We enjoyed our few days in Adelaide, it reminded us of Melbourne, the same friendly relaxed atmosphere, pretty parks, great shopping, free buses, and trams and plenty of nice cafés and restaurants. We have gotten in to a routine when we visit new cities, we walk a lot, it is a great way to get a feel for a place and to see some of the sights. One up shot of this has been Marks shoes wearing out!! We had to set aside a morning to visit Rundall Mall, a pedestrianised shopping street currently festooned with Christmas decorations and pop up Christmas shops, to buy a new pair. While out shopping we spotted a branch of Koko Black the lovely chocolate shop we visited in Melbourne, we couldn’t resist dropping in for a mug of their excellent hot chocolate but it still didn’t feel like Christmas.
Our first expedition across town took us to the Botanic Gardens, that seemed like a good destination as it was around 30⁰C, too hot for exploring the city streets. The gardens were lovely and we particularly enjoyed seeing lots of parrots, one tree was full of hundreds of them all squawking and fighting for a perch near the berries. We were very impressed by the Amazon Water Lily Pavilion which houses a rare species of water Lily with lily pads about 40cms across and beautiful flowers that open at night.
In one corner of the garden we found the Australian Wine Centre; we went in to look around and were a bit confused because it just seemed to be a very smart conference centre with a coffee shop. A sign on the reception desk promoted a free guided tour at 11.30, we signed up for the tour and went to have a cold drink while we waited 20 minutes for it to start. Mystery solved, the ground floor is basically a conference and events centre but downstairs there is a huge open cellar stocking the best of Australian wine and upstairs is an interactive exhibition on wine making. Once again, we were the only people on the tour so our guide, Danielle, conducted us on a private viewing. We were pleased to notice a panel in the timeline acknowledging Admiral Arthur Philip as the first person to bring vines to Australia. The rest of the exhibit explained how vines are grown and let us explore some of the flavour characteristics of different wines (citrus, spicy, peaches, berries etc.) using units that release the particular aroma when you press a button. Another computer screen exhibit let us choose a variety of grape and then decide where to plant it, when and how to harvest it and how to process it to produce wine, at each step we were given several options and hints to help us decide. At the end of the process the wine was ‘tasted’ and the computer gave us its verdict on our wine, we got a bronze medal. Finally, Danielle showed us the wine dispensing machines in the café. Using a kind of credit card, you can sample any of dozens of wines available, you insert the card, select a wine, and choose either a tasting sample, half a glass or a full glass, when you finish you hand back the card which has recorded the choices and pay for the wine you have tried. We didn’t try it there and then but we went back a couple of days later ordered a charcuterie board for lunch and sampled a selection of wine. We did wonder whether there is a place for a similar wine tasting centre in Cornwall…
Wine was a recurring feature of our time in Adelaide, on Sunday we went on a tour of the Barossa Valley, it was a small group tour just 12 of us on a minibus. It was raining on an off but we couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend a rainy day. The drive to the Barossa valley took about an hour through lovely countryside and through historic villages settled by Lutherans driven out of Germany in the 1800’s by religious persecution. On the way, we finally saw some kangaroos in the wild and some emu’s too, and we cheered when the bus crossed a bridge over Jacobs Creek. We noticed that lots of the vineyards had planted roses at the end of each row of vines, the driver explained that the vines are vulnerable to mildew and disease, the roses are more susceptible so they provide a warning if a threat is present – they are very pretty too! We stopped at three Vineyards to taste their wares, one of them served us an excellent lunch rounded off with a glass of dark chocolate flavoured port, sounds odd but it was very nice. We also stopped at Maggie Beers Farm Shop, Maggie Beer is Australia’s answer to Delia Smith and the shop on her family’s pheasant farm, stocks a range of products marketed under her name (pate, chutney and jam, olive oil, vinegars, olives) all of which were available for sampling. They also sold Maggie’s cookery books, one for each season, a Christmas one…sounds familiar!
Back in Adelaide we carried on exploring the city and shopping at the market for fruit and bread and cheese. One afternoon when it was particularly hot we went to the cinema (air conditioned) to see the new JK Rowling film Fantastic Beasts which made a nice change.
On Wednesday morning we were picked up early for a three day trip to Kangaroo Island, more on that to follow shortly.