Adelaide: Home of Kangaroo Island, great wine, and a whining tour guide!\

Adelaide is not the first city that comes to mind when people think of Australia, nor probably the second. However, it is a place I heard many great things about and I deemed it worth a short stay! The city itself is quite picturesque because if what happened when it was first founded. Unlike most of the large cities in Australia, it was not founded by convicts. I will give you a brief history of the area before I jump into what I got up to while I was in town!

A group in Britain led by Edward Gibbon Wakefield were looking to start a colony based on free settlement rather than convict labor. After problems in other Australian colonies arising from existing settlement methods, the time was right to form a more methodical approach to establishing a colony. A surveyor, Colonel William Light, was sent to South Australia to find a suitable site for the colonization. He was required to find a site with a harbor, arable land, fresh water, ready access for internal and external communications, building materials and drainage. He decided on the site and after much discussion, it was agreed upon. The new colony was named Adelaide after King Williams IV’s wife, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.

Because it was a planned city and not subject to the usual colony sprawl you are welcomed into the city on wide streets even by today’s standards. Surely Light didn’t anticipate the population growth and future use of cars, but the street widths were based on being able to turn a horse drawn cart around in the street. In modern day Adelaide, you can enjoy stylish architecture, boutique shopping, sandy beaches, fabulous art events, nightlife, fine dining, and some of Australia’s best cafe strips. It’s population is slightly over 1 million, which makes it Australia’s fifth largest city, and by far the largest city in the otherwise sparsely populated South Australia. It is also known for having the conveniences of a large city, while at the same time being far less cosmopolitan than the “Big Four”.

I started my trip with a city orientation tour that turned out to be interesting, not because of the tour itself, but because of the driver/tour guide. The tour only had two other people besides myself, and I was picked up first. When I got in the van we drove past the casino and I made a comment about heading there later to try my hand at poker. The guide proceeded to tell me how he had developed a gambling problem and was all but run out of town in Perth. He came to Adelaide thinking there wasn’t a casino, but alas, there it was, right in the center of town. He gambled until he won about $6000, took the money and started a tour company and hasn’t gambled since. I didn’t mind the story but thought it was an awful lot of disclosure from a tour guide.

He picked up the only other passengers, a nice elderly couple from Brisbane. As we made our way out of the city he drove in the designated bus lane. He was driving quite slow as he was telling us about the things we passed and one of the city buses understandably passed him and tried to get back into the bus lane. He sped up and honked at the bus, not allowing him back in the lane. He then proceeded to pull up next to the full city bus, roll down his window and start screaming profanities at the bus driver. Wow…how professional! After another couple of miles he started telling us a story about how much he disliked tourists from certain countries, people from certain states in Australia, and some of the tour desk people at hotels. In between his rants, the elderly couple just politely nodded. He was also taking and making phone calls the entire time!

Needless to say, I was happy to get out of the car when we stopped in Hahndorf. Hahndorf is a cute little town famous as being the oldest German settlement in the area. The streets were lined with Bavarian pubs, cafes, and shops highlighting the local wares. He dropped us off there for a few hours to wander about and get lunch before meeting up with him for a ride back into the city. We came across him at the designated time and place as he was screaming at the Australian equivalent of the DMV about having to be present to get his van inspected. He got in the van and drove us back in the car while we listened to him bitching at one person after another as he asked to speak to each person’s manager, receiving the same answer each time. After about 30 minutes he resigned himself to his fate and hung up on them and then proceeded to complain about them the rest of the way home. Ugh, a good tour ruined by a miserable person.

The lesson I learned is how much of a waste of his energy it was to get so upset over something so silly. It was draining to him and the people around him! I decided then and there to continue my laid back attitude once I get back into the daily grind at home. Life is way too short to waste on anger and frustration!! That afternoon I had a nice walk around town and tried to shake the guide’s negativity off of me. One of the things that I noticed was the beautiful stone and ironwork on many of the buildings. In between his rants the guide had told us that all of the buildings were built out of stone because there was a wood shortage when the settlers first arrived. I am sure it was a lot of extra work at the time, but it was great to see all the old buildings still standing with their original facades.

Having walked most of the city and seen many of the sights I wanted to take some time out to see a movie I had been wanting to see the next day. I had noticed the marquee the day before saying that there was an 11:00 showing of “The Best Marigold Hotel” so I walked over there to buy my ticket. They happily sold me the ticket and I waited in the lobby for the doors to open. As I waited about 50 other people filed in, but I noticed something strange, all of them were in their 60s and 70s. Turns out the movie was part of a seniors group movie club. I was the only person there under 60! Ha!

The movie was great and I finished my day by walking around another area of the city where there were designated graffitti areas. I watched fascinated as these talented young men and women made murals out of a blank wall. I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the museum and adjacent art museum, both free to visit and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the exhibits and artwork displays.

The highlight of my trip started the following morning. I had an early pickup to take a bus down to the ferry station to head over to Kangaroo Island. It is an island known for it’s wildlife and I was excited to see it over the next couple of days. After disembarking from the ferry we all piled on the small bus and got to know each other for a bit. We made our way up the hill a bit for a Sheep Shearing demo, of which the sheep dogs were the highlight for me! We watched as he told the dogs to “Go get da sheeps.” and they obeyed by running out to bring the herd in to the barn. He grabbed one and showed us how the shearing is done. All of the wool comes off in one piece when done correctly! It was actually pretty impressive. After shearing the sheep he grabbed a clump of the fleece and spun it into yarn using a traditional spinner.

We made a couple of short stops as we made our way across the island including a eucalyptus oil farm and a few other picturesque overlooks. Our big destination of the day was a trip to Seal Bay. There we were met by a local ranger and he walked us down to the beach to meet a colony of Australian Sea Lions resting on the beach before returning to sea to hunt. I felt like I was in a National Geographic movie! There were hundreds of them lying about in groups, pups playing in the water, and adolescent males harassing females. It was a really great feeling to be that close to wild animals and I felt lucky to be there! I must having taken over a hundred pictures and videos.

We made our way over to Vivonne Bay where we were staying for the night. The area is riddled with walking tracks where you can see lots of wildlife and beaches. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, but only came across a couple of local kangaroos. I was dying to see an Echidna, a funky little porcupine looking monotreme, but no luck so far! Dinner was being cooked as I returned to the lodge and I could smell it! The air was full of the delicious smell of cooking steaks and chicken on the grill. After eating cheap food for a long while, the red meat was a welcome meal. We all just about ate ourselves into a food coma it was so delicious!

The next morning started out with a short walk through “Koala Park”. Koalas were introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 80s to help with repopulation of the species. There were a series of brushfires causing a lot of damage to trees in the area so they are slowly being relocated to the mainland to help the trees recover. They can do some serious damage to a forest of eucalyptus because they prefer the baby leaves. In fact an easy way to tell if there is a colony in the area is by looking at the trees and if many of them are bare and dead looking, chances are good that koalas have been nearby. We saw several koalas and hopped back on the bus. I don’t care how many times I see them, I never get sick of their cute little fuzzy faces!! On our way back to the bus I saw a kangaroo with a joey poking his head out of her pouch! So cute!! But no echidnas…

Our next stop was at the “Remarkable Rocks”. Okay, I have to say, Australians are not very creative when it comes to naming things. Oh, it’s an island with lots of kangaroos? Let’s call it Kangaroo Island. That mountain is lumpy, let’s call it Mount Lumpy! Seriously, I had to laugh everytime someone would ask how something got it’s name. It was never an exciting story! Back to the rocks…true to their name, the rocks have remarkable formations. You can climb under them, over them and around them, and they really are interesting. We were warned about being careful around the edges of the formation as it is on the edge of a lichen covered cliff, which gets steep deceptively quickly.

On our walk down I looked at the side of the pathway and saw an ECHIDNA!!! Yay!! I just about jumped out of my skin I was so excited!! I leaned my camera as close as I could and if you look close you can see his little snout that he uses to eat ants. As a group we piled on to the rocks and were quite excited by all the cool formations. We took turned taking silly pictures in, on, and under the rocks. We were able to talk a nice lady passing by into taking a group photo for us as well. Good times!

We stopped by another area where we could see Australian Fur Seals on shore. They were lazing about the rocks, but were so cute and fuzzy! I grabbed a couple of photos of some of the babies as the waves crashed against the rocks. The wind was starting to blow and it began to rain so we all quickly retreated to the van.

We made one last stop at Kingscote and exhausted from a long day we got back on the ferry to the mainland and took a bus back into town for a late arrival.

I got up and met up with my last tour while I was in Adelaide, surprise surprise, it was a wine tour! The Barossa Valley just outside of Adelaide is one of the largest and internationally known wine growing regions in Australia. It is home to several of the names you already know like Penfold’s, but we were making our stops at several of the smaller wineries. We stopped at two in the morning and then lunch was made up of a cheese, fruit, and bread platter to pair with the wines. I was very impressed with the quality of the wine and the beautiful surrounding scenery! In the afternoon we made stops at two more wineries before returning to the city. That night I got packed up and ready for my next adventure…New Zealand!

I am so excited to share the next part of my trip as New Zealand has been on my bucket list longer than most of the places I have visited. It is known for it’s beautiful scenery, nice locals, and, of course, the Lord of the Rings! I will keep you posted!





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