Home Up Australia 2

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Part 1 - Adelaide

We made all our arrangements with Travelbag, who I would heartily recommend for both their prices and knowledge. We flew Qantas who were excellent throughout, and had captains & stewards with a good Aussie sense of humour! 
Our itinerary was: Adelaide with sisters (8 nts), Sydney (4 nts), drive up Gold Coast towards Brisbane (4 nts), Gympie (2 hrs N of Brisbane, stay with friends for 4 nts), Cairns (3 nts). Once in Singapore we had a 2 hr wait until our transfer flight to Adelaide. Singapore to Adelaide took 6hrs so not too bad. To anyone travelling Qantas, I recommend their relaxation audio channel which is very pleasant and can help with relaxing. If nothing else it drowns out some of the other noise.
We landed in pouring rain which didn't bode well. They had been expecting rainfall for weeks and this was the first. Hopefully it would be the last too. Of course, arriving was fantastic and the whole family had turned out to meet us. We started out by staying at Tricia's & Martin's place. We all spent the day catching up and had a barbie - unfortunately it wasn't warm enough to eat outside but it was delicious anyway. My first taste of kangaroo steak - gorgeous.

The next day, and no jet-lag at all. Must be a myth! Went to a town called Marion which has an enormous shopping centre (in fact I think that's all it does have) - basically, a day for the kids.  Couldn't get over how cheap everything was. Ate at an enormous food hall - about a dozen different outlets selling food from all around the world. Had Japanese but it looked and tasted exactly like Chinese to me! Weather about right - 19/20 so gradually getting acclimatised.

Next day, Port Adelaide, not far away. Weather warming up a bit. Went to the Maritime Museum which is well worth a visit. There was a Titanic exhibition which consisted mainly of a dozen pcs with CD Roms.  Lots of info too on early immigrants which was fascinating. My only visit to a pub for the entire holiday - one called the Port Dock Hotel which brews its own beer (very good too). The pubs aren't very decorative places though. Food very cheap, all meals around 2.50! Then a couple of art exhibitions. 

Next day was much hotter. First stop was Strathalbyn, a quaint little town. When I went to cash a travellers cheque I was invited into someone's office. Don't think they get too many British tourists - was treated like royalty! Then on to Victor Harbour (a recommendation is Granite Island, wonderful place but we didn't have time to go there this time) to an adventure park - Greenhills. A fun place for all the family. Played pitch & putt (as expected I lost, but it was great fun). Went on boats, go-karts, BMX bikes, water slides etc. In fact I didn't participate in all of those. Tricia persuaded me to go on the very high and wide slide - the sort with bumps in. It was so slow that it was a real effort to get to the bottom. So the friendly park warden oiled it for us - went down much better that time. I was quite enjoying myself so had another go. Big mistake - it was very slippy by now and I managed to come down at an appalling speed, banging against the sides all the way down, turning 180 & landing the wrong way round. It took the duration of the holiday for the burns on my elbow to heal and I am now scarred for life!! It was Ben's 13th birthday the next day so we went out for "tea" - they call it "tea", not dinner or supper, wherever it is you are going. Went to "Fresh Choice" which believe it or not serves mainly Chinese food. It's an "as much as you can eat for about 4.50 - less for children. Very good too.

We then moved on to stay with Shirley & Andrew. First stop was Adelaide itself, where we met my niece and her boyfriend for lunch in Cafe Fru-Fru in Rundle Street. Nice place, popular with students - huge portions, cheap prices. And my first Australian iced coffee - which always comes smothered in cream - gorgeous. Should never have started on that habit! Next was one of the highlights (for me anyway) of the trip, a visit to Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. There was an excellent exhibition there, also some thought-provoking & heart-rending work on the removal of aboriginal children from their families. I find aboriginal art fascinating and beautiful - quite unlike anything else I have seen. Had a number of things explained to us by a helpful guide, such as the meanings of certain symbols. Bought a painting ready for framing - "women collecting bush bananas with bowls & sticks" - more easily understood after the explanations!

Shirley & Andrew have bought a plot of land for weekends and their retirement (only 20 years to go!) in the Clare Valley. They have 38 acres, which cost $62,000 a couple of years ago. This is classed as a small plot! It is all scrubby land but they are clearing away non-native plants and encouraging, plus planting, the native species. This will hopefully encourage more wildlife to the area. They will be building a house there over the next few years. So we left the 4 girls to go off shopping and to the cinema and we 4 adults went off to Clare to investigate "the block". It is a wine region so we stopped off for a bit of tasting at Sevenhill. This winery was started by Jesuits in 1851 and has been producing wine for non-religious purposes (as well as communion wine) for 45 years now. All the winemakers have been Jesuits, 7 in 145 years. One thing I have found with wine-tasting though, is that you only ever do get just a "taste" and you don't feel very comfortable about trying without buying. You seem to do better in French vineyards! "The block" is amazing - a beautiful spot but I wouldn't fancy being somewhere so isolated, especially in my old age! They have worked so hard on it and there is still so much to do, but it will be great "when it's finished"! Next stop was Skillogalee for lunch. What a wonderful name. And what a wonderful restaurant. Also a winery, we were able to sample several wines before choosing what would accompany our meal. It was a culinary highlight.

Next day we went to the Warrawong Sanctuary, part of Earth Sanctuaries, in which S & A have shares. They have just built a new restaurant so we tried it out for lunch, and had a look around at their new facilities. Last time we were there we took a night walk. The majority of their animals are nocturnal so you don't get to see too much  during the day. Food was great, yet again (kangaroo for me). Then another highlight, the Hans Heysen house and studio in Hahndorf. Heysen was an artist who died 30 years ago and the family have left his studio as it was. He painted just about anything, but is particularly known for his paintings of gum (eucalyptus) trees. I have become addicted to photographing trees - much easier than painting them! 

Spent our last day in South Australia with the whole family, first going to Mount Lofty, the highest point around, from where you can look out over the whole of the city. Then on to Cleland Conservation Park where we saw wombats, kangaroos (incredibly soft fur), koalas (which we were able to stroke - they are gorgeous), emus, loads of birds and so on. Emus are not very nice. They chase you, nudge you and generally scare the life out of you! The evening was spent sociably with the children playing Nintendo games, something they did every available minute (we don't have one) and also a few games of pool and snooker were had as S & A have a table. Modern Australian houses are very much open-plan and very spacious so are sociable places to be!


Home Up Australia 2


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