Although we’d decide to have a quiet day, as we were settling down to a relaxing afternoon reading the paper, Margaret came up with a gourmet tour of the area (mind you it was in a local guide pamphlet). As we were down to our last 28 bottles of wine we quickly packed up and headed off along the coast. With the nights fair drawing in we needed to make tracks so were dismayed to be held up by stunning scenery – how much more can we take!??! At Peterborough we had to stop at the Bay of Martyrs and then Bay of Islands – both exceptionally beautiful and worth a few minutes stop (see photos on the photo albums). Sometimes there are places to stop that are never included in the guides but we had to move on so didnae stop (sorry if they too were worth it). Our first stop was at Timboon Farmhouse Cheese where we sampled an excellent array of cow’s milk cheeses made on the farm. Naturally we headed off armed with a selection and made our way to Heyetesbury Ridge winery (we’d planned to take in a berry farm but the season had ended and it was closed – although we picked up a punnet of strawberries at a local petrol station in Timboon). Amid wonderful vineyard scenery we pulled off the road to sample something to go well with ……..cheese. We were greeted by David Newton who, with his wife Dot, owns a little boutique winery producing wonderful wines. We’d had their Pinot Noir at Great Ocean Road Deli Restaurant at Apollo Bay earlier in the week and it was excellent. Although a small producer, David explained that they try to sell locally between Apollo Bay and Port Fairy (our next stop) and the previous evening had had an excellent meal at 20ate in Port Campbell obviously part of his marketing strategy. We mentioned we’d probably eat there the following night (as we did) and said we’d try to help create demand! Heading off again loaded down with a selection of Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Pinot Grigio and Sauvingon Blanc we were directed to another cheesery – Apostle Whey Cheese. There we sampled some more cheese to stories from a lassie whose Dad came from Brechin. There was nae doubt she came from Brechin as she could fairly talk – and she was learning to play the bagpipes (thank goodness, she informed us, her man was getting deaf!!). A couple of cheeses to add to our collection we headed back to the coast to watch the mutton birds (not the NZ rock band but short-tailed shearwaters) return to their nests at Loch Ard Gorge. We nearly gave up thinking they already had flown but as darkness fell a few birds started to fly in. More and more arrived but to be truthful, we probably left too early. However, it was a wonderful sight to see the sun setting in the Western skies and to witness the birds’ homecoming. For information, mutton birds/short-tailed shearwaters spend the Australian winter in Alaska and summer in South Australia/Victoria/Tasmania. They breed in Oz and head off in April to Alaska leaving their young behind to fend for themselves. Their young then head off – remarkably to the same destination (Alaska) on their own, never having been their before. It was a bit like Eric leaving Montrose and heading for Edinburgh!! After Port Campbell it was off to Port Fairy. However, we stopped off for a game of golf at Peterborough. It’s a short links type course reminiscent of the Glen at North Berwick – there’s even one hole where you have to drive over the sea! As we pulled up to a notice that the course was closed we thought our luck was out. It turned out to be ladies day and Eric was allowed on the course provided he was ‘a lady and would give way to the ladies on the course. We had one of our better rounds and avoided a very heavy downpour while we got ready in Annie. Port Fairy is a lovely old town on the coast. We went out in a boat (it was very rough), had a cycle around Griffith Island (another mutton bird colony) and a drink in the Caledonian Inn (known locally as the Stump) the oldest continually run pub in Victoria. Before we set off for our next stop we headed back a few kilometres to Tower Hill. This is a nature reserve set with an volcano – and it was wonderful. We should have spent longer but as we had to press on we had time only for a brief walk to a high point. On the way we were thrilled to see our first koalas in the wild. They were up a tree sitting as they normally do – doing nothing! It’s incredible how they manage to sit for hours in the crook of a eucalyptus tree, swaying in the wind, without their bums going numb! On our way out of the park we were even luckier to see a small flock of emus – again our first wild sighting. Our next stop was Mount Gambier which is South Australia’s second largest town also situated around an old volcano (see photographs) - our campsite was on the actual rim. It is a fantastic location for a town with so much to do on its doorstep and very much better than envisaged and worth the stopover. One of the highlights is the Blue Lake in the crater and it was still very much that colour although in April it changes from blue to grey. We celebrated Margaret’s birthday a day early to take advantage of the eating places here – and a very nice meal we had too! Thanks to everyone (except Gillian - although since had a lovely message!!) for their birthday wishes. Next day were off again to Naracoorte through the Connawarra wine region. Naracoorte is another very nice small town and it is a shame we didn’t have more time. But we have spent longer in the South East (Victoria and Tasmania) than planned and we now need to make tracks if we are to avoid the approaching late autumn/winter. However, everything seems to be hotting up and we were treated to some summery weather at Naracoorte caves – a World Heritage Site which has some of the best fossil evidence of Australia’s past. The longest haul so far was from Naracoorte to Tanunda in the Barossa Valley (around 350km) and took us through Murray Bridge and the Adelaide Hills. Poor signposting got us a bit lost but not for long. It is very evident that the economy of South Australia is based on wine. Having driven through many of the worlds wine regions, we have never seen so many miles and miles of vineyards. We had passed through Coonawara, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and had arrived in the Barossa Valley, the largest of them all. Thank goodness we didn’t take all wine-tasting opportunities – hic! But we did the following day as we set off on the bikes around the vineyards where we sampled and ordered much wine to be collected later when we head off for Adelaide later in the week.Tanunda is a lovely town with a distinct Germanic look and feel, hardly surprising given it was first settled by Germans/Prussians in the 1840s. While cycling around the area (thankfully flatish) we feel we are in Europe rather than Australia. This feel is heightened by the numerous Lutheran churches dotted around and German names on gravestones. However, the wine does not – with respect – have a ‘German’ taste to it and it is quite wonderful – even if we shay thish ourshelves!!
It is also really good to be back among friendly campers who are more than happy to spend the time of day with us – everyone is very interested in our travels – and share a story or two.
PS - don't knowif we've mentioned that it is hot again. We're now in the 30s and have had to dig out shorts,suncream and dust down the BBQ - lovely!!