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A lil' bit more of SA before we head home.....

April 2023

View of Victor Harbor from Granite Island

Victor Harbor was a delightful place to spend 5 days. We were lucky enough to park the van at Dan and Katie's, just north of town in the Inman Valley area. They have built a solar passive house which excited Craig and I (we have always wanted to live in a house like this). The house is solely powered by solar and gas (for heating) and water is supplied by rainwater tanks. It is such a beautiful house designed to enjoy the views of the bushland on the block, which they have listed under a conservation covenant so it can never be logged. We enjoyed spending time with Dan, Katie, their kids Joey and Mae, and retriever Peachy.

Dan and Katie's property

Victor Harbor has a relaxed seaside charm, breathtaking coastal views and rich maritime history. Just a one-hour drive from Adelaide it has really grown in size as so many people can commute or work from home these days. Mali and Craig rode on the Cockle Train to Goolwa - the train travels along the oldest steel railed railway in Australia, linking the River Murray to the ocean wharves. We also watched the horse drawn tram travel across the causeway but decided to walk it ourselves. We drove over to Hindmarsh Island to view the mouth of the Murray. It is currently flowing out to the Southern Ocean but during periods of low flow (mostly due to drought and over extraction) the river does not meet the sea. This is also where the Coorong National Park begins - this is a wet­land of inter­na­tion­al impor­tance, sup­port­ing many sig­nif­i­cant and endan­gered flo­ra and fauna. It is also where Storm Boy was filmed.

We celebrated our 2-year 'Vanniversary' here. It was a freezing cold and windy morning but we walked along the causeway to granite island and hid behind some trees to keep warm. The loop walk around the island was stunning!!! We were so cold we decided to go for a hot breakfast. It is definitely cooling down now!

We took a drive around the Fleurieu Peninsula stopping in at Rapid Bay, Second Valley and Normanville. It was wet most of the day but we snuck in a game of 'floor is lava' at a playground. I considered a snorkel off Second Valley jetty in order to seek out the Leafy Sea Dragon. It was pretty blowy and very choppy, and Craig and Mali were not coming with me. We spotted two men in their 70s gearing up for a scuba dive (they put me to shame). I chickened out. We have not seen a winter in 2 years so we are complete wimps in the cold.

We said goodbye to Dan, Katie and the kids and moved back north to spend some time in the Barossa Valley. We stopped in at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills (30 mins from the City). This is Australia's oldest surviving German settlement. A heritage listed town, Hahndorf was an interesting village to discover. We strolled down the iconic main street, exploring heritage German buildings, bakeries, and a gorgeous shop selling cuckoo clocks and all sorts of german wooden toys and nutcrackers. We ate some giant pretzels (which tasted like bagels) and even enjoyed a meal at the pub. The menu was, obviously, very meat based so when Craig asked if they had a vegetarian dish with sauerkraut he received strange looks. Chicken schnitzel with a side of sauerkraut it was!

You would think after 2 years travelling and using google maps that we would pick a clear route to the Barossa Valley. Nup....these minor country roads really stumped us and we had to turn around a few times as towing the van through some of these windy, dirt roads was not a good option. You never stop learning on a trip like this.

Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills)

Chateau Tanunda

We had so much fun in the Barossa Valley. We found a Putt Putt course (that was open 7 days!) and played a great game surrounded by all sorts of model dinosaurs with insane and warped roars. Craig thrashed us both again. My putt putt abilities have declined considerably - at least we had balls and putters instead of hacky sacks! We visited the chocolate factory and watched them making the giant chocolate moulds. We went to plenty of wineries including the oldest, Chateau Tanunda. This was a spectacular old building with beautifully manicured gardens - it reminded me of the Loire Valley in France. We followed many locals and parked on a hill somewhere to watch the air show from the top of Yokel. We even found some Bluey and Bingo painted hay bales. Mountain biking was on my agenda as the trails around here looked awesome but once I took the bike of the caravan I realised what bad condition the bike was in as I could not change the gears. Two years of dust will do that! Instead, I enjoyed many lovely walks through the old Tanunda town and the Barossa Bush Gardens in Nuriootpa.

Our last stop in SA was Adelaide. It was a fantastic way to end our travels and Mali was so excited to be in a City. She kept telling us how much she loved cities. No doubt it was due to the cool museums, the Zoo and the tree top adventure we took her on. Why not end with a bang?! The Adelaide Zoo has managed to successfully breed Giant Pandas so we went to visit Fu Ne and Wei Wei. We got there early and found Fu Ne foraging for hidden food and sitting right in front of us. Wei Wei was asleep. We read about the reason for the Giant Panda's severely threatened status. We also read about the plight of the Orangutan and I saw Mali's heart drop. The realisation that we 'humans' are causing the decline of so many amazing animals really concerned her. She decided to drop some change into the donation box and bought herself and little panda toy to remind her how special they are. One morning we rescued an injured ringtail possum from the front of the caravan park and we walked it up to the local vet. It was such a fragile thing. It did not survive. The little conservation seed has been planted in Mali and I am determined to help it grow in her.

Our excitement levels were pretty high as we would be home in Wollongong within a week and we all could not wait for the next chapter of this journey. We got amongst it in Adelaide, visiting the South Australian Museum, the State Library and the MOD. We dined out, enjoyed some old pubs, an old lolly shop and rode the trams and buses. Mali did the treetop adventure and really got her monkey on climbing up and down the courses. The Himeji Garden was also beautiful - I love little Japanese Gardens. Adelaide is such a beautiful city. It has lovely old buildings and churches and is surrounded by parklands (as a ring around the City). It also has a smaller town vibe about it, which we loved. We ducked over the Glenelg Beach for the day. I did have a swim. It was so refreshing and not too cold!

Our next post will probably be the last for a while. We have a few stops planned in Victoria and NSW and then will land in Wollongong for 3 weeks of catching up before we head north to the mid-north coast to try the location as a possibly permanent new home.

See you in the flesh soon!!!



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