Of Surf and Sand and Secret Places

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The stunning shades of sapphire in the waters of the Blue Lake were a fitting farewell to Lake Gambier. There is much to discover around this part of South Australia, and it’s fair to say that we’ll be back to see more at some point.

The Tantanoola Caves are hidden away enroute to our destination of Robe, but with family admission at a very reasonable price, we had to go and see what secrets the caves had to offer. Discovered quite by accident by a boy out rabbiting with his ferret, the Caves are now cared for by National Parks South Australia, and are the only wheelchair accessible cave site in SA.

There is nothing quite like the sight that we beheld when the guide, Barb, opened the door to the Cave. Stalagtites and stalagmites, columns, colours – Mother Nature patiently does some of her best and most elegant work underground, hidden away from the outside world. These fascinating processes that take thousands of years to slowly form delicate needles of mineral deposits, are not behind barriers, but to deter tactile visitors from laying hands on the formations in reach, there was a fallen piece of stalagtite available on a light box. Barb told us that this deceptively heavy piece loves being held, so that no-one is tempted to touch other pieces. The kids were utterly entranced, and so were we. Using one of the torches that Barb had given us, we could illuminate the stalagtites, and observe the drops of water suspended from each one. Having trickled through the ground above, the longer the drop remains, the more minerals are left to grow the structure.

Robe is a gorgeous location, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time here. The Sea Vu Caravan Park have been nothing but supportive, and the site they provided us with is sheltered and well located. We’ve enjoyed chatting with Lisa & Alan, who’ve been running the park for just over 12 months now. Lisa even offered for us to put one of our banners up on the verandah wall just outside the office – an elevated and high profile position!

As happens, we have some great conversations with guests. Sometimes it’s the Legend that brings them in, curious as to what we’re doing. Other times it’s other dog lovers who want to meet Luna, and it can also be the kids swags and general camp set up that sparks a chat. We met a well travelled man, who has participated in many motorcycle rides to raise awareness for mental health charities. His wife is positively lovely and considering that she was diagnosed some years ago with a degenerative disease, is fit and happy to be on the road with her husband.

At Long Beach while the kids played, a couple approached and asked if they could photograph Luna. As it turned out, their daughter had been chronically ill some years ago, and developed depression as a result of this. They bought her a German Shepherd, and he has been a shining light for her, helping to lift her from the dark place she was in. Interestingly, her fiancé has the brother of her German Shepherd, so now they are a household with TWO 50kg big German Shepherd boys. Certainly a handful! This couple adore Shepherds and weren’t at all surprised from a breed perspective to learn of Luna’s training and affinity to Paul and the family.

Back at the caravan park, Kirstine spoke with a lady who feels strongly about services being available for those with mental illness, as three of her grandchildren are diagnosed with depression, and her own mother had bipolar disorder, though kept this hidden from the family, till a secondary condition enabled her daughter to obtain her mother’s medical history. From a genetic standpoint, with what she knows know, the lady wonders if there are links between certain seemingly unrelated health issues, and depression. Certainly within her own family, she has noticed a pattern where carriers of certain conditions also have a mental health diagnosis. Separately, and rather shockingly, her grandson told her that the health system in the USA appears so ill equipped to deal with mental health, that many online services and information offered by Beyond Blue here in Australia are being access by residents in the USA, as they try and find support that isn’t available in their own country. That is incredibly sad, and yet, we hope that these people in need are finding information that helps.

We have been exploring Robe, a progressive town which runs the Robe to Recovery program, for military veterans who have returned from active service, and are in need of some psychological respite and support. We spent a couple of hours adventuring on the 4WD tracks that Robe is so renowned for. Paul was in his element again, 4WDing in the Legend, which thanks to the Dobinsons suspension lift, easily rode though the tracks. As always, we had our Opposite Lock compressor with us, as well as recovery kit and Treds. We gave the Treds a test run on a sand hill, as we hadn’t needed to use them, and wanted to see how they worked. What a dream! One under each tyre, and we had instant traction to continue up the sand. It was beautiful to watch.

With drone footage to review and edit, photos to look through and social media & blog posts to construct, we found the best way to still let the kids have fun while we work. We took the office to the beach! It’s rare that all the elements combine to make for a nearly perfect day, but in Robe, we’ve been completely blessed.

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