Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Bits and Pieces Between South Australia and Victoria.

Murray Mouth. Or Motor Mouth.
Happy snaps at the Murray River Mouth.
Leaving Rapid Bay wasn't difficult: at the end of two days drive would be the most amazing wine district and better still, the Flick'n'Al Show (groovers we'd met at Daly River).  I'm not sure what I was more excited about... But first there were about 600 kilometers to get through, so strap yourselves in.
Murray River ferry.
First of all,  I love South Australia. It appeals to me on so many levels; as a farm girl, a beach chick, wine gourmand, Upper Middle Bogan. The list goes on. I'm also well read and I like a bit of arty farty stuff.  But the Coorong? Storm Boy? Did I miss something? This was the next stop for the night and every person I mentioned this to immediately oohed and aahed.
Coorong bush.
Of course, the plight of the Murray Basin runs deep with me and I love a restored paddle steamer. Crossing the Murray via ferry was cool, and there was a certain desolate beauty about the Coorong, but I was glad we hadn't built a trip around it. Apparently if you get over the dunes into one of the campgrounds next to the open beach then it is worthwhile, but we stayed next to the inlet and the windy weather ruffled up the water like an old sheet that's been on the line for a few weeks. We were the only ones in our camp ground and it was a lovely spot to watch the sun go down and the flocks of sea birds come and go. But it wasn't awe-inspiring for me. In fact I'm filing it in the same category as the Pinnacles: useful in a conversational way. For example: "Oh yes, I've been to the Pinnacles. We met up with Kate and Wills there, they're so busy you know but we managed to fit each other in..." etc etc.
Coorong Inlet.

Coorong birds... Peter Weir must have spent a lot of time here.
Coorong pelican colony.
After one night we moved on to Robe, the polar opposite of the Coorong with its cafes and boutiques, each one offering some or other wine to taste. The beach is long and sandy, the headland rocky and the fishing apparently legendary.We splashed out on staying at the Big4 (($60 per night) and used every possible facility available- heated indoor pool, jumping pillow, camp kitchen (for hide and seek) and the playground.

Ho hum.

The next day was a BIG day though. After an hours drive we would be in the Coonawarra wine district, home of Big Reds and scene of one of the Best Day's of My pre-Trying to Be Responsible Life. I had drunk my way through a wine tour with some great friends back in my mid twenties. Oh life was grand- no kids, no mortgage, and no need to worry about which wine I was tasting : " I'll have a go at No 8 thanks! I believe it's the Peenott Nwaah" Snigger snigger. Needless to say the day ended with a bus full of guffawing twenty-somethings who'd made wine purchases based on the type of bag the bottle came in rather than taste, because let's face it, we stopped tasting at the second winery. I believe a bottle of port I'd bought at the 6th winery served as a doorstop for about eight years. Anyhoo, I digress. This time with kids in tow and a serious red wine buff at the helm, it actually was all about how it tasted (more ho hum).
We went to Brands Laira (delicious wines across the board), Rymill (nice wines and the fishponds filled with carp out the front were winners for the kids), Wynns (good cheese platter) and Katnook (great wines). The Riddoch Highway cuts through the middle of the wine region, making it incredibly easy to navigate your way around. This would be our last go at a wine region, and with the vines full of those green leaves and little grapes starting to form, it was all quite romantic. Queue tired creatures in the back of the car and a stop at the IGA for biscuits in an effort to get to Hamilton and FlicknAls without a complete riot.

Quite possibly the worst timed visit ever, FlicknAl were in the middle of selling their house and  had an inspection the day after we arrived. But they were just as excited to see us and with Marguerite's head about to explode with anticipation, it was a lovely reunion. With complete understanding we were set up in the shed and the children were given strict instructions to touch ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!
Caesar and the Great Life Vest Tantrum.
We exited the clean zone of their property and made our way down to Portland. Fiela and Al had left early in the morning to go fishing, and Flick, the kids and I made our way down later to enjoy the hot day at the beach. Flick had packed an amazing lunch of deliciousness and truly, it was a beautiful day. The boys caught 56 flathead so they were beside themselves. So were the kids who on return, finally had a free run of the house and the baskets of toys kept around for FlicknAls granchildren.
Marguerite and Mac, FlicknAl's harassed dog.
What followed were days of good food, great wine and best of all, excellent company. The weather had made an atrocious turn for the worst though and by the time we finally hauled our much fatter backsides into the car to leave for the Grampians, I'm sure these hospitable, beautiful people were silently thanking every God they knew. I'm surprised I kept it together when we left; being with these two felt like being home, and with our entry into Victoria, New South Wales so close I could almost smell the waratahs, homesickness returned again. With only a few weeks left of this epic adventure, the thrill of setting up the camper AGAIN had lost its shine a bit.

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