Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our South Australian road trip...and Maggie Beer

Posted by kel @ sweet treats at 7:47 PM
Chris and I recently drove over to South Australia to visit my mum's family and to have a well-earned break. We spent a couple of days visiting my family in Adelaide's southern suburbs before heading north to the famous Barossa and Clare Valleys for some wine, wine and more wine.

Jacobs Creek vines
We had driven over in Chris' car, which I'm not permitted to drive (it's a V8 and I'm still on my probationary licence...sigh!) so I was automatically deemed the designated drinker. Happy days!

Penfolds Winery, Nuriootpa SA
We stopped in at various cellar doors, including Wolf Blass, Jacobs Creek, Penfolds, Knappstein Brewery and The Little Red Door, just to name a few. 

Vines at Maggie Beer's
While we were in the Barossa Valley we ventured over to Maggie Beer's Farm Store, in Nuriootpa. For those who aren't aware of who Maggie is, she co-hosted a TV show named The Cook and the Chef with Simon Bryant. Her and her husband have had the land at Nuriootpa for several decades, and during that time it has morphed from a pheasant farm to a thriving restaurant to its present form, which is a cafe/providore/function centre. I had read online that there is a cooking demonstration every day at 2pm, so we ensured we were there with plenty of time to nab a good seat. Thankfully Chris accepts my bizarre foodie ways and was only too happy to stroll around the picturesque dam with me until it was almost time for the demo.

The woman doing the demonstration was cooking butter mushrooms, roasted sweet potato with verjuice (a Maggie Beer specialty) and onions with vino cotto (a cooked wine blend reminiscent of balsamic).

Mid-way through the demonstration we heard a booming female voice say "something's burning!" We all turned around, and there was Maggie. A very welcome surprise considering her and her husband only visit the Farm Store on some weekends, and this was a Tuesday.

The picturesque dam at Maggie Beer's
Maggie stayed and finished off the cooking demonstration, and then I brushed past her in the store later. I attempted to say hello to her but she was far too busy swanning around to talk to anyone. Big fail in my eyes. Anyone who knows me knows I've never been a huge fan of Maggie's as I had heard via a friend of a friend that she was less than pleasant to work for. Her appearances on MasterChef swayed me a little as she seemed like someone you'd love to be your grandma; however I was disappointed that she didn't take the time to speak to any of us who had driven out to the Store.

Needless to say, we stocked up on verjuice, vino cotto and some delicious raspberry & pomegranate jam at the Farm Store and went up to the Clare Valley for the night.

Maggie Beer

Pheasant and quail eggs at the Farm Store

Maggie Beer's crockery and preserves collection

From the Clare Valley we drove a few hours down South to Victor Harbour. I hadn't been there since I was a kid, so it was nice to revisit and see it as an adult. A note to anyone heading to Victor Harbour - do NOT stay at the Comfort Inn in Victoria Street. The owner ripped us off, and the towels looked 30 years old (seriously, they were frayed and had holes in them). After overcharging us, the owner even had the audacity to make smart comments to Chris about me (to which Chris replied that the reason he was checking out was because I was ropable). Rant over. Boo, hiss.

Anyway, most of the reason I wanted to go to Victor Harbour was because of Granite Island. There is a bridge that stretches between Victor Harbour and Granite Island, which is home to some little penguins. I love penguins. We even got to see the first mating of the season. Woohoo for us!

The laws at Granite Island
Sunset at Granite Island, SA

From Victor Harbour we went across to Tailem Bend, where we spent a couple of hours at Tailem Town, a pioneer village. Yawn. Got some good pics but the place lacked atmosphere and excitement. I suppose I'm biased, being from Ballarat and having Sovereign Hill at my doorstep.

Tailem Town at Tailem Bend, SA

Robe Obelisk, SA

After Tailem Bend we headed down to Robe, which is on the South Australian coast. It is a place I would definitely go back to; it had some really striking views and a relaxed, non-touristy vibe. The highlight was being able to drive on the beach - what a strange yet exhilarating experience it was.
Driving on the beach at Robe, SA

From Robe we began our return back to Victoria. We decided to stay at Warrnambool, and by this stage we were so tired we stayed in our hotel the entire time we were in Warrnambool. Yes, the entire time. Room service for dinner and breakfast. The laziness was uncannily empowering.

When we were leaving Warrnambool we detoured through Tower Hill, an old volcanic crater filled with a myriad of amazing wildlife. I'd highly recommend it for a picnic. While we were there we had heaps of emus in front of the car (we'd seen a lot of wild ones over in SA so this wasn't unusual) and a cute little wallaby. We have a lot of wallabies at home so it was nice to see something familiar after being away from home for a while.

Some of the many emus who strolled in front of our car
We went home via the Great Ocean Road, and of course stopped at all the regular tourist lookouts - Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the famous Twelve Apostles.
Bay of Islands, VIC
We got home to find a bunch of police down the road from our house...and then the Special Operations Group landed in a helicopter...but that's a story for another day!

So tell me...what's new in your world?

3 comments on "Our South Australian road trip...and Maggie Beer"

Carole on Wednesday, 02 May, 2012 said...

Very nice post. The Barossa Valley is on My Travel Bucket List

My Business Central on Friday, 01 June, 2012 said...

Interesting post. It is good to travel South Australia by Car Roadworthy

Anonymous said...

i am fairly new to your site (awesome btw!!),so hope it helps me out in preparing if i ever visited your country.

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