My Aussie mate Renee is a very nice girl. So nice, in fact, that I would do pretty much anything for her. However, when she rang to ask me to visit her in Adelaide I thought,
“now that girl’s gone too far this time”.
Why would I want to go there? It doesn’t have an Opera House or a Ramsay Street. Was Renee trying to test our friendship?
When I questioned her about it she calmly told me not to be so ridiculous and that we could go wine tasting in somewhere called the Barossa Valley. Hmmm… maybe it was worth a
The Barossa Valley is located 60km north-east of Adelaide. It is the valley formed by the North Para River and the region is primarily known for its red wine, in particular shiraz (yum yum).
So with rain scheduled for Sydney, the aftermath of a heat-wave seeping through Adelaide and a wine tour already booked I was off to South Australia.
Munching my way through the Toblerone I had bought Renee at the airport I’d accidentally started to slag Adelaide off again.
“The only thing the place has to offer are grapes,” I scoffed at her. Renee turned at me, “Now listen here young lady. Adelaide has grape things to do, grape places to eat and grape places to party,” she wined. Although it all sounded grape to me I decided that my argument needed at least 11.5 per cent proof.
We started with checking out how great the animals were. Renee and I drove to the Hills to visit the Gorge Wildlife Park. Our fumble around the park got off to a terrific start when we arrived just in time for koala cuddling.
It doesn’t matter how old or cool you are koalas are sure to get you a little hot under the collar.
Our koala was called Molly and she gracefully held out a eucalyptus branch to shade herself from the sun. From fanning bears we moved on to talking birds.
This cute pink and white parrot turned to us to say hello, and then hello again (strangely enough in an English accent). One of the other highlights was feeding the wallabies, especially the albino ones because they couldn’t see so well so the birds kept stealing their biscuits (don’t judge me… you would have laughed).
I was very excited about the next sight on the agenda. It was going to big… it was going to be a thing… yes we were off to see one of Adelaide’s Big Things.
Although The Big Rocking Horse wasn’t meant to rock, Renee and I did our best to change that as we scampered to the top.
Up there we got strangers to take those “look at me at the top of a silly big thing” photos. I was extremely blessed during my stay in Adelaide because I got to visit the rocking horse not once, but twice, as it was the first place that we visited on our wine tour the next day.
As we approached the horse for the second time Renee turned sheepishly to me and whispered, “Adelaide has more to offer than just Big Rocking Horses.”
“Yeah, I hear it’s got grapes too,” I retorted.
But by now I was just enjoying teasing her. I’d started to like the place, which was surprising as I hadn’t had one drop of wine yet.
Our tour guide stood up to announce that the first winery we would visit was Jacob’s Creek. This was exciting news indeed as Jacob’s Creek reminded me more of home than a cup of tea.
I was on the way to see something ethereal – like the Taj Mahal or Great Wall of China – only better because you get to drink free wine there.
The winery stood in acres of finely kept gardens and the cellar door was a modern building constructed of glass.
Inside we were introduced to the rather dashing Paul Cloogee who explained a little about the winery’s past.
Throughout the presentation and wine tasting his eyes kept returning to Renee and I began to feel a bit jealous. But my jealous rage came to an end when we discovered that Mr Cloogee knew Renee’s brother.
I told her I knew he couldn’t have been staring because he fancied her. She thanked me and added, “But that’s another thing for the list: grape men.”
Arriving at our fourth winery we were sufficiently sozzled to start behaving very sillylee.
At Cockatoo Ridge we decided that we required cockatoo quiffs. It was Valentine’s Day so we sat down at a table decorated with love cards and flowers downing our wine and complaining about men. Life was good.
I would have happily stayed in the Barossa Valley for a couple of nights, but our bus was waiting to take us back to Adelaide via the enchanting Whispering Wall.
As the wall was built at a particular angle it has magical powers. One of which is that it can echo voices hundred of meters.
Renee had made the long trek across the bridge and I was waiting for her words
of wisdom at the other end.
Instead I heard her ask, “What’s the difference between an egg and a beetroot?’
“What?” I asked expectantly.
“You can beat an egg but you can’t beat a root.”
The wall unfortunately lived up to its reputation and her voice was crystal clear at the other end. “Does anyone know her?” I muttered to the group around me.
There were a couple more trips planned before my departure. Renee couldn’t let me escape before showing off Glenelg – a beach as stunning as any in Sydney but without the hoards of people on it.
Her mum also whisked us off to a quaint German style village called Hahndorf where we ate bratwurst and drank beer in the sun.
By the end of my stay I had to concede that when it came to fighting about Adelaide with Renee she had me over a barrel. But that, my friends, is a different story…
The damage and the details: tours with the Golden Backpack-winning Groovy Grape (www.groovygrape.com.au) cost $79 (including barbecue lunch); entry to The Gorge Wildlife Park (www.gorgewildlifepark.com.au) is $13.