Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Margaret River

Margaret River - 26th to 29th April 09

Stockton Lake
Stockton Lake Western Austraila
From Margaret River

The distance from the Wave Rock to Margaret River was around 500ks from memory. In OJ travelling at 85kms per hour this was going to take a while! We did not leave the Wave Rock until after 3pm. This meant a long drive into the night (It gets dark here at 6pm!) We drove until around 10pm and parked up at a free stop (mentioned in our camping bible) set the tent up and went straight to bed. The place we stopped was called Stockton Lake Rec Area. We got up in the morning to a cold but wonderful place. The view of the mist rising off the lake was really nice and we hung around for a while talking to a fellow camper about how nice a free stop this was. It’s places/nights like these that will stay with us…

Margaret River - Wine Region
Margaret River Wine Region Western Austraila
From Margaret River

Margaret River after the long night drive was not too far away now and we headed off at a reasonable hour. We passed through Bunbury and stopped off at a cheddar cheese factory along the way. We tried a lot of different flavours of cheddar and plumped for sun dried tomato, cranberry and smoked. The cranberry tasted nothing like the sample and did not go down very well . The other two were very good and went down well with a bottle of Margaret Rivers finest.

Margaret River (Known as MR from here on) is WA’s most famous wine region. It is only 40-50 yrs old, so much younger than the two other regions we visited (Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley).
MR is more renowned for being a white wine region then red. This pleases Heidi more than me! There was also a locally famous chocolate factory that H decided was a must visit. As it turned out, the 1st place we visited! Chocoholic!
The chocolate we both agreed was very nice but not a lot better than that you can get from a normal shop (Cadbury, Nestle) yet quite a lot more expensive!
Anyway in the spirit of our trips to wine regions we bought a little and gave it a try. YUM

Margaret River Vineyard Western Austraila
From Margaret River

After this we visited a few wineries, they were miles form any where so we had to drive this time (Remaining under the legal limit – man the Barossa was great!!).
Some of the properties these wineries own are awesome – huge estates with perfectly manicured gardens (all to entice you in of course).
We headed back to camp with our purchases and sampled the delicacies of the MR – Very nice (Not as good as the Barossa though – Carl spoilt himself with the Shiraz there and there is no going back now). Another day and much the same with the addition of watching some surfers catching some pretty large waves on the MR break and Surfers Point, we then headed for Busselton in Geographe Bay a very picturesque place indeed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kalgoorlie & Esperance

Kalgoorlie & Esperance - 23rd – 26th April

Kalgoorlie - The Super Pit
Super Pit Kalgoorlie Western Austraila
From Kalgoorlie & Esperance

After recovering from the long drive in Norseman and stuffing ourselves with a truckies hamburger we set off for Kalgoorlie the next day. Kalgoorlie is the major town in the Goldfields and still survives off the gold mine known as the Superpit. We headed to the lookout over the Superpit and were just amazed at how massive it was. Eventually it will be 3.8ks long, 1.35ks wide and 500m deep. You could see the huge dumper trucks taking the rocks out of the pit and they looked like tiny lego trucks (these weigh 166 tonnes and can carry 225 tonnes each). There was some seriously big machinery in operation. We would love to have had a closer look at the huge trucks. After, we had a bit of a drive around the city and saw the old brothels but didn’t really do much more and decided to head back down to Esperance stopping the night in Coolgardie. It was worth the trip up though just to see the Superpit.

Esperance Beach
Esperance Beach Western Austraila
From Kalgoorlie & Esperance

We arrived in Esperance to wind, rain, cloud, cold and gorgeous beaches! After spending a sleepless night in our roof top the weather didn’t want to let up - this wasn’t helping as we had lots of washing to do. The weather didn’t know quite what to do, it would be sunny and hot one minute, then chucking it down with rain the next, then sunny and hot. We hoped it would improve and headed out to drive the coast drive and see the beaches. The views and beaches were beautiful, but unfortunately the wind didn’t stop and made it a bit unpleasant to get out and walk along the beach. So we opted to stay in the car and head back to the campsite. As we collected our washing it came apparent that a pair of Carl’s shorts was missing. I swear I had hung them out that morning. We had a good old look around as it had been windy but to no avail, checked the car and laundry, still no luck. We asked at reception in case somebody had found them, but nothing other than a suggestion that it might have been kids messing around and to come back in the morning and see the manager. Again we searched the park, but nothing. We checked again the next morning with reception as we thought the manager should know, but all we got was an unsympathetic ‘oh well, sorry’. We just hope they blew off and that somebody’s kids didn’t pull them off or that somebody took a liking to them. Unfortunately, for some reason I had been uneasy about leaving our cooker and gas bottle out unattended all day, little did I know it should have been our washing, but sometimes you just get a feel for the place. It is a shame that we left Esperance with an unsavoury feeling as it seemed a nice place.

Wave Rock
Wave Rock Western Austraila
From Kalgoorlie & Esperance

We weren’t quite sure what to do next so we started heading along the coast to Margaret River. We took a bit of a detour north to the Wave rock and decided to then head straight to Margaret River rather than driving around the coast.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nullarbor Crossing

Nullarbor Crossing - 21st - 23rd April

Nullabor Crossing
Nullabor Crossing South Western Australia
From Nullarbor Crossing

The drive from Streaky bay was been pretty uneventful and we wanted to do the drive in as little time as possible. We needed to save some time and this was a good opportunity. We made it all the way to Bunda Cliffs rest area in Nullarbor National Park about 75k’s east of the border and stopped here for the night with a few other travellers. We had a gander at the Australian Bight cliffs here and I was amazed you could actually walk right up to the edge of the cliffs. We were a bit bored of the scenery and the Nullarbor National Park really has no trees at all (Nullarbor being Latin for ‘no trees’).

Crazy signs
Sign Post Nullabor Crossing South Western Australia
From Nullarbor Crossing

It made going to the toilet a little interesting! We kept ourselves entertained by the amusing signs along the way and the enormous road trains that we passed and that passed us. As I write this we are on the longest stretch of straight road in Australia at 146.6k’s or 90miles, trying to keep up with the different time zones and paying a fortune for fuel at $1.62 at the highest so far. (I’m sure we have worse to come!)

Longest straight road - Great!
Sign Post Longest Straight Road Nullabor Crossing South Western Australia
From Nullarbor Crossing

We had planned on taking a dirt road short cut down to Esperance, however about 100ks before this turn off, we drove into a massive storm which we were still driving through when we got to the turn off which had turned into a river, so we abandoned that idea and continued to Norseman, the storm didn’t let up for another 100ks so we were pretty glad to still be on bitumen. It was dark when we got to Norseman and we were exhausted after 800ks of driving, so we elected to stay at the campsite there for the night. Next we plan on going to Kalgoorlie now, before heading back down to Esperance and the southwest coast.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay - 18th-21st April

Heidi looking out over Coffin Bay
Coffin Bay National Park South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

Coffin Bay was somewhere we had been looking forward to going since we started our trip. So after a quick stop at Tourist Info we headed on out to the National Park. We didn’t actually realise that only 4x4’s could access most of the park and part of this involved a short drive along the beach. We were getting a bit late in the day and close to high tide so we decided to go as far as we could to one of the campsites after the beach stretch.
If the beach was impassable we would head back to the campsite at the entry to the park. Due to the beach being on the sheltered side, it was easily passable. The 4x4 track was good and great to do some 4x4 driving, involving soft sand and some small dunes. After 40 slow kilometres, we arrived pretty late at the camp site, which wasn’t the nice beach setting we had imagined, but decided to stay the night and go to another campsite the next day.

Coffin Bay National Park
Coffin Bay National Park South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

We explored a bit the next day and saw the beautiful scenery we had heard about, we had lots of fun 4x4 ing made our way to Sensation Beach to camp the night. The beach was reached by a pretty soft track that went up the sand dune and turned a corner half way up. H was driving and determined to get up the dune as Carl had done Big Red. I gave it a good go but panicked a little as I got to the corner and never made it up. After 2 attempts I let Carl have a go who made it on his second attempt. Typical!! But it was worth feeling a little envious as the beach certainly lived up to its name, just gorgeous.

Sensation Beach, Coffin Bay
Sensation Beach Coffin Bay National Park South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

We had a little play on the beach but the sand was getting softer as we drove further so didn’t want to go too far. We were looking for the campsites believing they were behind the dunes. We couldn’t find them so decided the sites must have been on the way down to the beach and we had just missed them. After a play on the beach we headed back looking for camp, but still we couldn’t find them.
So in the end after all that searching we decided to head back to a site near the entry of the national park instead. As we got back to the start of the 4x4 track and a very soft sandy section, we came across a group of travellers towing trailers heading into the park (It was getting late). One of them had got bogged just around the corner from where we were. We spent the next 20 mins spectating as they towed the 4x4 out, only for it to get bogged again 200m down the track. After another tow they were through and we were on our way. (They then thought it would be a good idea to lower their tyre pressures! - Bit late)

Sensation Beach Coffin Bay National Park South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

We again missed the turning for the campsite and had to turn back (Not having a good day!) only to bump into the same trailer towers as the first 4x4 was bogged 1k or so down from where we had left them. We went on down to see if we could help, but we were too heavy to tow them and their trailer, we were having problems ourselves getting going after stopping on the soft stuff. Again we were unable to find the camp site so just gave up and went back to the one at the very start of the park (navigation was awful today!!).

Streaky Bay - Sunset
Tractor Beach Streaky Bay South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

The next morning we headed to Streaky Bay intending to get to a campsite about lunch time and just relax. We also thought it would be a good idea to try out our newly purchased camp shower in a bid to not stay on so many caravan parks just for a shower. Again we couldn’t find the camp sites around the headlands (we really aren’t having much luck with these bush camps!!) so a quick call to tourist info put us in the right direction. We eventually got there just before dark, we quickly got dinner organised before the sun went down and decided that we could shower in the dark later. We were treated to an amazing sunset as we ate.

The Shower!
Camping Streaky Bay South Australia
From Coffin Bay & Streaky Bay

So next we attempted the shower. We brought with us a pop up ensuite tent, that we have nick named the divorce maker, as the bloody thing is more difficult to put away and could cause some serious relationship issues!! When we first brought it we almost had to drag it back to the shop to get them to show us how it went back in its bag, when all of a sudden it just folded and twisted back together. After finding a suitable container to put about 3 litres of water in, Carl was first up. After stripping off so fast so that the mozzies wouldn’t attach fresh flesh, he was in the tent awaiting water which I had control over. Now water is very precious to us as we haven’t got an endless supply so this was a quick shower, which involved a quick splash, lather and rinse. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much as Carl gave a running commentary and I was running around getting shower gel, towel, clothes etc. The shower itself was pretty good and we were quite impressed with its power. Next up was my go. It was definitely an experience in the pitch dark and the quickest shower I’ve ever had. The tent did its job and we even managed to put it away and still be friends after. It was great to feel clean again though, but something we might attempt in daylight next time!
The next morning we headed down the coast line a bit to see a colony of Sea Lions at the only place where they breed on the mainland. Next we head westwards across the Nullarbor.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Birdsville Track

The Birdsville Track - 12th-16th April 2009

From the Flinders we headed north to the small town of Marree. We were now in the outback and the scenery had changed to a scrubby desert landscape where we could see for miles. Marree is an important supply point for travellers undertaking the Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks, the latter being our next route. We wanted to see Lake Eyre so headed straight up from Marree, where we also got to pass through the dog fence, the longest fence in the world (approx 5400k’s). It is meant to keep out the dingos from sheep country in the south with cattle country being north. After a fairly rough 100k drive, we arrived at the dry salt lake of Lake Eyre to be greeted by a gazillion flies. From the floods in Queensland, water is now filling Lake Eyre which has only happened a handful of times in the last 150 years. We would have loved to have seen the water, however it hasn’t flowed down to the south of the lake yet where the only access tracks are, the only way to see it being by air.

Lake Eyre
Lake Eyre South Australia
From Lake Eyre

We were greeted with a vast expanse of salt (and plenty of flies), which was just as an amazing site for us. It is also the largest salt lake in Australia, the lowest point on the mainland at 15m below sea level and the site of Sir Donald Campbell’s land speed world record in the bluebird in the 1960’s. Did I also mention the amount of flies?  After a few piccies we headed back to Marree where we could see a few rain showers on the horizon. I’m sure we had just read this was the driest place in Australia! They looked a fair way off but we were eager to get off of the dirt track just in case. As we drove into Marree we were under a thick black cloud and it had started spitting. We pulled up at camp and made our way to the camp kitchen as the first rumble of thunder sounded. Subsequently followed the most amazing storm we have ever seen, made all the more amazing as the sun was going down and we could just see for what seemed like 1000’s of K’s. At one point there were 3 storms going on around us, all with fork lightening. We were both quite excited until we realised that the Birdsville track could be impassable from heavy rain. This is something Carl has wanted to do since we talked about travelling so he was feeling a little disappointed. Not much rain fell in Marree but we would have to wait until the morning to find out if any part of the track was closed. We spent the night in the bunk house after the friendly campsite owners offered it to us due to the storm. With the prospect of sleeping in the roof top and practically being the tallest thing on the campsite we gladly accepted.

The Birdsville Track
Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

The next morning we were pleased to see the track hadn’t been closed, so we fuelled up and started the Birdsville track, heading for Mungarannie. The track was very good for a dirt track and hardly any wet spots apart from a couple of sections, one with a small flowing river and another with about 1/2k of standing water about knee deep. All negotiated without any problems. We pulled in to Mungarannie, which consists of just the pub offering camping and fuel and decided to stop the night here.

Inside Mungerannie Hotel
Mungerannie Hotel Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

We spent the evening in the pub, our first outback pub experience, and even treated ourselves to fish and chips. We had a great evening talking to the owners and one of the locals (from 200 odd k’s away) who was travelling through to muster his cattle. We watched a video and learnt about the origins of the track. Originally it was a stock route for cattle to Adelaide before becoming a mail route where Tom Kruse did the mail run in the 1930’s to 1950’s in his Leyland Badger 2wd truck. There wasn’t a dirt track in those days just a set of wheel ruts through the desert and it took approx 2 weeks to deliver mail & supplies on the 514k run. The hardest mail run in the world. Even now they only get mail once a week by air, and to think we laughed about no mail on Saturdays when we moved to Brissy!

Tom Kruse's Mail Truck
Tom Kruse Mail Truck Mungerannie Hotel Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

The camping area was just to the right of the pub and they even had a hot bore pool. Unfortunately in the day it was too hot to get in, it was like a hot bath, so we gave it a miss. We also got to watch another storm roll on by. We really enjoyed staying here and there was something so nice about being in the middle of nowhere, it was just so peaceful and open. Kind of perfect apart from the flies and the ants which were so hell bent on crawling and landing all over you. H spent most of her time outside hoping from one foot to the other to avoid the ants and Carl spent his time trying to kill the flies.

Mungerannie Bore Pool
Heated Bore Pool Mungerannie Hotel Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

We headed off early the next morning and caught up with Peter (the local cattle owner) about 100ks up the road. He invited us into his caravan for a coffee as they had punctured another tyre (this was his 4th with still about 250k’s to go). We were pretty amazed as we watched the guys repair the tube and refit the tyre all on the side of the road, made us feel a bit unskilled! We enjoyed listening to them as they told us about living and working out here and how they drive over 500ks to their cattle and carry all supplies with them. They were so very friendly, something we have noticed a lot away from the coast. True outback hospitality.

The Birdsville Track
Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

The scenery through the Sturt Desert is very flat with lots and lots of red gibber stones, which are pretty unforgiving on tyres. Although it sounds boring, we never seemed to get bored of the scenery. I’m still trying to work out what the cattle eat out here, I never did seem to get that one answered and I’m sure it isn’t the red stones like I was told! As we travelled on, the scenery was subtly changing, from red stone to sand and then we hit Queensland. To our complete amazement it was GREEN, a real lush green, like English county side. We then found out that Birdsville had been completely cut off due to the Diamantina River flooding and had only reopened 3 weeks ago.

A Very Green Birdsville
Birdsville Queensland
From The Birdsville Track

We saw some pictures of the flooding later on that evening at the pub and due to the flatness the water had travelled for about 10k around the town. As we drove into the town we passed the race track, home of the famous Birdsville races, where for one weekend in September the town swells to a population of 5000, from approx 150 normally.

Birdsville Hotel
Birdsville Hotel Queensland Australia
From The Birdsville Track

Birdsville is the gateway to the Simpson Desert from the east, a major 4wd experience that we would not undertake on our own and it was closed anyway. But the highest sand dune on the Simpson (Big Red) is easily accessible from Birdsville, 35ks down a decent gravel track. Carl would love to do the Simpson crossing in the future, but this is as close as we were getting for now. As we came up to the dune another 4wd was already there, so after a quick chat we watched him go up Big Red, all seemed easy enough, so we lowered our tyre pressures and off we went. Giving it plenty of grunt we made it up quite easily, but let off the gas as we hit the top and weren’t able to fully make it up to the highest point. It was pretty awesome at the top and the red sand just stood out against the surrounding scrub. We watched the other car go off down the other side and attempt to come back up, but after a couple of attempts he couldn’t make it and had to come up what they call the Chicken track!! We were not game enough to even try it with our fully laden car knowing it was notoriously difficult to get up the dune from the western side.

Big Red, Simpson Desert
Big Red Simpson Desert Birdsville Australia
From The Birdsville Track

As we drove back through Birdsville down the main street, it was very strange to see the airport next to the pub. That evening we had a couple of drinks in the famous Birdsville Hotel, taking to the bar tender about the recent rains and viewing the pictures he had taken. It must be quite amazing to see a dry river flood with water and he had some fascinating pictures of Warburton River flowing in to Lake Eyre.
We were told we had to see the working museum and just made it there the next morning for the 9 o’clock show. The guy was a bit of a character and he had masses of old collectables and memorabilia, some very interesting like the old washing machines and the first fridges, but we thought it was a bit over rated and felt we wouldn’t have missed that much really.

Mungerannie Hotel Birdsville Track South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

After a quick stop to pick up some tomatoes for the guys at Mungerannie we said good bye to Birdsville & QLD and headed on back down the track, again stopping at Mungerannie Hotel for the night. I’ve never seen anyone so happy to see tomatoes as we dropped them off, but they hadn’t had any supplies for 3 weeks due to Easter. That night we caught up with some others that we had briefly met in the Birdsville pub and spent the evening chatting around the campfire with their group. Helen & Les from Yatala, not far down the road from us in Brisbane, and Donna and Trev from out whoop whoop in NSW somewhere!! We had a great night with maybe one or two too many drinks consumed.

Port Augusta - Camp, Clean Up!
Camping Port Augusta South Australia
From The Birdsville Track

Next morning we got a reasonably early start after saying goodbye and swapping details with the guys, and headed on down to Port Augusta. It was with mixed feelings we entered Port Augusta, sad to leave the open expanse and tranquillity of the outback but glad to be back on the coast. It is true what they say, there is something magical about the outback and the way it makes you feel. We look forward to more outback adventures in WA. We didn’t do much in Port Augusta other than use it as a stop to get some housework and washing done. We found that the back door seal is not doing its job and we had dust over absolutely everything from the dirt tracks of the last couple of days. We proceeded to empty out the car and clean everything and re-pack. After stocking up on supplies, we made our way to Coffin Bay.

Lake Eyre & Marree

Birdsville Track

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges - 9th – 12th April

The Flinders Ranges
The Flinders Ranges South Australia
From The Flinders

After a long drive we found a camp spot in the Flinders. This is an amazing place that is a welcome sight on the eyes after not much to look at from the road. It is an ancient mountain range that has been sculpted by the weather. We had a lovely drive through the gorges to our camp. We were expecting it to be quite busy over the Easter period but found the camp ground almost empty and had our pick of spots.

Flinders Camp spot
Camping The Flinders Ranges South Australia
From The Flinders

We had a day walking into Wilpena Pound which is a like a large creator with a flat piece of land and mountains all around the outside, learning about the people who use to live in the home stead here and work off the land. We explored all around the couple of gorges and some old ruins. We really enjoyed being here and we even got to see a rare yellow footed rock wallaby as we left. A thoroughly amazing place, we were sad to leave but as always never enough time and have to move on. Next was up to Marree and the Birdsville track.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Broken Hill & White Cliffs

Broken Hill & White Cliffs - 5th – 9th April

Murray River National Park
Murray River National Park Victoria Australia
From Murray River NP

The Murray River is one of Australia’s greatest rivers passing through 3 states before hitting the sea. We spent the night bush camping on the side of the river, thoroughly enjoying the peace and quite as we overlooked the river. It is a shame that we couldn’t spend longer here and only got to enjoy the one night. Definitely somewhere we would love to explore some more.

Next morning we set off early for Broken Hill in NSW for the one night before heading to White Cliffs. White Cliffs is an opal mining town that is a little hard to describe. It is basically built in an opal field, it has one shop that services everything and one pub. To the North of the town is what is called ‘the claims’ these are basically pieces of land that belong to someone, this person has one day the intention of mining this piece of land for opals. The whole set up was like something from the 1900’s with people digging holes in search of the hidden loot. If they didn’t get lucky then they leave a great big shaft in the ground and move on. There were 1000’s of these disused shafts with a pile of discarded earth and rocks next to them (called mullocks). It must be what pioneering times would have been like. We had fun getting lost in this sea of mullocks.

White Cliffs, NSW
White Cliffs New South Wales Australia
From Broken Hill & White Cliffs

On our way to White Cliffs from Broken Hill (290kms) we saw the magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle. It is a truly massive bird and amazed us with its wingspan and with the slow gracefulness that it took off with. The road was straight and apart from the Eagles, pretty uneventful. That was until we hit White Cliffs Info centre and got out of the car to a hissing noise coming from the back of the car. On inspection we discovered our 2nd puncture of the trip, this was in addition to the chip in the windscreen we also picked up on this journey – we were beginning to wonder if it was worth coming out here!! Angrily and in a sea of flies, Carl changed the tyre and we moved on gingerly now knowing that another puncture out here could be a real problem.

Puncture Number 2
White Cliffs New South Wales Australia
From Broken Hill & White Cliffs

White Cliffs explored and needing accommodation here for the night we decided that after the day we’d had, the campsite was not that appealing. A night in the White Cliffs Underground Motel was an interesting prospect. There are a lot of houses built into the ground in WC. This is to escape the ridiculously hot temps of the summer, where it can get to 50C! The Underground Motel was we guessed natural progression from underground houses. We booked ourselves in and inquisitively entered the hallways of what was basically a very large rabbit burrow! The whole place was cut out of the rocks and the ambient temperature inside was always 22C regardless of what was going on outside. On our particular day this was warmer than outside – it was unseasonably cold here for the time of year – There was a nasty southerly breeze. We enjoyed our evening in the underground bar, but sleeping was unnaturally quite for us after sleeping outside for so long, it took some time to get use to it.

Underground Hotel, White Cliffs
Underground Hotel White Cliffs New South Wales Australia
From Broken Hill & White Cliffs

We headed back to Broken Hill for the next couple of nights to sort out the tyre and do some washing. We went out to Silverton where a lot of Australian movies have been shot (Mad Max 2, Pricilla Queen of the Desert). It is a typical looking outback town with a few old stone buildings scattered around and a pub.

Mundi Mundi Lookout
Mundi Mundi Lookout Silverton New South Wales Australia
From Broken Hill & White Cliffs

We headed out to Mundi Mundi lookout which we had read about and as we came over the hill we had a truly amazing view. The land was so flat and you could see forever into the horizon. The say you can see the curvature of the earth here. We had a spot of lunch here while taking in the expanse of the land then headed back to Broken Hill where we potted around and looked at the mines.

Silverton, NSW
Silverton New South Wales Australia
From Broken Hill & White Cliffs

Murray River NP

Broken Hill & White Cliffs

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley - 2nd April – 4th April 2009

Barossa Valley Purchases
Barossa Valley South Australia Wine
From Barossa Valley

We left Adelaide for the short drive to The Barossa Valley via MacDonald’s for some free internet access. The Barossa Valley was a very nice place and after a visit to Tourist Info we decided we were going to take in a few wineries on foot.
Well rested at our camping site we set off on ‘the great wine walk’ as we will forever call it. Basically we walked 10kms throughout the day and took in 6 wineries – Eldertons, Penfolds, Kaeslers, Cockatoo Ridge, Stanley Lambert and Richmond Grove.

Penfolds Tasting
Barossa Valley South Australia Penfolds Wine Tasting
From Barossa Valley

Penfolds is one of the most prodigious wine makers in Australia; some of their wine goes for around $1500 a bottle!! We tried pretty much every wine on the tasting list and they were very good. There was a Chardonnay that was up for tasting for a very limited time that was $150 a bottle. We also enjoyed our first taste of Port here, I think we have been converted, and we even tried Chocolate Port at a later winery, very nice! We had a great afternoon and finished it off with a meal and got a taxi back to the campsite, after waiting for an hour as there was only 1 taxi on duty that night!

Next morning we headed off out of the Barossa, after stopping in at Jacobs Creek for a little more tasting. Heidi found a nice Chardonnay here, so we picked up a bottle and off we headed for Murray River National Park towards Broken Hill.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mt Gambier & Adelaide

Into South Australia 29th – 30th March

South Australia!! YEY!
South Australia Sign
From Mt Gambier and Adelaide

We left Portland and headed for South Australia and Mt Gambier. We decided to push on from Mt Gambier after seeing the Blue Lake and ended up at Beachport. We did have a little mishap with Carl’s hat as he left it on top of the car and drove off, after searching the back of the car he realised what he had done so we retraced our steps to find it laying on the road just outside where we had stopped!! All items safely now inside the car we moved on. We spent the evening deciding what we wanted to see in SA over the next few weeks and put together a rough itinerary. Next stop was Coorong Nation Park which is a long sand dune with wet lands behind and a haven for birds. We had read about some great places to camp and both were looking forward to a relaxing day next to the water. We got up early and headed for the Coorong. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what we expected and we were both a little disappointed as no bird life to be seen and the camp spots weren’t quite the relaxing seclusion we had imagined. We pushed on for Adelaide as a little conscious of the time we have left for our trip. We aim to spend the next few days exploring Adelaide before heading to the Barossa Valley.

Mount Gambier - Blue Lake
Blue Lake Mount Gambier South Australia
From Mt Gambier and Adelaide

Adelaide 30th March – 1st April

Adelaide South Australia
From Mt Gambier and Adelaide

We arrived in Adelaide after an amazing 7km steep downhill run into the city. The road is a freeway but it just keeps on falling away - Fuel economy figures will have been boosted!!
We arrived at a very nice campsite late(ish) in the evening to be greeted by some very nice staff and set up camp for 3 days to explore Adelaide. We had only driven a little way into the outer suburbs by then, yet it was still clear that Adelaide was a very leafy and pleasant city.
The next day we drove into the city and spent a few hours just wandering around and taking in the sites and sounds before heading out to the famous (To people in Adelaide!) Glenelg. This is the coastal suburb of Adelaide to live in, much like Manly or St Kilda for Sydney or Melbourne. Parking was expensive and we didn’t hang around too long. Seemed nice but you needed to know where to be – like a little local knowledge.

Hahndorf South Australia
From Mt Gambier and Adelaide

The following day we drove out to Hahndorf, Hahndorf is a little historic German town 10kms out of Adelaide. The town is very picturesque and reminded us of autumn England. Adelaide and the surrounding area’s have a strong German influence and in Hahndorf you could buy a few delicacies of German origin. We found some amusing Wurst and you can check out the names in our piccies – made us laugh. After Hahndorf in the warm weather we decided to once again head for the coast. We drove in to south Adelaide through the hills and headed for Christies beach. It was lovely here and we walked up the beach taking in the view over the shallow clear turquoise waters. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

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