Our annual holiday is to Adelaide this year to coincide with my participation in the National Band Championships as part of Footscray-Yarraville City Band's tilt at being crowned Champions in A Grade (For those not familiar with brass band contesting this will require a couple of blogs just to explain the details of what, how and why brass bands compete. Accept for the moment that they do and that for those who care, the National Band Championships is the contesting high point for the year). After the contest finishes on Saturday evening, we will spend the next week or so around the SE corner of South Australia before gradually returning home, via the Victorian coastline.
Day 1 is the big travel day, where we start in Kinglake and finish in Adelaide. 807 kilometres in total (or at least that was what was planned in Google Maps. A couple of wrong turns and poor navigation saw us add another 20km to that total). A 7:00 am start saw us leave and head for Castlemaine, as our first stop, for breakfast. A brief bite to eat at Apple Annie's Cafe (brilliant ham and cheese croissants, by the way), and then onwards to Great Western.
Now Lesley and I had visited Great Western before, in the early nineties, under different circumstances. Our holiday at the time was meant to be one full of bushwalks and hikes in the Grampians, however an unfortunate fall by me, causing a sprained ankle put paid to that idea. What else can one do when staying in Halls Gap and unable to walk great distances? Yes, we visited wineries. We had spent an afternoon in Great Western but unfortunately rushed through about 8 wineries in an afternoon, not allowing proper time to fully appreciate the area. (But drinking a fair bit - I was only 20, after all!)(Some may say nothing's changed.)
Our visit to Great Western this time around was to concentrate on the Seppelt's winery, the largest in the area, and probably the best known of the Great Western wineries. The winery has had an interesting history, and is now owned by Australia's largest wine conglomerate, Treasury Wine Estates (formerly part of Fosters). Part of our visit included a tour through the cellars of Seppelts, where we walked through only a small fraction of the 3 kilometres of tunnels located about 10 metres under the vineyards and grounds at Seppelts.
|Total storage capacity of their tanks is 22 million litres, though only about 5 million will be used for the latest vintage.|
|Special nook with wine for past and present politicans for the area, including former prime minister Malcome (sic) Fraser and former State Labor minister, Joe Helper.|
Once back up to the cellar there was some serious (at least to start off with) wine tasting. My favourite was the Seppelt signature wine, the Sparkling Shiraz (not something I've had before, though will now be looking out for it in the shops back home), though ended up buying a couple of bottles their very drinkable Grampians Shiraz (I'm enjoying a glass or two of it whilst typing).
Lunch was then at a nearby cafe, Salingers Cafe, famous for the beehive kept inside the cafe. Apart from a couple of quick stops at Dadswell's Bridge for the Giant Koala, Bordertown for the White Kangaroos (photos below) and Murray Bridge for dinner at Red Roosters (classy), the rest of the drive to Adelaide was uneventful.
|The Giant Koala. Tacky Australian landmark at its best.|
|For a detailed history of how the white colony of kangaroos came to be, read here.|
We are staying at Oaks Embassy, on North Terrace, which is reasonably central to all our activities over the next few days. Parking here is an issue as we need to park in a public car park, next door. I can see the costs of parking spiralling upwards over the coming days (This wasn't allowed for in the budget!).