It’s been a busy time on Da Block preparing the gardens for the onslaught of winter. The cold wind has blown in and it even snowed in a northern town!
We are actually ‘On The Road’ now but before we left we had a visit from some friends we met on the road in 2014. They are very game caravanning in SA in winter! So we made the most of what the Valley does so well….wine, roaring fires, wine & good food.
We managed to visit around 11 cellar doors but didn’t taste or purchase at them all, the majority now charge for tastings. A couple were ridiculous prices, and they didn’t take it off your purchase. Those that only charged $5-$10 and took it off your wine purchase we bought from and very much enjoyed. Of the Cellar Doors we visited my favourites were Mr Mick, Shut The Gate & Taylors Wines.
We also visited the Painted Silos in the district. Well worth a look and a patronage for the town, have a look around and a meal or snack. Our friends visited Bungaree Station and enjoyed the history and woolshed.
Future blogs will be highlights of our travels. Just heard a Qld Travel Declaration is required to enter Qld from another State…..good grief!:(
I’ve been busy on Da Block growing stuff! All new to me as haven’t had much time in the past to grow ‘food’ and big gardens.
Gave it a go with the easy stuff first….learnt NOT to plant lotsa seedlings as they GROW BIG! But enjoyed eating home grown tomatoes and making CWA relish!! Got a few different pumpkins coming up all over the place too! Anyway, happy with my first season of green thumb-ing!! 😛
Hubby and I took a whole 2 days orf to do the ‘tourist thang’ and go to Adelaide! Stopped in a van park in Semaphore (north of Adelaide) using the states $50 voucher to get South Australian’s back out travelling.
Two days was enough in a city for us! Liked Semaphore but especially liked Eggs Benedict on our morning of departure in a local cafe! A real treat! Missed our Bluey as first time away from Ma & Pa! Can’t wait to get back on the road again in the caravan and explore more of Australia! Travel photos will be more interesting than plant pics!! 🙂
With the change of seasons it would be a brilliant time to ‘hit the road’ and travel beautiful South Australia! Well, you’d think that but we haven’t! Too busy on Da Block!
My travel blogs are much more fun to write than these Block blogs, but as it’s life atm ….. boring as bat poop for some – hang in there hopefully we will be ‘on the road’ again in the future!
I’ve spent time in my garden trying to grow vegies and flowers. I’m a gardening newbie so when things grow I’m amazed! When we lived in North Queensland it was hard NOT to grow anything, with the rainfall in abundance plants thrived.
Autumn in SA is still a treat for me (being from Queensland). We seemed to go from ‘bloody hot’ to ‘bloody freezing’ in a week!
We recently did a day trip to Hahndorf, about 2 hours drive south-east of Clare. Google Maps took us through beautiful hills, lots of back streets and narrow roads. Hahndorf is a nice town with a great main street, but tough to park an F-250 or a caravan!! The trees are turning red, the flowers are in bloom in the pots lining the roadside, the cafe’s and boutique shops were all doing a roaring trade (being a Saturday).
We did the ‘walk up da street’ as we always do in towns we visit. And fancy that, I found someone to eat!! We indulged @Wunderbar – Home of the Pig Dog, in the German Kransky, sauerkraut & potato salad (not a big fan) but followed that up with a magnificent Strawberry waffle(s). YUM!
This is the best time to visit SA if you like to see the colours change, but bring a beanie!!
So, after 12 weeks away in Queensland & New South Wales we have returned to South Australia and our block a tad too early!!! It’s freezing!!!!! 😦
I am still trying to wade through the zillion photos I took (I have RSI of my Delete finger!!). Will post photos of our experience at the Big Red Bash near Birdsville as soon as I can – it was a fantastic experience and a ‘must do’ for anyone interested in the most remote concert in Australia! Volunteering made it even more fun, and a feeling of being involved in something really special.
We did a bee-line for Brisbane (been every road from east to west) to get a few things done and a flying visit with family and friends, before we headed back out to Birdsville for the Races. Another bucket list item (our 2nd time) and better as we got to spend time with friends we met years ago in WA. We four are freakishly alike in a lot of ways which made it more fun. On the trip back south we had a couple of ‘issues’ with truck & van which made B real chirpy! Now at least we have found the worst road in SA to tow a van on!!!
We have a bit of work to do here on da block but I will try to get some photos together to share the fun of the Big Red Bash for those who may be interested in it next year…..9-11 July 2019.NB: the artists will be announced in October….stay tuned!!!http://www.bigredbash.com.au
Well what an introduction to Clare Valley! With all the hot dry weather we’ve been having this summer I guess it was inevitable…but I wish it wasn’t so close!
About midday last Friday (2nd Feb 2018) B was on his way to Clare, but turned back up the driveway to me. I asked what he’d forgotten to be told to turn around…..there were huge plumes of smoke behind us!!! Then the sirens started, then the planes, helicopters and phone calls…I got my camera and proceeded up to the highest point on our block to get pics of ‘flames’ licking the dry undergrowth of bush land on the next ridge.
Then we decided we might hitch up the van (JIC-just in case) we had to make a run for it! Got the lot done in about 20 mins! Bushfire record!! We chose to wait it out (JIC) and keep an eye on it, plus we have a CFS app to check on updates. It was a tense day, with hot winds thankfully blowing away from us and Clare township. It did ignite again in the late afternoon and during the evening we spotted embers on the ridge with flashing CFS lights over the hill tops keeping an eye out overnight (JIC).
The job the CFS and local farmers & property owners did was truly amazing. Only one shed & tractor burnt, lots of scrub land and farm land, over 10 hectares. Makes you realise how vulnerable we are to ‘Mother Nature’ when a fire takes hold. We heard later a mower or slasher started it. Unfortunately we are on a ridge and the neighbour has trees & bush all over, whereas ours is fairly cleared.
Have attached some of my pics and some from the Northern Argus (local paper). Today we are in the very high 30’s-low 40’s degrees….so every so often I take a peak out of my air-conditioned caravan to the sky and pray I don’t see smoke!
My first sighting of flames on the next hill
Van hitched up ready to evacuate!
‘Elvis’ – this Helitank did a great job
How far the fire came to a home – Photo Northern Argus
Elvis in action – Photo Northern Argus
View from Lookout in Clare looking west – Photo Northern Argus
Bungaree Station, one of South Australia’s oldest family businesses celebrated it’s 175th year from 3-6th October.
We visited on the Friday to see the demonstrations from blacksmiths, stone masonry, wool spinning & knitting. Vintage equipment, tools & vehicles were also on show. A guided tour of the station by Sally Hawker in the morning or self guided in the afternoon was on offer.
Two vintage cars ferried visitors from the Station Store to the Shearing Shed during the week. Friends of ours had a display of what they had found on the property (detecting) which was very interesting, with some items being unknown.
We enjoyed watching the 175th annual shearing (in the shed built in 1842) making it one of the oldest working woolsheds. The station was established by George Hawker in 1841, and remains the home of the 4th, 5th & 6th generations of the Hawker family.
On the Sunday we were invited to attend the Blessing of the Fleece held in the shearing shed. The 50th occasion, it was a semi formal service followed by BBQ lunch at the shearers quarters. Many family, friends & people associated in any way with Bungaree attended. It topped off a busy week of celebrations for the Hawker Family.
If you are visiting the Clare Valley it is definitely worth visiting Bungaree Station to find out some of the history of this area and how important they were to the wool industry. We are able to attest that the Hawkers are an interesting & hard working family with amazing history that contributes to ‘Australia’s Story’.
The weather has warmed up and the flowers are blooming! Finally!!
Springtime in the Clare Valley is beautiful. The canola fields have just lost their yellow tinge, the buds on the trees are all out, the succulents & cactus flowers are blooming – it’s the best time of year!
We finished the reno on the Mintaro cottage and have returned to a friends farm north of Clare to organise a few things before moving on. We’ve been back in the Clare Valley since end of April this year. Now we have lived through the full four seasons! Yes, and this winter in Mintaro had to be the coldest we’ve experienced living in the van. Autumn & Spring the best.
I have posted some photos of the blooms around the farm area, the day out at the local Clare Show & general farm stuff! We also enjoyed Celebrating the 175th for Bungaree Station a couple of weeks ago (next post).
We are now camped up on a property in Mintaro, 1/2 hr south-east of Clare. For anyone interested in history, just an exert from local website http://www.mintaro.sa.au/:
“Mintaro’s historic character was shaped by two important mining industries in nineteenth century South Australia. In the 1840’s and 1850’s it became an early staging point for transporting copper from the Burra mines to Port Wakefield and from the 1860’s onwards, it was South Australia’s leading producer of high quality slate.
The surrounding farming districts of the fertile Gilbert Valley were able to reap the rewards of excellent wheat and wool prices during South Australia’s rural boom of the 1870’s and early 1880’s. This wealth was reflected in two large pastoral properties near Mintaro. Both Martindale Hall, built in 1879-80 by Edmund Bowman, and Kadlunga homestead, purchased in 1881 by Sir Samuel Way, the Chief Justice, reflected a way of life akin to that of the English gentry. Mintaro, like rural village counterparts in England, provided these properties with a ready source of local labour.
The Mintaro quarry is one of the oldest continuously producing quarries in Australia. As you stroll around the town, you can see slate buildings, chimneys, tanks, wash troughs and paving. They show how widely slate has been used as a construction material and give a special character to Mintaro.”
We are doing some work on an old stone cottage on acreage. The faithful grapevine & word of mouth is how we found ourselves here. It’s been freezing cold, windy & frosty. At first we weren’t impressed, but then some days are beautiful (as long as you can make it through the nights!).
B has been turning his hand at stone work (he was lackie to a local stonemason recently so that has helped). Pulling out an old Metters Wood Stove to clean up the fireplace, render and get a slate hearth ready for a new combustion heater. A bit of a learning curve for North Queenslanders!!! This week we’re installing a new kitchen!
I’m B’s lackie! General dogsbody (hold this, sweep that) whilst he’s organising quotes for building jobs, orders for materials and doing the ‘manual labour’ etc. He’s looking a bit weary but I secretly think he revels in it! It’s been over 12 years since he’s had to make so many decisions!! 🙂
I’m on local buy & sell & Gumtree sites trying to move the leftover equipment & furniture in the house. It’s slowly looking good. It should be beautiful when complete – nothing like the old Queenslanders we know. Have put a few pics of Mintaro and what we do when we aren’t ‘gallivanting around Australia’.
B did a couple of days helping a mate Stonemason @ Kadlunga
This blog is a bit delayed as we are now in Ceduna SA, but I’d still like to tell about two beautiful areas we found before heading across the Nullarbor again plus our drive around Esperance….
Esperance: we did the obligatory 40 kilometre Great Ocean Drive. This took us to some amazing beaches: West, Salmon, Picnic, Twilight, 11 Mile & Observatory Point. We had our days exercise walking up the trillion stairs at Observatory Pt to take in the views. At 11 Mile, which is the end of the beaches, we had smoko overlooking a spectacular beach and swimming shallows. Highly recommend this drive….
Other sites not to be missed would be the Whale Tail sculpture on the foreshore, a walk along the whole foreshore area including a look at the old Tanker Jetty. We didn’t get to visit the Tearooms, but Taylor’s Cafe is said to be a good feed.
Early March: After leaving Esperance, WA we headed east to a couple of camp areas – we visited Membelup Beach – rough, long track in but no available sites big enough for us and very mozzie-fied! Earlier that day we’d found the most beautiful area, Wharton & Little Wharton Beaches, in Duke of Orleans Bay. As we are unable to go into Cape La Grand National Park because of our dog Jeda, we found the next best thing. This beach is pristine! We made a note to come back later.
Alexander Bay east of Duke of Orleans Bay – we arrived a few days before the WA Labour Day long weekend, but the campsite was nearly full. We unfortunately had a ‘boggy’ problem trying to get to a sandy site, but I won’t elaborate on that 😦 We eventually found one area in the Fisherman’s Camp that wasn’t boggy & wet so we nabbed it. As it turned out we were neighbour-free all the long weekend – sweet!
We spent 5 days there fishing, walking the beach, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets and generally chilling. After the long weekend we packed up and headed back to Wharton Beach. It was beautiful. We spent most of the day enjoying this beach & photographing the amazing turquoise waters before stopping at Condingup Reserve for the night (free camp at the sports ground).
Before the big trek across the Nullarbor, we stopped for a couple of nights at Grass Patch Park n Stay, a small community run van park with clean public amenities and gravel sites (they also offer free washing machines). We enjoyed yaks with the locals and walking around this little quiet town.
From here we headed to Norseman for fuel then it was onto the Eyre Highway for the 1200+klm trek to South Australia!!