Leaving South Australia

Wed 16 Feb 2011 02:28
We still have at least 2,500km to go to get to Sydney. A stop on the way was South Australia's only World Heritage site - the Narracoorte Caves, which, together with the Riversleigh site in NT can ultimately provide a fossil record of evolutionary change for an entire ecosystem. A staggering thought that evolution is mapped from 20,000,000 years ago to just 10,000. Many believe these sites provide the only chance of finding out what actually caused dinosaur extinction. The tour of the caves was informative and adult in content, whereas the Wanambi fossil centre describes its display as 'bringing to life' the megafauna fossils they found and consists of slightly animated furry toys of the megafauna that have seen better days. Some of these cuddly toys had even fallen over. In dim lighting and with sound effects of roaring, they open mouths to reveal fangs. We could only imagine the effect on small children as they dream of their teddy bears coming to life: as a young child, this would definitely have given Caroline nightmares.
After the fossil centre we moved to the caves proper. One chamber is 'named after Prince Albert Edward Grotto' - we didn't even know he had Grotto as a middle name! The fossils are mostly of animals which fell into the cave and couldn't get out, so are in piles of assorted bones, which take a while to sort out.
The flies of Northern Territories are now a distant memory and TV ads are for shopping, rather than cattle branding machines, bulls for sale, or our favourite - 'Outback Whips and Leather' - try that on google! We took the opportunity of a petrol stop to remove the worst of the insects.
Mount Gambier had sophisticated cafes and heavy rain. As visiting the underwater caves there was not possible, the next best thing was to go to the cinema and see Sanctum in 3D - most of the cave sequences were shot here. This town is built in an area of sinkholes, numerous caves and the bluest lake imaginable - but only in summer.