With it been summer in Australia we had expected fairly consistent hot sunny weather. Well this week has shown just how much the weather can vary. We started the week near Adelaide where the temperature reached 41 degrees. According to the newspaper this was the hottest day for the first week in December in Adelaide for over 90 years. By the end of the week we were on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria with blustery wind and showers coming off the Southern Ocean and maximum highs of 17 degrees. Quite a contrast.
We had perfectly timed our visit to Flinders Ranges National Park before the heatwave. As we left the thermometer was rising and it would have been too hot to do any walking. Instead we went to the Barossa Valley, the heart of the Australian wine making industry.
So even though it was going to be a scorcher we could not miss out on doing a few wine tours especially as our stocks from Margaret River had virtually run out. One of the advantages of doing wine tasting was that it was conducted in either cool cellars or air conditioned rooms. As it was already 37 degrees by 10.30am we decided to start early. The first winery we chose, Peter Lehmann, proved to be an excellent choice. The person showing us the wines was excellent, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He insisted we try a very wide range of the wines so we could appreciate and understand the different flavours. When I explained I was driving he said I should still taste but use the spittoon. It seemed such a waste but as there was at least 12 wines to taste I had no choice. Gilly on the other hand could just enjoy herself. The winery even had a toy corner so the kids could happily play while we enjoyed the tasting.
We visited a couple of other wineries in the afternoon so by the end of the day were well stocked back up with wine before heading into Adelaide. We had decided to stay at a caravan park in Adelaide, not our normal choice, but this one was only 2kms from the centre of the city so was perfectly located to be able to walk in and out. On arrival we were initially told there was no space big enough for us but fortunately the gardener overheard and said he would be able to get us into a spot. We were glad he did as the location proved ideal and the walk into the city was through the beautiful botanic gardens.
We spent our time in Adelaide visiting the Botanical gardens as well as the Migration museum which very interestingly set out some of the history of the migrants that have come to live in Australia and the diverse countries they have come from. It also explained the dramatic effect this had on the local aboriginal people and some of the policies applied to migration over the years. The girls are studying Australian History, so it was very relevant to their studies. I also had a chance to visit the Wine Museum of Australia and did not need to worry about driving this time.
One place I had wanted to visit was the Central Market but it was closed on Mondays so before leaving the next day I went back early to stock up with fresh meat, fish and some wonderful cheese.
We found Adelaide interesting. It did not have that big city feel of Sydney or even Perth and in some ways felt quite provincial but in a very pleasant liveable way.
Heading out of the city we went to McLaren Vale another wine producing area so had to visit another couple of wineries. We really were well stocked now. We pulled into a free camp that evening which I realised was right next to a winery. To my surprise I found it was the winery of a wine we used to drink a lot of in Prague and really enjoyed. If only we had known, I would have been able to enjoy the tasting much more if I knew we were parked up for the night. Still we really were full of wine so would need to give this one a miss.
The weather had already started to cool down and as we headed towards the South Australian Limestone Coast it cooled further. First we had to cross the Murray River by ferry before camping at Coorong National Park. We took a walk to the beach when we arrived but the strong wind meant it was too cold to stay on the beach.
The following day we crossed the state border into Victoria and the weather had now completely changed. We arrived at Cape Bridgewater a wonderful windswept surfing bay. We took a delightful but bracing walk along beach.
As we headed along the coast we joined the famous Great Ocean Road a spectacular coastal drives. All along the way there are great views along the cliff faces of rock formations that were previously part of the cliff face. Getting out was bracing as there was a strong southerly wind blowing off the Southern Ocean but the views more than made up for it. As the afternoon wore on it was getting busier and busier so we decided to leave the main sites until early the next morning and headed to a recreation ground to camp. As it was cold we needed to sit inside the truck. Fortunately the kiosk at the site was renting DVDs, so Gilly decided we could continue the girl’s Australian education and rather than renting the latest blockbuster we rented the classic “The Man From Snowy River” (from the famous Banjo Paterson poem) starring Kirk Douglas. When the movie finished we were able to enjoy all the large kangaroos that had come to feed around the truck.
The next morning we headed to the main site the 12 Apostles. We were there before the coach parties but the weather had not improved. Still we managed a few photos of the wonderful scenery when the clouds briefly cleared.