Christmas in the South East
Five Days: 22nd – 26th December 2021
Twin Share: $1895 per person. Sole Use: $2085 per person.
- Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
- Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
- All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
- Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.
We celebrate Christmas this year in the South East, a beautiful place to relax and explore. Basing ourselves in Mount Gambier, this is the perfect time of year to see the Lake at it’s brilliant blue. From the still waters of the lake to the rugged coast at Cape Northumberland, there is no shortage of things to see as we take coastal drives, visit historic Penola and Glencoe, and enjoy festivities with friends. Join us as we discover the diversity of the Limestone Coast on this special Christmas getaway.
Day One – WEDNESDAY 22 DECEMBER 2021
(includes light lunch and two course dinner)
After completing home pick-ups (limited areas*), we begin our festive journey by travelling through the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray River. We stop for morning tea at Tailem Bend before turning south and travelling through Meningie beside Lake Albert, then along the shores of the Coorong.
We reach Kingston SE in time for our light lunch, before a pleasant afternoon’s drive takes us to the popular seaside town of Robe. We take the opportunity to drive around to see the variety of historic buildings and beautiful scenery before continuing our journey.
Passing through Millicent, late afternoon we reach the city of Mount Gambier, nestled on a picturesque volcanic landscape and surrounded by vast pine tree plantations.
Our accommodation is at The Henty (Ph. 08 8725 5122) and as we are staying here for the duration of our tour, we have the chance to unpack and settle into our comfortable rooms before coming together for dinner.
Day Two – THURSDAY 23 DECEMBER 2021
(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)
After breakfast we take a drive around Mt Gambier to familiarise ourselves with the city before visiting the Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as ‘The Sunken Garden’.
Once a cave formed through dissolution of the limestone, the sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber collapsed downwards. Now the topsoil on the floor of the cave forms the perfect environment for this unique sunken garden. It features beautiful terraced gardens with ferns, hydrangeas and a variety of other plants.
From here we journey to Valley Lake, the second largest crater and a lovely spot for our morning tea. After enjoying refreshments, we explore this area and the nearby Blue Lake, the most well known and largest of the crater lakes. Blue Lake provides the water supply for Mount Gambier’s population and we will call in to the various lookouts to ensure the best views.
Upon leaving the crater, we head south east out of Mount Gambier and just a short distance over the Victorian border, we reach Nelson. It is here that the Glenelg River, which flows through the Lower Glenelg National Park, enters the Southern Ocean. We have a splendid two hour luncheon cruise in a fully enclosed boat, travelling upstream as this beautiful river meanders over the South Australian/Victorian border. (Please note: this cruise will be dependent on border restrictions at the time of the tour.)
After disembarking, we drive back into South Australia and along the coast to Port MacDonnell. The limestone coast here is spectacular, and we enjoy a scenic drive through the Cape Northumberland Heritage and Nature Park. This is South Australia’s most southerly point and has a rugged coastline with natural vegetation, uninterrupted views and an historical lighthouse site.
The return journey to our accommodation is through pretty farming country, passing Mount Schank rising over the edge of Mount Gambier itself. On arrival we can relax before dinner and a good night’s rest.
Day Three – FRIDAY 24 DECEMBER 2021
(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)
Departing Mount Gambier this morning, we travel the short distance to Glencoe. In the 1840’s, the Leake brothers came to South Australia from Tasmania and brought with them Saxon Merino sheep. They established a sheep shearing station and later in 1863, built the Glencoe Woolshed. The building still stands today and was never upgraded to a mechanised shearing shed, making it the ideal location for a museum to commemorate the early pioneer pastoralists. After our tour and visit, we stop to enjoy morning tea.
We continue our journey to Penola, the southern gateway to the Coonawarra region. We visit the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre and Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse, which commemorate the lives of Blessed Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods with displays, photographs, artefacts and history. These two special people founded the first free Catholic school for children of the poor. Here in the Interpretive Centre, we can learn about this legacy that still lives on, as well as about Penola and the district. The schoolhouse is a heritage-listed building which is now exhibited as a schoolroom of the 1860s with living quarters at the rear. We enjoy lunch and some free time in Penola before heading south.
Mount Gambier is surrounded by Radiata Pine Forests; in fact 80% of the state’s forest plantations grow here. Radiata pine has grown well in this area because of the high rainfall and good drainage in the soil. This afternoon we visit the Nangwarry Forestry and Logging Museum which covers all aspects of the timber industry and provides a well-presented insight into the history and importance that forestry has in the area. This museum features a fascinating array of mill machinery and fire-fighting equipment from a bygone era with displays which also include many historical artefacts, maps and photographs. We have a short talk and some free time for a wander around the exhibits.
We journey back to Mount Gambier with time to freshen up before dinner together on this Christmas eve.
Day Four – SATURDAY 25 DECEMBER 2021
(includes cooked breakfast, Christmas lunch and light evening meal)
Merry Christmas to all! We wake to a special day of fun, friendship and relaxation!
For those who wish, there is an opportunity to attend local Christmas Day church services this morning. Others can spend some free time strolling the parks and beautiful setting of Mount Gambier, or perhaps enjoy an easy morning relaxing at the motel.
At lunch time we gather together and journey to a nearby property, also managed by our hosts, for a magnificent three course meal. Our Christmas lunch will have all the decorations and traditional trimmings, and will be a wonderful feast to enjoy with friends!
Full and contented we enjoy some scenic touring around the region with our tour driver this afternoon, before returning to our accommodation with time to relax.
Tonight, dinner will be a light evening meal together and a lovely end to a spectacular Christmas Day!
Day Five – SUNDAY 26 DECEMBER 2021
(includes cooked breakfast and two course lunch)
It is time to farewell our hosts in Mount Gambier and return home. We travel through plantations on the way to Penola before entering the famous Coonawarra wine region.
We take a short stop at Father Woods Park to appreciate the sculptures by Kevin Gilders. They are dedicated to the memory of Farther Julian Tenison Woods, who served in the Penola region in the mid 1800’s and co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph with Mary MacKillop.
We continue our journey, travelling through fertile farming country to Naracoorte and it is here that we pause for morning tea.
The beautiful countryside continues as we travel north, passing through Padthaway and on to Keith for a hearty two-course lunch.
The afternoon takes us along the Dukes Highway, through Tintinara and Coonalpyn before having a comfort stop at Tailem Bend. Before long we are travelling through the Adelaide Hills and back to our homes, after a relaxing Christmas break in such a beautiful part of South Australia.