This morning our priority is Adelaide Central Market after confirming ability to extend our stay at Rydges another night. Arrived at the Markets about 9 am. Parked in the carpark near the escalator ($3.40). Heading down the escalator our first stop is a shop called Swiss Glory. I buy a breakfast bun which was like a sort of brioche-like bun with sultanas in it and daughter sampled the Berliner bun. Both really fabulous. Daughter bought a few of their hand made chocolates. Very very nice. Really good stuff. We then proceeded round the market. Sampled and bought cheese at "Say Cheese" as well as some skordalia and baba ganoush dips for a picnic. The prune and walnut logs were 1/2 the price they were charging at the cheese shop in Angaston so I buy some of that too. Right next door is a great bakery outlet. Sourdoughs and turkish bread. Just too tempting. We buy a huge turkish loaf for our dips etc. Some cold meats from Barossa Meats. Strawberries and Mangos. Then we find a fabulous yoghurt shop where they have the plain, thick, greek style yoghurt and a long list of toppings you can select. A bargain deal of three small tubs for about $10. Yes please. Oh man why do they not have a shop like that in Sydney? We buy up big from the Mettwurst shop (who do mail order by the way). Yummo.
We drop some fridgeables back at the hotel and head off for a look at Mabarrack furniture. By this time I'm a bit over it. It's getting late and we have an urge to explore the beaches and down along the Fleurieau Peninsula so we cut our furniture explorations short and head south about midday.
We head down to Port Noarlunga sticking as close as we can to the coastal road. The weather is a bit iffy. Cold and windy. We stopped a few times for a look or some photos and to eat our lunch overlooking the water. The dips are absolutely beautiful. Everything is absolutely beautiful. We are all big fans of the Adelaide Central Market. Not huge, but what's there is top stuff. It's a very nice coastal vista and the Port Noarlunga Reef and Onkaparinga Estuary Aquatic Reserve looks really interesting if we were feeling better. Turns out everyone but me is coming down with something. We blame the water in Waikerie. I think I'm the only person who didn't drink any unbottled water in any form while we were there.
We press on for a squizz around Maclaren Vale. Meh. Not a patch on the Barossa. Not by a long long way. Rosemount Estate appears like the antithesis of Seppeltsfield. A huge ugly, white industrial blight on the scenery with apparently no attempt whatever to mask the industrial character of the huge wine making machinery/storage etc. Yuck. We do come across one classy outfit called Chapel Hill, but my passengers aren't feeling up to going in so we skip it. We go out as far as Willunga and we like this small town quite a lot. Had a quick look in the glass studio which had some nice lead light windows with native animals plants and birds depicted.
Back at the hotel about 6pm we find that housekeeping has for some reason turned the fridge right down and there is water dripping everywhere from the fairly iced up freezer. Why would you do that when people clearly have stuff in the fridge?
Then we notice that the fridge is not the only source of water dripping. Pouring out through the halogen light in the ceiling - water. Hmm. We ring reception. They investigate. Turns out the room above has flooded their bathroom. We have to go out, so we sup on left over delicacies from lunch and leave the hotel staff to fix the water problem.
The Adelaide Festival Centre is our destination to see a new show by Windmill and Big hART and featuring Trevor Jamison called Nyuntu Ngali. We find the centre a bit confusing to the uninitiated, but we find the relevant theatre, drop mum off and go and park. The show was great, very creative with a goodly portion of modern dance. Creative and an interesting new perspective. I do enjoy indigenous theatre and am very glad to have been able to see the show while we're in town. The two young performers playing the main characters where both excellent and of course Trevor Jamison is always marvellous. I'm a serious fan of Trevor Jamison.
Day 7. (Saturday)
We're obliged to shift accommodation tonight so we decide to pay a visit to SMIL before heading off towards our homeward destinations. We will explore up around the east of Adelaide and the hills and head home via Ouyen. But first daughter wants some more stuff from the Central Market. We're a bit early for Swiss Glory which is staying persistently closed beyond their alleged opening time. Mum wants to try a russian piroshki, which is also not quite operating yet, though clearly they are in the process of making them. A little stereotypically russian grandma is beavering away which gives us increasing optimism about the end product. We wander about find the fish mongers which looks particularly uninspiring. Finally we aquire a cheese and spinach piroshki and take it up to mum in the car. Naturally we all sample it. "Oh my god. How yum is that!!" We decide we'll have more of those thanks. We wait patiently as they are cooked and tried the beef and rice which is filled with stuff like a cabbage roll, the leek and potato is very mild in flavour but tasty. The clear stand out was the ricotta and spinach. DELICIOUS!! I can't resist more of the fantastic yoghurt... which I think I'll never live down. Eventually Swiss Glory opens and we stock up on hand made choccies to take to family at home. Fabulous stuff. Adelaide Central Market is even better than Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne. Not as big, but the quality is there without having to negotiate so many vendors.
Before we can head out of town Mum is keen to see the pig sculptures in Rundle Mall. We find ourselves a reasonably close drop off point for her, she wanders in and takes some snaps, clearly enjoying the playfulness of the sculptures and the beautiful detail of the bronze rubbish in the bins.
Finally we head for the hills. Destination Hahndorf. We take a slight detour to Mt Lofty and a tiny little exploration of some streets. It's cold and rainy, but the areas is lovely and leafy and pretty. I'd happily return to this neck of the woods. Next stop Handorf. Except we didn't actually stop. Very busy and crowded with people and cars. Very touristy looking. We're not remotely tempted to stop especially given that people are not well. We move on towards Mt Barker. We really liked Mt Barker. What a sweet little town. Real and not at all touristy. We visit the chemist for some cough tablets and avail ourselves of the local facilities. Our hunt for a good (and appealing) german restaurant somewhere having not borne fruit, Mum and daughter opt for a snack wrap from the Mt Barker Maccas.
It had been our intention to do the night tour at Warrawong Sanctuary, but again, as folk aren't real well and the weather is iffy we ring them and cancel in favour of getting closer to home for tonight's stop. We feel we have enough time so we decide to wander down and sus out Strathalbyn. What a wonderful little town. Beautiful streetscape. Wall to wall antique shops with lots of fab stuff. I splurge on some black Australian Carnival glass dishes and Brownie Downing plaques. Brownie Downing plaques have always looked pretty ordinary in photographs, but these I see in the flash are absolutely charming. What a shame daughter feels so unwell and isn't able to drag herself around - she loves antiquing. My passengers tolerate my browsing a bit as they nap in the car, though I do drag daughter out to look at a potenial wedding present and everyone is keen to look at the Australiana stuff of which there is a good selection. Really nice town. Loved it and really hope to get back before too long has passed. We wave goodbye to delightful Strathalbyn about 3:30 and head for the SA/VIC border.
Daughter is keen to head for Mildura although it does take us out of our way. This was a scheme that almost ended in tears as it was a long way to go and we're late starting out. Along the way we cross the Murray on the Jervois Ferry and pass some fascinating pink lakes. We're finding more of interest that we expected along the way. We stop at Polly's Well and the war memorial there. A huge flowering shrub is putting on a show. A net bush I think. Further along the way I notice a sign directing us to the Kow Plains Homestead but of course it's dark and no way we could stop by on this trip but I'll add that to the list... the ever growing list of things I'd like to visit... We are tickled to find ourselves passing through Galah but are unable to identify a single building in the dark.
As we drive the moon is shining directly over the road ahead. We stop and play with our cameras. Naturally I've forgotten the tripod, so we don't have much success with the shots we experiment with, however just chilling enjoying the moonlight makes for a nice diversion.
It's late when we rock up into Mildura and oh lord, what were we thinking!! It's a long weekend and there's a country music festival on. No vacancies just about anywhere but eventually we are successful and are shown to the last room. It's partially under renovation so no wonder they have left it last to fill, but it's perfectly adequate to our needs for the night and we are grateful for it. Most dining places have closed the kitchen but we are able to get a perfectly acceptable meal at a chain called Fasta Pasta where the service was friendly and efficient. We fall into bed.
Day 8 (Sunday)
Daylight savings starts today. Being closer than anticipated overnight today it's a nice easy day today working our way across to Hay. We breakfast at Stefano's cafe and bakery. Buy some more souvenir beer for hubby. Then it's off to the orange orchard to buy some citrus cleaning stuff for the bathroom. We bought a bottle of concentrate here about 5 yrs ago or so and it's great, so I'm going to stock up while I am conveniently near to an outlet. We stop at the local Angas Park shop in the hope they have the cheap stonewear bowls they had in Angaston. No joy. (BTW I did eventually get the same bowls at Peters of Kensington even cheaper as for chrissy pressies- great for proving bread... but I digress).
We head out from Mildura about midday. It's a fairly standard run across the plains to Balranald. Here we stop for fuel and are impressed by the service provided. We wander a few streets slowly watching some local birds. Nice town.
As we travel the sky is again putting on a show and we stop to take a video. Daughter says she thinks her favourite part of the trip was driving across the plain to Hay and watching the light show the sky was putting on that first day of the trip. I'm happy to find I'm not the only being on earth that actually enjoys driving across this, one of the flattest places on earth, where you can really feel the separation between earth and sky and the void between earth and clouds. It's awesome. I'm surprised though, because Daughter 1 is a beach baby and I never expected her enjoy the remote west so much. Indeed I think she's a bit surprised too.
We need to get to Hay quick sticks as daughter needs to finish and submit a uni assignment before we go to the sound and light show at Shear Outback tonight. We're in position at the Saltbush Motor Inn by about 3:30. Napping, uni work and critiquing then we opt for dinner from the Wok in Hay just down the road. The Wok in Hay is sort of an all purpose food joint. You name it they do it. Pizza, hamburgers, thai. It is the most scrupulously spotless take away I have EVER seen. It is absolutely immaculate. There is a big screen TV on the wall and tonight it's the rugby league grand final playing so everyone's paying at least some attention. The food was great and something to please everyone. Good milkshakes too.
Just before 8 oclock we rock up to Shear Outback and spend some time chatting with Charlotte - our guide - waiting for some people who turn out to be no shows. I crack up as I notice the headlines proclaiming that Greg Norman's marriage has ended after ooooh approx 5 minutes. Geez all that hoo hah and disruption of the family for that. Good grief. None of anyone's business, but I can't help but laugh given the publicity they so actively sought. What a goose.
As it gets dark we set out on the trail for Shear Strife - A Baitlayers Tale. What a hoot!! If you want to see a real dinky di Australian show this one fits the bill. It's hilarious. The only caution I would give is that it is so very steeped in Australian culture, humour and language it might go over some visitor's heads, but we thought it was brilliant, and it so doesn't take itself seriously. We were in luck and even managed to spot a couple of frogs hopping along near the dam which due to some decent rain a while back still has water and frog song cheering the night. At the end of the show which takes place in the big shearing shed we supped on delicious home made scones and tea/coffee in our complementary enamel mugs. How fitting. Brilliant. We spend ages talking to Charlotte well after our expected finish time. In part about the continued significance in country communities of being proficient in the scone department. These scones are made from a recipe that uses lemonade. Our time at Shear Strife and with Charlotte is a real treat. Thanks Charlotte!!
Shear Outback and Shear Strife are both wonderful and worth every penny as well as the effort we've made to have longer in Hay this time. Don't miss it!!
Day 9 (Monday)
This morning we return to Shear Outback to continue the cultural indoctrination of daughter and watch the demos in the shed. There's a modest crowd here today, families with little kids right up to grandmas and grandads and plenty of questions being asked. Everyone is clearly having a good time. We browse the excellent gift shop and have some devonshire tea (scones with cream and jam). As we depart daughter pronounces Shear Outback to be a top class attraction and very interesting. So there you go, people of all ages love Shear Outback!!
From here we head for the Hay Goal Museum. This only takes a hour or so to wander through. They have some great windmills and farm machinery along with a room presented as it would have been when the place was used as a reform facility for young girls. Hay Gaol has a pretty sad history really. A few weeks later I see a story with interviews of girls who'd been resident there and I was glad to have a better idea of what they were speaking about.
Next we wander down to Bushy Bend and spend some time exploring there, birdwatching (ringneck parrots) and taking in the river. Enjoying the indigenous art works on the pylons of the bridge over the "bidgee". There are signs up warning people not to swim or come into contact with the river water due to poor water quality. It's criminal what we've done to our river systems. The good ol Murrumbidgee is in a shocking state, though still retains it's scenic beauty at bushy bend and is nice to visit.
Then we're off to Bishops Lodge just quickly to pick up some roses to replace a favourite I lost during house construction or through misadventure (BL Muriel Linton and Sidney Linton). Packing things carefully in the car we're off. Our destination - Booligal via the one tree hotel - situated on the one tree plain and then from Booligal through the back roads in to West Wyalong.
We find the drive across the one tree plain fascinating. Plentiful small birds flitting but we don't have time to hunt them down really. Flowering pink pigface and simply the fascination and beauty of the open vista. Long strings of Galahs sitting on the wires. Daughter is always excited to see wild Galahs. She has a companion Galah that she has inherited care of named Charlie. He's known to be at least 40 yrs old, has personality to burn and talks all the time. Rescued by a country doctor when found after having been shot in the wing, Charlie's no flyer anymore - but boy does he LOVE travelling at speed in a car - bring your ear plugs!! Just like the wild Galahs, Charlie loves to sing as he goes fast. I guess it's the next best thing to flying again for Charlie. However in the tradition of eccentric bushies, Charlie can take a dislike to you and if he does, watch out. He'll chase you around the house challenging you to put up your dukes which in charlie's language is "come on puss, come on puss". If the target person runs in and shuts a door away from him, Charlie will march up and down outside the door peering under it and repeating his challenge.. "come on puss, come on puss". On the other hand if Charlie thinks you're pretty hot and he likes you a lot his greatest compliment is to utter his smoker's cough. You only get the smoker's cough if he really likes you. He'll preen your hair and kiss your cheek and give a seductive smoker's cough in your ear. A great character.
We arrive at the One tree hotel and find it surrounded by security fencing for protection but it is an interesting sight just the same and the information panels quite sad. The family simply died out as noone married and reproduced. By that time of course the hotel was an icon. I was pleased to hear that the one tree plain was always just one tree before white settlers came anywhere near it. The one tree blew down in a storm so I guess it's now the no tree plain (LOL????) . Onto Booligal. Tiny. Modest.
We make the turn to West Wyalong which is onto the dirt, but well maintained. We don't have far to go before we start finding shingle back skinks on the road. In singles and sometimes two together they are everywhere and of course we stop for the obligatory photos and greetings to our reptilian compatriots.
There's a reasonable level of traffic along this road and we pass 4 or 5 cars as we travel. Suddenly there's a call. EMUs!!! We pull over and go for the binoculars. We've happened upon an emu creche! WOW!. There must be 40 odd young emus virtually grown with a couple of adult male attendants just slowly making their way north up ahead. For those who don't know, Emus are raised by the father bird. The female emu lays the eggs (and plenty off them) then buggers off and leaves the male to it. When we pull over and turn off the engine they look over at us and are clearly curious. They change their heading and are coming our way!! They mosey on up pretty close, but not too close and are having a good look. Some more intensely interested in us than others. We film. We photograph. We exclaim. It's unreal! After a while their interest starts to wane and the leaders are taking the creche on it's way finally some break into a trot and they're off. Encounter. FANTASTIC. I never thought I would see an Emu creche!! Wow we are so glad we came through the back route! Always more fun than sticking to the main highways.
We've spent so much time wandering about in the wilds it's time we made a purposeful effort at getting to West Wyalong were we have booked into the The Club Inn by the golf course. This place must have been quite something when it was built. Now it's still spacious with all the inclusions, but a bit tired and in need of some refurbishment. However it does the job, though the rooms are bit stuffy and perfumed and we need to air them to enable mum to stay in the room.
Day 10 (Tuesday)
Today our priorities are the butchery at Grenfell to buy some steak and a stop at the Japanese garden in Cowra. We pick up some brekkie at the Bakery in West Wyalong. Everything looks pretty good. I notice that they want nearly $4 for a croissant. $4. In the country. Man that's expensive. I think to myself, "you've really got to have balls to charge that for a croissant in the country. People must pay it. Why?" I buy one as I have a hunch they might be pretty good. We tuck into our baked goods bounty and I have to tell you that croissant was outstanding. Best most flavoursome croissant I've had in a mighty long time. Quite possibly ever (though I note I have not visited France LOL). It's hard to really destroy a croissant, but equally difficult to find one as good as that one we bought in little West Wyalong!!
We stop for a squizz at the rustic sculptures in the yard of the scupture workshop as we leave town. I make a mental note for future garden decoration. Grenfell here we come. Again we decide to take some back roads and head off along the Quandialla Rd then up on the dirt through Bimbi SF and past the Weddin Mountains National Park. We make occasional stops for bird viewing. It's a lovely drive. We pull up in Grenfell and march ourselves directly into the butcher. The Butcher and his wife are there apparently getting ready for sausage production. We have a chat to the butcher, tell him we've made a special stop to stock up on his meat. He seems pretty pleased at the compliment and we walk out plentifully laden with scotch fillet. Some for us and some to give to the boys as souvenirs. Son 1 loved the steak when we did our Grenfell trip last year I'm sure he'll be pleased to receive some. Yumm. We've loaded up with ice, so the keeping it fresh aspect isn't a problem.
It's only a hop and a skip across to Cowra, especially if you don't accidentally head to Young like I did last time.
When we get to the Japanese garden Mum seems a bit unenthusiastic about going in, but I tell her it's compulsory and we find they have scooters for the mobility impaired. She takes off around the path after an instruction session and the provision of advice on route and managing the scooter on the slopes of the path. The gardens are beautiful. They look pretty modest from the street or the carpark, but like Japanese gardens everywhere, this one is designed to be viewed from particular points and explored along a specific route. Well worth the modest entry fee. I take a jaunt up to the top of the garden to the lookout and see the two resident lizards basking in the sun. Cool. Never seen a wild one of those before. They must be here all the time as I later notice they score a spot on the gardens post card.
We stop for lunch at the gardens cafe. On the website it said that if you're planning to lunch at the cafe they would appreciated if you make a booking. So a while back when I knew we planned to eat here I did just that. We lobbed up and they have no record of the booking. It's pretty busy but luckily we are able to find a table. The food was OK. The mix up with the booking sort of takes the shine of it but lets concentrate on the beauty of the garden and laugh at mum's antics with the scooter. She got herself bogged off the edge of the path at one stage when I'd got a bit far away. The staff were understanding though and very nice when she told them.
With our gardens jaunt behind us we make a fairly business like drive home. It's good always good to be home, but I look forward to the next time we get out to explore inland areas. We never fail to have a good time exploring the inland.
By the way - that steak was once again totally delicious and got rave reviews from all who got some. I only wish I'd bought some to freeze :o)