Yallum Homestead, Saint Mary MacKillop and where is Kalangadu?

Yesterday we visited three places near Penola, South Australia: Yallum Park Heritage Homestead, the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre and the legendary township of Kalangadu.

We were shown around Yallum Park by the owner, Andy Clifford. It is a working rural property, grazing beef cattle. But the highlight is a magnificent homestead, once owned by wealthy pastoralist and MP John Riddoch. Andy and his wife lovingly maintain the mansion, which is open to the public. He gave us a guided tour of the lounge room with magnificent wallpaper and a beautiful silk tapestry fire screen to keep ladies from flushing from the heat. 

The bedroom featured a swinging baby cradle.

A magnificent stained glass window adorned the stair landing.

I also liked the manager’s office with it’s rotating chair and hand painted door panels.

After lunch at the Royal Oak Hotel in Penola, we visited the school started by Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop and her mentor, Father Julian Woods. We were shown around by a very helpful Sister Loreto. The site of the first school is now a park, owned by the Sisters of Saint Joseph and maintained by the council.

We took the long way back to the caravan park,detouring to visit the township of Kalangadu, which featured in an ABC serial. It had a Post Office that was closed, a store, school and sports ground. The surrounding farmland is dotted with gasfields.

Tantanoola Cave sparkles

Tantanoola Cave is north west of Mt Gambier in South Australia. It is a wonderful example of a limestone cave, with hundreds of sharp, unbroken stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Jakin, our guide was enthusiastic and informative. There is also a display of fossils found in the cave and of how the colours were derived from the limestone that had been hardened and coloured by volcanic activity so it formed a yellow, hard rock called dolomite. This is what has given the formations their colour

After A picnic lunch beside a pine plantation, we drove to Carpenter Rocks on the coast before returning to Mt Gambier and visiting the war museum at the RSL.

Adam Lindsay Gordon and Glenelg River Cruise

Adam Lindsay Gordon is Australia’s only poet to have a tomb in Westminster Abbey. He was a horseman and adventurer who for some time lived in a home called Dingley Dell south of Mt Gambier. The house is now a museum carefully maintained by guides and caretakers Allan and Jenny. We visited it yesterday. Above the Blue Lake at Mt Gambier is a monument to him, for at this spot he performed a brilliant manoeuvre on horseback, jumping the fence beside the lake, turning his horse and jumping back.

We then went down to the village of Nelson where we had a lunchtime cruise on the Glenelg River, passing by moonah melaleuca forest and abundant bird life.

Mt Gambier Gambols

The Aquifer Tour gave us a chance to see the Blue Lake at close range and learn about the lowering water table and the engineering of Mt Gambier’s water supply. Gary, the guide was a fountain of knowledge.

Afterwards, we did the Mountain Walk around the volcanic rims of Valley Lake and two other craters. This lake isn’t used for drinking water, so boating and waterskiing are popular. The walk took us to Centenary Tower, built to mark 100 years since Captain Grant in the Lady Nelson, sighted and named Mt Gambier. It afforded expansive views of the craters, town and surrounding farmland. 365 steps took us to a lower level and the total journey took two hours, including a break for ice-cream at the Tower.