Barossa Valley (South Australia)

27/11/15  Roads in SA are very ordinary, built, I reckon, by ex-maritime engineers whose longing for the high seas led to the designing in of swells and troughs that would shame the North Atlantic. Potholes have been patched and repatched many, many times over to all join up in a continuous cobbly quilted road surface. It was bad enough in a car, but with a van added behind, it was like riding over chops in a dinghy.

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In contrast to the previous two short hops, we travelled 213kms from Port Rickaby on the Yorke Peninsula to Greenock, in the Barossa Valley north-east of Adelaide, and set up camp alongside the lovely cricket oval in the grounds of Centenary Park, with a wheat field on the hillside to our back.

Murray Street Vineyards was first port of call where we picked up a couple of bottles of their very nice 2012 Black Label Shiraz. Always a white wine drinker, Di has taken a liking to some of the SA reds and enjoyed a glass of 2015 T.S.S. Tempranillo Sangiovese Shiraz with a Shearer’s Platter at the Pindarie cellar door, while I tucked into a 2014 ‘Schoffs Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say, we left with some of each in hand.

Di was keen to see Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop at nearby Nuriootpa where we had coffee and cake. Lots of interesting produce was available, but we refrained from adding any more chutneys to the already sizable collection.

Seppeltsfield looked more like a resort than a historic wine estate. The Jam Factory, a contemporary craft and design studio, gallery and shop housed in an historic 1850s stables building was definitely worth a visit. We met knife maker Barry Gardner in his workshop and saw the blade that Camilla wielded at Charles in their recent royal visit to the vineyard.

In the afternoon of our second day at Greenock, after a full day of visiting more local wineries, the local Country Fire Service instructed us to evacuate as a large out-of-control fire was approaching, threatening many of the nearby Barossa towns. With wind gusts up to 90kph pushing the fire over a 200km front, a catastrophic fire alert had been issued for the area. An enormous smoke column darkened most of the sky and ash had started falling around us, so we’d hitched up and were ready to move in the event of an evacuation order. When it was given, we headed 50kms south out of the fire area to Mt Pleasant. Strong winds buffeted the rig all the way, and we could appreciate that conditions for anyone near the fire front would be extremely life-threatening. Those Firey’s are worth bottling!

We spent a couple of relaxing days at Mt Pleasant.

Everything in a van has to have at least two functions or it doesn’t get a look in. Somethings though have specialised functions; like us. I do the driving, the outside stuff, look after the vehicle, wash down the rig, and generally plan the camp sites. Di is the culinary engineer, the internal spatial engineer (“Please don’t you go through that. I know exactly where it is!”), does the inside stuff, and provides running tourist commentary as we travel along. In the wine country, she’s also taken on the tour guide role and reads all the local tourist info to determine our daily agenda for places we’ll visit, which is great because I hate wading through all that stuff. Copious notes are written onto a local tourist map, with arrows for direction and circles highlighting various locations. As we were travelling yesterday, disaster struck! She opened the by then very well-worn map and it tore right down the middle into two pieces…

“No human on Earth can refold a road map, but some excellent origami and paper airplanes have resulted from the effort.” – Addis’s Collected Wisdom.

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