Australia 2001 (Part 2)
So I left Sydney for Adelaide.
It's a nice little town. It's the first permanent settlement in South Australia and is the state capitol. People from England actually immigrated here, so it doesn't have that convict past that Sydney does. It's also one of those pre-planned cities, so it's got a nice grid of streets. The inner
city is square shaped with each side one mile. Around the city is a series of parks that separate the city from the suburbs, but were originally planned as a defensive mechanism. One of the odd things about a city that was planned in the early 1800s is that the streets are so wide. The city planner made these huge streets that were severely criticized when he was alive. Of course now he's a genius. Each road has room for 2 lanes of traffic in each direction, plus space for parking. It's really nice. Now the bad thing about the road system is that there aren't a lot of traffic lights, so if you want to jaywalk, vice walking the 4 or 5 blocks to the stoplight, it's a little bit dodgy. With few stop lights, it seems the folks in Adelaide are determined to go as fast as they can on those streets, just not very fun when you just want to cross the road.
Well, I had several goals while in Adelaide, one of which was a trip to the Barossa Valley, the premier wine valley in Australia. The bus trip up was nice, but I'm really not a good bus trip type of person. It's hot, the sun is shining, the bus is humming along and I'm asleep in no time. But I did catch some of the narrative as we made our way to the valley. One of the leaders of early South Australia was John Angus. He bought a lot of land here and then brought over some people who were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. The group that he brought over that settled in the Barrossa Valley were German Lutherans, so they brought their wine-making skills with them. And let me tell you, the Lutheran church is big here. A town of 2000 had 4 Lutheran churches. We got a good overview of the wine growing process here and made it to our first vineyard. Now I'm a white kind of guy. Preferably sweet white. And the Barrossa of course is famous for its Merlots and Shiraz wines. So the wines I was sampling weren't exactly their strong suit. And to be honest, I could tell. I did have one that was really nice, but of course they don't export that one to the US. No it goes to the UK. Figures. Oh, and have I mentioned that I'm sick at this point? I think it was all the smoky bars in Sydney that I went to, but what started just as a sore throat had grown into your basic head cold. And I had a headache. So I wasn't feeling really up to speed. We visited three wineries and had lunch at this German restaurant. It was quite nice. I gathered some info on the barrossa wines and I hope to find some of them when I get back to the states. After the wine tour, I took several doses of drugs and just went to sleep.
The next day I was feeling a little bit better and I decided to hop on a bus to Glenelg. Glenelg is this charming seaside village about 20 minutes from downtown Adelaide. It is actually the first real settlement and a lot of the early colonists wanted to stay there, but there wasn't a constant source of drinking water, so that's why Adelaide is where it is. Now have I mentioned how hot it is? Try upper 90s. Not a cloud in the sky and the sun is just so bright. It really is almost over powering. I broke down and finally bought a book, so I laid on the beach all day and read my book. I got a little bit of sun, but the SPF 30 prevented any serious burning.
Anyways, the next day I was off to Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia and has never been infested with rabbits or dogs so they wildlife there is just amazing. Now the island is a bit off the coast and a bus/ferry combination takes about 3 hours, one way. So I decided that I didn't want to do that. So I arranged a light plane flight to island and a guided tour. By the way, I am SO loving the exchange rate right now. It's almost 2-1! Anyways, the plane was an 8 seater Piper Chieftain. I've never been in a plane so small. The flight over was fine and very smooth. We landed and the driver was there to pick me up. I was going to be part of a 5 person group. After we picked up the other people, we headed to seal beach. We climbed down the ridge onto the beach and saw all of these . . . . . . seals? Wrong! Sea lions. Don't ask, I don't know. Anyways, this is where the sea lions come to rest after they have been swimming and feeding in the cold artic waters. We managed to get pretty close to some, but you have to stay at least 25 feet away from them as they will charge people. My Nikon is working again so I got some great shots, especially with my zoom lens. Afterwards, we headed over to Koala Lane. It's a road with a row of eucalyptus trees on either side that hosts a family of koalas. Now the Koala is not indigenous to Kangaroo Island. It was brought over to the island. But since it had no natural enemies here, the population got out of control and the trees started to suffer. There was a plan to cull the koala population, but that was quickly tabled. It seems people here don't have a problem killing and eating kangaroos, but koalas are another story. So the Parks Department relocated about 70% of them back to the mainland and then neutered about 10% more. We saw at least 12 koalas just sitting up in the branches and sleeping for slowly chewing on leaves, pretty cool. Then we stopped for lunch. Steak on the barbie. Potatoes, salad, bread, white wine, the works. Very nice.
After lunch we headed towards Flinders National Park which is where Admirals Arch is. Now walking down from the parking lot, all I can see are the gorgeous cliffs and the water crashing against them. In some of the little rocky coves you can see seals swimming around. This is one of the few areas that seals still live since the sea is so rough here that hunters could never get them. Anyways, it was just fascinating to look at all the seals. So we continue down this path and then all of a sudden there is this huge natural arch that we had actually walked on top of. Very cool. And below the natural arch there was a rocky lagoon where more seals were swimming/playing. Definitely a beautiful spot. We hung out there a bit and then headed to Remarkable Rocks. On the top of this huge rock bluff jutting out into the ocean are these just amazingly shaped rocks. It is definitely not natural, though there is some sort of scientific explanation for it. It really is amazing and I got some good photos there. After that, it was time to go back to the airport. The island is actually quite large so it takes awhile to go from one end to the other. The flight back was fine and I spent my last night in Adelaide re-packing my bags in preparation for Ayers’s Rock/Alice Springs.