Our 2nd to last border crossing – back into South Australia. Sadly we forgot about interstate quarantine until the morning we were travelling so we had to give up our tiny herb garden. We also passed over our honey, veges and fruit that we couldn’t quickly cook to some happy campers!
The lovely part about being back in SA is being surrounded by their beautiful stonework – lovely homes, walls, fences and civic buildings.
First stop was Mt Gambier where our home was the Blue Lake Big 4 Holiday Park. It was a very relaxed and fun stay there – of course their location overlooking the famous ‘blue lake’ helps!
We arrived at the perfect time in November when it changed from boring grey to a beautiful deep blue, so the drive around the top perimeter was very scenic. The lucky locals are very proud of their permanent water supply and even provide tours of their historic pumping station.
There are lots of sinkholes and caves in this region also, with the Cave Garden located right in the middle of the city.
Next door is the public library. Wow, we want one! Top technology, amazing displays, children’s section, study and training rooms – and of course a cafe just in case you need a coffee hit. Ginny LOVED their techie chairs, designed to fit more than one person – complete with 240volts outlet to keep your Macbook Pro charged! And check out the community jigsaw below.
Also enjoyed visiting Yoeys Fine Foods for gourmet foods and coffee, and the helpful crew at Fitzgerald’s Fish Sales – their smoked salmon was excellent.
Next stop was Robe, a town full of seafaring history and beautifully restored buildings where we stayed at Lakeside Tourist Park.
One fascinating story we heard here was that back in the 1850s the population of Robe increased dramatically with the arrival of 17 000 Chinese gold prospectors. Why? They paid local guides to show them where to cross at unguarded sections of the SA/Victoria border so they could avoid paying the Victorian poll tax. Don’t you love a good tax dodge story?!
We enjoyed The Whistling Bookshop with both new and old books to enjoy browsing while sipping on a wine, beer or coffee… with dogs also welcome. Our sort of bookshop!
On to explore the Fleurieu Peninsula, we based ourselves in the wine town of McLaren Vale. One afternoon we toured four vineyards with Peter from Friends at McLaren Vale with another couple from Sydney. Peter gave us some choices where to visit based on our wine preferences and interests – good idea as there are ‘only’ 90 vineyards in this region!
We revisited Chapel Hill – such a beautiful place.
And then on to Lloyds for a wonderful savoury platter (best ever eggplant chutney) and delicious wines (their White Shiraz won our hearts).
Next was D’Arenburg, makers of Dadd (as opposed to Mumm) sparkles so that was mandatory!
And finally to Dennis of McLaren Vale to talk aviation and red wine. What a fun time! Peter collected and delivered us home right to our van door, even being thoughtful enough to put a wine carton in the back of his car for our purchases. Highly recommend designing your own tour with their company if you have the chance…
It was raining at the Willunga farmers’ market, but it didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm and the range of mostly organic produce was terrific. The highlight for us was being persuaded to buy a huge organic sourdough loaf of bread with macadamias. The baker promised it would keep for a week – and sure enough we had the final two pieces as toast the following Saturday!
Two special day trips around the Fleurieu Peninsula started from McLaren Vale.
The first saw us head south along the coast to Normanville, looking out through thunderstorm clouds to Rapid Bay and then vice versa – very scenic.
Then off the beaten track along Range Road to Torrens Vale, a very pretty valley historically the dairying centre for this region. On through Inman Valley with its magnificent gums and Alma Road’s hills back to McLaren Vale.
Our second trip took us to Victor Harbour via Goolwa. Historically the town of Goolwa was a busy port on the Murray River, just before it meets the Southern Ocean. We could still picture all the farm produce arriving on paddle-steamers, which was then loaded on to steam trains to travel inland for shipping overseas. That heritage is definitely alive, with many heritage buildings, working paddle steamers and steam trains in action. Another drawcard for Ian was wooden boats so we checked on the date for the next biennial Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Sadly it is on soon in February 2015 – maybe we need to start planning for 2017…
Drove across to Hindmarsh Island to see the huge freshwater marina, and then onto Sugars Beach to see the mighty Murray River finally meet the sea. Such a magic river – we feel privileged to have travelled along it through two states several months ago!
Then on through several little coastal towns – our favourite was Port Elliot – to Victor Harbour. We didn’t linger too long as it was the venue for SA Schoolies Week so there were thousands of 17-18 year olds partying! Wish we still had half that energy. However it is easy to see why it is such a popular place with that magic combination of sun, sand and surf.
Next stop? We move a whole 50 kms to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills…