Stuff to Write Home About Volume 8, Issue 1: Adelaide and the Barossa Valley

In honour of the tenth anniversary of my travels around Australia and New Zealand, I am re-issuing my writings about the experience, which were initially published elsewhere. I do write some insightful things now and again in these articles, and I hope you enjoy them!

I hadn’t planned on going to Adelaide so soon, but when a friend from my Melbourne hostel suggested we take the train from Melbourne to Adelaide for a holiday, I said “why not”. We both enjoy train rides and so made the journey westward to South Australia on “The Overland”, which is touted as one of Australia’s great train journeys. The journey is one of the shorter ones in that it is only about 10.5 hours long. There’s one that goes tip to tail, and another that goes east to west. These journeys are obviously much longer, although they can be broken up. The 10.5 hours of train-ride didn’t seem so long. Armed with a balance of real food, junk food, and conversation, we quite enjoyed ourselves. The scenery is beautiful as well. There are kilometres of fields, trees, and sheep to look at. We even passed by a zoo where we could see a giraffe in the distance.

We got to Adelaide at a decent time and so checked into our hostel with the creepy German receptionist. The guy had been working there for 5 months without a day off. I can tell you, that’s not good for business. He was a little stressed-out. We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out and settled on Thai food. Adelaide has a street with just restaurants and bars and that’s where we found our place. The food was rather tasty and so we were quite pleased with ourselves for finding the restaurant.

The train conductor had said that it was impossible to get lost in Adelaide. The city is organised in a grid pattern with wide streets and is surrounded by park lands. The city was designed by a British general many years ago. The streets are wide to facilitate army marches and the city is surrounded by parklands of a certain size in order to protect the city from canon ball fire (because the width of a park was how far a canon ball could fly). My friend and I were never completely lost, but we were new to the city and so it took us longer to find things than it might take others. However, the grid system did make the city quite easy to navigate. Whenever I am asked about my impression of Adelaide, my answer is that I am impressed by how orderly it is. It just seems very orderly. The streets make sense because they run in straight lines: east & west, north & south. I admire cities that make sense. Now if they could just get the people to walk in straight lines and stick to one side of the sidewalk or the other, I would be ecstatic.

Some of the things we did in Adelaide were: walking (we walked everywhere, or took the free city-loop bus part-way), including through the Botanic Gardens (surprise) and all around the city. We of course also sampled the nightlife. It is a little subdued, but definitely there to be discovered. Australia’s National Wine Centre is in Adelaide. There’s a computer program where you can design your own wine and the system rates it. I couldn’t seem to get better than Bronze, but it was fun to try anyway. Unfortunately there were no free tastings hereL.

The Barossa Valley is one of the grape-growing regions around Adelaide. We did a day tour which included wine-tastings at 4 different wineries and lunch at a winery inn. I got to taste some great wines at these wineries. The wineries ranged in size from the corporate-sized Wolf Blass to small family wineries. I’d have to say that this was the highlight of our trip to Adelaide. The weather was beautiful, the wine tasted good, and the people on the tour all had a good time. Incidentally, if the group was no good, the wine wouldn’t have helped the situation (for those of you who were wondering the role the wine played). The valley is so beautiful and peaceful that the atmosphere was that much more relaxed. I got some great photos of the valley, which I will be posting.

And so after a brief tour of Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, I took the train back to Melbourne. I wouldn’t rule out going back to Adelaide and South Australia again to see it in a different, possibly warmer season. All-in-all a good trip…more to add to the “Things I haven’t done before” list.

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