A Travellerspoint blog

Day 63 Adelaide to Victor Harbor (no 'u' deliberately)

Brighton, lofty, harbor, wine

sunny 37 °C

(Note from the future - Day 66 - sorry for the delay in updates we are having wifi nightmares)

You never really know how much beer you are going to get when you order beer in Australia. It seems each state has its own take on sizes. South Australia has a 200ml (7oz) 'butcher'...hardly worth going to the bar to order in my view. Then there are 3 main beer sizes, 'schooners' at 285ml (10oz), called 'pots' or 'middies' elsewhere in Aus. The 425ml (15oz) 'pints', called 'schooners' elsewhere, and then finally 568ml (20oz) 'imperial pints'.....proper pints. It's all very confusing. They do however serve most beers with a frosted glass. Very nice.

Our first stop today is Hahndorf, Australia's oldest surviving German settlement. Placed under martial law during WW1 and its name changed to Ambleside, it's now a nice but quite obviously touristy place.

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Being up in the Adelaide Hills is nice, especially on a day like today's 37 degreer (?). The view over Adelaide and the Gulf St Vincent from Mount Lofty Lookout is quite something, but it looks hot down there and that is where we are heading.

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Back in the city we couldn't resist a picture of one of the many streets lined with jacaranda (sorry....I mentioned them yesterday, but they really are beautiful). The city is alive with them and we've been lucky enough to be here when the are in full flower.

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We can't resist the temptation to visit Brighton and Hove whilst we are here. Actually, the whole city is made up of names you'd recognise. Mitcham, Clapham, Piccadilly, Camden, Richmond, Fulham, Highbury and many others. I think you get the idea. Brighton here though turns out to be similar to Brighton back home only in name. It has a pier (jetty), a beach, and is a recognised bolt hole from the big city, but that is about it.

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The primary difference is that they are blessed with sand and nice weather, the combination of which makes the whole place feel worlds apart from the Brighton I know. And love.

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Bidding farewell to Brighton for another two weeks or so we head South down into the Fleurieu Peninsular and the wine country of McLaren Vale. Sadly with 2 kids in tow its hard to take full advantage of the fabulous wines they produce here. We have to be satisfied with a brief glimpse and a passing picture of the beautiful vineyards.

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We chose to spend the night in Victor Harbor, grabbing some time in the pool and feeling at last like we are back on the move. I felt like we got a bit stuck in Adelaide. Maybe I'm becoming a gypsy. Talking with everyone we meet there are lots of ideas about how we should complete our trip to Melbourne. It's difficult to know what to do, but its clear we have too little time to do it.

We think Robe will be tomorrow's stopover but have already had 3 conflicting recommendations for the 3 campsites there. Do we choose the old lady in the Visitor Centre here who said stay near the beach, the posh couple we met at the pool who said stay in the town (near the beach) or the drunk we ended up talking to who had just jet washed his dog, who suggested staying on the lake. We will let you know.

Once again technology is a let down. Promised a wifi connection here it seems things aren't working as they should and we remain out of contact. With the time difference as it is there is such a small window in which to FT or Skype. Will try again when we get chance.

Posted by cpbrooks 16:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 62 Adelaide

Blood, red, cricket

sunny 30 °C

Day 62 Adelaide

I'm writing this from the middle of a cricket pitch in Mount Barker hoping that when I eventually finish I can walk over to the campground reception, sit outside and get on the free wifi. You don't know the lengths I go to to bring you this blog.

We are camping on a cricket pitch because the campsite was full and the kind man felt sorry for us and said we could camp here. Actually it's probably better than being in the main campsite, we are miles from anyone.

It's been an odd day. We picked up the new van this morning (which we don't yet have a name for....ideas welcome). It's a VW this time, 6 berth and pretty new. We like it. We are both very excited about being back in a van.

While Nat unpacks our possessions into the van, I take Dot and Finn around the corner from the hotel at Glenelg to attempt to have my hair cut. I've no doubt the barber can cut my hair, it's more a question of whether or not the kids will allow me the time. Things start to get a bit hairy (excuse the pun) when I have short sides but still have a long top.....not a great look if I have to stop here. The barber produces biscuits and we push on.

Haircut done and back to Nat we look to head off but realise we have no idea where we are going. Yes Melbourne, but what specifically today. Where to stay, what to see on the way. Left or right. We just haven't done our homework. We decide the city for lunch and a visit to the visitor centre seems like a good start. We need a better map and campground info.

We stumble across the old sweet shop in town, Blackeby's, full of old UK and US sweets from bygone days. Dot just wanted a picture with the man. Nat wanted all the sweets!!

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The city is full of flowering jacaranda trees, it's beautiful. Victoria Square provides a mix of architectures and flora to give some idea of the feel of Adelaide city centre. The Christmas Tree with the star on top is just weird. We ate lunch today in Randall Street to 'Its lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you'. It's 30 degrees, it's not right.

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Part of change over day with a new van means a supermarket shop. Not my favourite thing and I always feel that shopping for food is wasted time when we could be travelling. I know, we need to eat, but carting 2 kids round a full supermarket shop just takes too much time. Fortunately, everyone adores Dot and Finn, and they get lots of people talking to them, which is lovely. Travelling with kids is hard, but its also rewarding.

When it comes to choosing wine and beer it is absolutely necessary to take as long as is needed, forget the travelling. I get chatting to 2 nice guys in the 'liquor store' (none of the supermarkets here have alcohol for sale.....it's a nightmare) in Frewville on our way up into the Adelaide Hills and pick up some local Coopers beers, a Mike Press Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills and a Bleasdale Pinot Gris again from the Adelaide Hills. We like to try local produce where we can.

Sadly, although advised otherwise, Dottie can't resist picking her nose as we head towards Mount Barker. Gives us a fright, but hopefully her one too.

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Our new van is not only equipped with a digital TV aerial, but has a cricket floodlight that extends out from the roof.....that's handy.

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Finn and I enjoy a laugh over dinner. He's a very special boy.

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Posted by cpbrooks 03:34 Archived in Australia Comments (5)

Day 61 Uluru to Adelaide

Red, diversity, jetty

sunny 23 °C

Our stay in the 'Red Centre' as it is known has felt a bit like a holiday within a holiday. Time with not much to do when it's too hot to do much in any case, has meant that we have relaxed. Like I've said before, there is something special about being close to these rocks and so far from everything else.

That said, we opt to skip the early morning sunrise at Kata Tjuta to make for a manageable morning. We are experts at packing now and we might very light work of it, time for tea and toast before we set off for the 6km drive to the airport. We made a much better job of 'eating the fridge' last night and wastage is minimal (only 1 beer this time round)

The red earth is on and in everything. The car is covered, our hiking boots and the buggies wheels have to be washed before they can be packed and loaded.

The 30 minute flight to Alice Springs goes without a hitch. Being in Alice Springs makes me think of Alice, my eldest. She was named after Alice Springs and being here makes me miss her.

Confirmed straight on the standby flight down to Adelaide means we avoid any nervous wait to find out if we have a seat. That's the next 10 days sorted.

Australia is an amazing place and one of the elements of it that most astonishes me is the scale and remoteness of most of the inland areas. It's vast, bare and hostile geography makes it an exciting place to be in. There is a sense of challenge, especially in some parts where you really are on your own out there. The following shots, although not great as I'm taking them through those horrid plastic plane windows, hopefully demonstrate some of the diversity in the country, just between Uluru and Adelaide, and just how remote some of it is.

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In no time at all we are in Adelaide and enjoying the sunshine on Glenelg beach where we are staying.

A walk out along Jetty Road, past the Town Hall

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....and out on to the jetty itself provides us with a great view of the beach to the South.

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Dottie can't resist going naked for a session in the fountain, much to the surprise of some of the locals. I think she thinks its 40 degrees still

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Posted by cpbrooks 04:40 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 60 Uluru

Rust, inconvenience, glow

sunny 36 °C

As you have hopefully gathered, the days here are all about sunrise and sunset, and how best to avoid the scorching sun in the middle of the day. Having been disappointed yesterday we are pleased to wake to a star filled sky. Things look good for a beautiful sunrise. We head for a little spot we spotted yesterday, close to the official Uluru sunrise lookout, but away from the crowds. We are the first there and end up sharing sunrise with just two other cars.

The Swiss guy next to us has a proper tripod and his camera set to take a photo at set intervals. I, on the other hand, find myself balancing my camera on the roof of the car and asking the kids to sit still inside (poor kids). It reminds me of 'all the gear no idea' day. The sun arrives.

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The colours of the rock change up through charcoal, purple and browns to gold, orange and reds.

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Dottie has learnt to say Uluru and Kata Tjuta and her passion for photography has continued to grow. I want to video her but obviously can't as she has the camera! This next photo is one that Dottie took whilst at the sunrise. It's her second blog entry (don't ask how many photos I need to delete every night!). I think she is getting the hang of it (very arty)

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Our Swiss friend is off to Cairns to spend a month driving down the East coast to Sydney. Lucky guy. Oddly we have met several people who from here are either going to Melbourne and driving to Adelaide or going to Adelaide and driving to Melbourne.

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From the sunrise we head for the Kantju Gorge for a short hike whilst its cool. We head past the sacred site at Mala Puta which I can only describe as a bell shaped cave a fair way up the rock face. Beyond it are some more great examples of the rust like skin of the rock.

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There is a waterhole at the end of the Kantju Gorge and its steep side make it feel very peaceful and isolated. There is no water at this time of year but there is a high water mark where the water would be and black stains down the rockface where the waterfalls temporarily exist. It must be great to see in the heavy rain.

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Like most other people we get out of the sun by about 10, ultimately ending up in the only pub in Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort), the Outback Pioneers Hotel and Lodge, for a spot of lunch and a few beers.

I seem to remember there being an alcohol issue with the Aborigines when I was in Australia before and it doesn't seem to have changed much. We have to show our cabin room key to get served alcohol anywhere and when this bar doubles up as the only off licence (bottle shop), they are limited to selling 6 beers per person. The pub soon begins to fill with the local Aborigines which brings with it a sense of concern from the staff. You can just tell. They do drink rum and coke like it is going out of fashion, it's true, but as far as we could see they were no harm. You get the sense that although this is their land, they are a bit of an inconvenience.

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Following a lazy afternoon around the pool we head for the Kata Tjuta sunset, avoiding kangaroos en route (we haven't actually seen one in the wild yet)

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With an absolutely clear sky the sunset is fabulous. I'd encourage anyone who comes to Uluru to ensure they visit the less famous Kata Tjuta.

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As the sun drops, the whole Western face of Kata Tjuta glows. Magnificent.

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Posted by cpbrooks 04:21 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Day 59 Uluru

Base, hat, sunset, bungee

sunny 36 °C

To climb the rock or not? It's a big question around these parts. The Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people, now collectively know as Anangu were handed back the ownership of Uluru and Kata Tjuta in October 1985 and since then have been jointly managing the park with Parks Australia. Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the area around them is of deep cultural significance to the Anangu people and amongst other restrictions related to photography of sacred sites, they ask that visitors don't climb the rock, but do a base walk instead. We want to respect this and in any case the climb looks like being closed the whole time we are here as temperatures will be above 36 degrees, so our decision doesn't make much difference. It's believed that the climb will be closed for good soon.

It's never a good idea to wake sleeping babies, but if we are to make the 5.50 sunrise today we have to get up on our 4.30 alarm.....ouch! We check the sky and its clear so off we go. Sadly by the time we get to the prescribed spot the sun has lost it's battle with the clouds and its a non event, us and coach loads of Japanese depart disappointed. We enjoyed listening to one chap commentating to his video, saying 'its getting redder and redder' and it really wasn't. He'll hopefully never watch it.

The positive side of a dismal sunrise is the early start it forces. We are off from the Mala car park at 7am to walk the 10.6kms around the base walk of Uluru before the sun and heat make it too tough.

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Dottie is proudly wearing her new Australia hat. She wanted everyone to see it.

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As we walk around the Uluru the wind and low sun keep it cool. We pass the sacred sites of Mala Puta, Warayuki, Tjukatjapi, Taputji, Kuniya Piti and Pilari where we are asked not to take photos, but hopefully the following pictures show some of what it is like and the diversity.

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The skin of the rock looks like rusty metal, flaking and broken in the same way metal would do. There are many caves, water holes and unexplained features that make Uluru so unique. There are no smaller rocks around it, it's just flat desert shrub and its odd that this one thing exists like this in all this space, it's no wonder its of such importance to the Anangu. It is special. We have a family Uluru touch.

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It takes us 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete the base walk. We just make it with both kids strapped to us, both having slept, but Dottie reaching breaking point by the end. Even at 9.45 it was 29 degrees and to be honest I'd had enough. My feet hurt.

Coffee at the 'Sails in the Desert' provides us with refreshment and the ability to upload blog photos, something I can't do anywhere else it seems. I've had a lot of trouble uploading here at Uluru. I try to get a hair cut but the only barber in town is fully booked until Monday, the day after we leave. Long hair it is for me then.

It's not until after an afternoon in the pool that we head back to Uluru for the sunset, hopefully an improvement on yesterday's. Bingo, it's clear

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The sun sinks down and the clear sky leaves us with a few minutes where we have lost the sun but it is still illuminating the rock. It's a lovely sunset.

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Let's hope tomorrow's sunrise delivers.

P.S. thanks for all your comments on the blog. Just to cover Cliff's point re the bungee jump. We did bungee with the kids strapped to us but we ran out of film in the camera, so no pictures (thanks Dad ;-)). Cleland Park sounds like a great idea...thanks Lisa. If anyone has any Adelaide to Melbourne experiences or ideas, we'd love to hear them.

Posted by cpbrooks 17:05 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

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