Piccaninnie & Ewen Ponds and the Naracoorte Caves
We were determined to visit the ponds that a lot of people have been recommending to us. This is the last weekend we have in Adelaide (apart from our leaving party next week which means we won’t be able to leave the city), so after a quick meal on Friday night we threw camping gear in the car again and drove the 500km or so down towards the Victorian border again.
When I booked the permits for snorkelling I was told nobody else had booked, so we were expecting an empty camp ground when we arrived not a full one! We camped in the parking next to the ocean and after a quick walk on the beach we fell asleep immediately.
The next day we had a lazy start. Breakfast and a walk to the little stream that comes out of the ponds towards the ocean. We then decided to go early for the snorkel as it was only 10 (our time slot was between 11 and 12), but to our surprise when we turned up there were 2 rangers checking… After they left we jumped in (I was wearing 2 wetsuits and a thermal top) and nearly froze! It is amazing to see the depth of the ponds, especially when you swim out to the Cathedral. We saw 5 eels and some small fish and then climbed out again as it was very, very cold.
As Ewen ponds was only a 20 minute drive away we decided to stay in our wet gear and immediately jump in at Ewens (we didn’t think we’d be game enough to put the wet wetsuits back on again if we took them off between the 2 swims…).
When we arrived at Ewen Ponds there was one other car, but we couldn’t see anybody. We jumped in and started floating down the channels. This is a really nice system, where you can swim across the ponds and once you get in the channels the flow is strong enough to carry you to the next pond. There are 3 ponds and at the end you can climb out and walk back.
We didn’t see any turtles or eels, but this time we saw a ‘prickly back’ (fresh water crayfish) and plenty of little fish. The ponds are extremely cold (around 15 degrees) but it was very nice to swim around and explore. I really like the fact that you can actually see what it looks like underneath the reeds!
We walked back to the car and quickly changed to dry and warm clothes. Heater on full blast as we drove to Port MacDonnel for some lunch.
The South Australian World Heritage Site…
We decided to see the lot and signed up for Alexandra cave, the Victoria fossil cave and the bat cave. We probably could have skipped Alexandra cave, but it was nice to see all the caves they have open to the public.
Alexandra cave was pretty, but Jon and I have both already seen (more) pretty stalagmites and stalactites in other caves. We did see a tiny little frog near the entry of the cave – very cute.
The fossil cave was awesome. The first few chambers were very decorative again, getting less decorated as we got closer to the fossil chambers. At the moment a PhD student from Flinders university is researching one of the chambers (with toothpick size tools!) which was really nice to see. We chatted a bit to her and learned heaps. It makes it so real what you see in the other chambers!
The amount of bones found is amazing and they have barely scratched the surface! And some of the extinct animals for which they have found bones too are absolutely mind boggeling! Mega wombat like creatures, super-sized koalas and goannas and even a mega kangaroo and snake (wonambi)!
After the fossil cave we had to hurry back for the start of the bat tour. A bit sad we can’t seen them in the cave, but it was nice to see them on the television screens although a bit surreal. If only we had known last night we could have watched them exit the mouth of the cave around 9pm! (all 30.000 of them – takes about half an hour apparently) We did see some of the bats flying around our campsite at (the dry) Bool Lagoon, but certainly not 30.000 of them.
We had a quick look at the self-guided tour through wet cave and walked through the Wonambi Fossil Centre. They have done a great job displaying the mega fauna as it would have lived some thousands of years ago.
After a late lunch we drove off back to Adelaide as we need to be back in town tonight for some fringe action!
(on the way back we could not resist the temptation to stop at the Land Rover on a pole in Keith…)