Written by Tom
08/03/2009 - 11/03/2009 28 °C
Once we got to Adelaide Airport we had decided to hire a car and drive straight to the Barossa Valley (we were not overkeen on staying in some crowded city that was at the time hosting Womadelaide but instead we thought it better to get straight to where the wine is). It was only an hours drive in our Toyota Rav4 to the Barossa Valley and we checked into an old hotel in the very sweet European-esque town of Tanunda. Tanunda and much of the Barossa Valley was colonised by immigrants from Germany back in the 19th Century so many of the street names were German and much of the food on offer was German.
The following morning we got up early for a small wine tour we had booked onto. There were only 8 of us in total, including a woman who didn't drink wine (crazy). The tour was fantastic and we started off by having a look around the Yalumba winery which is one of the oldest in the region. The Barossa Valley is Australia's premier wine producing region by the way. After a look around we got started with the tastings. It was not normal for us to be drinking wine at 10am, but when in Rome...
The wine tasting at these places consists of a long list of wine, starting with the sparkling whites and then the other whites, moving onto the reds and finally the ports. You are supposed to taste them in that order and you can taste every one and you don't even feel obliged to buy any at the end. By the end of our second winery (Bethany) we were all feeling slightly tipsy. We did a 3rd winery before we all had a steak lunch. By this time Mum was only trying one or two and jumping unprofessionally around the order of wines on the tasting list. After lunch we visited a very small independent wine company and got to see it all being made up close before tasting the excellent Gibson's wine.
By the end of the 5th & last winery tour (Wolf Blass) I was feeling pretty special. In the evening we went out for dinner where I tried the Schnitzel which was excellent.
The next morning we headed off towards the Great Ocean Road which was going to take a couple of days to get there. On the way out of the Barossa Valley we stopped at the rather bizarre Herbig Family Tree which was an old large gum tree, slightly hollowed at the base which a strange German couple lived in for 5 years when they first came to Australia in the mid 19th Century. They even raised 2 of their children in it.
After leaving the Barossa Valley we saw passed the Coorong National Park which consist of massive coastal lagoons. They are very shallow and drying up, creating a lunar type landscape. Thousands of birds nest here at certain times of the year and we walked down on to the lakes edge to see some of the old nests. The whole place smelt of bird poo so we didn't stop long, despite of the beauty of the place.
In the late afternoon we got to the little seaside town of Robe. With no accommodation booked we spotted some old cottages for rent (100 years old) and got ourselves a bargain at $105 for the night for all 4 of us. We cooked dinner in and then got stuck into some more boxed red wine. Later in the evening Coralie & I taught Mum & Steve how to play this great card game called "Sh1t Head". They soon picked up the simple rules and a lot of laughs were had.
In the morning we headed on a short distance to Mount Gambier (on the border of South Australia and Victoria). Mount Gambier is famous for its volcanic crater lakes. Blue Lake is so blue it is amazing. There is something in the water (chemicals I think, but it is too technical for me to remember) that makes it that blue but in April to September it is a dull grey colour. We ate our homemade sandwiches overlooking the stunning blue lake.
After lunch we saw the next door crater lake (Valley Lake) which was a boring normal lake-colour. However, we did stop at a little free nature reserve in the crater for a walk. We spotted kangaroos and a turtle and a koala.
On the way out of town we quickly visited Umpherston Sinkhole which is a collapsed natural cave which was terraced into gardens by the Victorians with dangling vines around it.
Soon after leaving Mount Gambier we crossed into the state of Victoria.