Sunday 30 March 2014

The Big, bold and beautiful - Barossa!

We boarded the plane in Melbourne and just 55 minutes later we landed in Adelaide. This was going to be a birthday week to remember and I was super excited.

That first night we stayed in the City at a lovely little boutique hotel called The Renaissance and we dined at a very famous Indian restaurant called the Jasmin. From the outset I was very indulged!

The following morning was my birthday and after lazily lounging in slumber opening my cards and pressies and having a few tears with the messages from home, we soon hit the road for the one hour journey north into the Barossa Valley.

I couldn't quite believe I was about to see one of the most famous wine producing regions in the whole world.

We stayed at a beautiful lodge called The Louise and the doors from our suite opened out onto vast undulating slopes lined with vineyards for as far as the eye could see.

 The Barossa is world famous for producing those big, bold and beefy Shiraz wines and I wondered if the whole operation had become so commercialised that it had lost its old traditions and charm. Not a bit of it. Yes the big boys were there like Jacobs Creek, Wolf Blass and Penfolds but we were delighted to find many small family run wineries, employing all the traditional methods with the obligatory "wine dog" keeping waggy tailed guard at the cellar door.

For my birthday lunch we went to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop for a platter, it was fantastic to be there as she is one of my favourite chefs here and quite a culinary sweetheart  in Australia. She is, I would say, Australia's Delia Smith.

That evening we dined at The Appellation, the restaurant at The Louise. It has rave reviews and we were not at all disappointed, the food was sublime and as you can see from the photo, I was more than delighted with the "Dirty Martini" - a wonderful birthday treat.

The next few days we toured around the Barossa, seeking out the small and quirky little wineries and enjoying the scenery. I am not a fan of the big Shiraz wines so it was super to find delightfully crisp Rieslings and some gorgeous "strawberry and cream" Rose wines.

I also filled my boots with fur baby cuddles with every "wine dog" we came across. I confess Boomer from Turkey Flats was my favourite!

Calling "Boomer" to me

Officially "Boomered!"

Hubster also surprised me with a perfect birthday gift. One morning we rose early and went out into the Bush, the dawn mist was rising and the silvery, blue hues from the Eucalyptus gum trees looked almost ethereal in the white morning light.

All around us kangaroos bathed in the first rays of the day whilst plucking at the ground for juicy, green shoots. It was absolutely beautiful.

On his powerful hind legs, he stood over 7ft tall. Beautiful boy
After about 30 minutes walk,  the guide stopped in a clearing, he spread out a big tartan picnic rug and laid out a luxurious breakfast of smoked salmon quiche, scones with clotted cream and jam, hot tea, rice pudding and fruit and of course a bottle of bubbly!

All around us, the roos just hopped by preoccupied with their own agenda with no mind for us at all.

We were accompanied by another couple from San Fransisco so out of politeness I did not take photos of the wonderful breakfast spread. It took some restraint on my part but it was the right thing to do. The memories of this experience will always remain vivid in my mind and I am so happy to have captured the pics of the roos.

We really loved our time in the Barossa. I was a tad fearful that it would be just a voluminous conveyor belt of mass tourism through a commercialised and soulless process, we have heard that the Napa in California is just like that and it would not have been for us at all.

No, the Barossa has tradition, soul, culture and a very thriving community spirit and joie de vivre that manages to shun all of that so beautifully and yet still make room for those big hitters that you see on you supermarket shelves.

I think the last pictures on this post sum that up perfectly.

We have nothing but happy days to recall in the Barossa, if you don't stay at The Louise at least think of dining at The Apellation.

With a good nights sleep our sights were now set on Kangaroo Island. A place with such a wonderful name, you know its gonna be good.


Thursday 13 March 2014

King Island Revisited

Well I am proof that even avid bloggers get writers block.

There has been plenty going on but I kind of think its a bit like going to the gym, once you stop its hard to get going again.

So there it is, I confess, I have been a lazy blogger of late.

With lots of lovely things to record in recent weeks and some exciting times ahead, it is certainly high time I pulled my finger out.

However, I have to go back, I really didn't give our stay in King Island the cyber space it deserved.

On one of our walks we followed the river mouth leading to the sea. As we stepped out of the bush and shrub we got a glimpse of sparkling white and azure blue. We could barely believe our eyes. If we had have been blind folded we would have sworn we had arrived on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

So pristine, so vast and ALL to ourselves, not another soul

After paddling the shore line lost in dreamy thoughts, we found a nice to spot to sit meditatively gazing out to sea.

Gareth then turned to me and said "I'm going in"

"But we haven't got our swimmers with us, you'll get your undies wet" I said

"Only if I wear them babe, only if I wear them" he declared with a twinkle in his eye.

Then as quick as a flash, he was off, everything akimbo running butt naked into the water!

Well if he had no qualms in doing it, I certainly had none photographing the evidence.

This blog entry will always make me giggle, I think it was worth the wait just because if you know my hubby, that was certainly "out of the box" - literally!