The Road Trip trip around the Barossa Valley can take one day. We have enjoyed spreading out our time here, wandering, investigting, visiting, tasting and trying all that is on offer.
We are members of the CMCA. One of the privileges of membership is access to over 250 park over properties. One such place near Gawler was an absolute delight to stay at.
Our hosts were very hospitable with delicious cups of coffee and chats about the area.
One of the most delightful places we went to visit was the Whispering Wall. The wall is the Barossa Valley Dam. The dam supplies water to the Gawler area. It was one of the lifeblood requirements of setting up the community in this area while gold was mined.
The curve of the wall of the dam, creates an audible experience across 140m, Geoff and I could whisper sweet nothings to each other and hear what the other was saying.
There are interpretive panels explaining how and why the dam came to be. The area is also a picnic spot and would be lovely on a warm spring or autumn day. This is one of those places of interest that is worth making the effort to go to.
While staying in the Gawler district we took advantage of train travel into Adelaide to go exploring. A $10 day pass allowed us to travel for the day on buses, trains and trams. There is also a free hop on, hop off bus and tram service available in the inner city.
For me places that are about food at always a highlight. We thoroughly enjoy visiting the Chinatown food Hall with food from around Asia was available at reasonable prices.
The food hall is part of the central market, open Tuesday to Sunday, but we found quite a number of stalls were open on Monday as well.
We also booked a spot on the Hague chocolate factory tour. Geoff was a reluctant starter as he believes chocolate isn't good for us. However he was slow to offer to give up his samples of chocolate (in fact he didn't share),
With the explanation of how chocolate is made right from the growing of the cocao plant, and from the pod to the seed, to the processing right here, the tour was really enjoyable. We were able to hold parts of the plant to smell, touch and feel that really was made the tour with while.
Of course some supplies where required and we did purchase seconds which supplied us with desert after our evening meal for the next three weeks.
Finishing our Barossa Valley road trip with a wander through the old gold fields, now a popular recreation area with walks varying from 30 mins to 2.5 hours, It is a popular area for the locals to walk their dogs.
At the foothills of the goldfields is Lyndoch. A small village surrounded by wineries and full of cafe's and quirky little shops. Our final cellar door experience was at Kies Winery where the specialty is fortified wines.
They are a small winery and only sell their produce and product at the cellar door or online.
I came away with a bottle of blonde port and thoroughly enjoyed the visit, made fun by Mat, even with his hand bandaged, he managed to look after a group of four young ladies who didn't really drink wine, as well as us. It was quite an amusing visit. Most of the ladies left with a bottle or two under their arm.
Next stop Yorke Peninsula.
When you say Barossa Valley, people already know it is one of Australia's wine regions. What we didn't fully appreciate is that we have come from one of the top wine regions in the world and finding a wine that we like was a very hit and miss affair to start with. That was until we discovered a little winery in the tiny village of Greenock. Actually this village sports two wineries and a brewery. But the Kalleske winery, one of the oldest in the Barossa Valley and has been in the Kalleske family since 1853. Our wine tasting experience was warm and convivial as we were led through the vines and their history, along with stories about the wines and wine makers. The price of the wines was down to earth too. .We chatted with an Irish couple who had lived in New Zealand, returned to Ireland and eventually settled in Australia. Our hostess looked after three tastings at the bar and three tastings seated at the tables and it was all spaced out nicely, giving enough time to fully appreciate each variety.
No Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir. But wine made from old vines where the grapes struggle with minimal watering adding depth to the wine. This lady walked home to where we were camping in the nearby oval very happy,
At the beginning of our day, we visited the Herbig family tree. This is where the family lived until they had an actual house to live in. The Herbig homestead is on the opposite side of the road. Standing inside the tree, we would also have been happy to camp here.
The road trip continued on to the Eden Valley lookout across the Barossa Valley and the Sculpture Park (see photo above), as the weather closed in. The Autum rain had started early.
The Sculpture Park resulted after a stone symposium in 2008. The work of the sculptures is here for people to enjoy. See at the end of this post for photos of some of the sculptures. My favourite is the one with the small hand and foot carved into the stone as if a child has stepped into cement.
After sampling cheese in Angaston, we quickly move on to Pheasant Farm, the home of Maggie Beer, to arrive in time for the two o'clock cooking demonstration. I thought this would be one of the highlights of the trip for me, and it would have been, except Maggie herself arrived, looking for her head chef. She stopped to say hello and welcomed everyone. She is so warm and natural, just a genuine person. The kitchen is a replica of Maggie's kitchen. When she was making the TV series "The Cook and the Chef" there were 40 people involved in production. At the time, Maggie's children were small, so the interruption to family life needed to be kept to a minimum, in the family home. Maggie arranged for a replica kitchen to be built at the farm shop. Maggie is a guest on the latest Masterchef series. Her cooking is the basics and rustic. For example, you leave the onion skins on - no tears for the cook put the skins to the side of your plate. It's the first cooking demo that Geoff has been to with me. He couldn't see how he would use any of it on the BBQ, whereas I saw heaps of things we can do. The balsamic apples worked a treat. I still have to take the skin off our onions - BBQ chefs instructions.
The next day was Saturday, so we made our way to the Barossa Valley Farmers Market, between Nuriootpa and Angaston. It was everything I think a farmers market should be. The farmers (or their staff) on hand to talk about their produce. No middle man, just the real deal. It's a very popular market and it wasn't easy finding parking for the motorhome. We eventually got her parked far enough off the road to go in.
After topping up our fresh fruit, vege, meat, cheese and bread we wandered our way to Kapunda. Down into the iSite cellar we went to meet the characters who created this town.
We then went out to the copper mine ruins to walk the rim of the mine. I've never been a fan of Cornish Pasties because of that thick lump of pastry on the side, but guess what! You don't eat that lump of pastry. That's the bit the copper miner holds on to while he eats down in the mine on his lunch break, then discards because he doesn't want copper in his system. The walk used interpretive panels to paint the life of the people at the mine and we enjoyed it - although we had to cut our walk around the open cast bit short as the rain came down. We scurried back to the van for our own lunch of Barossa Valley farmers market fare.
Down in the cellar of the iSite meeting the characters who built the town, via video sitting on hide skins.
The walk up to the chimney gave a good view of the copper mine area. Originally the copper mine covered an 80 acre section when the copper was discovered and the land was surveyed in 1842. Kapunda was the first successful mine in Australia and the area grew on the wealth it created.
Horses were used to drive a wheel to pump water out from the mine, but they weren't Clydesdales as in Clyde, the statue. The statue is to honour the pit ponies who carted equipment and ore. A replica of the wheel that was driven by horses walking in a circle has been created, is movable. The kids on the walk ahead of us had fun pushing it around, as did the big kid that travels with me.
We were able to walk down into the open cast mine. The colours in the rocks, resulting from the copper are really pretty.
The miners used to report hearing strange noises in the mine, named Tommy Knockers, the spirit creatures of the underground.
We found the interactive panels around the mine area helped paint a picture of the life and business around and in the mine.
Our road trip for the day concluded with a drink in the Gungellan Pub in Freeling, known as Gungellan in the TV series McLeod's Daughters. A wall, just inside the door has been dedicated to the filming of the series. There were a few new subdivisions in Freeling.
McLeod's daughters Gungellan Pub in Freeling. As we entered the town a group of teenagers gave us a friendly wave. I'm guessing that they have been told how much visitors give to the economy.
McLeod's Daughters country, heading towards the motorway, and back to Greenoch where we bush camped at the oval, for a couple of nights. It is set up with a dump station, fresh water and rubbish bins.
And so ended one of the best days on our road trip so far.
I don't know why, but it surprised us that building houseboats on pontoons was like building a house, perhaps with slightly different materials.
We stayed the night on the Murray River at a little camping area $10 with toilets. You put your money in the machine like getting a ticket to park in town, and sit the ticket on the dashboard. What a simple straightforward system.
We used the ferry to take a walk around Mannum. In the Information Centre and at various other places around town, the 1956 flood high tide mark was displayed. Above it is a kayak and we were informed that this was their emergency escape plan, should such a flood happen again. The river is now controlled with weirs and lochs but flooding is still possible in extreme weather events.
After breakfast, we lined up and waited to drive on to the ferry/barge for our river crossing into the Barossa Valley.
Our camp for the night was in Mt Pleasant, but our journey there wasn't straightforward.
The first stop is one for children. The worlds largest rocking horse and a petting zoo, along with cafe and souvenir shop are all on site. For $2 its possible to climb up to the top of the rocking horse.
On display are photos of the rocking horse being built in the farm paddock.
Wooden and other toys are available from the toy factory as well.
The National Motor Museum of Australia was our next port of call. The museum has been set up as a learning facility and fits into the educational cirriculum so our visit coincided with a class of children. They were on a mission with various things to find and identify.
Some of the exhibits stand out as different, in particular the bush mechanic display showing outside the box thinking to get around breakdowns, when other parts aren't available - including wood carved ones. There is a "drive in movie" simulation.
A tribute to the outback postie was quite interesting, with all the challenges that the rural mail man used to face to get his job done.
Birdwood is quite a small town and we found it quite a surprise to find a museum of this caliber here. We loved the interactive displays.
We continued our road trip to Mount Pleasant where the award winning butcher was our focus.
Our camp for the night was at the Mount Pleasant showgrounds and not a drop of wine had been tasted.
Right down in the bottom left hand corner of this large continent is South Australia. The people here are proud Australians, and even prouder South Australians. Here, products are South Australian made first and foremost. If they don’t make it or grow it, then it will be Australian made.
We were a bit nervous as we had to face our first border crossing. On our map some of the crossings were marked with warning signs about fruit fly and not taking fruit and vegetables into the southern state. However, where we were crossing on the A8. There was no such warning on the map so we thought it must be a fruit fly safe zone. As we drove closer to the border, the warning signs started to appear including severe torture, incarceration and hefty fines. We took the hefty fines seriously and pulled over for lunch. As it happened, our fruit and vegie stock was down and we had intended to be doing a top up in Border Town. We consumed the last of our fruit, cooked up the vegies (six pre-packaged meal portions of potatoes ready for chips on the barbie and potato salad). The garlic and ginger I infused in olive oil for stir fries. I still had carrots and baby spinach left over after lunch but they were in sealed bags, so we thought they would be alright, but we didn’t know. I froze the last of the onion and lemon.
The next sign said we should know, and to get rid of all fruit and vegetables, so after weighing up the dire consequences and hefty instant fine, we decided to bin these in the last, final opportunity – you have been warned. At Border Town, we purchased new, fresh fruit and vegetables and topped up the rest of our supplies. We then wondered if we were caught with this fresh supply of South Australian grown produce, would we still be fined. The answer is yes. We needed to retain our dockets to prove that we had purchased these fine products in South Australia. We were left wondering how the fruit fly knows to screech to a halt at the border and not cross into South Australia.
Our stop over for the night is the little town of Mundulla. It turned out to be the A&P showgrounds and sports grounds. We needed to be out before the sports began, and car loads of giggling netballers quickly moved into our camping spot (one of the few places out from under the trees, to keep us safe from random falling of branches – apparently this can happen without wind, as the trees rot out from the inside out). The main grounds were laid out for Aussie Rules football, which is very popular down here in the South. It hasn’t taken on so much further north yet. We had thought of staying to watch the game and get an understanding of the rules, but with all the other vehicles, there wasn’t much room so we decided it was time to move on. We would learn about this game another day.
We had our first encounter with the great Murray River at Tailem Bend. We parked down near the river to eat our lunch and watch the ferry cross back and forth. The operator invited us to take a ride. There are about eight ferry’s operating on the river 24/7 smoothly shifting vehicles across the Murray avoiding the need to travel too far out of your way to cross at a bridge. The ferry’s operate on a cable system and it seems to be a very efficient way of moving traffic.
We continued up the river to Murray Bridge (yes, there’s a bridge here – the first one built on the Murray River). We stayed for a couple of nights to explore the Adelaide Hills, in particular Hahndorf Village
This is where German settlers made their home and some of the buildings still reflect the architecture and culture they brought with them. The main street is narrow and tree-lined looking splendid in her autumnal colour and reminding us very much of Arrowtown in New Zealand’s South Island. The trees also add something special to the atmosphere of the township.
Until the freeway was built, the A8 with its big trucks roared through the narrow main street. Today crossing the road is hazardous enough with drivers looking for parking. We ended up parking at the northern end of town, which worked great, walking up one side and down the other of the main street. We spent quite a bit of time in the clock shop, filled to the brim, not only of souveniers, but also parts for the beautiful clocks. Alas, one wouldn’t really work in the motorhome and we had to leave them all behind. With apple strudel and sausages in our belly’s and goodies to nibble on later, we headed back to the showgrounds camp at Murray Bridge.
It was here, we discovered we had a mouse so the first order of the day was to buy a mousetrap. This proved harder than we imagined. It turns out that with the gathering of the crops and the burning of the stubble, along with the cooler weather, Murray Bridge was under a mouse invasion and all the mousetraps had been sold. We eventually located one in the Big W, unfortunately for the mouse, it wasn’t the catch and release outside one we had intended to buy.
Now, I have to confess that I am terrified of mice. You can imagine that family and friends, knowing my fear, gave me quite a hard time about coming to Australia with all its lethal wild life. I’m not afraid of spiders or mossies, even knowing that they could do me more harm than a mouse. I know that the mouse is more scared of me than I am of it, and that it will stay out of my way. All this head knowledge doesn’t help my fear. So, I bravely worked on our blog, planning our trip around the Barossa Valley only to discover that sitting behind me (probably shaking in its wee boots) all day was the invader mouse. I just about fainted when I saw it take a flying leap from the seat I vacated about 10 minutes earlier. As it ran under the drivers seat, three baby mice came running out from under the passenger seat, and then running back as their mother sent them back to safety.
We never caught the baby mice. I don’t know if their mum moved them before we evacuated her or not, and it did disturb my sleep thinking of those poor wee babies dying of starvation. I know, I’m a very mixed up individual.
Travelling away from the highways and freeways to the small places where the pace of life is slower and things are just a bit different, and more interesting is one of our goals for this road trip. We set off on a mini road trip to look at the grain silo art.
As we drove around the district, we discovered that grain silos are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere. The Wimmera region in Victoria is one of the richest grain growing regions in Australia, hence the need for all the silos.
The artist of this piece of silo art is the step Mum of these kids. It has been taken from a photo of when they were a bit younger.
So the story that we have been told goes. Their Mum died when they were younger and their lovely and reliable babysitter continued to help out. Love blossomed with the children's Dad, and the rest they say is history.
These grain silo's are in the tiny town of Rupanyup. We were told not to miss the mural of the fireman in town, but to be honest after the silo art it didn't come into the same category.
These works haven't been completed yet but are looking great. It's the eyes for me. The artist, Julia Volchkova has captured them beautifully.
The next silo we visited is at Sheep Hill (we didn't notice a hill in this undulating landscaping). Again, for me, it was the eyes. This time, the reflections in the eyes of the models have been included in the artwork. International artist, Adnate has painted this silo piece. There is so much in this piece of work, it needed some time to study from different angles.
Between Rupanyup and Sheep Hills we stopped for lunch in "Coopers Crossing" (the town in the Flying Doctors TV series. The town is rightfully known as Minyip, population 667. Also in Minyip is a monument to honour William Farrer, an agromomist and plant breeder who is best remembered for his Federation strain of wheat which resulted in better quality and yields of the Australian wheat harvest.
The third silo we visited was the original, in the little town of Brim. This 30m high mural was painted by Guido van Helton, and taking the internet by storm it really put the Brim on the map.
The thing that blew us away with all the silo art is the detail and accurate proportions of the work, especially as the canvas is not flat, but round with taps and plates and other working paraphernalia on the silos. This piece was based on four representatives of the community - different ages, one woman, three men, all hard grafters in a small rural community.
Silo art is on a 200km trail. We haven't been to all of the silos (yet). This fourth piece we accidentally came across several days later in the small village of Coonalpyn in South Australia.
One of the wonderful things about the silo art is the interest in art that sprouts up in the community.
In Coonalpyn, on the Dukes highway, Guido van Helten is transforming four silos into a work of art with paintings of local children. van Helten said the children represent the future of the town.
Beside the carpark is a walkway titled "Tunel Vision" where local families and artists have created murals also worth seeing.
When the early settlers arrived in Australia to create their new lives, the community often centered around church life and school life. This is one of the many murals in the Tunnel Vision at Coonalpyn.
When you visit, you must try the waffles freshly made, just across the road from the carpark. Or visit the local cafe just along the road. Both of these businesses have started after the artwork began.
There was an accident in Coonalpyn just after we left, so take the time to pull over, have a break and enjoy the artworks safely, and support the rural townships.
Two Kiwi's who have retired early to travel the world. Share our journey with us.