Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fleurieu 2011: Clarendon, McLaren Vale and Myponga Reservoir

The bakery in Clarendon has been serving locals and travelers since 1901; the town has been there since about 1860.
You get your breakfast at the bakery and drive around to Riverbend Park...
Tea (or coffee, if you like), and a fresh cream cherry pastry (yum!) while you view the beautiful cliffs
above the meandering Onkaparinga River.
A sign on the opposite side of the lawns tell the story of Riverbend Park, Clarendon.
Vines bask in the sun in the McLaren Vale wine region
Many vines are netted to save the ripening crop from birds.
The wines from McLaren Vale are exported all over the world ... and it all starts right here, on the vine in the sun.
The hills burn brown in summer, but from the top of them you look out over oceans of green...
The vineyards spread on, beyond McLaren Vale too, into other wine regions.
Ah! a shady spot -- with coffee! -- at the Woodstock cellar door...
The visitor passes under gorgeous flowering vines. Anyone know what these flowers are?
They look like fuchsias, but they can't be -- can they??
Most recommended: Woodstock at McLaren Vale.
On the main drag at the town of McLaren Vale itself -- the Almond Train...
All aboard for tastings of almonds, olives, local honeys --
The Almond Train would temp a saint ... stand ready with our credit card!
Take the back road out of the Vale ... this is a road trip, so enjoy the scenic rout...
Heading south out of McLaren Vale ... and if you ever had cause to wonder what Lionel Richie was doing in
early April of 2011, well ... now you know where he was!
Sellicks Beach ... the green seas of the Gulf St. Vincent on a glorious day.
Take the picture, quick -- there are people on the beach! Seriously, if this were any beach in Europe...
suffice to say, we like Sellicks Beach just the way it is. Duh. 
This zoom shot shows the pipeline headed south: it carries water...
...and as you head south, the landscape begins to look parched indeed. Hence the pipeline!
Paddocks given a little irrigation soon green up. Makes you wish they could all be irrigated...
Watch out for kangaroos, next two kilometers! You'll rarely see them in daytime but at night they're
inclined to bolt right across the road ... sadly, they have no road sense at all. 
Shade trees offer welcome relief from the sun... a region where beef and dairy cattle graze many a hillside.
In this area, Sellicks Beach to the lower slopes around the town of Myponga, it seems to be mostly dairy and beef...
The perfect pastoral landscape: haymaking in South Australia --
-- but as you climb to the top of the hills the countryside becomes arid. Sheep thrive up here.
Approaching Myponga Reservoir...
Myponga Dam itself ... it's supplied about 5% of Adelaide's water since 1962.
A lookout and photo-op site offers a great place to stop for a picnic, or just for pictures...
Late in summer, the water level is down a bit, but still looking good. Want to drive across the dam head?
The road heads down into the gorge, and by this sign: watch out for falling rocks!
Myonga Reservoir dam head, speed limit 20kph. Alas, recently the old fencing at the roadside has been
replaced by high concrete walls ... now, you can't see a darned thing, and stopping is verboten. Dang.
Climbing out on the other side of the gorge, you have a view out over sheep paddocks to the distant
Gulf St. Vincent ... and that's the little town of Carrickalinga, about a mile away.
Perched on the hilltop above Carrickalinga is this bronze compass, with distances to many points
on the Fleurieu ... where to next?!
How nice to set off in perfect weather! Blue skies, some heat in the day, but not too much. First stop: the bakery in Clarendon for the makings of breakfast, and then -- across the bridge on the Onkaparinga River, with the Mount Bold dam right there at your left hand ... hang a right onto the road by Clarendon Oval (meaning, the cricket field), and stop in a spot of shade at Riverbend Park for tea and coffee. Great way to start the trip.

This time around we were only meandering. We'd actually planned a road trip to the Limestone Coast, but it wasn't going to work out for us that year, so Jade's suggestion was to just wander pleasantly around our own backyard for a few days and ... relax. How often do you do a long road trip and return home so tired, you need a vacation!

So ... McLaren Vale. A couple of wineries, including Woodstock, and the Almond Train, where it's absurdly easy to spend money. We bought local almonds, honey from Kangaroo Island, and local olives. Delicious. The store is built inside antique rolling stock -- an original railway carriage.

Next, Sellicks Beach (or at least the cliffs above), and a welcome breath of cool sea air. Around noon, the day was starting to get warm. We weren't in any hurry to go anywhere in particular, so ... how about going over to Myponga Reservoir, and drive across the dam head? For the first time, we actually took the time to stop at the lookout on the hillside beyond the dam, and discovered the bronze compass. The Fleurieu really is a big place in a small space.

Next on this trip: Second Valley, Rapid Bay, Cape Jervis and ... onward.

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