Brisbane - Adelaide and Coonawarra

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December 8th 2011
Published: December 8th 2011
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Hello everybody!! Welcome to the last days of our trip. Right now I am very much looking forward to coming back home, seeing everyone, enjoying M’s home cooking, wearing new clothes and celebrating Christmas. I guess when one’s been away this long, towards the end, one feels a terrible nostalgia. There is only so much one can do and see before starting to feel too far way and missing one’s own life. I guess the tip I would give all travellers is to travel for a limited amount of time, in order to focus on things, appreciate every new country and city and not take things for granted. Notwithstanding the fact that we are extremely grateful that we’ve had the chance to see all these places and to share them with you!

So, our last days are being spent in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. We are currently in Adelaide, the famous Southern Australia Wine Region. <span> Oh! Before I forget, we also travelled to Fraser Island, but let me just summarise the experience by saying ‘don’t go there’.<span> We drove 4 hours there and back to find that all walks on the island were closed due to danger of fire, it was constantly raining and everything from accommodation to touring the island to eating was monopolised by the Kingfisher resort (bad and expensive). Well, at least the driving was nice.

About Brisbane; we were only there a couple of days and we found it quite similar to Sydney, in the sense that it’s a lovely coastal town in which I would not mind living! We visited the Museum of Brisbane, which was housing an exhibition about the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Inspired by this Victorian concept, the Museum decided to reunite ‘curious’ objects from different organisations which related to Brisbane. It was a small space but very well thought. Objects included: Pineapple cans sent to Queen Elisabeth after the war as a wedding present (rationing of food in Britain lasted 14 years), Queen Victoria’s diary describing her experiences in Scotland, the city hall’s founding stone, Sir Thomas Brisbane’s pipe and miniature portrait (he built the first permanent observatory in Australia), the 19th century Anthony family tomb stone (they lost 4 children; in 1850-1890 infantile mortality rose dramatically), one of the first electrical shock apparatus, local jewellery from Papua Guinea where nuns were being sent to evangelise, a ‘bloodletting’ medical instrument, a Ventriloquist doll, horse races equipment, a Japanese war flag, a rope which inmates used to escape from jail in 1988 etc. My favourite; ‘Peter the Dog’. In 1952, Peter’s owner was being accused of someone’s murder. He denied it; until police decided to bring Peter back from the grave and stuffed it as it if was alive. The murderer was so touched by seeing his beloved dog again, that he confessed! Amazing! And all thanks to Peter.

About Adelaide (South Australia, estimated population 1,6 million): we happened to be there at the same time as Foo Fighters and Jack Black! People kept waiting for them at the hotel’s entrance and conveniently, local book shops were advertising books on Kurt Cobain’s death. Our day there was spent walking around the city under a burning sun and admiring the Migration Museum, one of my favourite in terms of learning about Australian History. We learned all this: currently 49 %!o(MISSING)f Australians are either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas (most from England). 28th December 2011 marks 175 years since the arrival of officials and immigrants to establish South Australia as a province of the UK (1836). It was surprising to find out that immigrants who were not British subjects were considered by law to be ‘aliens’ (for example Asians, Africans and many South-Europeans like Italians, Greeks etc). The South Australian settlement also separated settlers into ‘owners of capital’ (those who purchased parcels of land) and ‘owners of labour’ (those who would tend the land).<span> Aboriginal people (treated as an underclass) gained nothing and lost everything to the hands of the English settlers; they were forced to wear clothes, <span> give up their laws, language and beliefs, died of newly introduced diseases, were sent to jail and killed for ‘trespassing the land’ and a long etc of injustices. Employers in the early colony tried to control their labourers through a ‘Masters and Servants Act’ (for example, workers could not look for other jobs while labour was scarce and were punished if they tried to escape!!). Meanwhile, the Colonization Commission officials tried to arrange a series of projects (jobs for immigrants, education and religion) which led to financial disaster only 5 years after their arrival. Another incredible fact is that even though during the 20th century Australia opened its doors to several million immigrants, it was not until the 1970s that people of Asian and African origins were welcomed! This was called the ‘White Australia’ policy and lasted from 1901 to 1973. Things have changed, but only in the last 40 years!!

Once we left Adelaide, we decided to head toward the Wine Region; driving 450 kilometres south we got a glimpse of at least 3 or 4 kangaroos –<span> DEAD again! It is quite sad that we haven’t seen one single kangaroo in our whole Australia-trip, but we’ll keep trying! Coonawarra is the wine region we chose to explore, right next to Penola, another British colony from the 1850s. There is not much in Penola itself, an Information Centre with a small interesting exhibition about the settlers and a centre dedicated to Mary McKillop, the only Australian saint! It was Mary’s, and scientist/priest Father Woods’ dream to open a series of schools to teach and support the children of the poor. An abandoned stable housed their first school; in the following years they created an order dedicated to this project (Sisters of St Joseph – today there are over 1,000) and established many more Catholic schools all over Australia. Their courage and perseverance in such harsh times impressed us.

We stayed in a little cottage in the middle of Highbank, a 17 hectares vineyard owned by our friend Dennis – he’s been producing wine for the last 25 years. His vines are sprayed with organic preparations and the pressing of the grapes is done by hand. I did not try the wine as I don’t drink but M tells me it was quality wine. What I will always remember is the indescribably beautiful view of the vineyards at sunset. The horizon painted in all the beautiful colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple... the first stars coming out... some trees scattered in the landscape... and row after row of vineyards, covering the ground like a green blanket as far as the eye can see. There is a swing hanging from a tree and we sit and watch the scenery for as long as we can. It’s moments like this that one never forgets.

We are now on our way to Port Campbell, the 12 Apostles and finally Melbourne, where we’ll say our goodbyes before returning home.


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