DM and MM's Great Ocean Road Trip Diary

Day 6 - Meningie to Adelaide

Thursday, 2 November, 2006

[ << previous | index | next >> ]

22:01 Adelaide Paringa Motel, Adelaide

First thing this morning I trekked around the corner from our motel to get some milk for our breakfast cereal. The supermarket wasn't open yet, but a bakery was, presenting a locked door marked "open" and an open one marked "closed". They had cartons of milk, but only whole milk, so I took a small carton of that and Michelle made do with that instead of her normal non-fat type. Given that they didn't seem to know about any other sort of milk, Michelle decided to avoid coffee there and wait until further down the road. Instead we went to the supermarket that had opened while we ate breakfast and bought some fruit, a pack of jelly dinosaurs for in-car snacks, and a small baguette of freshly baked hot whole grain bread, which the woman took out of the mini-oven as we were waiting.

buffer cliché
Pier on Lake Albert, Meningie

On the way out of Meningie we stopped at the pier we'd spotted last night on our way to dinner, and I took a couple of quick shots, my dallying hastened by a gale blowing across Lake Albert, whipping the peaceful waters of last night into whitecaps and almost blowing me away. The road north passed through the tiny town of Ashville, and then we took a turn to the left to the similarly diminutive hamlet of Wellington.

Big sky, long road
Road between Ashville and Wellington

The most interesting feature of Wellington was that the road ended at a ferry which transported us and our car across the mighty Murray River. Australia's largest river, barely a kilometre from where it spilled into the giant Lake Alexandrina before flooding into the ocean, was a scant 200 metres or so across, its brown muddy water hardly impressive or imposing. There were a few pelicans swimming on the water.

Crossing the Murray
Crossing the Murray River on the car ferry at Wellington

We drove on without stopping through farm country, passing Langhorne Creek before our first stop of the day in Strathalbyn. This was an immaculate country town, with yuppily renovated old buildings turned into cafes, antique shops, and gelateria. Michelle got her coffee at a place where I picked up a strawberry gelato. We ate and drank as we walked across a tidy little park with a bridge crossing the Angas River, populated by numerous ducks below and hundreds of young sulphur-crested cockatoos raucously inhabiting the trees above. The bridge led to an old stone church that made an interesting photo. While we were there, the flock of cockies took the sky and wheeled around in a tight formation, screeching and squawking loudly. Michelle said they must be taking flying lessons, since they were babies, and didn't want to go too far or leave their friends.

The Birds
Flock of cockatoos, Strathalbyn

We walked around the block past a few more antique shops and bakery-cafes. An old man struck up a conversation with us as we walked, noticing my camera and saying there was a nice church back that way that made a good photo. I said we'd just come from there. He asked where we were from and after we said Sydney, he told us he was from Bribie Island in Queensland and had racked up something like 4,000 km on his current trip. They'd come down through the middle of the country, which he said was dry as a bone. As we turned the corner he let some invective fly at the Woolworths supermarket in the middle of the town, saying that it was such a nice little country town and they went and spoiled it by putting in a modern supermarket like that.

We stopped in at one of the bakeries for a pepper steak pie for me and a spinach roll (like a sausage roll only filled with spinach) for Michelle. After polishing them off we set out again, driving north-east for the small town of Callington, which the Lonely Planet described as "quietly decaying" and recommended that photographers not miss it. On the way we passed through the abandoned settlement of Hartley, where the remains of an old Methodist church stand in silent testimony of the people who once lived in this ghost town.

Hartley Methodist
Old Methodist church, 1865-1895, Hartley

We pulled into "Lavande", a lavender farm advertised by a sign just outside Callington. It was a far cry from the Portland Bay Lavender Farm, being a tiny establishment with a very rural style cafe in a 100+ year old stone building that had decidedly not been renovated for some time. A talkative man chatted to us for a while, indicating that a walk through the gardens cost only $2, and inviting us to browse the tiny shop or have a drink. While chatting to us, a woman came in and went through to the kitchen. The man said, "Oh, don't worry, that's only Maddy."

Callington, South Australia

We weren't terribly inspired by the gardens, so left and stopped in the middle of the town for a quick wander past some old buildings and taking photos of them. From there, our road led west to Nairne. Before entering Nairne proper, we turned off on to a 4 km side road to the top of Mount Barker. From the carpark there, it was a 100 m or so walk up to the very summit of the mountain, which afforded a panoramic view of the countryside. The ground up there was littered with millipedes, thin, black, about 3 cm long, and all busy scurrying to and fro in their vegetation-eating ways. There were so many we had to be quite careful to avoid stepping on lots of them. Contented with the view, we returned to the car and down the mountain to Nairne.

Tin shed with water tank
Old tin shed, between Callington and Nairne

Nairne was a rather better kept town than Callington, which showed signs of yuppification, with some new houses being built set back from the main street behind the well-preserved historical buildings that had been converted into shops. We walked up and down the street, and stopped at an old mill on the stream behind the main street. The stone building looked like it had been turned into an historical museum of something, and after taking a couple of photos I walked up to the front door to see if we could get in. To my surprise I saw gym equipment in there through the windows... Michelle said, "Um, I think this is a private house... someone lives here." Looking around, the evidence indicated that she was probably right. The mill had been converted into a residence, and we'd blithely wandered in through their front yard and poked our noses into their windows!

Beating a hasty retreat, we continued along the road to Hahndorf, billed as Australia's first German village. I'm not sure how many other German villages there are in Australia, but anyway. We parked on the main street and proceeded to walk along it, passing numerous German themed or styled retail outlets, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and so on. Michelle spotted a very touristy calico bag, which she suggested we buy as a gift for my mum, which we did. Another shop advertised boldly with large signs proclaiming it the home of the famous Hahndorf Metwurst and equally famous Bavarian Bum Burner(!). Our curiosity piqued, we browsed the wares, discovering that the bum burner was a salami liberally spiced with extremly hot chilis. Their impressive salami display also included sausages of kangaroo salami.

Kangaroo Salami
Kangaroo salami, Hahndorf

Continuing up the street, we stopped in at the Roasteria for another coffee for Michelle. She said she could have a second coffee because today was a special day. When I asked her what was special about it, she said it was special because she was having two coffees. We sat in an open area outside the shop, which was subject to some smoke from fresh coffee bean roasting, for which the shop owner apologised multiple times and profusely, but which we both actually found to be reasonably pleasant, as it didn't smell like coffee at all, but had a more chocolatey aroma. Michelle declared the coffee delicious, and after she was finished we continued exploring the extremely long street, coming to and end after a cheese shop titled Udder Delights.

We crossed the street and worked our way back along it, poking our noses into various handicraft and clothing shops. There were no fewer than two chocolate shops, a fudge shop, and three general sweets shops on this side of the street. We bought a chocolate salami and coconut spuds (traditionally South Australian!) as gifts for my brother. We like getting him obscure sweets that he has to look twice at before deciding whether or not they're safe to eat.

By now we'd been wandering the street for close to two hours, and I was getting increasingly hungry for the German food I'd seen advertised at the pub attached to the bum burner place. We crossed back over to move the car, as it was parked in a two hour zone. Just before we returned to it though, we looked in at a Bavarian bakery right next to it. Michelle pointed out some odd-looking lamingtons; there were normal brown ones coated in white coconut, and next to them were a bunch of bright pink ones underneath their coconut layer. I asked the lady behind the counter, excuse me, but what are these pink lamingtons? She exclaimed, "Oh, haven't you ever seen jelly cakes before?! You mustn't have lived in Australia very long!" We expressed our surprise and disbelief, saying that we were both Australian born and bred, but neither of us had seen such things before, were they a South Australian specialty? She insisted that no, jelly cakes were well known all over Australia, insinuating that we must have been living under a shell or something. We said we'd not seen the likes in Sydney, and she said, "Oh, Sydney... well... that explains it!" She never really explained exactly what that explained, but went on to ask another customer if he knew what jelly cakes were, and he answered of course, and said he was from New South Wales too. The woman gave us a cheerful "see, I told you so" look, while we scratched our heads in bewilderment. After recovering, I bought a chocolate shortbread finger to have as a sweet treat later on.

Rusty metal thing, for Alison
Old rusting farm equipment, Hahndorf

We moved the car closer to the Hahndorf Inn and sat inside at the heavy and well-used wooden furniture. We ordered from the all-day menu, it being now well past 15:00. Michelle chose a damper and I picked the "German Experience", a selection of one of four different German sausages, plus potato salad and a large pretzel; I chose bratwurst. The food arrived and was very good, with the damper being hot and floury, and just a little sweet. I picked Bavarian mustard from the choice of three on the table (red wine and garlic, or Hahndorf hot were the other choices) and slathered it on the bratwurst. When we'd finished, we made use of the facilities and then continued our journey.

The next stage involved some tricky navigating of what were effectively outer suburban streets of Adelaide, armed with only an overview fold-out map which omitted many of the smaller streets. Rather than take a main road or the freeway into the heart of Adelaide, we were trying to get to Mount Lofty and the lookout there. We managed it with a couple of wrong turns and a few stops to check the map and deduce our course. Parking at the fairly large facilities there cost $1 for an hour, which was plenty for us. The parking ticket I paid for indicated that we'd bought it at 15:40, and it expired at 16:40, although it was actually 16:40 already; someone hadn't switched the machines to daylight saving. The top of Mount Lofty is well-equipped with a restaurant, tourist information centre, and some sort of informative displays, none of which we got to see because they all closed as we arrived. We did get to go out to the open viewing area, which gave us our first view of Adelaide city, visible through the hazy distance below us. We could see the vast waters of Gulf St Vincent beyond, and far away on the horizon the dark strip of Yorke Peninsula, some 90-odd kilometres away. Signs indicated that on a clear day you can see Kangaroo Island from there, which is a good 110 kilometres away. I could see a vague darkening of the horizon in that direction, but not enough to convince myself that I could make out the island.

Leaving Mt Lofty, we drove through more slightly confusing suburban streets until we hit Magill Road, which led us on to North Terrace and into the heart of Adelaide. Unfortunately we were driving right into sun glare in the middle of peak hour traffic, with a map that only labelled the major streets, so navigating our way to our motel was a tricky experience. We took a couple of wrong turns, but managed to sort things out without too much trouble. Getting into the alleyway in front of the motel was interesting though, as it was barely wide enough for one car, yet a guy in a flatbed truck waved us in past his side mirror. Negotiating this tricky bit of manouevring, we parked right in front of the door and checked in, then unloaded all our stuff from the car, requiring two trips to do it. We wondered if we had time to return the car to Hertz before it closed, but it was pushing 5 minutes to 6, and the reception lady tried ringing but got no answer, so we abandoned that idea until morning. In the meantime, we had to park the car across the street in a Wilson's parking garage, for which the motel gave us a discounted ticket.

Pigs on Rundle
Rundle Mall, Adelaide

Excited to be in a new city, we took a stroll along Rundle Mall (though all the shops had closed), then turned south to check out St Francis Xavier's Cathedral in the sunset light. It wasn't as large as I'd expected, but looked pretty amidst a group of flowering jacarandas. Then we walked down Gouger Street to observe the restaurant scene, passing multiple interesting looking eating establishments of many nationalities, including a small Chinatown and what looked like a large produce market. From there we turned north again to see if we could locate Blossom's Vegetarian Restaurant on Hindley Street, but the address given in our aging Lonely Planet was occupied by a sleazy looking cocktail lounge.

high class parking spot
Rundle Mall, Adelaide

Instead we walked back along Hindley Street towards our motel, passing various other seedy establishments, clearly inspired by the nearby presence of the casino. Close to the motel we found Tandoori Hut, a small Indian eatery located downstairs down a side alley in what looked like it used to be a nightclub, complete with mirror ball and coloured lights still affixed to the ceiling. We had a malai kofta, malabar prawn curry, and rice, which was passably good and very cheap compared to Sydney prices.

The short walk back to the motel was punctuated by a stop at a convenience store for some milk for our breakfast, plus a small box of bran cereal since we had run out of the bran flakes, though we still had some muesli left. Michelle also got a snacky-type muesli bar for later. Then it was back to our room and relaxing for a bit. Michelle watched David Tench interviewing Adam Gilchrist ("So Adam, tell us which team are the biggest cheats in cricket.... Come on... You can blink five times for Pakistan.") while I determined that the Internet connection in the room cost 55 cents a minute, so quickly unplugged it before writing up this entry.

[ << previous | index | next >> ]

Home | DM's Travel Page | DM and MM's Great Ocean Road Trip Diary
Last updated: Saturday, 26 January, 2019; 15:03:21 PST.
Copyright © 1990-2019, David Morgan-Mar.
Hosted by: DreamHost