This is essentially a follow-on from this post made nine months ago. We took a quick interstate trip not long ago for the funeral of my Great Aunt, who lived to 100 years and nine months! She didn’t pass away under any sort of tragic circumstances, but it was still a rather sorrowful occasion, mixed with a lot of family chatter and a few laughs.
Almost everybody knew her as “Aunt Iris” because she had so many nieces and nephews (though no children of her own). To give a little family history, Iris came from somewhat of a pioneer family in a little border town – she was born in 1912 in a tiny cottage, and played a large role in bringing up her five brothers. She devoted her life to family, friends, and her faith. She was a woman of kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, loyalty, integrity, and I have very affectionate memories of her and her hospitality. She didn’t judge, led quite a frugal lifestyle, and was very much a lady! Iris was almost never seen in anything but a signature blouse (or dress) and cardigan (with flowers [real or hand-embroidered] or brooch), skirt, stockings and pumps – I cannot recall ever having seen a picture of her in pants! She was greatly loved by the family and always had time for us; though she lived far away I fondly remember her phone calls, letters, and visits.
I knew my last visit to her would be my last “goodbye” and was able to spend time with her and tell her how loved she was, so it served as a sort of closure before her inevitable death. I believe she recognised me then and, despite her extreme frailty, responded affectionately. This sense of closure was quite important for me, because I grieve very privately and feel intense guilt and misery at times! It meant that the funeral wasn’t an event full of regret, though you can never really spend “enough” time with loved ones. As a side note, I feel inclined to exercise more patience with people and have witnessed how much certain small gestures can brighten someone’s day, though in general I find it quite difficult to empathise with people or express feelings. I have been struck by the gratefulness of our elderly family members for our visits, things that may seem small or even tedious to those with a busy life and many distractions. I can say from experience that it is very decent, and rewarding, to make time for those who are lonely, sick, who have made great sacrifices, or who are just loved.
Now back to my trip! It didn’t quite count as a holiday, but we did have an extra day to do some sightseeing. Even on a tight budget we found plenty of things to occupy us, especially as we like exploring peaceful, natural places. This was all made so much easier by our GPS, a Christmas gift, especially in areas with no mobile reception or maps.
Because our last visit was so punctuated by stops at various sinkholes and caves, it made sense that our first stop this time was … yet another large hole. As it happens, we have no great interest in sinkholes but they were probably the easiest “tourist attractions” to check out.
This one, rather crudely landmarked by a spray-painted rock, is in the middle of a large pine plantation.
A helpful aerial view. 😛
It was particularly hard to convey the size of this one! If you focus on the trees above it helps.
A platform allows visitors to stand right over the sinkhole, or for divers to be lowered in.
Next stop were the Princess Margaret Rose Caves!
While waiting for our tour, we were almost surrounded by fairy wrens, awwww!
We took a quick bush walk and reached a good spot to look out over the Glenelg River.
L: The cave entrance reminded me heavily of a Minecraft chasm. R: A “wedding cake” type formation.
There were a number of chambers to explore, this was probably the largest.
Stalactites and stalagmites form very slowly over time by calcium deposits which come through in drops of moisture. The rainwater takes months to get from the surface to the cave, and it “collects” minerals as it’s filtered through the earth (in this case an area rich in limestone).
These long thin stalactites are called straws.
L: Drapery formation. R: It’s estimated this gap of about 5cm will take another 500 years to meet and start to form a column.
L: Stringybark tree roots (they will probably eventually petrify). R: These curving ones are called helictites – it’s not yet known exactly how they form.
I came to Piccaninnie Ponds (and most of these places) as a kid but coming back as an adult is more memorable. These wetlands are home to a lot of wildlife, but they are deceptively deep.
The chasm goes down deeper than the Blue Lake (in Mount Gambier) itself, over 100 metres. Experienced divers can come here to explore.
Not far from the ponds is the beach. It was interesting how different the scrub was on either side, taken from the same spot. We think it was burnt out a while ago:
Thirty minutes later we arrived at a favourite haunt of mine near the cliffs:
We shared a romantic takeaway fish and potato cake, and watched the sunset.
We were mercifully spared any biting Antarctic winds this time.
This artistic picture of grass concludes the post. Thank you for reading!