Tag Archives: South Australia

The Fleurieu Peninsula – back to South Australia!

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!

A SA Border sign

The lovely part about being back in SA is being surrounded by their beautiful stonework – lovely homes, walls, fences and civic buildings.

A SA stone building 2 A SA stone building 1 A SA stone building 3

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!

A Blue lake

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.

A pumping stn

There are lots of sinkholes and caves in this region also, with the Cave Garden located right in the middle of the city.

A Rose Mt Gambier A sinkhole 1 A sinkhole 2 Another lake

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.

Mt Gambier library 3 Mt Gambier library 2 Mt Gambier library 1

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!

McLaren Vale 1

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.

A sculpture 1 A Chapel Hill

And then on to Lloyds for a wonderful savoury platter (best ever eggplant chutney) and delicious wines (their White Shiraz won our hearts).

A Lloyds A Lloyd

Next was D’Arenburg, makers of Dadd (as opposed to Mumm) sparkles so that was mandatory!

A Dadd sparkle Us Dadd champagne

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.

A Rapid Bay 1 A Rapid Bay 2 A Rapid Bay 3

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.

A Winding road A tree scape 3 A tree scape 2 A tree scape 1

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!

A mighty Murray mouth 1 A mighty Murray mouth 2

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.

A Port Elliot 1 A Port Elliot 2

Next stop? We move a whole 50 kms to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills…

Renmark

We stayed at the Big 4 Riverbend caravan park in Renmark, perfectly located besidethe Paringa suspension bridge which opens twice each day to allow river cruisers 
and houseboats to move up and down the Murray River. 
Campsite RenmarkRenmark bridge 1The range of houseboats is amazing  - both modern luxury style and older restored types. Little driver training is required, so now we want to go house-boating, or even better see if we can do a home/boat exchange in Europe or USA ... who wants 
to come with us?!
The Chook Man was in town for the premiere of a documentary that has been made about him. What a character. Over the years he has graduated from a minibus to a "water vessel"- we use the term loosely! Worth reading about.
Floating garbage dumpA lovely afternoon river cruise on the MV Barrangul included Devonshire tea, and  great birdlife photo opportunities for Ian. The owners are just starting off in   Renmark after running a similar enterprise at Murray Bend for many years. We were impressed by their range of activities for children - good to see a varied age    range getting right into solving intricate puzzles and games, and the big kids    helping the littlies... not an i-Pad or phone in sight! 
Tour boat Renmark 1PS Industry 1The restored paddle steamer 'Industry' steams down the river occasionally - not inour time frame sadly.

We have many beautiful red river gums in our back garden, and had heard about an  artist in Lyrup who specialises in pen and ink drawings of them. After some       detective work, we tracked Tony Smith down in his back yard, and spent a wonderful30 minutes yarning about fine art, the meaning of life, trees and ships. He was   the Master of the Murray Princess for many years, and has spent 25 years          regenerating native bush around his home. Tony's sight is failing due to glaucoma so we felt especially happy to have seen his finely detailed work, and have 2     lovely prints to remind us of our meeting.
Artist Tony Smith AOM LyrupSadly we were disappointed with the promise of fresh fruit in Berrie, Loxton and  Renmark - wrong time, wrong place probably. Next stop, Mildura!

Waikerie

We enjoyed several activities in Waikerie, located midway between Morgan and Renmark, including this early ferry across the Murray River to take morning photos of the ochre cliffs near the town.
Ferry Waikerie 1
Bend in Murray Waikerie
Other spots we liked were the exhibitions at the Rainmoth Gallery after which Waikerere is named, and the hot chocolate at Havenhand Chocolates & Cafe (we also stocked up on behalf of the Easter Bunny – very impressed with the individual quandong  and balsamic and salt choccies!)
The Wok on Water had been recommended to us by people in Morgan. Great Thai food aboard the Murray River Queen in the photo below, which also provides accommodation and a backpackers. Read our Tripadvisor review 
Murray River Queen 1Lorikeet 1
Above is the very beautiful Crimson Lorikeet (in this case a yellow version – don’t ask) in the caravan park checking out any pickings and impressing his lady friend.
We found a perfect slogan for Ian (and all our other photographer mates) in Paul White’s impressive photo gallery….
Life is like a camera…
Focus on what is important,
Capture the good times,
Develop from the negatives,
And if things don’t work out – take another shot!
Kitsch but kinda good!

Elliston to Clare

Thanks to all of you who explained the South Australian sign “Stop creeping” to us – as in do not let your speed creep up over the limit!
For our 3 days in Elliston, we stayed at the caravan park opposite the jetty which has lovely grassed sites, and a camp kitchen with a huge fire and beaut jarrah slab tables to sit at every night – a great atmosphere where everyone feels welcome.
We met up with our good friends Jan and Jamie who are on a ‘big trip’ as well, and managed to eat our way through several dozen oysters, thanks to Master Schucker Jamie! We also cooked up some other favourites as well – while travelling, we find that we only buy a small amount of really good meat or fish and vegetables and cook them simply.
Elliston oysters with J & J
Several attempts to catch a fish were made. No success and no further discussion is being entered into apparently! The cliff-top scenic drive was spectacular with excellent sea vistas of the Southern Ocean and strategically placed statues. We especially enjoyed watching the surfers in Anxious Bay with a huge swell running.
Surfer Anxious Bay
So then it started raining, so clearly it was time to move further east! We caught the vehicle ferry from Lucky Bay to Walleroo rather than travel up through Port Augusta, as this suited our plans to revisit the lovely Clare Valley.
Ferry trip
Unfortunately it rained for the 3 days we were in Clare! We stayed at the Discovery caravan park and observed many unhappy campers – that delicate perfume of drenched and smelly canvas…
Campers Clare
It is such a well preserved and historic town at the gateway to the Clare Valley, with all the beautiful vineyards, artists, farmland and surrounding country. A highlight was eating great tapas at Mr Mick’s again – all those small tastes of yummy food combined with their local wines.
We know from experience it is important to be flexible with travel routes and arrangements…. when circumstances change, the weather is too hot or too cold, or costs blow out!
So it is with this trip. Our original plan was to get to SA and hug the coastline south and east around SA and Victoria and then north through NSW and up to Queensland.
We now plan to do this in reverse to take advantage of the warmer weather (i.e. we are already feeling quite cold!) Our new plan is to head east through the Riverland region to Mildura, then turn northeast. We have family and friends to see on the way through NSW and southern Queensland, then we will move north ASAP to the warmth.
Then when spring has sprung, we will explore the coast from Queensland south and west.