Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 334 (144)

Mt. Gambier

Saturday 5th February (2005)

). By the time we went to bed last night, we were both suffering from dozens of little bumps on our skin that were itching something terrible. They weren’t gnat bites or mosquito stings but probably more like sandfly bites. We had the same problem with these pesky things when we were in Cairns also. The bumps are the result of these small, barely perceptible fleas apparently trying to lay eggs under the skin. Each bite results in an extremely irritating, red welt, about half a centimetre in diameter, that itches on and off for a couple of days before disappearing altogether. You get individual bits on their own as well as clusters of them all close to each other. We were worried for a while that these might have been bedbugs and I had a rather restless night wondering whether we were sleeping on these little bugs that were eating us alive. We had taken a stroll last night, before going to bed, and must have been assaulted by these near invisible pests again, as by the time I awoke, I had probably fifty or more of these irritating and seriously itchy bumps up and down each arm and leg. You’re not supposed to scratch them but the intense irritation produces an urge to do so that is so overwhelming that you can’t help but succumb. I’ve been slowly scratching myself red raw all day long and now have several broken skin wounds as a result. The topical anti-itch medication that we have for bites and stings works well for only a short period before the itching comes back again and consumes you. It’s bloody annoying and I can hardly wait for the effect to start wearing off. Hopefully, things should be a little more comfortable by tomorrow. We found some anti-histamine tablets in one of our medical kits and I’ve taken one in the hope that I can at least get a restful night’s sleep.

We were packed, fed and on the road again by around nine this morning. For the first hour or so of driving, we were moving across country through winding back roads and made very little progress. The brief ferry ride across one of the rivers that we had to traverse was a nice little diversion and we were on the open road finally shortly thereafter. Our plan was to make it all the way to Mt. Gambier with a brief stop in a place called Naracoorte, which is a national heritage site of some underground caves that have revealed some extremely important fossil remains. We stopped a couple of times to stretch our legs along the way but we eventually reached Naracoorte by around one-thirty in the afternoon after a good four hours of solid driving. Our student cards were good for a small discount and for the resulting reduced price of AU$8,50 (€5,20) each, we tagged onto one of the tours to explore one of the caves. It was an interesting visit to the caves but we’ve seen much more interesting formations of stalagmites and stalactites in other places around the world and I was much more interested in the echidna that we saw scurry across the car park forecourt just before we left. We both followed after it with our cameras but it made its way into the bushes and dug itself half into the ground when it heard us. So, that’s another native species we’ve now seen in the wild. Bonus!

We pushed on and into Mt. Gambier, the second largest city in South Australia, next to Adelaide. After a quick stop in at the local tourist information office, probably the very best we’ve seen so far anywhere in this country, we picked out a budget place to stay. Although there are several backpacker style places listed, we went with a motel, which was a bit cheaper and turned out to be a very nice place with a comfortable room complete with all the necessary amenities. At just AU$55 (€33,55) per night, the price was right too. Mt. Gambier seems like a nice enough place and the uniformed bowls club teams sending their balls rolling up and down the greens made for a very nice touch.

I had promised Sandy a steak dinner and we went with the motel owner’s recommendation for a place just around the block that was serving a Saturday steak special for just AU$17 (€10,37) a head. We got there shortly before the kitchen opened so we spent half an hour on the slot machines. I always enjoy myself when I come out of a casino having won a bit (or not lost too much) but I also feel quite disappointed and even a bit depressed if I come out having lost. This time around, we were collectively AU$15 (€9,15) down. Damn casinos! Dinner was rather nice in the end and we spent the rest of the evening resting in our comfortable room. Hopefully, we can make it all the way to the start of the Great Ocean Road tomorrow.