Barossa Valley

We’ve slipped out of Alice for a nice long weekend in Adelaide and the surrounding region.  Our first day was spent driving through the Barossa Valley, which is known for its red wines.  The valley is close enough to Adelaide to make an easy day trip, which allowed us to spend a relaxing morning in our favorite spot in the city: Adelaide Central Market.  Once again we were overwhelmed by the fresh produce, delicious meats and cheeses, and felt a desire never to return to Alice.  We ate a delicious breakfast and picked up some snacks for the road before heading out in search of delicious wines.

The drive into the valley was lovely. It’s fall here, so all of the grape leaves were turning yellow and red. Our first stop was at Schild winery.  We have several bottles of a delicious Grenache, Mourverde, Shiraz blend at home and wanted to see if there was anything else we liked.  Both sparkling wines were good, but as Ashley seemed to be coming down with a cold (and things weren’t tasting right) and Drew was playing Sober Bob, we didn’t spend a lot of time there.

It's a quince!

For lunch we stopped at Maggie Beer’s farm shop.  Maggie Beer is the Australian version of Julia Child or Ina Garten.  She is a proponent of eating locally grown/farmed ingredients. The farm is host to a large number of pheasants which are game birds, for display, and ingredients in the pate which the farm is known for.  We decided to skip the pate and instead had some lovely bread and locally produced olive oil. Oh, and peach crumble for dessert. Everything was excellent, and it was probably the quickest and friendliest service we’ve had in Australia.

We finished off our time by visiting a sculpture garden which had a great view of the valley, and then doing a tasting at the Barossa Brewing Company.  The beers ranged from an overly smoky red ale to a delicious Christmas porter.  While we were tasting, the brew house dog came over and demanded we play fetch. Naturally we agreed.

Our next few days will be spent in the city doing some much needed shopping and probably driving to the Adelaide Hills to drink more beer and eat more delicious food. Extra pictures are here.

 

Riding to Uluru

A good friend of ours is leaving Alice soon.  His encouragement is a big reason I took the plunge and got my motorcycle license, and he and I ride to some of the road houses near town for breakfast occasionally.  Before he left, he had one big item on his bucket list; ride his Harley to Uluru.  As a result, he, I, and several others saddled up on bikes, loaded a couple of support cars with gear and headed out.

The park is 450km (~275 mi) one way from town, which is a long enough ride in a car. The ride is made even more fun by consisting of exactly 4 turns. Most people who ride a motorcycle will tell you the fun part is cornering. Go fast in a straight line is boring. Top speed for the ride was about 110kph (~65mph).  My bike doesn’t go much faster, hell getting there can be a struggle, and a number of the off-road bikes lose traction much above that.  To top if off, sitting on the back of a motorcycle for 6 hours is pretty painful. My street bike (the blue one in the pictures) was so uncomfortable that I tied a piece of foam to the seat.  The result made the bike a bit hard for me to mount but much more comfortable to ride.

Despite all of that, the trip was a blast. We rode in formation down. A massive earth mover nearly forced us off the road. We had a bike breakdown at the half way point, which unfortunately meant that it had to be towed the rest of the way. Another bike got a flat 3/4 the way down, but that one ended up being fixable. Still, everyone that went felt great.  A group of us spent an extra day relaxing in and around the park, and the rest headed home after one night.

Much like our last trip down, Uluru is pretty ordinary until you get close enough to see the caves and crevasses.  Riding around the rock was great because you felt really close to it while still doing 35mph.  Ashley and I spent our free afternoon relaxing and hiking around Kata Juta.  We took advantage of the cool weather to hike further into the valley than last time.

The ride back was a bit slow due to a strong headwind.  We picked the better day as the group before us go stuck in a rain storm. We spent longer a couple of rest stops than we wanted but other then that, the ride was uneventful.

I’ve got the helmet cam video from a friend and am working on a ride video. That should go up here in the near future. Pictures are here.