Every destination has its own tourist hot spot. The first thing that conjures the mind of travellers.
For Paris, it’s the Eiffel Tower. Canada, it’s the Rocky Mountains. And for Egypt, it’s the Pyramids. Whether the attraction is stereotypical or true, they’re famous for a reason.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing more to these cities and sites.
Google Mount Gambier’s top attractions and our ‘hot spot’ appears: The Blue Lake. The region itself is famous for its limestone, volcanic landscape and crater lakes. Yet, the Blue Lake is the one most people know about.
There’s no denying it’s a pretty marvellous spectacle, as it turns cobalt blue in summer. But many people visit Mount Gambier and only see the lake. They take a few photos and move on. The lake itself has more to offer than just a backdrop for pretty pictures.
The Blue Lake Mount Gambier walk
Aquifer Tours, for example, takes visitors on a fascinating tour in a glass-panelled lift down the original dolomite well shaft. This is where the water was first extracted. Hear interesting stories of local history, European settlement, folklore, and Aboriginal legend.
The nature of where Mount Gambier is situated, halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, makes it an easy stopover for the night. But with the all the natural beauty it boasts, a few hours simply aren’t enough.
We have it all. Nature, sport, food, and sporting. There’s forests, caves, parks, sinkholes, a coastline, a river, and geological features. There’s the only geopark in the whole of Australia – one of only 10 in the world.
The region is peppered with wineries, boutique producers, and gorgeous places to stay. Think succulent seafood, fresh herbs, meat, fruit, berries, and cheese. Our rich, volcanic soil gives the food an intense taste. And for golfers, we have two large golf courses to wind down after all that adventure.
There’s Umpherston Sinkhole, professional fishing charters, Mount Schank, river cruises, Dingley Dell Conservation Park, state forest walks, and museums. We’ll talk more about these attractions soon.
Mount Gambier can’t be shoe-boxed into just one category. There’s just too much on offer. We want you to experience our region in its entirety.
For us locals, it’s our responsibility to share all the amazing other reasons to visit, beyond just our blue beauty.
Give yourself the time to see what we see.
Love in a cup
Whenever we visit a region or town, at some point we need to stop, sit down, and eat and drink something just to keep us going.
But lets face it, we do not do all of this just to sustain life, but indeed to enjoy the moment – the experience of having just a little of what the locals of that particular spot enjoy a lot.
Here in Mount Gambier we are no different to anyone else and given that we are South Australia’s second largest city – we do it a lot – eat and drink I mean!
Barring one or two small exceptions, all the cafes and restaurants can be found on one street and it is called “Commercial Street”.
Venues like Sorrentos, Metro Café, The Whistling Cat, Vanilla Bean, Wild Ginger, Moulten, The G, Jens, Yoes … and so on, all go to form the Café, Wining and Dining hub of this city.
Given the close proximity to one another, the competition for the consumer’s dollar is full-on so feel free to experiment.
Needless to say for everyone to survive, everyone tries to have their point of difference.
- Different styles of food
- Different ambience
- Different levels of service (Casual to Silver Service)
- And different coffee blends / flavours
Now in some cases these come from either Adelaide or Melbourne – or even further away.
But then we have our own local coffee bean roaster – “Mahalia”. Just about all the taste variations you could ever want can be found here.
In this blog, I want to concentrate on this one brand as it is “our coffee”. As a consumer you can either purchase the coffee beans to use at home, or as a cup of coffee made by a barista in a café right here in Mount Gambier.
Mahalia make a variety of different flavous and styles and can be listed as:
A medium roast of Fair Trade Arabica beans from the highlands of Asia. Offering the sweet aroma of ripe stone fruits and malt plus the enticing flavours of dark chocolate and treacle, it possesses a smooth lingering finish with a hint of caramelised butter.
A medium roast of five single origins combined to make our most awarded blend. Characteristically spicy – with the warmth of clove and coriander seeds. This complex coffee brings full-bodied flavour with hints of toasted almonds and coco dust. A favourite of cafes here.
Their lightest roast, with beans from the Central Americas. With aromatic notes of candied peel and amaretto biscuits – an enchanting play of oranges and rich toffee flavour. Full bodied like sticky wine – this is a refined coffee.
A strong blend styled in the Mediterranean tradition, giving a bouquet of cranberries, coffee blossom and dark cocoa. With a melding of peppery Shiraz, plum and chocolate flavours, this dark roast has delicate acidity with a long, rounded finish. Perfect for a short black.
Dark roasted Arabica beans selected for their sweet full flavour. Mahalia’s desire to retain that flavour leads them to use raw coffee beans processed with the 100% chemical free Swiss Water Method™. With the integrity of the origin and the craft of their roaster, you would never know it was missing its caffeine.
An outstanding Fair Trade – single origin – bean from the birthplace of coffee; a lighter roast. Boasting aromas of blueberries and raspberries plus flavours of sweet chocolate and finished with candied orange. All this hidden character is best revealed by espresso.
From the coffee growing region Aceh Tengah on the northern tip of Sumatra, this medium roasted Fair Trade Organic coffee brings the fragrance of grated chocolate, fruity shiraz and hints of sandalwood. A delightfully rich single origin, coffee.
A medium to dark roast – Fair Trade organic – sourced from the Cooperative Café Timor. Aromatic notes of vanilla bean and blackberries plus flavours of toffee, caramel and sweet chocolate, and finished with a magnificent velvet crema. Full bodied with a lingering clean finish.
When will we see you down here to have a cup of love?
Why should I visit Mount Gambier? Time does not stand still here in Mount Gambier. The reason is because we are South Australia’s second largest city and only the Capital, Adelaide is bigger. During the past twelve months things have changed, so let’s explore this.
Key developments have been:
- The reclaiming of the lands on which the old Mount Gambier Hospital used to stand on
- The Rail Corridor re-development.
I pick these two because:
- Each case they are very big developments and
- They also have a common theme in that we are adding to the Green Community Land down here.
Back many years ago this region was marketed as the Green Triangle whereas nowadays we are referred to as the Limestone Coast. Personally I understand the reasoning behind the change of labels.
The Limestone Coast refers to just this section of land in South Australia whereas Green Triangle crosses the state border into Victoria.
Having said that, given that the environment in general has been destroyed or degraded in many regions, the Lower South East of South Australia still has a strong green environment.
We still receive good rainfall and all the benefits that flow on from that, plus Mount Gambier has always been a city that is proud of itself. Home owners look after what they have and the local government puts a lot of effort into the parks, gardens and community areas; they did 30 years ago and nothing has changed since, it still looks wonderful.
Green trees and lots and lots of them; plants of all types and sizes can grow and prosper without the need for irrigation. I love the old marketing name – Green Triangle – because it is so relevant in today’s world.
Back to the developments. The old Hospital used to sit on the edge of Valley Lake which is alongside of our famous Blue Lake. By demolishing the building we have added significantly to the green parkland right here in the city itself. We have removed a significant section of disused railway tracks and contaminated soil and replaced that with lots of green parklands and community use facilities. All this and more reinforces the back to nature experience we provide residents and visitors alike.
Still not enough “Green” for you. Did you know that unless it is an “Declared Total Fire-ban Day”, you can visit many sections of the huge forests down here. There are actual designated forest trails and these can be found at https://www.forestry.sa.gov.au/ Feel free to actually hug a tree (whilst nobody is watching you if you want) because down here, you can.
The big building to the top Left is the old Nurses home which has long since been converted into premium owner occupier apartments, and the smaller building to its Right is all that remains of the old hospital. It has now become a community use picnic and function building. All the land which was occupied by the hospital itself has now been returned back to parkland, so that residents and visitors alike can gain the benefits of green community land.
I would like to look at what activities there are to see and do during the cooler months here in Mount Gambier.Clearly an excellent venue to start in is our Main Corner Complex.Down on the ground floor you will find the Riddoch Art Gallery ( http://www.riddochartgallery.org.au
) and entrance in here is totally free of charge. This is South Australia’s largest regional art gallery and houses art of all descriptions from local plus well known Australian and overseas based artists.
Recently we had the Da Vinci Machines exhibition. This is a collection of works that is based in an overseas art gallery and needless to say, we saw thousands flock to the gallery for this. What a great success.
Are you inspired by the works of Hans Heysen? Then come on down here because we are currently exhibiting works from Nora Heysen who is the daughter of Hans. Nora is the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize and our exhibition has a very strong Feminism theme about it.
Ah! But I hear you say; you will not be coming here until September. Not too worry.
From the 5th September we will be hosting the “Art Bytes” exhibition.
Gallery staff are currently sourcing works by local digital artists for an exhibition to be held here during September and October. This will showcase the work of local digital artists and will be divided into 5 areas:
- Moving Image
In addition there will be interactive displays for you to play around with, so this is a real hands on experience. Needless to say this is a wonderful opportunity for our local artists to showcase their work and for the public to learn more about new technologies.
After you finish downstairs, come on up to the first floor. Here you will find two rooms; one being called Dress Circle and the other is called Kings Floor.
In Dress Circle you can watch a one hour movie (free of charge as well) that details how this region was formed. This has been a continuing success with many people saying how much they enjoyed it.
Last of all you can enter Kings Floor (and guess what, this is also free – we don’t want you money; keep it for something else like a lovely coffee and cake) where you can watch many short reel films / stories about the early history of Mount Gambier. Not enough?
Then play with the interactive displays that are placed around this huge room.
After all of that, you can go for the coffee and cake that I just mentioned. Just walk across the road to one of two excellent cafés that many of us locals visit.
What a way to spend a day!