From the Desert to the Valleys and to the Sea
The Winnie Blues drive day
We loved Coober Pedy so much we stayed an extra night, the knock on effect of this was a long drive from there to our next stop, Armagh in heart of the Clare Valley wine region. A journey of about 750 kms we were going to do in a day. I may have mentioned I’m from Ireland and probably the longest drive you can do in Ireland is from Mizen Head at the top of the island to Malin Head at the bottom, with a decent dog leg through Dublin, it is less than 650 kms. As Jenni keeps reminding me, “We’d drive that far for a pack of Winnie Blues.” So we filled the car with petrol, whispered a fond adieux to the wonderful Coober Pedy and set out for Armagh on our proverbial short Australian Winnie Blues drive.
We passed the magnificent salt lake again, Lake Hart. It was such a beautiful day we had to stop to get a selfie.
After Lake Hart and a couple of hours more driving we stopped at the Ranges View Rest Area for a lunch break.
We set up our little camping stove and Jenni rustled up a feast for us which we ate in these stunning surroundings.
We had to stop again in Port Augusta to fill up with petrol, the first time we’ve had to fill up the tank twice in one day. In Port Augusta we passed Sundrop Farms. As we drove through Port Augusta 2 weeks ago we saw a huge white, glowing tower which looked pretty spectacular, a bit of Googling later we found it was from Sundrop Farms.
Last blog I mentioned I was a fan of renewable energy schemes, well this one takes the whole concept a light year further. I copied the picture above from their web site, I hope they don’t mind. Port Augusta has very little fresh water but it does have access to an unlimited amount of sea water and sunshine. They use a huge array of curved mirrors to focus the suns rays onto the tower which produces clean energy to desalinate the water and provide heat. They use hydroponics to grow the plants without soil. It’s pretty amazing and I cannot help thinking this is a view of the future in some way.
From their web site, “We don’t extract groundwater from the planet at unsustainable rates. We don’t rely on fossil fuels. And we don’t use soil or valuable farmlands.”
I searched to see if they did tours but they don’t, so on we drove to our next stop, Armagh in Clare Valley.
We had a lot of work in Adelaide over the next few weeks so based ourselves in and around there. During this Vagabonding journey of ours we have used a combination of accommodation choices including camping, AirBnB, hotels, staying with framily (friends and family) and house sitting. In Armagh, in the Clare Valley we had booked a delightful AirBnB in a vineyard in the middle of a valley vineyards in a state full of vineyards. South Australia has shown itself to be one of the most beautiful, diverse and interesting places we’ve encountered. There’s more to come.
The couple who run this AirBnB were called Steve and Jood who had arranged an aperitif around a firepit followed by a few wines and a delicious cooked meal. We were due to stay at this place for a few days and it had started really well.
The next morning we went for an early walk around the local vineyards with Jood while Steve prepared breakfast. This is like glamping but with AirBnB.
The South Australian town was created in 1850 and was named after Armagh in Northern Ireland, it looks nothing like the Armagh I know. My Armagh in Ireland is named “Orchard County” after the many apple orchards that feed the local cider industry. This Armagh is “Grape County”. There are vineyards to the left and right, in front and in back of you, all set in pristine rows. This morning was frosty and clear and very beautiful.
The early morning sun lit the landscape quite beautifully.
During our fire pit conversations the previous night, Jood was telling us about the wildlife that they see in around their property which included feral deer with massive antlers, kangaroos and small birds called White Winged Chough (pronounced Chuff) that are rare to see and build nests out of mud in the trees. As we meadered along the unsealed roads between the vineyards that morning I spied this Chough Nest in a tree. We haven’t seen the bird yet but in time I am sure we will.
That night, after work, I was working on my blog. One of the house cats took a shine to me and decided to keep me company. You’ll recognise the pictures on the screen from last weeks blog. I do like cats and they seem to like me.
The next day Jenni and I had worked out a plan to break from work for a short time and go for lunch, and being in Clare Valley lunch was in a vineyard. The vineyard was called Paulette Wines and the lunch was pretty good. The view wasn’t too bad either.
After we left Paulette Wines we took a detour back along the backroads which took us through Mintaro. Mintaro is a village caught in a time bubble.
There are pretty views everywhere.
For a few days we had been looking for an Op Shop to drop some books off at and to pick up some new ones, and in Mintaro we spied a sign for a book swap. So we took advantage of this while were there.
The next day we took a short break from work again to visit Pikes Vineyard and Brewery. Craft beer and great wine in one place, perfect. I first came across Pikes beer in Wilpena Pound (read last weeks blog for details) where I drank a couple of bottles of their excellent stout.
When we discovered that Pikes was close to our AirBnB we had to go visit.
One of the beers I tasted was a one off, special edition, limited release, hazelnut, Chocolate Porter.
I don’t think I want to taste it again.
Jenni got a lovely glass of Cab Merlot and we ordered a cheese platter and had lunch on the lawn of this pretty place. Apart from the cheese being wrapped in plastic it was all a very pleasurable experience.
Eventually it was time to leave the delightful Armagh and Clare Valley and head for the coastal town of Port Noarlunga where we had booked another AirBnB for a few days. We picked this one as it was near the sea, had good wifi and had a place where we could work. On the way we saw 2 huge trucks with parts of wind farm generators on them. We saw one of these on the road between Broken Hill and Wilpena Pound but didn’t get a picture of them. So when we saw this coming and had to stop to let it past I grabbed the camera and grabbed this quick shot. I’m not sure I comprehended the scale of these things before these road encounters.
We arrived in Port Noarlunga and were treated to a pretty spectacular sunset.
This is my picture.
This is Jenni’s
I am not worthy.
The Onkaparinga river is only 88kms long but is a significant source of fresh water to the area. It enters the sea at Port Noarlunga South, just across the road from our new ArBnB.
A few years ago this coastline was much farther out and a mass of huge sand dunes. Then there was a massive storm and overnight they all disappeared. It’s still a stunning coastline though.
Port Noarlunga South
If you read our blogs you’ll know we visited Port Noarlunga a few months ago and took this picture.
We returned here deliberately as it was so beautiful. Our AirBnB is in Port Noarlunga South, above the cliffs you can see in the distance of this picture.
We had a pretty hectic few days of work deadlines to get through so we chose our environment as a calm and efficient working space. This part of South Australia is just 40 minutes from Adelaide CBD and 10 minutes from McClaren Vale wine region but we had no time to explore this week. However we did go for a walk every day to get some exercise in.
A short distance along from the place we are staying we found one of these.
We seem to keep finding these wherever we go. There’s a bit of a story around this one as the plaque shows.
The surfers used this visible marker and when it disappeared they found it and, with some financial help from the local authorities, restored it back to its original condition and location.
On our walks we observe many surfers, paddle boarders and people fishing.
Every day on our walks we saw the same scenes but every time was different. Our short walks on the beach each day was a great little break to keep us going for the long days work we had do to while we were here.
On our last day in Port Noarlunga we went for a walk at sunset and were rewarded by this remarkable view. We’ve already booked our return trip.
For the next few weeks we’ll be based in Adelaide CBD and in a place called Happy Valley. We left Port Noarlunga to check into our CBD BnB, but first we stopped in South Adelaide Museum to meet Maria, a friend and artist from Darwin who was in town as she has a piece in the final of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize competition.
Maria created this piece in earthenware clay, it’s a thing of rare beauty.
It was a beautiful way to start our next couple of weeks Adelaide adventure.
For the next 2 weeks we are based in and around Adelaide. So plenty more wine and scenery experiences to come.