car so when I got out there shortly after 8am, it turned out that I was one of the few people left in the lot.
The guy controlling the flow of the vehicles going onto the ferry kind of ignored me, and it wasn’t until I just took the initiative and started pulling up towards the ferry did I get close enough to the worker to ask him if it was time to roll onto the ferry.
He then took my ticket, and told me to drive onto lane 1, which was once again on the far left side of the ferry. Again, it was tight parking quarters (so I really relied on the guidance of the worker to tell me when to turn and move forwards and backwards), but unlike the last ferry we took from Cape Jervis, this one seemed to be much wider, and there was even enough room for me to open my car door (even though it was real close to the pole).
Eventually at 8:10am, I finally parked the car. There was one huge container with several rows of sheep all caged up. So the ferry area smelled like livestock, and it was strange to hear the “meh! meh!” from the sheep from within the ferry itself. I guess this was a first for us – sharing a ride with the livestock.
So I rejoined Julie inside the passenger area of the ferry after going all the way up to the outside deck in the rear of the vessel. Whilst up there, I took photos of the surrounding area where there was an attractive beach with calm and clear water. It was too bad that it was overcast because had there been sun, the beach would have been surprisingly colorful.
I also looked down at the loading dock area where some trucks were backing in with more containers full of sheep. When they were done, the vehicle section of the ferry was all packed in with the sheep taking up the middle three or four rows. The smaller vehicles were off to the side and under the roof of the middle part as well as parts of the far rear. So when it came time to land, for sure I’d have to wait for the sheep to get out as well as some other vehicles to clear out enough space to make the tight turns.
Back at the passenger sitting area, Julie had bought me a minced beef meat pie, which I ate. We also killed some time just staring out the window while using our Australian sim card to do a little internetting. Julie also did some local calls concerning our next accommodation (which was the Kiramli Villas in Halls Gap) so we’d know what to do once we arrived at the self-serve home.
I expected to show up late given the long drive that was ahead of us once the ferry landed, and there were also two waterfalls to visit along the way.
Eventually at 9:25am, all the drivers were asked to return to their cars. When I went down there, I had to squeeze my way between another vehicle and one of the sheep containers, but I was still able to open my car door. The trickier part was probably trying not to mind the sheep poo that managed to fall and bounce off the container and onto the ferry vessel floor.
I could hear sounds of dogs barking so there must have been at least one shepherding dog cramped amongst the sheep.
Once I was sitting in my vehicle, the ramp finally started to lower at around 9:30am. And a few minutes later, I picked up Julie off the side of the road and we were off once again.
After following the same trucks carrying sheep (as they were moving pretty slow on the uphills) for a bit, we then turned right to leave the B23 and the caravan of traffic (probably headed north for Adelaide) as we were now on the Range Road bound for Victor Harbour.
It didn’t take long before we turned left onto Hay Flat Road, where there was also an assuring sign for the Ingalalla Waterfalls pointing that way to our left. The first 2 kilometres were fairly smooth gravel road, but then the road became paved just as the road was sharply descending for the last of the two kilometres.
At the bottom of the descent, there was the turnoff back into the familiar car park for the Ingalalla Waterfalls. Fortunately, this time there was no fire ban so we could drive the car all the way into the reserve and its fairly large spacious clearing for car parking. Someone left a trio of empty Jack Daniels cans for some reason, and they were all on their sides.
We got here at about 10am. We were the first ones here, and so we took a few moments to lace up our boots and start walking the path towards the waterfall. I didn’t remember having to walk for an appreciable distance, but it just goes to show you how fallable memory can be.
It only took us around 5-10 minutes before we finished the short walk (crossing over a couple of bridges where there was definitely water in the creek; a very good sign), and then past a wide open picnic area. The trail ended near a jumble of large rocks that had fallen here in the past.
Now, there were lots of flies over the stagnant pools of water and we looked right at the much more satisfying Ingalalla Falls, which now had much healthier flow than 11 years ago when it was hardly trickling.
It was a little off putting to see that the water had a tinge of brown to it, and that there was an unsavory soapy look about the plunge pool. We suspected that the creek must have been polluted from agricultural runoff or something. It definitely didn’t look very natural. And even though we had no desire to do it on this visit, we definitely wouldn’t have gone here for a swim even if we were able to.
Indeed, this was reminiscent of the water quality of the Paradise Falls back home in California, where we saw a similar thing going on except that water was polluted with suburban runoff.
Julie and I both documented the falls as per our usual routine. However, I also noticed a steep path going up behind the far right side of the viewing area of the falls. When I noticed that there was an upper tier of the Ingalalla Falls on that side, I decided to make a brief scramble up there to take a look.
Well, after some dirty scrambling, and some moments of doubt as the terrain got real steep real quick, I probably got up to about the half-way point before I could see that the climb continued all the way up to the very top of the cliffs, which was also well above the second waterfall.
That kind of defeated the purpose of going up there in my mind (which was to get a cleaner look at the second falls), and I wound up settling for the unsatisfying obstructed views before carefully making my way back down. During my scramble, there were a couple of more senior ladies that were headed back. Julie was already back at the car when I was slowly making my way down.
So we resumed the drive, and it didn’t take long before we got into the Victor Harbour town at around 11:15am. Julie still hadn’t decided where to eat, which was kind of annoying to me because we could have gone straight to the Hindmarsh Falls before showing up to town. But she insisted on eating an early lunch first.
When she decided to eat at this place called Eat at Whaler’s Inn, we follow a fairly lengthy path along the Franklin Drive, which hugged the calm and picturesque bay in the direction of this part called Explorer’s Bay or something like that. We’d eventually arrive at the desired restaurant, which looked closed. We showed up at around 11:35am.
When we got up to the dining area, a lady there asked if we wanted coffee. When she said that the kitchen wasn’t open until noon, we decided that we’d head back to the car and do the Hindmarsh Falls before coming back. So in my mind, we had wasted about a half-hour doing this detour when we were here too early to begin with.
The lady let us keep one of the menus to look over while Julie was looking at the internet on the 4G to see what else were the alternatives. But when she eventually came around and realized that this place we were at was the best of the places that were open (Julie’s original choice was The Beach House Cafe, which was only open for dinner), we made up our minds to come back later.
The drive out to the Hindmarsh Falls didn’t take long and we finally got to the car park at about 12pm. We were the second car parked here at the little dead-end.
The sun was kind of in between peeking through the clouds and being brightly overcast so it was already pretty hot. Still, we promptly got our gear just as another car showed up, and walked down the easy 200m path, which descended a few steps before we arrived at the pair of overlooks at the end of the official track.
Like I remembered from last time, it looked like there used to be a trail that went all the way to the bottom to access the base of the falls, I reckoned, but we were content to capture the falls from the end of the official track. That was where we could see the inverted-Y shape of the falls backed by colorful moss, which was especially brought out by the bright sun.
There were also a handful of much smaller tiers for this roughly 15m falls or so (I’m just guessing), which we also noticed.
Anyways, just as the next party was showing up, Julie and I headed back up the steps and to the parked car. By about 12:20pm, we recovered the car and started to drive back to the Eat at Whaler’s Inn cafe, eventually getting there at about 12:40pm. By this time, we were the third car parked at the restaurant.
Well, the lunch turned out to be pretty decent as we got some kind of local seafood plate as well as some scallops. It took a bit of time for the food to show up, which didn’t help our cause in terms of trying to get to Halls Gap before it got real late at night, but that was the price we paid for choosing a nice sit down place to eat lunch.
At least when the sun came out, I had plenty of opportunities to take photos and stare out at the bright blue waters off the coast of the Encounter Bay, which was impressively colorful (almost South Pacific-like in its color and clarity).
It wouldn’t be until about 1:40pm when we were back in the car and finally starting to move. However, the GPS predicted that we wouldn’t be at the Kiramli Villas until about 8:30pm, which got me worried about driving in the dark on mountain roads.
The drive turned out to be a fairly uneventful affair though we were worried about needing to buy more groceries en route as we were under the impression that we’d be in the country with limited trading hours and supplies. So instead of heading directly east in the direction of Murray Bridge, we actually went north to Mt Barker.
But since we didn’t find a convenient supermarket in Mt Barker that didn’t cause us to unnecessarily go back and forth in the afternoon rush hour, we just hopped on the M1 and headed east towards Halls Gap from there.
Given this, we probably wasted yet another precious half-hour as we were essentially starting our drive back at the Adelaide Hills. Oh well, what’s done was done.
It was now about 2:45pm when we finally were headed east.
At least the drive along the motorway was mostly two lanes on each side so it was pretty smooth going with easy overtaking opportunities. The speed limit was 110 km/h. But it didn’t take long before after Murray Bridge that the road became more like country highway with overtaking lanes every 5km or so.
The speed limit was still on the order of 110km/h though, but that started to change when we approached Keith and Bordertown, and then into the state of Victoria, where the speed limits were now 100km/h and we also lost another half-hour due to the time zone difference.
We were still fretting about getting supplies from a grocer along the way, but when Julie made some calls about dinner spots in the Halls Gap area, someone on the phone suggested going to Horsham. And it turned out that Horsham was a very large town so that was the plan – to get to that town to stock up on groceries since it opened until midnight as well as eating dinner there.
Eventually at 7:30pm, we showed up to this place called Thai Basil in the town of Horsham. Julie was sick of steak or beef, and wanted something different. So she was in the mood for Thai. We wound up getting Tom Yum Goong, Pad Thai, and some Green Curry. But she tasted that they had put a lot of sugar in each of the dishes, which was not good for her condition.
So we ate what we could before we left at 8:30pm, and then went across the way to the Woolworth’s for our grocery run.
Eventually at 9:05pm, we were done with our grocery run all prepared for spending time in the bush at Halls Gap but now it was time to face the darkness and the possibility of kangaroos. Luckily, there were a couple of trucks that I used as screens as I stayed behind them knowing that if a roo jumped out, it would get plowed over by these big semis.
Eventually, the GPS had us get off of the Western Highway and onto the Mt Drummond Road, which was now the scary country road in the bush though they had colored reflectors flanking the road so I knew which side to stay on. We were pretty much alone on the road and it was pitch black without the high beams. I was also going about 70km/h, which was far slower than the 100km/h that the GPS suggested.
Yet, by 10:15pm, we finally arrived at the Kiramli Villas. Even through all the light-loving insects and darkness, we got settled in the house some twenty minutes later after dropping off all the luggage and supplies.
That said, the place was a bit on the smoky side (someone clearly had been smoking here before we showed up), and there were bugs seemingly everywhere (including a couple of cockroaches inside). I guess that was what was to be expected out in the bush. And for the next two nights, it was back to basics and back to Nature. But at least, there was a laundry machine as well as other decent amenities you’d expect to find in a self-contained home.
So Julie would be allowed to sleep in for the next two nights while I’d be up early going waterfalling early in the morning. At least that was the plan for the next two days though I was a little concerned about rain in the forecast (though that might be a blessing given how it might revive a lot of the temperamental waterfalls in the Grampians)…
And so we called it a very long day as we were getting cleaned up and ready to sleep while watching some ABC News in the background…
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