SOUTH AUSTRALIA Slideshows & Diary
Tuesday 28 February Adelaide
At 5.30am (pitch black outside) we were woken by a man on the intercom saying we were arriving in Adelaide at 7.25am & a snack breakfast of drinks & Danish pastries was being served in the restaurant. Had showers & then breakfast as dawn broke. After the train arrived in Adelaide we collected our luggage & thanked our train crew who had been excellent – they had been so friendly & had really looked after us. It was quite an experience on this famous rail journey.
We waited until 8.30am for a taxi & took all the bags to the Adelaide Shores Big 4 campsite. Chris & Allyson took their rucksacks with them as they wanted to see the city to look around. Keef & I had already spent 4 days in Adelaide on a previous trip so decided to go straight to the campsite. We arrived at 8.50am & luckily our deluxe chalet was ready for us to stay. It had 2 bedrooms, bathroom, open plan kitchen, dining & lounge plus an outside table & benches. The large fridge had milk provided together with tea & coffee. The campsite reception had kindly provided a golf buggy to help transport all the heavy bags to the chalet. K & I went for a paddle in the sea as it was a boiling hot day. Adelaide Shores has a beautiful white sandy beach & large sand dunes. Hardly anyone on the beach. We spent the rest of the time in & around the large camp swimming pool. K & I had lunch in the campsite café, then icecreams & iced coffees. Felt very tired after getting up at 5.30am so we had our showers & had a nap.
Chris & Allyson arrived at the chalet having done a lot of sightseeing in the city and had got a bus to Glenelg. They brought back a bag of fresh figs from a market in Adelaide which we decided to have at breakfast. C & A had showers & later we all went to the campsite café for dinner. Barramundi/ chicken burger/ fish & chips.
Wednesday 1 March Adelaide to Alice Springs
Had the fresh figs for breakfast which were delicious. Another hot sunny day. The campsite staff drove the golf buggy with all our bags to reception and from there we got a taxi to Adelaide airport. Keef & I didn’t recognise it (we had flown from Alice to Adelaide 10 years ago) so it had obviously had a bit of an architectural make-over. Our flight to Alice Springs left at 10.40am & we had to change our watches as Northern territory daylight saving time was one hour behind Adelaide time.
Friday 3 March Alice Springs to Adelaide
We ate breakfast in the motel again then caught the shuttle transport back to the airport via various hotels & backpacker hostels to pick up other tourists. The Qantas flight went over the desert & some massive salt lakes – no habitation visible at all from the plane apart from dirt road tracks. When we got to Adelaide we collected our large bags from the left luggage lockers & got a taxi to our motel – The Atlantic Towers in Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide by the coast with very fine white sandy beaches. This motel was a tall round tower & even our rooms had curved walls. The rooms were very modern & spacious with an excellent bathroom. We all went for an evening stroll & had some drinks at an oyster bar. As it was Friday evening the restaurants & bars in Glenelg were packed. Walked past the marina & more restaurants. There were some very large expensive boats in the marina & designer apartments with sea views. Saw the Glenelg pier, tram & clock tower & then walked back. We decided to have dinner at an Aussie Outback bar/restaurant where we managed to get a free table. I could barely manage my meal (chicken salad) and had to rush to the loo with severe diarrhoea. Walked back to the motel & I took some tummy tablets which sorted me out. Had no idea what caused the bug as no one else was ill.
Saturday 4 March Adelaide to Tanunda, Barossa Valley
Got taxi from our motel to Britz Motorhomes in Adelaide to pick up our two vans. We were there 1½ hours waiting for our van to be serviced as the previous hirer had brought the van back a day later than scheduled. Eventually we got it sorted & then we all went to Coles to do some food shopping. We then headed north towards the Barossa Valley (famous wine growing area). We went through some flat uninspiring marshes after the Adelaide suburbs & joined a highway north east of Adelaide. Eventually we came to rolling hills with vineyards, although no grapes were visible. The Aussies call the vineyards “wineries”.
After 73kms we reached Tanunda, a town in the heart of the Barossa. We went into the tourist info centre to pick up some wine maps & decided to visit a few tomorrow. At 4pm we went to a campsite on the edge of the town called Discovery Parks Tanunda. It was packed out with families staying for the weekend, but luckily we got two pitches next to each other. Allyson & I did some laundry. Keef was feeling unwell (probably the same virus that I had) & it took a while for the aircon in the van to work properly. It was 36c inside the van & we sweated trying to unpack our bags & get everything sorted. Chris & Allyson walked back into town (K & I had walked round Tanundra 10 yrs ago). Keef felt ill so we made up the bed at 4.30 & he went to sleep. He woke briefly & then he changed into his PJs & went back to bed at 7.45pm & slept through the night. .Keef had no lunch or dinner today.
Rather worrying - there were notices on the toilet blocks & laundry that snakes had been spotted in the campsite area – yet there were little children running around & on bikes. I ate with Chris & Allyson who did some salad with the roast chicken we’d bought at Coles. I went to bed at 9.30pm. Quite cold in the early hours, so was glad of the duvet provided with the van.
Sunday 5 March Tanunda & Barossa to Hahndorf
Sunny warm day. Brought in washing from lines whilst nervously scanning the ground for snakes. Keef is feeling much better today. After breakfast we did part of the Barossa wine trail and then visited the Wolf Blass winery in Stockwell, just north of Tanunda. Mr W Blass is aged 82 (originally from Germany) & is the most celebrated winemaker in Australia, winning hundreds of awards, both in Australia & internationally. His career started in 1966 when he first set up his own vineyard & prior to that he had assisted other wineries by passing on his wine knowledge.
We had several tastings including the gold & platinum labels. I liked the Gold Label wine the best. The lady who served us for the tastings was a Kiwi from Wellington & was very chatty & knowledgable about wines. She had worked there for a long time & said that Mr Blass lived in Adelaide but made about 4 trips a year to his winery for promotional purposes. All his awards, glass & silver platters, cups, trophies, medals & certificates were displayed in glass cases – certainly a prestigious career & his wine is superb.
We then drove to Angaston, a small town in the Barossa with heritage buildings & lots of roses in bloom. Bought some bread & pies from the local bakery. Had the pies for lunch. We drove along the scenic route to Mengel Hill Lookout which gave a panoramic view of the Barossa Valley below us. There was a sculpture park there as well which Keef & Allyson went to see. I overheard a local man telling some Japanese tourists that a bushfire had raged through some of the wheat/corn fields but luckily the wind had changed & Angaston & the vineyards were saved. Growing vines is a high risk business & decades of work on the vines could wipe them out & bankrupt the owners.
Then we headed down Mengel Hill & through Bethany to Rowland Flat where Jacob’s Creek is situated. This is the oldest vineyard in the Barossa – established in 1847 & wine was produced commercially. The visitor centre at Jacob’s Creek told the story of the German family who had emigrated to start a new life & information about the early days of its history. The creek was dried up. Keef & I had visited Wolf Blass & Jacob’s Creek 10 years ago & the creek was dried up then. Chris, Allyson & Keef had small tastings of the wines & Keef was obviously feeling much better after yesterday. I didn’t want to try any – felt too sleepy in the hot afternoon.
We drove to Hahndorf through the countryside – very rural farming community. Before we reached the town we were held up by a road accident. A ute had crashed into some trees & was being put on a tow-truck. We arrived in the Big 4 campsite at the edge of town at 5.45pm. This campsite was brand new & was built on the side of a steep hill, with staggered levels & roads. Allyson & Chris used the camp kitchen to cook fish, rice & veggies for dinner. Chatted to some friendly German tourists. A nice campsite.
Monday 6 March Hahndorf to Milang (on Fleurieu Peninsula)
Very overcast today & some drizzle overnight. The hills look covered in mist. Chilly so I wore a cardigan for the first time on this trip. After breakfast we drove into Hahndorf, a German village established c 1843. Some of the buildings were original & very small. Now all the houses have shops inside selling touristy rubbish. However, you could look beyond this to see what the place looked like in the past with German immigrants trying to make a life for themselves. Some of the buildings had original photos displayed outside including the people who ran businesses such as blacksmith, pub, grocery store etc. People love to flock here at weekends to sample the wineries, shop in the village & eat in the numerous cafes & restaurants down the main street.
Leaving Hahndorf, we headed to McLaren Vale to visit Hardy winery. It had a very interesting visitor centre telling the story of Thomad hardy, a grocer aged 20 from Devon, who emigrated & paid his own fare to South Australia. He made his way to the goldfields in Victoria & instead of prospecting he shrewdly decided to make his money by butchering meat & selling it to the miners. With the proceeds, he then bought some land in McLaren Vale & decided to plant grapevines. Now Hardys has a 6th generation running the business.
Continued our journey to a place called Meadows where we had lunch (sandwiches). Then on to Strathalbyn, a heritage town with some quaint old buildings. We stopped at Langhorne Creek so the Langthornes could take some photos. A short drive south took us to Milang & a campsite that Keef & I knew. When we arrived there were hundreds of white cockatoos circling above & settling in trees on the campsite making quite a racket. They were Corellas, a small cockatoo with pale lemon feathers under their wings.
Keef cooked chicken pieces, onions & peppers on the camp BBQ & I did the jacket spuds in the microwave + broccoli & carrots on the hob in the van. I prepared a big bowl of fresh fruit salad. The grass pitches we were parked on had lovely vies of Lake Alexandrina, a large salty lake where the River Murray flows into it. There is a peninsula which is the Coorong National Park but this does not block out the sea water. I tried to offer the Corellas a piece of apple but they were not used to humans. Had some NZ wine called Clean Skin from Marlborough – a white Savignon Blanc – very light & refreshing. C & A washed up & then we all had a game of cards. Went to bed at 10.30 pm – too tired to read my Kindle. My virus has now turned into a runny nose!
Tuesday 7 March Milang to Robe
Left campsite & I bought bread & milk in a local store. Milang was the most important inland port in South Australia in the old days & had a railway line – now all gone. Drove along flat salt marshes & salt lakes to Wellington & got the free car ferry across the Murray River. Went down the Princes Highway 1 to Meningie, a non-descript tiny town. Along the shore at Lake Albert there were information boards with photos & info on the town & its past history. Had lunch in a lay-by – chicken pieces & salad leftovers from last night = cup of tea. Further along the road there were kangaroo signs, but they would be resting during the day.
We stopped at Kingston SE an area of Rosetown, on the Southern Ocean, the town with a massive lobster made out of plastic or fibreglass. Photo opportunity taken by the lobster. Along the seafront was the old Cape Jaffa lighthouse & a long green space with tall Norfolk pines – lovely views of the ocean & we could see the curvature of the Earth. Drove on to Robe Big 4 campsite. Arrived at 6pm & it shut at 5.30. Managed to contact them by phone & got 2 pitches for a night. Keef & I did tuna mayo wraps for dinner + melon & grapes.
Wednesday 8 March Robe to Mount Gambier
After breakfast we visited the beach by the campsite. The beach was 9 miles long with beautiful fine sand & blue sea. Temperature today 35c. Chatted to an Aussie lady on the beach. We drove into town & went for a walk (4 miles) in 35c heat. Sun was very intense. I was the only one to take a bottle of water – mad dogs & Englishmen etc!! Saw a statue of Matthew Flinders who named some small islands off the coast Baudin Rocks. Back in the 1850s lots of Chinese arrived at Robe & then travelled 200 kms by road to the goldfields. We saw a stingray in the marina & Keef took a photo. The marina looked brand new & a lot of the large homes were empty (obviously holiday homes as all the blinds were down at the windows).
After Robe we drove through vast wheatfields to Millicent where we had a short break from driving. Keef & I saw a small tornado about 1 foot across churn up some dust & move across the road near us. Moved on to Mount Gambier, a large town (Aussies call it a city) built around an extinct volcano. The crater has several vivid blue lakes which is a major tourist attraction. We shopped at Coles & stayed at the Big 4 campsite. Chris & Allyson did burgers & salad & I cut up some rock melon. We were trying to use up all our fruit & vegetables before we cross the border into Victoria due to the quarantine regulations (mainly to prevent fruit fly & other pests damaging crops).
My cough & cold are easing now – had this virus since we were in Alice Springs. Have not been 100% at all since then & my coughing at night kept waking me up.
Thursday 9 March Mount Gambier to Portland, Victoria
Very hot today again. We drove to the viewpoint over the Blue Lake which is at the bottom of the volcanic crater. The water looked like blue glass with a thin edging of turquoise – very calming & spectacular views. C & A did a walk for an hour along a trail which followed the rim of the Valley Lake. The middle lake called Leg of Mutton Lake does not have any water in it. We stopped at Valley Lake – swimming is forbidden due to bacteria & algae in the water. Lots of moorhen type birds with red heads, blue feathers on chests, black backs & VERY big feet! Chris & Allyson met up with us in the car park & Allyson briefly went into the nature park by the lake whilst the rest of us waited outside the fence.
We all drove into Mount Gambier, parked up & walked to a large sink hole & cave just behind the Town Hall, which we’d read about in the tourist info. There were a few shrubs, plants & a red flowering tree along the path & steps down the MASSIVE 50 METRE deep hole in the ground. We could see the dark mouth of a cave further down – took lots of photos. This sink hole was situated right next to a busy street, a bank & the town hall – never seen anything like this before.
We went into the tourist info centre & in the small theatre we saw a free one hour film about the volcano erupting thousands of years ago & subsidiary explosions with the force of an atom bomb caused by the build up of water pressure underground. The film was very detailed with excellent photography & it showed the fault line where the two tectonic plates had rubbed together. There had been two earthquakes in Mount Gambier & the last one was in the 1940s.
After Mount Gambier we drove to Northumberland Point further along the highway. This was on the coast with a lovely sandy beach & azure sea. Had lunch in the bright sunshine on a picnic bench – egg mayo cobs & mug of tea. However, this was spoilt by the overpowering smell of sewage as we drove further along the road past houses. It must have been discharged down an outlet on the beach – not nice & good job we didn’t go for a paddle after lunch. Most of the houses were shut up – holiday homes- so like a ghost town.
After we had crossed the state border into Victoria & on the outskirts of Portland, the next town, we were surprised to see a lone adult koala crossing the road directly in front of us!! We had to brake in order to not run him over. I took a photo of him – gorgeous cuddly!! We stopped for fuel ($1.24 litre for diesel) & drove into the town. It’s a port with container ships but did not look that busy. We spied out a fish & chip shop on the seafront for later & then found a campsite. When we returned later at 8pm the fish shop had closed so instead we went to a restaurant further along the seafront & had barramundi, chips & salad. Back at the campsite we had a game of cards.