The fruits for sale at roadside stalls in the Riverland Region of South Australia are luscious stone fruits that are so juicy you wear the juice on your chin. Mmmmm!.
Travelling from Mildura in Victoria across the border and into this region provides many opportunities to buy straight from the growers, however a word of warning! - you must eat all you have after leaving Mildura and then buy again over the border as strict state quarantine rules apply.
A night in the region, before heading down to the Naracoorte caves, seemed a good idea especially since we could go to one of our favourite wineries Banrock Station. An afternoon at the winery was a pleasant distraction and as they have a famous wetlands area with boardwalks, walking trails and bird hides, we got some exercise in as well. After stocking up on wine, we camped the night at Lake Bonney enjoying more beautiful bird life and solitude with no other campers near us.
I had visited Naracoorte Caves as a teenager in the 1970's but Avan had not, and as it forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage listing we decided to visit this as our last major sightseeing before Christmas in Adelaide and then home across the Nullarbor to Perth.
It was hard for me to marry in my mind that it was the same place. It is now a world class tourist attraction with visitors coming from all over the world.
The Naracoorte Caves have been recognised as one of the world’s most important fossil sites. For half a million years the caves acted as pitfall traps and predator dens. Animals would fall in through a hole in the ground and not be able to escape. Bones collected – layer upon layer, year after year – creating a rich fossil record of the ancient animals that roamed the area. The fossil record covers several ice ages and the arrival of humans in the area.
Palaeontologists have excavated and dated many of the fossils in Naracoorte Caves but have many more to go. They have reconstructed the skeletons of many of the megafauna that lived so many years ago. Many of the caves contain spectacular stalactites and stalagmites but it is for the fossils the caves are most famous.
We signed up for 2 quite different caves and enjoyed amazing informative tours. The interpretive centre was first class too, with reconstructions from the fossils found of the megafauna, and of other extinct animals. The flora environments were also recreated from fossils and formed part of the displays.
The campsite at the caves was a welcome place to have a lovely hot shower and, over a Banrock Station red, muse that our travels are nearly over and we will be heading our camper in a Westerly direction now to Adelaide and then home.
Footnote: Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh Qld / Naracoorte SA) are UNESCO World Heritage Listed.