Monday, May 13, 2013

Glenelg -- on Labour Day, 2011

Somewhere in the Mediterranean, where the celebrities bask? Nope! Glenelg Marina --
that's Glenelg, on the metropolitan beach ... South Australia.

Since it was Labour Day (note Aussie spelling) we decided we'd park on the Patawalonga River and walk...
parking in and around Glenelg was always tight. Lately, it's a joke, especially on any holiday. 

The kilometer or so walk from the Patawalonga takes you past the Glenelg Marina ... the yacht and boat anchorage
serving the very, very upmarket apartment blocks situated between the river and the beach.

Life imitates art. A Pacific Black duck sails across the marina, proving that boats are not the only things
on the water on this bright, hot Labour Day. 

Right beside the marina itself, the million-dollar mansions have private docks. Nice!

The square rigger there ... is actually a replica of HMS Buffalo, and it's a restaurant!

Around on the landward side of the Buffalo ... welcome aboard to fine dining. But --

-- take a moment and look up. This is a actually very good replica of the vessel, rigging and all.

The walk around to Moseley Square, with its cafes, restaurants, and the tram terminal, takes you
right by millionaire country. Shades of Monte Carlo!

How the other half live! These are not hotels, they're apartment blocks, and the cheapest apartment
here is about a million and a half. Bucks, that is.

Glenelg Marina: Imagine having this view from your balcony, over coffee and a croissant for brekkie.

Follow the path around ... you can't miss it, it's marked out with blood-red geraniums!

Look to your right, see the massive whale fluke sculpture, every inch as big as it looks... 

Halfway along the path, at mid-moorings. And yes, the geraniums are in the foreground now...

On the other side of the water: the Marina Pier, lined with exclusive stores, cafes, and a mall.

Right about now, you're wondering how these James Bond-ish boats get out of the marina...
Here's how: the Patawalonga lock gates, and, beyond them...

The marked channel leading right to the open water. That's the Gulf St. Vincent, which provides the
western edge of the city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia.

Look the other way from the Marina Pier, and you catch sight of the ferris wheel
at the amusement park on the foreshore itself. We're going in that direction.

Dogleg through an access path, and shazam! You're right there on the beach, hunting for shade...

Adelaide is bordered for mile after mile by white-gold beaches. Thing is, if this were anywhere in Europe,
you'd be elbowing for space. Here, the beach is wide open ... we like!

Walking away from millionaire land, headed for Moseley Square: catch a glimpse, between Norfolk Island pine trees,
of the clock tower of the historic Glenelg Town Hall, dwarfed by the Stamford Hotel.

And -- get your bearings here -- the "balloon ride" at the park is slowing, slowly turning, away on your left... you stroll past the "wet fun fair," making your way toward...

Glenelg Jetty, at the end of Jetty Road, which feeds right into Moseley Square. 

The landward end of the Glenelg Jetty (extreme right), and the lawns bordering Moseley Square. Walk, around...

Moseley Square, viewed from the west. The jetty is right behind you.

And on the south side of Moseley Square, here's the tram pulling in to the last stop on the line (in other words,
if it doesn't stop here, it'll be in the water. Right.)

A tiny bit of the old Glenelg survives. Here's a clear shot of the Town Hall, right there on the lawns --
today, it's a local cultural museum, housing a potted history of South Australia.

The view looking south from the landward end of Glenelg Jetty. Miles and miles of white beach and green sea.

At least take the opportunity to wiggle your toes in the sand. Turn around, see Moseley Square from the beach...

The monument, celebrating the proclamation of the state, with the flags of Australia and
Aboriginal Australia flying to north and south of it, and the model of HMS Buffalo on top...

No way to get close enough to it to photograph the whole thing, but it reads,
"Here at Holdfast Bay landed the pioneer settlers and Governor Hindmarsh
announced the establishment of the state of South Australia."

The balloon ride is starting to look tempting. Like the ice cream...

Stretching away from Moseley Square, headed north and paralleling the beach, is the Colley Reserve.

Colonies of silver gulls live and fish off every part of the metropolitan beaches...

...and, just so you know where in the world you are ...!

A Cathay Pacific jet departs Adelaide International Airport. The flight path is almost right overhead.
We're lucky enough not to be leaving.

We'd actually forgotten that the coming weekend was the three-day Labour Day holiday, and we'd planned a quick "get out of Dodge, have lunch and recharge the batteries." The plan had seemed so simple: we'd go for lunch in Glenelg and take a walk around the foreshore, the marina, out along the Patawalonga River, and so on ... which was, of course, dependent on being able to find parking in Glenelg itself --

On Labour Day? Suuuuure. Easy, right? Uh huh.

So when the day came around we had several options. Go somewhere else. Stay home. Or, do the whole thing backwards ... park out along the Patawalonga River and walk over to Moseley Square. We decided to do it this way around, so it was all a question of plenty of 30 block and a couple of hats. Labour Day is the first Sunday in October, and this one was hot.  It can also be bucketing down and chilly, but 2011 turned on a scorcher.

We were headed for a Mexican restaurant, Gringos Mexican Cantina -- where the food is actually pretty darned good, which sounds odd because it's Mexican food in Australia, ends of the earth, and all. On Labour Day, you couldn't get a picture of the place for the traffic and crowd, so -- Ma Google to the rescue here. This image was captured from Google Maps. We also got just about the last table, and it was ... noisy. We didn't get the laid-back dining and relaxation we'd been hoping for (while forgetting what day it would be!) but it was a good experience nonetheless.

And there's one thing you can say about brilliant, sunny weather: the pictures will be superb. Nothing has been done to these images, aside from a routine crop and resize. That's what it looked like on the day.

Since we've arrived in Glenelg, on a tram stop ... now, we'll catch that tram at the other end of Jetty Road, Glenelg, and ride it to downtown, for a visit to the Natural History Museum.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dawn over Lake Alexandrina, a stay at Ruby's Cottage ... over to Langhorne Creek, and Bleasdale Wines

In August of 2012, we took a day off  and spent the night on the shore of Lake Alexandrina. You wake to the sounds of herons and the waters lapping, while pelicans soar over the lagoon. There was not much of a sunset the night before, so we were really, really hoping for a spectacular dawn, and Mother Nature didn't let us down. In fact, she didn't miss a trick! Photographing sunrise over the lake was one of the three main reasons for being there. The second thing was, we wanted to have dinner out "somewhere," and had been wanting to give the Pier Hotel, Milang, a go. (The third reason was cabin fever. Gotta get out before you start chewing the furniture ... you know the feeling!)

It was the middle of winter downunder, of course. It was cold -- or what we think of as cold. Maybe one or two degrees Celsius, which would be something like 35 degrees Fahrenheit. But it was well, well worth the chilly fingers and toes, as you can see from the pictures we brought home.

One of the things that impresses itself on us the most, when we get out of town, and particularly when you get out of the hills too, and into the flatlands, is ... the size of the sky. It's, um, well, it's big, and every time you look at it, it's different. There's a movie called Local Hero -- wonder if you know it? It's set in Scotland, and filmed on the west coast, looking out towards the Hebrides. A few of these shots make one think of that movie. 

These images are uploaded at 1600 pixels wide (one or two are a little smaller, due to being cropped to get rid of unwanted elements), and they're well worth a look at the larger size. As Jade has said elsewhere, there's a place where art blurs into photography, and photography blurs into art ... and this is definitely it.

This one was captured the night before, standing in the street right outside the Pier Hotel, after dinner:

You're waiting to see bats, hear the wolves howl, and Frank Langella rides up on a tall, black horse, takes your invite to dinner but, oddly enough, doesn't touch the food ... speaking of which, The Pier Hotel is under new management lately, and the menu has changed. The fare is strictly "pub grub," but it was hearty, plenty of it, and the prices were quite agreeable. All in all, a nice evening, which we finished out in the bar, watching the London Olympics on TV before heading back to the Millennium Possum, with plans to photograph the sunrise next morning.

Back in 2007, we stayed a couple of nights in Milang, at a B&B there known as Ruby's Cottage. (As of December 2013 it's no longer a B&B, so the link that used to live here is deleted.) It's described as a "120 year old stone cottage," where "time can stand still." And that is so accurate! The owners have gone to great lengths to preserve the nature and flavor of the building, which belonged to a local lady by the name of (!) Ruby. She lived there all her married life, and actually passed away there. In fact, Jade will tell you, Ruby is still there...

Opening to door to Ruby's Cottage, and looking in, Jade stopped on the doorstep and said, "Whoa!" It's that moment when your eyes go slightly out of focus and you see/hear/feel something without recourse to your eyes, ears or nerve endings. Here's the difference between Ruby's Cottage and Martindale Hall, at Mintaro: Ruby likes visitors, whereas Mr. Mortlock, at Martindale, does not. So Ruby's Cottage "looked at Jade" for a moment as she approached the door, and the house said "Welcome, come in, have a cuppa," whereas Martindale Hall had said, "Beat it, you're not welcome."

So we went in, put on the tea kettle and had a cuppa. The house's kitchen is 100% modern, and the furnishings are lovely. Everything has been chosen to stay in character with the antique nature of the house. The gardens are especially lovely, and Lake Alexandrina, and the wetlands, are on your doorstep. Perfect! The thing we remember the most from this stay is the quiet. That, and the blazing stars. Milang is about two hours out of town, and when you've left behind the city lights...!

Leaving Milang, you're embarrassed by choice -- so many places to go. You could to a lot worse than head for the Langhorne region; and as you do, desolate salt marshes and flocks of forlorn sheep give way to some of the most lush vineyards you're ever going to see in this country:

Oh yes, this is wine country! The wines are very different from those produced in the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley region and McLaren Vale. The Langhorne wines are closer in character to the Coonawarra wines, because of the climate. It's a lot cooler and wetter in the Langhorne region, for a start. In fact, the year we visited Bleasdale Wines (2011), we were told stories of local flooding, and the likelihood of a crop being wiped out. We tried several wines at Bleasdale and bought two, and spent a wonderful hour in their museum. The winery has an amazing history -- also a fantastic website, where you can read the novel-like story of the Potts Family, with genuine photographs from the period.

Vineyards at Bleasdale Wines, Langhorn, South Australia

The Langhorne region of South Australia ... and the weather is changing!

One of the original vehicles used when Bleasdale Wines was founded in 1850 --

-- and the modern equipment. Wine tanks ... that's a lot of wine. You're seeing one tiny corner of a field of such tanks, here. Seen from the air, on Google Maps, these ranks march on for a loooong way.

Original equipment: a "red gun lever press" ...

... and it's HUGE, dwarfing human beings.

Try some wines at the Bleasdale cellar door shop! We did, and bought two...

From Bleasdale, you'll go through the tiny town of Langhorne Creek itself, if you're headed in any direction, because that's where the roads go! The names of the roads tell all: the Strathalbyn-Langhorne Road, the Wellington Road ... and the latter takes you to the ferry on the Murray River. (In fact, we not only photographed but videoed the whole ferry process, and with any luck, we can get those videos edited up, so we'll show you the ferry across the Murray.) So, Langhorne Creek:

Langhorne Creek revolves around this point...

... a crossroads, the jumping off for Adelaide or the Limesone Coast -- your call...

Follow the signs! Wellington and the ferry, or Strathalbyn and the Fleurieu ...?

The day we did this trip was just after Easter, 2012. In South Australia, the weather usually turns fast at Easter... crash, bang boom, and suddenly it's winter. Like this. Fortunately, we were headed for home, and just in time!

We headed for home in fog and rain ... made one stop at the cricket oval in Mylor, to raid the picnic basket and use the facilities there. The driving conditions were interesting. The hills on the Fleurieu  Peninsula are rolling, often steep, and twisty-windy, with tight bends followed by drops down into the next gully. Driving in fog, the road seems to drop out of existence ahead of you, and trees loom up like Ents marching to war. It's exciting, and after half a lifetime driving in Alaska, Dave gets a kick out of it, anytime the weather in Australia hands him anything other than "clear and bright with dry roads."
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