Monday, April 15, 2013

Barossa Valley and due north ... Clare Valley sunset

Vineyards. Well, what do you  expect to see in the Barossa Valley -- outside the winery, that is!

Tolkien coined the phrase: "The road goes ever on and on." And boy, does it.

Cellar Doors almost permanently open for tasting and sales ... every hundred yards or so.

A glimpse of the industrial side of the wine business: Very Large Tanks. Of wine. Mmmm.

The vines are changing color with the season ... winter is close at hand.

Surprise! Gorgeous roses at the Jacob's Creek arch ... Welcome to Tanunda.
And these are the vineyards belonging to Jacob's Creek, not far from those roses...

Heading north for Kapunda. It's HOT. Ice cream, anyone? Please?!

Main street, Kapunda, in sizzling heat and UV...

...and a first hint that this was copper mining country too: The Copper Mine Hotel, Kapunda.

The Sir Sidney Kidman memorial garden in Kapunda ... we just happened to park beside it...

...detail of some of the wall art you see in the shot above. The bust of Sir Sidney Kidman
is just out of the frame, at right of this image.

And the north road out of town --

Follow the signs: the Clare Valley isn't so far away now! But first ... 

beyond Tarlee, Lola decides to take a breather while Jade photographs the
fall colors at the roadside. This is either Rhynie or Auburn, can't remember which.

If anyone knows what kind of trees these are, please tell us -- we'd like a garden full.

Back on the road, headed ever north, and the landscape has changed.
This is typical of the mid-north region of South Australia...

It's well worth mentioning that the road system is fantastic -- and they keep those
roads in very good condition. The only poor roads we traveled were over on
York Peninsula, a couple of days later. You'll see those soon.

When the land won't support vineyards, the local crop is hay... stock feed.

...and you can see, the crops were just in as we rocketed through the region.

You can actually do the drive in two hours, from downtown Adelaide to the Clare Valley,
but we took over five hours, deliberately dawdling.

The sign in the Clare Valley Visitors' Centre says it all...
Made it! This would be our Base Camp for the next three nights --

The Clare Valey Motel, in sunset light. Dave was in the pool at this point, as Jade
took a few shots in the soft, pink evening light.

Now, this looks interesting ... armchairs. Bed. Pillows. Dinner first, please!

You can actually do the drive from downtown Adelaide to the Clare Valley in two hours, and stay inside the state speed limit, too. We took about five and a half hours, starting with breakfast in Aldgate and a long stop to check out the Whispering Wall on the Barossa Dam. We'd have taken twice as long, if we'd stopped in the Barossa Valley! Well, we did stop in Kapunda for ice cream (Golden North's lime for Jade, and chocolate for Dave), but we've already "done" the Barossa wine tour thing -- we'll share that trip in pictures soon -- so on Wednesday we were really blowing through at high speed, headed for Clare.

In fact, the vast majority of these images, today, were shot through the windscreen or side windows of a car traveling at about 110kph. They're good images, due to the intense brightness of the daylight, which gave shutter speeds fast enough to "stop" the countryside flying by, and apertures tiny enough to give sharp images. The camera is "just" a Fuji FinePix HS10, if you're interested (which is to say one of the biggest of the compacts, but not a digital SLR). The HS30 is the current model, and Jade is seriously thinking of upgrading. (Actually, Dave is more likely to buy it, to stop her grumbling ... seriously, guys: for every great picture you get, you lose another one because the camera cycles soooo slowly. Also, this specific HS10 is starting to develop a couple of problems which might have something to do with the chip. And the closer we got the the Very Haunted House we mentioned in the first of the Clare Valley 2013 Trip posts, the worse it got ... more about that soon. And read the post in daylight. With company. Not kidding.)

So we shot through the Barossa with just a couple of stops: Kapunda, and ... well, the autumn colors on the roadside were either captured in Rhynie or Auburn, and we can't remember which. Auburn is so similar to other tiny towns on this route, it's indistinguishable. The thing that sets it apart is its beautiful name -- bet your bottom dollar it was settled by folks from Scotland, with a name like that!

Kapunda was a copper mining town -- the site of "Bagot's Fortune," which speaks for itself. The state's first English language country newspaper was founded there, too. It's a tremendously interesting town, worthy of much more time than we spent there. That day was too hot, too bright, too sizzling with UV, for us to do the "Kapunda Heritage Trail walk," but we'd like to spend an afternoon there ... in winter, when there's a blade or two of of green grass to be seen, and you can stick your nose outside without it being burned. Fortunately, they have a really nice webpage.

Just about level with Kapunda, going east-west, and speaking geographically, is Eudunda ... which Jade had wanted very much to visit, and was a bit disappointed to miss due to running out of time. Eudunda was the town where writer Colin Thiele grew up, and which he used as the location in Sun on the Stubble. That's always been a favorite novel ... it's about 50 years old now, and still a good read, and a great laugh, on a par with movies like The Sundowners and The Picture Show Man. One of the roadsigns featured above shows the "Thiele Highway," named for the writer. Maybe next trip north...

Out of Kapunda, headed "due up," the landscape changes fast. It grows more arid, flatter, and much more empty. You leave the vineyards behind for a long while, and the local crop becomes hay. You'd have to say it's not wheat or barley in this area, because you don't see any of the grain silos that punctuate the countryside in the grain growing regions. You'll see those very soon -- we got great pictures as we headed north and east out of the Clare Valley, bound for places like Adrossan and Balaklava and Walleroo.

But as we reached the southern end of the Clare Valley (Auburn, in fact), we were thinking mostly about cool drinks, armchairs, a dip in the pool, and dinner. The Clare Valley Motel was a most welcome sight. We'd booked ahead, and were very pleased indeed with both the quality and the service. Pretty rooms with good a/c, room service if you wanted it, a charming restaurant with great food, a pool table in the convention facility upstairs, where Dave had a great time knocking balls around after dinner,under the watchful gaze of a huntsman the size of the palm of your hand. Eep! (See the critter too, soon ... shows you how dangerous they really are.)

The next day, Thursday, would take us to a couple of the best wineries in the region, and a glorious post-Colonial era church, and then on to Burra ... but we're going to split that day over a couple of posts, because there's so much to show. Tomorrow: Seven Hills and St. Aloysius and "the Madonna of the Vines."

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