A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - Barossa Valley & the state of South Australia

Written by Tom

sunny 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...
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Soon after leaving Mount Gambier we crossed into the state of Victoria.

Posted by tomcoralie 20:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Perth & Fremantle

Written by Tom

sunny 33 °C

Our first night in Fremantle was heavily influenced by G&Ts and boxed red wine and was spent catching up on stories with Mum & Steve, who we had not seen for 5 months. They had come out to Australia for a holiday and to see us. We were staying in a sweet Victorian terraced house for our four nights in Western Australia. It was a welcome change for Coralie & I since we hadn't stayed in a proper house since Byron Bay in early January.
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Another welcome change was Mum's cooking. Steak on the first night and the next morning our sore heads were slightly relieved thanks to a fry-up cooked by Mum. After brunch Coralie & I headed into Perth centre to do admin stuff (amazingly smart haircut for me) and internet. Mum & Steve headed to Cottesloe beach.

The next day we hired a car and drove down to Bunbury (2.5 hrs south) to see some dolphins that come right up to the beach for feeding and you can stand in the water with them. Unfortunately we got there just too late and we missed the dolphins. They had already been in to the beach and it is rare for them to come in more than once. We sunbathed on the great beach instead for a bit. Suddenly Mum saw a fin in the water near the shore and I ran over to investigate. It was a ray (maybe a sting ray) but by the time I got my diving mask out it was gone.

The trip down to Bunbury was not all wasted without seeing dolphins as we knew of a wildlife park where you could see some cool birds but more importantly you could feed kangaroos. It was cheap to get in and armed with our paper bags of seeds we entered. Immediately we saw three kangaroos lazing in the sun. We put some seed mix in our hands and they got up, put their front paws on our hands and munched away.
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They were so tame you could stroke them at the same time and they loved it!
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The rest of the park dulled in comparison to that experience even though there were galahs, cockatoos, parrots, emu and wallabies.

On the way home we stopped at a mangrove boardwalk but they were not as good as those we had seen in tropical north queensland. That night back in Fremantle we went out for a massive fish and chips at the harbour.

Our last whole day in Western Australia was spent catching the ferry over to Rottnest Island and lazing on the beach. Whilst walking to the beach we saw a quokka (small marsupial thing that looks like a big rat or "rott"). The beach was nice but Coralie & I were finding the water a bit cold after the tropics where we had recently been. I still went snorkelling with Steve though (who was finding the water comparatively warm compared to England). We both saw some fish and even an octopus, and Steve swam with a sting ray. It was a chilled day on a great beach on a beautiful island. In the afternoon we got the ferry back and ate takeaway pizzas and had a relatively quiet night.

The next morning we all got up early and headed off to the airport to catch our flight to Adelaide in South Australia.

Posted by tomcoralie 23:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Cervantes

Written by Tom

sunny 33 °C

We arrived in the very small and sleepy town of Cervantes at lunchtime and checked into our sweet hostel, the only hostel in town, called Cervantes Lodge. We went for the cheaper dorm beds and luckily had the whole dorm to ourselves for both the nights we stayed there. We had a quiet night, staying in and cooking a delicious pasta bolognase.

The next morning we walked off along the beaches and bays to find these massive white sand dunes we had been told about. It took an hour to walk there and an hour back, walking beside turquoise waters and we saw not a single other person the whole time. Eventually we got to the sand dunes, and leaving the camera down on the beach due to the strong winds, we marched up to the top of the dunes (more likes hills they were so big). At the top we got battered by the really strong winds, sand was going everywhere (the mouth, the eyes, the ears) but the view was great. It was like a white sandy desert crossed with a desolate lunar landscape.

In the afternoon we headed off on a small tour (6 people) in a minibus to the Pinnacles Desert (about 20 minutes away). We spotted a large Western Grey Kangaroo on the way for some more kangaroo photos to add to our collection. We got to the Pinnacles at about 6pm so the light was good and there were long shadows. The Pinnacles are a strange eerie collection of tall thin rock columns sticking out of the sand. There are literally thousands of them and the whole area is pretty vast. I've already forgotten how they were made so you'll just have to admire the photos instead.
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As we wondered around trying to admire the rock formations but being bored to death by our tour driver and guide who was coming up with rubbish stories and made-up names for things as though we were five years old, the sun was slowly setting. To the drivers credit he did take us to a good spot to watch the sunset, which was a pretty good sunset as far as sunsets go.
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On our final day I got up to see the sunrise as I couldn't sleep and then even went for a run afterwards (I know, amazing!). Once Coralie was up we went for a walk inland to a lookout for amazing views of the coastline. Then we walked further to a stromatolite lake and walked around it. I'm sure that Coralie was less than impressed with the stromatolites but having done a biology degree I found them slightly interesting (stromatolites are the oldest living organisms on earth, they are bacteria which secrete rock layers in domes).
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Unfortunately the flies were out in force again so Coralie wore her sexy fly-net mask again while I walked around waving the flies away constantly like a loony.
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In the afternoon we took our last Greyhound bus for a while down to Perth (3hrs). Once in Perth we jumped on the train down to Fremantle (pretty seaside town south of the city) where we met Mum & Steve who had come to Australia for a holiday and to see us.

Posted by tomcoralie 23:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Kalbarri

Written by Tom & Coralie

sunny 33 °C

After the Greyhound bus picked us up 2 hours late at 11pm we eventually arrived in Kalbarri at lunchtime. Before we arrived though we stopped at a remote roadhouse for some breakfast and I got to see a great sunrise.
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There was only one hostel to stay at in town and we splashed out on a double room - bliss, after 12 hours on a bus!

We managed to organise hiring a 4WD car in the afternoon so drove out of the small town to see the coastal gorges at the National Park. The mixture of stacks, arches and general rugged coastline was stunning but the flies were a nightmare! They covered you the minute you got out of the car, getting into your eyes, nose and ears - horrible!!
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The coastal gorge drive was amazing, the furthest feature was just 25km out of town (Island Rock (photo above)) and then you stopped in the car every couple of kilometres to see other features like The Grandstand, Pot Alley, Castle Cove and Red Bluff to name just a few.

The following day, Coralie donned her very sexy fly net and we headed out to the National Park again. This time it was inland around the red landscape carved into beautiful gorges by the river which made it seem like a mini Grand Canyon. Coralie snapped a great photo of me looking into one of the valleys.
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There was an 8km loop walk into one of the ravines but the flies, 50 degree heat and lack of water in the dry river bed meant that we only walked the short walk to Natures Window. From here you could see through a natural red rock arch into the valley below. It was a great sight, and not many people around, so we took literally tons of photos as you can now do without worrying thanks to digital cameras and big memory cards.
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After Natures Window we drove along the dirt road to the Z-bend which is another great place carved by the river. I wanted to go down the ravine for a swim but the lack of water we had with us to drink put Coralie off the steep descent.
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We chilled out that night and cooked some great lamb burgers on the barbie.

The next morning we got up early to watch the pelican feeding down by the river. The pelicans (between 6 & 8) come to the same place every morning to get some free fish and tourists and locals alike come to watch. It was quite funny as most pelicans only stay in the area for about 8 weeks but one of them called Mr Percival had been around for the last 6 months and was a greedy b*stard! He chased all the other pelicans away and got mad if they got any of the fish.
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In the afternoon we took a stroll to Blue Holes which is a natural protected fish sanctuary and beach. Unfortunately it was too rough to snorkel. In the evening we trusted a tip we had been given and walked out to the football pitch. There we watched the wild kangaroos feeding including a joey. I kept trying to get closer and closer for photos but then they would hop away.

The next morning we headed off to Cervantes on the bus again. Kalbarri was a sweet friendly town and the scenery of the national park was probably one of the most beautiful we had seen on all of our travels. There are some more photos of the area in the photos section.

Posted by tomcoralie 23:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - Exmouth

Written by Coralie (& Tom)

sunny 32 °C

Sadly the next day we had to leave Broome and say goodbye to the all the people we met - so jealous that they were staying on for a while. We on the other hand had a joyous 22 hour bus journey to Exmouth to look forward to. The trip went pretty quickly thank goodness but we were dropped off in Exmouth at 4.30am and had to sit at the visitors until 7 as nothing opened in the town until then. It was hardly ideal, having not really slept since Broome and all we could hear around us was the buzzing of bloody mossies - we just wanted to get to a bed!

Having spent most of the previous day sleeping and walking around the tiny town & seeing random wild emu's that wonder about the town, we decided to hire a car for our time in Exmouth - so we left late the following morning and headed into the Cape Range National Park.
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We first stopped at a shipwreck lying off the coast of Surfer's Beach and then at the lighthouse where there were some terrific views of the whole coral coast as far as the eye could see.
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We went to see 4 different beachs - Mauritius (nudist beach and Tom followed the instructions), Jacobs, Janz and Wobiri - all stunning. On Wobiri we saw loads of turtle poking their heads out of the water as well a shark swimming along about 3 metres from the sand. However as the water was quite choppy due to the wind we took shelter on the other side of the headland for the afternoon and relaxed in the water there.

The next day we got up early and went back into the park - I saw my first kangaroo! I was so excited!
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Tom went and did a strenous but stunning 1hr gorge walk in the morning - I'd sadly cut my foot in Broome so couldn't do it.
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We then went to a beach called Oyster Stacks where we did some amazing snorkelling. The water was so clear and the reef was only about 1.5m below us so we saw loads of different coloured corals & fish. I spotted a 2m reef shark about 6m away from us! I almost had a heart attack, even Tom's heartbeat raced for a while! It kind of curved around us, checking us out and then it was gone.
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Turquoise Bay - no words could do justice to how beautiful the beach was and how turquoise & clear the sea was.
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Due to the currents you walk about 500m down the beach, get in the water and then just let the current take you over the reef to the other end of the beach - bliss! Again, we saw some good coral and we saw and swam next to a big turtle whilst snorkelling, which was just amazing! It's something I've been dreaming about doing for years so I was absolutey buzzing when we got out of the water!
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By early afternoon the wind was picking up again though so we headed back to town and to our pool at the holiday park.

The following day was spent doing much of the same - we went back to the park and went straight to Oyster Stacks, where we saw another reef shark, which circled us....I was terrified! Just about survived and then found ourselves surrounded by a shoal of about 100 big silver fish which looked similar to bream. It was amazing! They swam around us and seemed to go on forever! Another quick snorkel at Turquoise Bay where another turtle in the distance was spotted and then we spent the afternoon relaxing on Turquoise Bay beach - it's a tough life!
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That evening, we drove up to the lighthouse in the national park and watched the sunset from there, enjoying a nice mug of cold white wine.
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We had to give our car back the next day so we enjoyed our final day in Exmouth relaxing by the hostel pool, then it was on the bus to Kalbarri. The stupid bus turned up 2 hours late so we didn't get on until 11.30pm and got munched by mosquitos again.

Posted by tomcoralie 22:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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