December 2017 - January 2018
  • Day17

    Home Safely

    January 8, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We decided to sneak in one more night on the way home and put off the washing and unpacking for a bit longer. It was predicted to be 41C so we thought the coast might be a better option and booked at Warranambool. On the drive from Port McDonnell we stopped at Nelson, there is not a lot there other than the mouth of Glenelg river. The temperature climbed to 41 for most of the trip so we didn't venture too far from the car.

    We arrived at the caravan park and set up the camper, as it was still so hot we decided to head to an air conditioned cafe for lunch. It was a good choice as we bought a painting which appealed as well as a sandwich. We had made a plan to continue the air conditioned theme by heading to the movies. Of course everyone in Warrnambool had the same idea and the movie was sold out. Thankfully the cool change decided to arrive and so heading back to the camp was more appealing.

    We had a walk along the beach which is a lovely safe swimming beach and very busy. There are 3 very large camping grounds all along the beach and they were all packed out. Dinner was everything left in the fridge and it was a quiet night. Next morning we packed up early and headed away. TomTom took us on the country route with every roadworks in the area. We had breakfast at Terang which is a quiet country town.

    Arrived home early afternoon and unpacked all the wine we had bought - a bit more than I had expected, Amazing how it all adds up. We had a fabulous time and felt very relaxed which is the sign of a good break. Now we just have to plan where to head next.
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  • Day15

    Port McDonnell

    January 6, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌬 40 °C

    Port McDonnell is definitely a place where you go to do nothing and relax. Regan and I took two drives out to see the local attractions and were back within an hour. The Bay faces directly into the Southern Ocean so the water is cooler and there was lots of seaweed in the water.

    There has been a colony of fairy penguins there for a long time but about 18 months ago a storm took away the cliff where their breeding ground was. It left the penguins vulnerable to the foxes so most of them have left the area.

    In between these two outings we did more reading, drinking and of course eating. Regan has finished 3 books so far and the 4th will be done by tomorrow. I think my count is at 8 so almost one a day! Feeling very relaxed now. We treated ourselves to a delicious dinner out on our last night and I had an incredible seafood platter with beautiful fresh locally caught produce.
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  • Day13

    Port McDonnell

    January 4, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    It was a very short drive today, only 100km in total. Fifty kilometres to Mount Gambier where we stopped to get some supplies and more bike tubes as we are slightly paranoid after 3 flat tyres so far this trip. We visited the Cave Gardens and wondered why they would choose to settle a town right on top of a large cave. There is massive amounts of limestone in this area so caves and sink holes are not that uncommon.

    We drove right past the Blue Lake on our way to the beach. It is an amazing colour but we weren't able to stop and take any photos. We are at the beach by 1:30 pm and all set up by 2. It is a typical beachside camping ground with lots of shelter to protect the campers from the southern ocean winds. After lunch we walked the the beach, quite refreshing, lots of seaweed and evidence of blue jellyfish so swimming not so appealing. It was wonderful to walk along the beach getting our legs wet. I think it is the Aquarian in me that makes feel happy by the sea.

    We biked into town before gin o'clock and got our bearings, pretty quiet with a cafe, pub, grocer, petrol station and a fishing charter business. They fish for lobsters here so there were a large number of commercial fishing boats in the harbour, not many recreational ones. Back to the camp for another BBQ and salad meal, don't you love summer.
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  • Day11

    Coonawarra

    January 2, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Again we were thwarted with our picturesque vision of biking amongst the vineyards. This time it was too cold and a nasty wind. The road the wineries were on was also the open highway so multiple large trucks roaring past at 110km were another deterrent.

    We had a slower start after our large drive the day before and the colder temperature. Our first stop was Connawarra township which consist of a large cell phone tower, a general store and two wineries. Next we had a good wander around Penola. There has been considerable time and money spent on preserving the history of the area. It was all started including the grapes by John Riddoch and the other famous local was Mary McKillop who has recently become Australia's first saint.

    Our first wine tasting was at Patrick's and then a family vineyard called DiGrigorio. Lunch was then called for and the bakery back in Penola was the best option. It was so busy and very good products including a spectacular chocolate milkshake for Regan. Next winery was Majella who supposedly has the best sparkling Shiraz in the area, it was good and we bought 2 bottles for a special occasion. The final visit was Bloc that had an awesome Shiraz. Somehow there was nearly another dozen bottles in the back of the car and the camper van is now officially full.

    We did a bit of drive to a few other places marked on the tourist maps. We drove up the driveway of an old stately house called Yallum Park only to read a sign right at the house to say it was not open to the public. Quiet dinner in our camper as it was a very cool evening. The very quiet campground was all settled down for the night by 9:30pm.
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  • Day10

    Coonawarra here we come

    January 1, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 2 °C

    We were both tired this morning as we had finally walked back to the camp around 1am and our sleep had been pretty broken with fireworks being let off through the night. We were both still full from our Mexican the night before so it was a simple cup of tea and coffee before we packed up the van.

    We drove south to Strathalbyn just an hour south of Adelaide. It is a very pretty old town that could easily have been in England. It felt very like a Midsomer Murders village and we kept looking for Barnaby the detective or a village fete.

    We had a wander around and then met my cousin Megan and her family for lunch. They are also caravanning around SA but this was the only chance to catch up with them as we are circling the state in different directions. We had a lovely lunch and was fun to hear about their camping stories. They are heading to Kangaroo island tomorrow.

    We finally left just after 2pm and decided to take the ferry at Wellington rather than driving via Murray Bridge. It was very busy but luckily we didn't have to wait long on our side. It was another 3 hours from there and we had a quick stop at the amazing painted silos at Coonalpyn and some food at Naracoorte. Penola camp ground is pretty tiny and only a handle of campers. There is a large poplar hedge behind our van so that will bring back memories of Woodend Beach camp for me and Alexandra holiday park for Regan.
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  • Day9

    New Years Eve

    December 31, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We started with a long bike ride again through the city following the river. It was a perfect morning, not too hot and absolutely no wind. It was great to get a bit further out than the day before. We met Catherine in the afternoon and went to Glenelg beach for a look around. Catherine had already found an amazing ice cream place so of course I had to try. Wild strawberry and white chocolate and honeycomb. It was incredible apart from it melting very quickly.

    After a wander around the shops and checking out a place that does art classes Catherine was interested in, we headed back to the campground where we had a few drinks to start the New Year celebrations. After a lovely couple of hours chatting and nibbling we walked to a Mexican restaurant close to the camp. We had a lovely meal and Margaritas of course.

    The last stop was walking in the city centre to find a spot to watch the fireworks. The city was pretty busy when we got there as a Big Bash cricket game had just finished as well. Catherine decided to head for home and we found a spot to sit and wait for the fireworks. They were worth waiting for and lasted for about 15 mins.
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  • Day8

    Adelaide Adentures

    December 30, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    We have just had two full days in Adelaide and have finally had a chance to have a good look around. Our previous visits have been very fleeting involving an hour stop on the way to somewhere else. On Saturday we started with a walk into the city along the Torrens river, our camp ground was on the edge of the Botanic gardens so a perfect location and only a 25 min walk from Rundle Mall. We did a little bit of shopping and picked up a Boxing Day bargain.
    Next stop was the Central Market, Regan and my idea of heaven. Lots of interesting food stalls and some very generous cheese tastings which we particularly enjoyed. We made this our lunch stop as there were so many delicious things to try washed down with a Piña colada smoothies. We also ended up with a few things to carry back to the camper fridge, thank goodness we had purchased a backpack earlier.

    We did the long walk home which took nearly 2 hours, sore feet by the end of it but a great way to orientate ourselves with the city. We had a couple of hours reading and relaxing and then our friend Catherine joined us for dinner. She has just moved to Adelaide to live and we had seen her a month ago in Melbourne on her way down from Brisbane. We did a simple dinner of BBQ beef and salad then walked around the local streets which had some beautiful old houses.
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  • Day7

    Adelaide Arrival

    December 29, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Today was a relatively short travel day with only 140km to Adelaide. It just so happened we HAD to cross through Barossa so of course a couple more wine tastings were called for. Our first stop was Murray Street Vineyard in Greenoch. I had tried one of their reislings over 3 years ago and thought if I had the chance I would visit them to try more of their wines. In the interim the vineyard has been sold and they no longer make a reisling.

    Luckily they had a fabulous setting and a delicious tasting platter with local goodies so decided to stay. We sat under the grape canopy and had a lovely hour tasting some local wines and eating delicious treats. They managed to find some 9 year old reisling they offered to me at $8 a bottle so I took 6 as a risk.

    The next stop was a family business slightly off the beaten track. Sieber wines are situated on a 2000 acre sheep and cropping farm that has been in the family for 3 generations. Val was delightful even though she was slightly distracted trying to organise a visa for China for a trade trip in 10 days. The wines were lovely but really she was the main star of the show. The view from the property was incredible.

    Then it was a short 60km to Adelaide. The caravan park is really close to the city but also packed so we can almost touch one lot of neighbours. We did some grocery shopping and then sat down to try the aged reisling. We were pleasantly surprised and it is a very good drop for what we paid. We watch everyone coming in and setting up and the highlight was a koala wandering the lane heading home. So not we expected to see in Adelaide at all.
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  • Day6

    Wine Adventure

    December 28, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Clare is warm! With the forecast for 38 degrees we abandoned the bike ride around a few wineries and retreated to the car. First stop was a village called Blyth. It's about 10km out of Clare on a barren plain. Note pic of Blyth and temperature gauge of car. The wind was like a blast furnace. Chose a couple of wineries for tastings then lunch at Sevenhills pub. 2 more tastings after lunch then back to the camp pool which of course was busy at 36 degrees. Some of the vintners were quite unique characters and of course are always happy to chat about their life stories.

    28th December is a bit cooler just a paltry 31 degrees and overcast. Our determination to bike to wineries was strong so off to the first one 3km up an undulating then climbing gravel road. Regan's front tyre copped a slow leak. Has been a bad run with bike tyres. We arrived at the first tasting just before opening time. The Sussex Squire is a new small winery doing amazing things, we bought a case!

    After a lot of water and wine we headed another 6km along gravel still at 31 degrees to food and another winery called Seven Hills which was initially planted by the Jesuit Brothers and still is a retreat for them. The last leg was mostly downhill so a few more tastings and headed back for a swim and well deserved rest. A few spots of rain later in the evening which was welcome even though it still 25 degrees
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  • Day4

    Boxing Day

    December 26, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Boxing Day saw us pack up and move on from Mildura for the 370km drive across to Clare. Coffee at Renmark overlooking the Murray. Temperature was still very warm. Julie drove from there to try out the towing skills. The braking abilities of the car and caravan were put to the test as 4 large emus decided to run out in front of us at 100 km/hr. (we were also doing 100km/hr! ) The car and van stopped straight as an arrow and in quite a hurry.

    We were very much on alert after that. The roads are straight and long but some of them are narrow as well with lots of scrub on the verges. The 110km/hr limit isn't always comfortable with a van in tow so we were mostly around the 100 mark. Lunch was on the banks of the Murray at Morgan then onward to Clare. Was still very warm. Low 30's. We are slowly getting used to the warm nights without aircon. After setting up at camp which was very quiet we settled down to a few wines and food. Tomorrow's forecast is a lot warmer.
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