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Published: June 13th 2018
A swift and uneventful trip to return the camper van to the depot and a pleasant taxi ride to our new house sit 30 km south of Adelaide's city centre. How lovely it was to be met by our hosts. The couple invited us into their lovely bungalow, introduced us to their dapper black cat Nyles, and graciously gave us their car to use while on our 5 week stay. This would be the longest we would be in one place on our trip so far, and we were ready for some serious downtime.
Adelaide was breezy and cool as winter approached. The night before our hosts left, they treated us to Chinese takeaway and shared a bottle of McLaren Vale Shiraz, only a 15 minute drive away. My favourite room in the house was the large sun-room, complete with Jacuzzi tub and barbecue.
Over the following weeks we drove out into the surrounding countryside which was either wide open cereal or sheep farming or large scale vineyards. We visited the touristy Bavarian influenced town of Hahndorf, as well as McLaren Vale itself. There are quite a few small, picturesque towns in this area of South Australia. Each had
their share of lovely old houses with tin roofs, deep verandas, latticed ironwork (on the more substantial dwellings) and careful planting for shade. The towns were all very peaceful, despite the busy traffic of visitors, with excellent cafes, gift shops and antique stores.
There are also nature reserves nearby, and on one day visiting the local wetlands, we were delighted to see a pair of kangaroos in the wild.
Winter is here, so the temperatures were steadily declining over our stay. That's relatively speaking, compared to Canadian winter. Think rain instead of snow and night time temperatures closer to 10-15 degrees. So, a little cool, but nothing layers and/or a jacket won't fix. We did have a few couple warm and sunny days though 😊
The landscape is far more European looking than any other place we've been so far. Maybe it's the rolling green hills with sheep that seems a bit British. Or maybe the Tuscan style pine trees bordering the multiple vineyards that makes it seem Italian. The rain has made things seem more lush and nature seems to be a bit more 'tamed' here than anywhere else.
Wine production is obviously very extensive
in this area. Winter is a quieter time with not a lot of seasonal work (we checked), but we will worry about that once we are in Brisbane for 6 months. Many famous names are in this area, including Chapel Hill and D'Arenberg. The latter was a fantastic visit, as it has become something of a tourist attraction in of itself. A modern art masterpiece has been built on the grounds, a cube-like structure which houses a carnival-esque art experience with Alice in Wonderland style art and fantastical mazes. On the top floor is the tasting room with views as far as one can see over the surrounding countryside. A really cool place to go.
Each evening we would return to the lovely house and make dinner, taking advantage of the barbecue. Here we could sip on Australian wine and Australian cheese and recline in the hot tub as the sun set.
This area of South Australia is very explore-able, with not just wine regions, but beaches as well. We went to the local beach, but it was a bit too cold to swim. But it was nice to sit on the sand, watching the waves come in.
We explored the rocky beaches of Hallet Cove, where we clambered across boulders and tidal pools. Made me feel like a kid again 😊
Now onto the city of Adelaide itself. Adelaide is a city much maligned by Australians but we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves the multiple times we visit. The central area is quite small and the city provides one tram and two free bus routes which loop through it, though we found it easy enough to just walk everywhere.
The museums and galleries are all free and made for great afternoon stops. The art gallery, though small, was perhaps my favourite I've ever visited. The curation was really unique. Instead of arranging rooms by style or period, they were arranged by themes. Death, Beauty, Humanity etc. A Renaissance oil painting would be hung beside a modern abstract sculpture and so on. That way your eye was refreshed and you could really examine the pieces in a unique way knowing that they were all centered around one subject. In addition many of the works weren't labelled, so you would have to really look at the piece, before finding out who it was by before consulting a nearby
key chart. There were quite a few Rodin sculptures, lots of Indigenous work, and some Tiffany glass. This was my favourite attraction in the city by far.
The botanic garden were lovely. Beautifully maintained and well signed, lots of drinking fountains and shady places to stop and rest. I spent about three hours wandering all over the place. The museum in the centre was excellent as well, with fantastic paper mache models of apples and pears (much longer lasting than wax models) and numerous other grouped economic plant species. I, for one, never realized cinnamon and cocoa were related. It was all beautifully presented in wooden cases in a very hushed atmosphere. Venturing into the tropical house, I was comforted by the heat, as it was cool outside. There was also an extensive rose garden, although there was a lot of work being done on it while I was there.
We attended our first footy (Australian Rules Football) game at the Adelaide Oval. It was super fun, moved quickly and good seats were a reasonable price. As Kevin said, "It's part marathon, part soccer, part fistfight."
We went on a fun cemetery tour at night which gave us a little bit of spooky history. During the day we had gone to the South Australian museum. It reminded me of the old Royal Alberta Museum, with a goodly collection of taxidermied animals to look at. The stuffed lion with the sporadically twitching tail was a fun surprise (and gave me a bit of a scare lol). However, the galleries on Aboriginal and Pacific cultures were very interesting and extensive. The disparity between the invading Europeans and indigenous cultures were so vast at the time. Native cultures had survived 50,000 years with no wheel, no writing system, basic tools and no concept of land ownership. The clash with the incoming Europeans with ideas of property and assimilation is still reverberating today.
We had plenty of downtime as well, but at the end of five weeks, we were ready to move on to our next destination: Alice Springs! We fly out soon and will tell your more about our Outback adventures in the next edition!
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