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australia 2003

Early in 2003 Carole and Martyn went to Australia for the first time to stay with friends. This is what happened.

An Australian Diary
After a long long flight from London we finally arrived in Adelaide at around 8.30am on Friday 21st February 2003. It was a journey of over 25 hours. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! As usual we bought the the weather with us. Two years rain in one day! Bobbie & Brian meet us at the airport and take us back home to Morphett Vale, a suburb of Adelaide, about half an hour from the city centre.

Don’t want to go to bed so they take us in the 4x4 around the local area. The sky is cloudy, and the mist that had covered everything up on our journey from the airport had lifted. We drove all along the coast passing by golden beach after golden beach. The intention was to end up in a pub on the main road overlooking the coastline for lunch. Mist comes down again and the coastline is gone! So instead we head towards home via Maclaren Vale, one of South Australia's best wine regions. We stop off at at winery called Pennys' Worth, and sample a number of both red and white, finishing up with a superb local port. We buy a couple of bottles after a long chat with the guy behind the counter. He's English and has been trying to get residency in Oz, so far without success. He soon has to leave the country in order not to mess up his chances of reapplying.

After leaving the winery we head home via Mick O Sheas Irish pub, where we have an excellent lunch including one of the local delicacies 'Wedgies' ;-). After eating and sampling some beers we are introduced to 'Pokies'. A great way to lose money quickly. Pokies are one arm bandits that pay out money. Brian seems to be able to retrieve some of the money we throw away. This trend continues throughout the holiday. We put it in and Brian wins it back! Both of us now feeling dead on our feet and back home we go and crash out big time! Bobbies daughter Jo, and her partner Luke come around to meet us, but have to leave before we wake up! We finally surface for dinner and wash it down with the first of many bottles of Aussie wine! Its not too long before we are back in bed! Carole as usual falls asleep, but I as usual don't. And so ends our first day in Aus.

Sat 22nd Feb
Brian has his own small painting and decorating business, and has contracts with a number of the local builders. We had popped into one of the houses he is contracted to paint in Hallet's Cove on our run down the coast on Friday, and met Bobbies brother Bruce, who we haven’t seen for years and Brian’s other employee, Leroy. Brian can't afford to take too much time off, and has gone to work today. Bobbie has taken four weeks holiday so will be with us all the time we are here. She is a medical secretary for Senior Consultant oncologists at the QE11 hospital in the North of Adelaide.

We surface at about 10.00, and after breakfast we plan to go to Burnside and see the Waterfall! Iain goes to Niagara we go to Waterfall Gully! You can compare the two sites on the Holidays in Eden pages on the website!

The local landscape is quite hilly, a bit higher than say the South Downs and the dominant trees are gum trees. They are everywhere and are quite unlike trees in England, They are evergreen, but continually drop leaves, bark and seeds, and even for no reason whatsoever drop their branches! Very strange! They are full of birds chattering away all the time. Parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, crows, magpies and lots of small ones I don't recognise! There is a lot of green, but it is unlike the green of England, somehow duller. Everywhere you look there are insects, spiders, ants, mosquitos, flies that bite, and the biggest hornets I have ever seen. All the houses have screens on every door and window, and you soon learn to keep the doors and windows open but the screens firmly shut!
We head off to the Waterfalls. We need to travel in towards the city, we can't use the local motorway. It is probably the strangest motorway in the world. It was originally going to be a normal six laner, but somehow the budget wouldn’t run to that! So, they built a three lane motorway with a hard shoulder both sides and made it one way! The only thing is, it swops around depending what time or day it is! Monday to Friday it runs into the city from 1.00am to noon, it then shuts for an hour and from 1.00pm till midnight it runs out of the city. On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays it reverses!!!!
Confusing or what! Anyway, we head off to the waterfalls. Not seen Niagara, but they turn out to be a tad of an anticlimax. Remember me saying about getting TWO YEARS rain in ONE DAY yesterday, well, you just wonder what the waterfall looked like before the rain!. Anyway we went for a wander, and came across some lizards, loads of birds and billions of huge black ants! There are in fact three waterfalls heading the mountain, the one shown is the largest. So dont get excited and expect to see more.
Then it was back to Morphett Vale to meet up with Brian. He goes off to work at 6.00am and finishes around 2-3pm to avoid the highest temperatures of the day. Another visit to O’Sheas and a meet up with Jo and Luke. Jo has become a Aussie girl, and Luke is a bit like Steve Irvine ( the mad wildlife guy on TV) on speed! Luke, if you read this that’s a compliment mate. ;-). After losing more money on the Pokies, we felt a bit tired and returned home for a meal some alcohol and sleep!
Sunday 23rd Feb
Get up early today, Brian & I take Jack the family dog for a walk. Being in Oz means we take him to a beach especially reserved for dogs. O’Sullivan Beach is a beautiful sandy beach between the oil refinery and Christies Beach. Jack is quickly off the leash and dashing madly about making new friends and renewing old friendships. The beach must be a mile or so long and we get some good exercise, but not as much as Jack. Today we are off to Victor Harbour, a former whaling station south of here. It’s a beautiful day and the four of us set off in the 4X4. We travel down the South Road and stop off at the top of the Willunga Hill, a beautiful view which the photo just doesn’t do justice to. Travelling on down past Mt Compass, many spectacular views and we reach Victor Harbour around midday. Just off the harbour is Granite Island, a haven for Fairy Penguins. Granite Island is reached by a bridge/pier which has a horse drawn tram service. We decide to walk across, the tide is out and the bay is beautiful with many small fish and many sea birds including Pelicans and cormorants. We follow the track around the island in the hope of seeing some fairy penguins. We come across lots of burrows and penguin trails, but only find one which is poking out of its burrow. They rarely come out during the day, the best time to see them is in the early evening. Walk all around the island past many strange shaped rocks which are weathered granite. Decide to take the horse drawn tram back to Victor Harbour, and that turns out to be a very pleasant 10 minute trip. Back in Victor Harbour we visit the whale museum. The girl on the door hears our accents and asks us to sign the visitors book. Guess what, she comes from Aldershot!!!!! The whale museum has some gruesome exhibits and shows graphically, the arrogant way which humans treat our fellow animals. Luckily these days are now gone, and the whales are starting to return to the area. They won’t be here for a couple of months or so, so no chance of seeing these these beautiful animals for us! We wander around the town, which being in civilised Australia on a Sunday is mostly shut!. Brian decides to take us back a different route and we head off for Goolwa. Goolwa is a river port on the Murray River and home for a couple of Mississippi type paddle boats. We stop there for coffee and some fantastic cakes. Already the waistline is expanding and we have only been here a couple of days.
Mon 24th Feb
Both feeling tired so have a bit of a lay in. Then its off down to the beach. We take Jack with us who has a great time. Early meal this afternoon because we are off to see David play indoor beach volleyball. OK I know that’s a contradiction, but that’s what it is. David’s team is pretty good and they edge the match 2 sets to 1. It’s then back to the house where we knock back some bevvies and have a really nice evening.

Tuesday 25th February
Mount Lofty is the highest peak in the Adelaide Hills and gives a brilliant view of the city and the surrounding environs. We spend a couple of hours there. The whole area was devastated a few years ago in the Ash Wednesday fires. There were serious fires in the Mount Lofty Ranges in 1955, 1957 and on Ash Wednesday, 20 February 1980, but all these were eclipsed by Ash Wednesday 1983. On 16 February 1983 a series of fires broke in South Australia and Victoria. They burnt out more than half a million hectares of forest, farmland and townships, and killed seventy-one people in the two States. In South Australia twenty-eight people died as a result of the fires, sixty-seven were hospitalised, and livestock losses were estimated at between 257,000 and 330,000 head A new lookout has now been built and there are many photos and other artefacts showing the devastation the fires caused. After leaving we head of for the Cleland Wildlife Park
Cleland Wildlife Park is one of Australia's acclaimed wildlife experiences. The park is home to over 600 native animals ranging from the mighty red kangaroo to tiny pocket-sized bandicoots. Koalas, wombats, dingos, native birds, kangaroos, and wallabies move about in 35 hectares of open bushland setting We spend most of the day wandering around the Park. It is possible to get up really close to some of the animals.. particularly the kangaroos. The Koalas are a bit shy, and are totally off their faces from chewing gum leaves all day. They use urine as defensive mechanism if anything gets too close, and boy does it smell! The Tasmanian Devil is not around today, and neither are the Emus, but the dingos are. I hadn’t realised what a beautiful animal it is, like a tawny Husky! The snakes and reptiles are kept in glass cases inside, which we were quite happy about, but the other animals were in excellent condition and showed what a good job the park was doing Then it’s back to Morphett Vale for more food and alcohol!

Wed 26th Feb
We take a leisurely drive along the coast road to Glenelg, its a beautifully warm day. Glenelg is an upmarket suburb of Adelaide with a yet another great beach overlooked by modern apartments. It also has a shop selling Copenhagen Ice Cream, which people drive miles to visit. We soon find out why! We wander around the shops on Jetty Road and then take the tram to Victoria Square in the centre of Adelaide. The original vintage 1929 tram departs from Victoria Square in the heart of Adelaide, and heads along King William St past Morphettville Racecourse, to Glenelg. The 10km journey takes just under half an hour. We visit Adelaide’s famous Post Office building before heading off to do some shopping. We have a late lunch in the amazing food hall. We could have eaten almost anything you care to think of, but eventually settle for a huge Thai sandwich. Then its back to wandering around the shops. I have looked everywhere for any Marillion stuff without success. Finally we wander back to Victoria Square and take the tram back to Glenelg. We take a different route home and go via Marion before heading down the motorway and back to Morphett Vale via Reynella, home of the Hardy winery.
Thursday 27th Feb
The 4x4 has to go in for a service today, so I help Bobbie with the accounts for Brian’s painting business, then we take Jack for a long long walk in the Reserve, we are out for about an hour and a half. Its a beautiful hot sunny day with clear blue skies. We come across a stream of ants cascading along along the side of the old railway track. It is like a moving black carpet that just goes on and on and on! Back home for some lunch, then its time to splash around in the pool. We are having a dinner party this evening, Bobbies brother Bruce and his partner Dianeare coming plus two friends, Gary & Thea. Bobbie cooks a stupendous meal and we wash it down with loads more beer and wine. We end playing a game of Balderdash, which kept us in high spirits for some time, except for Brian who nodded off in the arm chair.
Friday 28th Feb
Brian has taken the day off and we are off to spend the day at Adelaide Market. Its huge and is full of fresh produce. I have never seen a market like it. The quality and range is mind blowing. Fresh meat, fish, fruits & vegetables, many of which I have never seen before . There are bakeries, cheese stalls and delis. We wander around for an hour or so before heading for lunch at Stanley’s Fish Restaurant. Stanley’s figures in most of the Guides for South Australia as a great place to eat, It doesn’t disappoint, and we add another few centimetres to the waistline! After lunch we go back to the Market. There’s so much to see and it’s Brian’s favourite place to shop. We buy some huge peaches, some kangaroo steaks, sausages, cheeses, breads etc. etc.
Sat 1st March
Of to Castle Plaza for Bobbie’s hair appointment, wander around the shops while she beautifies herself, before heading south for Murray Bridge. Murray Bridge is a rural town with, believe it or not a bridge over the Murray River. Whilst wandering along the bank of the river we come across a huge flock of cockatoos resting in the trees. There are literally thousands of them. When something startles them and they take off, it is like a raucous blizzard swirling overhead. Another good day and so we take a trip up and down the River on the Dragonfly. After leaving Murray Bridge, we head to a place called Dundee to visit a butterfly farm. Unfortunately the place has been taken over and now houses a small zoo. This is least pleasant place we visit on the whole trip. Although we see some animals close up, they were not in as good a habitat as those in Cleland and none seem to be in tip top condition. There are emus and crocodiles and kookaburras and wallabies, but somehow we cant wait to leave. Next stop is a small town called Hahndorf. It is the earliest German settlement in South Australia dating back to 1838, though its name comes from the Danish captain of the ship that brought the settlers. It is now just a tourist attraction with every house virtually becoming a souvenir shop. Worth a visit, but only a very short one. We end buying some ‘Scottish’ shortbread made in another local town Strathalbyn, home of the earliest Scottish settlers. Brian takes us back over Adelaide hills over some dirt track roads where we see our first wild kangaroos in their natural habitat. Back home he sparks up the barbie and cooks us some errrr ummm Skippy steaks!
Sunday 2nd March
Trash & Treasure Day. We go off to Port Adelaide and spent a couple of hours wandering around a huge indoor flea market on two floors down by the port. Has to be said that it’s more trash than treasure, and I spend a long time in the music stalls trying to track down anything Marillion related, again without success. Next it's a slow drive back along the coast. We stop off at Henley Beach for a ‘coffee’, which somehow turns in a superb Greek meal in Estia, one of the best Greek restaurants in Oz, never did have the coffee! Not quite sure why we had the meal cos this evening we have been invited around to Luke’s parents for... yep you guessed it .. a meal. They live in Norwood, right next to a Aussie Rules football ground and are both really nice and really interesting. Partly because we are talking and drinking we don't get to eat until quite late, which at least three of us are grateful for, and we enjoy our second full meal of the day. Mal has some very excellent vintage Aussie wines, and I renew my acquaintance with some Aussie Port. We head back home very late and very content. Poor Brian has a full days work to do and another early start.
Monday 3rd March
A bit worse for wear, so some of us lie in a bit, and apart from taking Jack for a long long walk, or did he take us? We don't do a lot, except pack ready for our trip to Kangaroo Island on Tuesday. In the evening its down the pub for a meal and a quiz evening with the gang before allowing Brian to get some of our money back out of the Pokies!!!
Tuesday 4th March
Up early this morning. Need to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island from Cape Jervis. A pleasant trip through the hills and along the coast. Being in Oz we were held up for 10 minutes or so trying to negotiate a large flock of sheep being herded along the road by a guy in a ‘Ute’ , a lad on a motor bike and a couple of sheepdogs. Don’t think they would have made it on ‘One Man & His Dog’ somehow, cos the sheep were going all over the place and definitely not where they should have done. Having got down to the Ferry terminal we get on board for a 1.5 hour crossing to Penneshaw. It is a calm day and a smooth crossing, but Bobbie doesn’t like travelling by boatmuch and is well pleased when it’s over.

We stop off at the Tourist Centre and pick up a few brochures before heading off to American River to find our hotel. Its more like a motel than a hotel, but the rooms are nice with a cracking view over the river. The place is run by two elderly guys who seem very friendly. Having sorted out that we are eating out tonight we head off to Kingscote and have an early lunch. As usual we over order and are stuffed! We decide to drive up through the middle of the island and then take a lesuirely drive along the north coast. The centre of the island is pretty but nothing spectacular. Brian can’t wait to hit those dusty orange dirt roads and show us what a 4X4 can really do off-road! We investigate a number of pretty little coves and bays, and like most of the trip have them almost entirely to ourselves. We go to Gosse, Western River Cove, Snelling Beach and Emu Bay where we stop for an Iced Coffee in a little beach cafe. Iced Coffee seems to be an Oz speciality, its great.
There are lot of animal casualties on the roads, and its easy though saddening to see how the place got it’s name. There’s a lot of other wildlife by the side of the road including some enormous lizards. We slowly make our back to Kingscote. Brian & Bobbie head for the Bar and the Pokies leaving Carole and I to wander around the small town. We meet up in the bar and after I have played with Internet Cafe, head down to the beach for the nightly feeding of the Pelicans
This turned out to be a highlight of the trip. This guy feeds the local Pelicans every day of the years and has done so for the last ten years. There are about 30 odd people sitting on the rocks waiting for the guy to turn up. The Pelicans are coming in too, there are loads of them, gracefully gliding in along with many squawking gulls. The guy arrives with buckets of fish brought and begged from the local fish market. He gives a fascinating commentary whilst the Pelicans land all around us and squabble over the fish. They really are beautiful creatures. The only thing to mess it up is the fact the camcorder runs out film five minutes into the show. As we walk away at the end of the show Brian spots a huge sting ray in the shallow water of the bay. The photos I take don't show it up at all well. We slowly wander back to the town and go for another big meal, this time at the Ozone restaurant.
Wed 5th April
Back to the dirt roads as we dash along the southern tracks heading for Seal Bay. This is home for 700 odd Australian sealions. A Visitor centre has been set up to help provide the funds to help conserve this endangered species. The bay has a reef which helps protect the seals from their other danger (apart from man) sharks. We are taken in a small group and a guide and can walk among them, but not too close. The bulls are huge and protect their harems jealously, They move amazingly fast. We spent a good hour amongst them and its yet another highlight of the trip. Then we move on to Vivonne Bay. a huge open bay with not a soul on it apart from us. We sit down for a picnic lunch and laze around in the beautiful sunshine, We nip down to the pier at Ellen Point where we come across a fishing boat unloading an enormous haul of the biggest crayfish I have ever seen.
Next stop, the Kelly Caves, very different from caves that I have been in before. They are completely dry now which means the formation of stalactites and stalagmites has stopped, and there is no life (apart from us) in them. There are miles and miles of them and many still to be explored. We only see a fraction of them


Next stop are the Remarkable Rocks. A strange set of weathered rocks sitting atop a smooth granite dome. Definitely one of those... you have got to be there to appreciate them... again the photos don't do them justice. The next stop after driving through the Flinders Park Forest is Cape du Couedic and Admirals Arch, home for a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Smaller than their Australian sea lion cousins we see many of them lazing and playing on the rocks and small islands being formed as the granite collapses into the sea. Final stop before heading back to American River is the Flinders Chase National Park where we go for a wander in search of Koalas. We do manage to spot one high up a gum tree and the resulting photograph is as about as good as yesterdays one of the sting ray. We decide to eat at the Hotel restaurant, and we were not disappointed. The two guys that ran the place looked after us superbly and eventually joined at the table for a drink and long chat before we retired!

Thursday 6th March
Last day on Kangaroo Island, so we decide to just hop around the local area and see what we can find, before heading for the ferry. First stop was Jumbuck Australiania, this was a ramshackle old barn, and at first I thought we were wasting our time. There were flies everywhere, a mangy dog and lots of rusty old farm equipment. Inside the barn was a small shop and a some seats and some sheep pens with about 2 dozen sheep. As often happens, first impressions lie, and we were treated to an fascinanting insight to sheep and wool and after a demonstration of sheep shearing, stocked up with a number of all wool items locally made and I now wish I had bought more! Still that's a good reason to go back. Brian was soon thrashing along the dirt roads to our next destination, a honey farm, this turned out to be a bit boring, the tour was badly done, as was the video, but the ice cream was excellent as was the honey, and our wallets and purses were lighter as we forked out for candles and soap and other goodies. We were soon on our way again, this time heading for the Eucalyptus Farm. Although everyone thinks of Australia and Eucalyptus Oil, this is in fact the only remaining commercial distillery in the country. Another interestring place, with many old artefacts, plus emus and wallabies and other creatures, and we left with oils and creams destined to make us young and beautiful again. Then it was off to Kingscote for another good lunch before heading back to Penneshaw to take the ferry back to the mainland. It was a beautiful hot day with a calm blue sea, and we stayed on deck for most of the journey hoping to catch sight of the dolphins. We drove back slowly from Cape Jervis and did a detour to look at the Reservoir at Mypoonga. A late evening meal at a pub on the hillside with a view of the coastline stretching all the way back to Adelaide.
Friday 7th March
We toddle off the Noarlunga Beach for the morning, and just laze around in the sunshine. After Brian finishes work we go shopping in Marian and then go to see Star Trek at the cinema.

Saturday 8th March
We had intended to spend a couple of days in the Barossa, with a few visits to some wineries, but there is not enough time. So we plan to spend all day in Mclaren Vale instead. There are so many wineries in the area , far too many to mention, let lone visit, so we head off and try to pick out a number to visit, Brian & Bobbie obvoiusly have some favourites, and I have some that I have heard of, so we work out a route. As Brian is designated driver yet again, he misses out on all the tastings, and we find some pretty nice ones during the day. But as we manage to keep buying the odd bottle as we go around, Brian is not going to miss out when we get back home. Ones that stand out are Serafino, Golby, Rosemount Farm and in particular, Chapel Hill. We have brought some back to UK from there and we were not disappointed when we opened them. As I write this we just have one bottle of Chapel Hill 'Port' left. As usual the Aussies we meet are friendly and want to talk, particularly about cricket! Our final stop of the day was at an olive grove in the Vale where we could still be chatting now given half a chance. Finally back home for a great meal and a few bottles of local wine!

Sunday 9th March
Started packing in the morning! Then it was off into Adelaide again.We go to see The Lion The Witch And the Wardrobe at the Adlelaide Theatre. This is a magnificant new theatre down by the river, and the performance, which was a mixture of actors and puppets, was spectacular. After the show we headed towards Glenelg and found an excellent Indian restaurant. Then back along the coast road with the lights of the city behind us.
Monday 10th March
Back into the city again, this time to look around North Adelaide, this is the older part of the city and has a different feel to it, The architecture is very 'Colonial' and it seems even more laid back than the rest of the city!!! We have the usual 'light lunch' then take a trip down the river in a paddle boat before heading intothe main part of the city for some last minute shopping including a didgerydoo... hey we are tourists, what do you expect? We head back to Mclaren Vale to visit O'Sheas for the last time for a few beers and to say goodbye to Jo and Luke. The pokies use up our loose change before we set off the Chicken Shop to pick up some excellent cooked chicken. We have borrowed a video called The Castle, which Bobbie has been raving on about almost ever since we got there. So with Chicken & Chips on our laps and our glasses charged, we settle down to one of the funniest Aussie films ever made. If you have ever seen The Dish then you will understand the style......
Tuesday 11th March
We finish packing and say goodbye to David and Jack, drive up to Hallets Cove where Brian, Bruce and Leroy are working to say goodbye to them. Then we go to Glenelg and wander around, taking a few last snaps, getting a few more souvenirs, and some more of that great ice cream, before heading for the Airport and home!
It was a great adventure and hopefully one to repeat as soon as we can

Thanks to Bobbie and Brian and everyone else for making us so welcome. We enjoyed every second!

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