South Australia experience
From the lush countryside around Murwillumbah, the bus crossed the coastal range at Alstonville (beaut country pub in town), through Lismore and the macadamia and sub tropical fruit farms to Casino then onto Armidale on the great Diving Range. The inland city of Tamworth holds Country music festival each ear. The journey continues on through drier country and towns of Dubbo and Parkes with less trees, sheep and wheat farms. Forbes to West Wyalong was typically flat grasslands with 10% trees, burgundy coloured soil of gravel and sand – mostly wheatland with some patches of natural bush – fairly thick with most trees 3 to 5 metres high and some up to 6 m. high. Around Griffith, there are vineyards, some horses and irrigated market gardens. Between Darlington Point and Hay, sheep and cattle graze together. Hay is grown for stock feed. Greener grass grows under trees and there are only a few vineyards or market gardens. West of Hay to Balranald it is flat and dry with spinifex grass, few trees or bushes, small sandhills and semi desert. Balranald has lovely gardens of flowers, established trees and green lawns. It is like an oasis. Further on, the bus reached Robinvale, Euston – a few vineyards and horses in this area. Approaching Mildura from the east, there are many orange orchards, jacaranda trees and vineyards. I had lunch at Mildura and sat in the new city mall. It is a wealthy city with many brick buildings and lovely green gardens. There is dry country between here and Paringa and I have reached South Australia. The River Murray winds around Paringa which is like a suburb of Renmark on a hill with mostly fibro houses in both towns. Between orange orchards and vineyards, such as Remano, the land is in a bad state – eroded, barren and affected by salt. The big Orange and light industry are on the way into Berri which is a nice town and has a new TAFE college, a convent, Riverland plaza shopping centre, brick houses/units, nice parks and gardens. There were houseboats along the Murray from Paringa to Loxton and mostly vineyards from Berri to Barmera. Peach and apricot orchards were plentiful in the area in 15 years ago as were big processing plants, like the Berri estate which was the largest distillery in Australia. The bus continued on passing by Bonnyview Winery opposite Lake Bonney (waterskiing) at Bamera (wind surfing and fishing). Cobolgla – historic town with a few lagoons, salt affected country and the Humphrey pump museum. Moorok game reserve consists of large lakes and lagoons, Along the Murray River I saw emus and other birdlife. At 5a.m. in Renmark, it was 37 degrees Celcius, so I was glad to be in an air conditioned bus. Mainly wheatfields and barren land from here west to Waikeri – historic river town settled in 1894 and citrus centre of Australia. There are lagoons along the Murray and limestone cliffs. The Cob is an old country store near Waikeri post office and sandstone historic buildings. Saltbush and barren land surround Blanchetown; an appropriate name I thought in this harsh country. On reaching the Barossa valley I hired a pushbike to look around Nuriootpa and Tanunda area for a day. The main attractions to be seen were the old railway train opposite Yalumba winery, the tranquillity of the hilly countryside, the old buildings in the towns, vineyards, little restaurants and wine tastings and the old station. From “Travel in a changing world” available from www.lifestylerenewal.com
Barossa Valley and Adelaide
Yalumba is the only winery in Australia with a working cooperage (the making of wooden wine barrels). At V de Vte, try the 40% proof digestive wine. It will knock your socks off. If you really want to live it up in style, Auburn personalised tours will take you around the area in a vintage car with driver as guide. I stayed at a homely hostel in Nuriooptna on a vineyard where I met many interesting characters; both local and travellers. The main places of interest that I discovered that day were Chateau Dorien in scenic setting with murals on original wine casks and across the road is located an old cemetery with German names on the graves dating from well over a century ago. There is also a tavern at Dorien winery which I walked back to later in the day for afternoon drinks. It was good to revisit after fifteen years the Bernkastel winery, Bassendows and Chateau Tanunda. At the Barossa Junction restaurant, there are a lot of train carriages used for accommodation. The Kew Rohriach museum is opposite containing a collection of old aeroplanes, their engines, vintage cars and motorcycles, a steam engine, jet engines uniforms and spy radios. Back at Nuriooptna, I rode around on a hired bicycle to look around the shops old churches, municipal pool and the Information Centre housed in William Coulthard’s original stone homestead. The Barossa Farmers market has fresh local produce sold by the growers.
Many years earlier, I travelled to this area with my fiancé Gill and a mate Paul. We drove up from Adelaide for a day of wine tastings and to see the main tourist attractions such as the church and facilities built by the settlers from Germany who planted many of the first vines. At the end of the day we ended up having a meal and a few more drinks at a local hotel while being entertained by a band playing oomp pa pa German music. It was so much fun that we lost track of the time. I knew the general direction to get back to Adelaide and took pot luck by following the tail lights of a car along dark winding roads from the Barossa through some low hills until suddenly with a sigh of relief, I spotted the lights of Adelaide not far below. We found the way easily from here to our accommodation in Gilies Street. Maggie Beer’s farm shop has cooking demonstrations and Mount Lofty house is also worth a visit. From the book “Travel in a changing world” available for under $10.95 for each book from www.lifestylerenewal.com