The 47th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2011

Today, I am interrupting the sequence of my blogs for up-to-the-minute news.

The view of the 47th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey from my apartment.

I decided there was a better view from the street.

This morning David remarked that there were no vehicles coming down Bağdat Caddesi. The road was closed. We soon discovered the reason. This was the start of 47th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, the first stage of one of the warm up races before the Tour de France - and it was coming down our street; not just once, but nine times, as we were part of an 11km loop that formed 99km of the race.

Crowds wait at the finish to cheer in the winners.

 Only 300 metres to go!

I went down to the street to catch the action, and then, when they were on their final loop, I carried on down to the sea front to watch the end of the race.

At the 200 metre mark, Tyler Farrar was leading

Andrea Guardini came through to win.

The last contestants race to the finish.

The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül was there to hand out the various prizes. Andrea Guardini of Italy won this first stage, Tyler Farrar (USA) was second, and Kenny Robert Van Hummel (NI) was third. The end of the race was very exciting, as it looked as if Tyler Farrar was going to win, but Andrea Guardini came out of nowhere and beat him to the tape.

The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, congratulates the winner

Andrea Guardini is elated

The first three past the post

The green, white and turquoise jerseys are presented

The Dignitaries

the President drove home down our street, and past our apartment.


Travel to Mt Gambier (Part 2)

Mount Schank

On one of our trips out, we decided to tackle the Mount Schank walking trail. This is a series of steps cut into the slopes of an extinct volcano. Unfortunately, Mair and I failed to reached the top, although Paul managed it. The problem was that the actual steps became higher and higher as we neared the top. As both Mair and I are somewhat lacking in height, we found climbing onto the steps quite taxing, so we decided to give up and just admire the view.

The area is so flat, we could see for miles.

We also visited Beachport, which has the second longest jetty in South Australia at 722 metres. It was intended to be the longest, at 4000 metres, when it was originally begun in 1878, but various construction problems resulted in the remaining remnant. Beachport is in a natural harbour, which enabled it to be settled as a whaling station in the 1830s, and the safe haven for fishermen it has become today.

Beachport Jetty

I was fascinated to see this tiny old cinema in Beachport. It is still in use, 
although I am not sure how many patrons can fit in.

From Beachport, we drove past salt water lagoons to Robe. In Australian terms, this also has a long history, going back to the 1840s, and by the look of it, very little has changed since then. It is a charming little seaside town with wonderful stretches of beach.

We walked along the beach front to the harbour...

...and then to the old customs house, dating from 1863. 

Town records note that, Henry Melville, the first Harbour Master, voiced the need for speedy customs turnaround to prevent ships being caught in the "treacherous winds of the bay". In later times, the building was used as the town's Council Chambers, and is now a museum.

I had a great time visiting my friends in Mt Gambier. Thank you so much, Mair and Paul. You gave me such a wonderful introduction to Mt Gambier and the surrounding area, that I hope I behaved well enough for you to allow me back one day!


Travel to Mount Gambier (Part One)

As part of my trip to Australia, I flew to Mt Gambier, in South Australia, to visit an old school friend, Mair, and her husband, Paul. Although we have been in touch by email for the last three or four years, we hadn't met since we left school fifty years ago. Mair and Paul were really kind, and went out of their way to show me as much as possible of Mt Gambier and its surrounding area in the short time we had together.

Paul and Mair

Mt Gambier isn't a mountain at all, it is really a volcano complex, with the city named after it gracing its slopes. The volcano has three craters, the largest of which contains the amazing Blue Lake that turns a vivid shade of blue in the summer. No swimming or diving is permitted in the lake, as it is the main water supply for the city.

The incredible colour of the Blue Lake

Because of its geological make up this area is known as the Limestone Coast, and the many caves and sink-holes are evidence of this. One famous site we visited, was the Umpherston Sinkhole. It was here, in 1884, that James Umpherston began to create a sunken garden in the natural sinkhole that formed when the roof of a subterranean limestone cave collapsed on his property. Today, this garden is part of a city park, and is a popular venue for weddings.

The Umpherston Sinkhole

On my first evening, I had intended to take Mair and Paul out to dinner, but I was foiled by Paul, and didn't get a chance to pay, as he insisted that I was their guest. We went to The Barn Steakhouse, where they serve the most amazing steaks, grilled over coals. For me, my Peppered Steak looked huge, but was nothing compared with the one chosen by the guy on the next table to ours (see left). He had opted for the Large Grass-Fed Rump Steak, nearly a whole kilogram of meat! He finished it too!

 The Happy Diner

The next day, we drove along the coast. The soft limestone means that the coast is constantly eroding, which leads to some extraordinary features.

We passed some petrified trees, standing in the sea.

There were also strange rock formations, this one is called Rhino Rock.

We looked out from the most southerly point of South Australia. It was quite cold and very windy, as there is nothing between here and the South Pole.

During our travels, we spotted this echidna.

We had such fun, but this is only half of what I saw. There is more to come in my next post about Mount Gambier.

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!