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  • Writer's pictureNick Elsey

Enroute to Adelaide

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

8 Feb 2002 - Driving to Port Fairy

Some of the "twelve" Apostles

Last night I spent ½ hour in voice-mail jail, trying for sign up for a Citylink pass, so that when we left Melbourne this morning we wouldn't 'cop another $100 for grievous use of a toll road. Unfortunately, my efforts were in vain since the road going south west from Melbourne (even though it had the same number as the one we came in on), wasn't actually a toll road. Blast!

London Bridge...falling down

The Victoria state coastline is supposed to be some of the most picturesque in the country so we're planning on taking the scenic (i.e. longer) route to Adelaide. Unfortunately, for the first part of the drive much of the scenery consists of dark, scudding clouds and intermittent rain storms. Still, the landscape is very beautiful

The coastline is made of limestone, so there are lots of caves, coves and colorful rock formations to be seen along the way. One of the most popular sights are the 12 Apostles, including (in true American style) an 'interpretive center'. The 12 Apostles are a series of rock formations carved out of the local coastline (see pictures on this page). In the past the locals have given them a number of different monikers, including the 'sow and piglets', but recently 'the 12 Apostles' we deemed to be more formal sounding. The thought that strikes Lynn and I is that it's awfully convenient that there are 12 or these rock formations, rather than 13 or 11. We secretly suspect that they blew up one or two to make the title fit!


Lynn writes...'Searching for Hedgehogs' One of Nick’s obsessions over here is not looking for kangaroos or koalas, but finding hedgehogs. Not the prickly things found running around your garden, but a sweet. The bars appear to be filled with layers of biscuit, caramel, chocolate and perhaps a hint of nougat. Nick has become quite finicky; some even get tossed aside after one bite. To date, the best was found in a small town somewhere between Melbourne and Port Fairy. But there are still loads of bakeries to explore.


Picturesque Port Fairy

We spend the rest of the morning rock formation hopping along the coastline, taking in sights such as the Loch Ard Gorge (sight of the Loch Ard shipwreck, in case you were wondering), the Blow Hole, the Thunder Cave (which are presumably fairly self explanatory) and London Bridge (which is indeed falling down - one arch collapsed 10 years ago, stranding two hapless tourists).

Tonight we stay at Port Fairy, a quaint little town on the coast. Since this is our first opportunity to stay somewhere with an ocean view, we snag a cottage right on the ocean front. Well, I can reliably report that Port Fairy is very windy! Lynn and I go for a quick walk through the town, but get blown back to our room in short order.

9 Feb 2002 - Coonawara

Today is a short days drive up to the Coonawara wine district, just over the boarder in the state of South Australia. This state is allegedly the driest, harshest and most inhospitable in the country. Up in there northern part of the state there is a town called Coober Pedy that gets so hot in the summer (up to 48oC / 118oF) that most of the population live underground.

Lynn and I will do anything for some sunshine!

Sheep playing tennis

Unfortunately, the rain doesn't stop as we cross into South Australia, but we are rewarded with the sight of a tennis court full of sheep during the drive (but children must keep off!)

The Coonawara wine district is tiny, just 12 miles long and 1¼ miles wide, defined by the rich red Terra Rosa soil of the region. This district is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines, so we're looking forward to checking it out.

First a pit stop for lunch at the Hermitage Cafe. The car park is full of folks from all over the country gathered for a Petanque (Boules) tournament. We dodge their silver balls and make it into the restaurant unscathed for a very tasty lunch.

Lynn and I spend the next few hours in a very enjoyable tour of some of the local wineries. Impressed as we were with the density of the wineries in the Hunter Valley, this place is even better. While you could tour the Hunter Valley on a bicycle, you could do this place on foot! We were particularly enamored with one winery where the lady kept the good stuff ($80 a bottle, not officially available for tasting) under the counter until the coach tour party departed, and then let it pour!

Wongary Cottage

Tonight we get very luck and choose to stay in the Wongary Cottages, just north of the Coonawara wine region. This is a delightfully quaint little cottage, built from the local limestone. While Lynn goes jogging, I get a tour of the vineyards from our host and get a fascinating crash course in the art of growing grapes. The bottom line - it isn't nearly as simple as it looks (but you probably already knew that).

Our hosts are very friendly and we all end up sitting round the kitchen table, drinking wine and beer and having a jolly good B.S. session.

Tomorrow we rise (hoping for some real sunshine) and drive like a bat out of hell for Adelaide, which takes us to the next chapter in our journal.

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