Leaving Kangaroo Island on the ferry, the weather was good, the wind light, and our bellies remained intact.
The drive from Cape Jervis to Adelaide was long and painful. The speed limit on the Adelaide highways needs revising. People of South Australia, I ask you, how can you be intelligent to have the speed limit in the country 110km/h, but dumb enough to have 60km/h on your three lane highways in the city?
I will reserve opinion about Adelaide, as we only stayed a night, and we did not leave the hotel. The humble size surprised me on arrival to the city. Adelaide seems like a large town. After visiting New York, Adelaide is dwarfed. We stayed at the Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, ordered room service, and went to bed early. Another long drive was ahead of us. The hotel was good, food nice. The only drawback that our breakfast was not delivered.
Up early we stopped for coffee and a few V’s, and drove. And drove and drove, north, up the A1. Back on the 110km/h roads being held up by wide loads and trucks only few times, we made good time. Off the A1 we took a right before Port Augusta, and stopped in Quorn for lunch.
Quorn is famous for the Quorn pie. We circled the small town and found Quandong Cafe who sold the famous dish. We had assumed the pie would consist of some sort of baked meat and pastry dish. We would be wrong. It’s a dessert. We were asked if we knew as much when ordering. We may only get this chance once, so we had a dessert for lunch. I thank the gods of my belly that day, as the angels had landed on my taste buds. This piece of heaven has only been rivalled by two others, once in Sicily, and the other here in Melbourne. If you get the chance, stop by and try it.
After satisfying the stomach, we headed towards our next stopover, Wilpena Pound. We stopped along the way, getting out to take photos, and to leave my sunglasses atop of the car. What happened next was straight out of a comedy movie. I noticed my glasses were missing, and that they fell off the roof as I drove off, so we drove back to find them. There they sat, in the middle of the road. I pulled over, and checked my mirror before opening the door. In the mirror, a truck, I could do nothing, but watch my sun glasses get crushed!
At Wilpena we stayed at the Wilpena Pound Resort. The resort is dated, the staff is friendly and helpful, and the restaurant was reasonably priced with food commonly found in a good pub. The location is perfect, and you can camp also if you like.
The pound is located in the Flinders Ranges National Park, and consists of massive crater which appears to be created by a meteor impact. In fact, the pound was created by moving plates. It lies on what used to be a fault line. We took a four wheel drive geological tour on our only full day in the pound. We were shown the old fault line, fossils, and rocks that are clear evidence that that area was once under water. Rocks in clear view were up to 800 million years old. As you drive through the red, white and brown rock with minimal vegetation, that the whole area would have had fish, sharks and coral all around is hard to imagine.
The morning of our leaving, we took a light aircraft scenic flight. Rebecca was afraid that she would not be able to get into the plane, but with her leg removed, she was able to get into the back, and we were off.
I was invited to sit next to the pilot. It was also the first time I was able to use the D300 on such a flight. No easy feat, but I did manage to get a few nice images. If you go to the pound, you have to go up. Without the aerial view, you miss the scale of the pound.
After the pound it was time to head back south. We were able to get to our next port of call the Clare Valley by about 3pm.
Clare Valley is a wine region, so on arrival we looked for a place to go for a late lunch and wine tasting. It being Sunday, many were closed, but Skilogallee was open until 5pm. We were greeted by one of the rudest, most arrogant woman I have even had the displeasure of meeting. We were a little late for lunch, but there was no need for the attitude. We later found out, after speaking to Diane, our host at the Brice Hill Country Lodge, that this woman has this attitude to all, unless you obey and make a booking. It is supposedly the best restaurant in town, therefore the arrogance. I do not see a need for it, and do not recommend visiting, unless you are into being snubbed. We managed to get a good feed at the Clare’s town bakery.
In our day and a half in Clare valley, we managed five wineries. At every stop we purchased wine. We stopped going to wineries, as on every visit, our budget depleted. Sunday evening we went to Sevenhill, where I managed some good images in the church. Sevenhill has been producing wine since 1851, when it was produced as sacramental wine by the Jesuit priests. I thought to get a port while I was there, as I imagine they would drink a bit, being priests.
The next morning, we drop into Sugar Shack Soap. We spent an hour chatting to Lyn and Norm, about life, business and football. Lyn also felt so sorry for Beck that the longer we were there, the more she piled onto our tray of soaps. Lovely people and some beautiful soaps.
Reillys winery was the first for the day, just outside of Clare in Mintaro. We also had lunch after spending a fortune on wine. The food was good, the wine even better, and this time we were given a warm welcome.
We were also warmly welcomed by Alison at Paulett Wines, in which more chatter and wine tasting was had. By the time we left Polish Hill River we were a little intoxicated, and also a little wine wiser. Loaded with wine, we were a little worried that the wheelchair would get left behind, to make way for all the booze. And we still had two nights in the Barossa to come.
So lastly we dropped into the Knappstein Winery and Brewhouse to see if we could pick up some cheap beer. No chance. You can buy the beer cheaper in Dan Murphy’s. Go figure. So instead we purchased a few more bottles of wine.
After an afternoon sleep (wine nap) we had dinner at the Sevenhills local pub, because it was the only thing open! It was not a bad meal, but nothing to rave about.
Leaving the next day for the Barossa Valley, we decided to stop by the Barossa Brewing Company. It was closed as they also have 9-5 jobs and work the brewery on the weekend. The sign on the door did direct us to the pub around the corner we were able to purchase a few bottles. We ran into a guy from Dandenong who owned the pub with his wife who was an South Australian. Oh what a life that must be, and what a great change from the Nong!
In the Barossa we stayed at the Novatel just outside of Tanunda. Nice place with a nice view. It was very quiet for the amount of rooms. Arriving early, and being a little peckish we set off for Maggie Beers Farm. Maggie Beer has a cooking show on television here in Australia, and the food did not disappoint. The glass of wine was noting to rave about, but the duck terrine that was quite extraordinary. It is very touristy, but worth dropping into.
With some time before dinner we popped past Seppeltsfield. We decided that we had purchased enough wine, so as to avert any more wine purchasing; we would stay away from cellar doors, except for ones that had beer. The port on offer was too much to resist, but I purchased a Tokay for something a little different, and we left with beers and cordial also. Their bock beer is a little too gassy, and a little lacking in taste, but the blonde beer is very good.
The best thing about Tanunda and the valley was the restaurant we dined at the two nights in Barossa. Our first dinner at the 1918 bistro and grill was better than the second. I recommend getting the specials; they seem to put more love into them. We had some wonderful wine, and the first night was by far the best meal we had all holiday.
The next day we drove south, dropping by the Lobethal Bierhaus. The town is in the name. It is an award winning microbrewery. We were lucky the door was open as they were not. I wandered in and asked if we could purchase some beer. The owner and his wife were happy to accommodate us. The gent was a man of the financial world, making his money, he and a good friend decided to quit the high life, and do something they love; brewing beer. The love for the beer is evident is the tasting. We tasted all the beers and purchased a case with a pair of each type. The only thing missing was their Belgian brew, which we loved. It was only for sale over the bar.
That day we also dropped by Handorf, which we were told was a beautiful old town by many. If you have been to Europe, then don’t bother, you have seen old towns. This place is just touristy and boring (in my opinion).
When leaving the Barossa we dropped into the Barossa Valley Brewing Company located at the Yaldara Estate. They have two beers, the Bee Sting and the Organic Ale. We purchased a few Ales (you can get the Bee Sting in Dan Murphys) which is a fine beer, and left for Victoria, to the Grampians.
In the Grampians we rented a lovely little place just outside of Halls Gap. Relaxed would be how I describe this place. DULC Cabins was our home for two nights, and although we initially had no hot water, it was quickly fixed, and with the BBQ at hand, we were able to salvage a near disastrous end to a holiday.
The BBQ was the only alternative to the horror dinner we had the night before. If you stay in Halls Gap, DO NOT, go to the Quarry restaurant. It was by far the worst meal I have EVER had.
It is quite odd. I have travelled the world, seen many beautiful places, but right on our doorstep all those years was the Grampians. This was the first time we had visited; it will not be the last. It’s defiantly worth the trip. It is a great place for a weekend retreat out of Melbourne.
I have tried to sum our trip up rather quickly. There was a lot undertaken in a short time, and I have tried to give a reference for those that tread the same path and need a place to stay or eat, and those to avoid.
After reflection of our holiday, and after going through my images, I can see why people live in Australia and never feel the need to leave. The diversity of the terrain coupled with the friendliness of the people (in general), and the adventure of a drive that you never care to end. You are always looking out the window, and you can always find somewhere to stop and take out the camera, even from the side of the road.
I felt this country paled in comparison to many places I have been in the world, and I do miss having Europe two hours train ride away, but Australia certainly has a character that is of its own. It has an identity and a soul that I understand. I guess we are home.