Thursday, 1 May 2014

Vale McLaren

This is not about mega expensive sports cars, but reflecting on the last visit of our trip, to the McLaren Vale Wine District. What I had intended to call our last visit turned out to be the penultimate visit as will be revealed below.

The day began, as with others at the Port Willunga Big 4, with a walk to Maslins Beach.  As well as the 'usual' Elegant Parrots a Singing Honeyeater posed nicely  for a photograph.
This bloke didn't actually pose but he did seem to have life sorted out rather well.   However, it would be a bit of a slog schlepping all his kit back up to the top of the cliffs, especially if he got onto a big school of mullet!
 Another fisherperson was going for a more minimalist approach, positioned nicely against the cliffs.
For a change we returned via the clifftops enabling us to "Oooh and Aaaah " at the views obtained by some of the residences in the area, going across the flats to the face of the Adelaide Hills.  We found this plaque up there: apparently it used to be positioned at the bottom of the cliffs.  All I have been able to find out is that both of the girls drowned.
 An irridescent beetle.
 Near the van park this incongruous urn appeared to be something to do with a lavender farm.
We headed into Willunga as we had heard good reports of the Farmers Market held there on a Saturday morning.  The market was indeed there but we suspected dogs weren't welcome so while Frances went for a snuffle I headed past the War Memorial (the wreaths are left over from the previous day's ANZAC commemorations) ...
 .. to the oval, where footy was happening.  It seemed to be an Under 18s game where the home team, in Sydney Swans colours (red and white) appeared to be flogging the visitors.
It then began to rain so I headed back to the car to collect raincoats.  This took me past the school where this mural seemed worth an image.
Having collected the protectives I crossed the main street - looking in vain for the
peleton of Tour Down Under who traverse this street several times on the last day
 - and headed back to the designated meeting spot outside the market.  It was apparent that dogs were permitted, despite the crowds and presence of edible stuff.  So in we went.
About the first stall we found was purveying the produce from Goodiesons Brewery.  In fact they were also offering tastes.  Tammy being occupied with the attentions of a small child (I suspect she was actually trying to bum a share of the kiddy's large biscuit) I took a couple of sips.  This led to purchase of 3 bottles of Pale Ale and 3 of the most excellent Stout.  Now that is what I call a market!

We then went to check out some wineries.  It seemed that they mainly started tastings at 11am so with time to spare we went in search of the other local brewery.  Weirdly, they brew in Willunga but that doesn't open to the public, and offer tastings through a bar in McLaren Flat.  They will sell usa  tasting paddle - a twee term which annoys me intensely - for $10 but can't get a license to sell take-away.  Pass.

The winery operation by Hugh Hamilton had found a good use for the outside of their water tank.
I don't know if the Council changes the artwork to green leaves in Spring but it seemed pretty appropriate to have the Autumn leaves there in late April.
Our next call was the d'Arenberg operation high above the Flat.  This was a very tourist operation with a lot of folk being served by young persons in a bar-like setting.  In case you need evidence for the touristic ambiance this 'roo should provide that which you seek.
 And this is what I mean by bar like setting.
Although dogs were not allowed I felt the wines were good enough to purchase 6 bottles.

I liked this work "Handling Soil" by Craig Ellis.  The four humans depicted are the patriarchs of the Osborn family who own the operation.
At the foot of the hill we found more art.  The human figure is simply a photograph and the obverse is a frame holding it in position, which I felt to waste a few opportunities for fun.
 We decided to try some of the Hugh Hamilton 'Floozy' wine but it was a very light rose and not to our taste (nor our budget).  He seems to market himself as the Black Sheep of the Hamilton family: hence the ovine images.  This was an extreme case of touristy venues.
 OK: not as extreme as the operation next door which we didn't visit.
 We did visit Pirramimma Wines which allowed dogs in the room and offered very tasty wines at very good prices.  When I staggered out with three cases (2 Merlot and 1 Chenin Blanc) on a trolley Frances used her keys to open the car so I could load in.
 I got a good snap of this lacewing perched on the wall of the winery.
 Heading back towards the caravan park we saw this huge flock - my guess is >200 - of birds above the field of beans next door.  They turned out to be Feral Pigeons mobbing two Wedge-tailed Eagles (marked with arrows).
I went back to the bean field immediately to get more photographs but there wasn't a pigeon or eagle in sight.  On returning to the van site I assisted Frances in finding her car keys.  Or rather, I assisted Frances in trying to reclaim her car keys.   After about half an hour of searching we concluded that they were gone somewhere: the last time she could remember actually having them was when she opened the car at Pirramimma.

As the set included two car remote controls with replacement cost of about $300 each we decided to go and search at that venue.  We had barely begun to look at the ground when the young woman who had served us called "Have you lost some keys?".  What a champion!  Apparently anothr custmer had found them and handed them in.

With much relief we headed off to Frances middle sister's place for a family gathering.  Before settling down I returned to the Gelenelg breakwater to tick Black-faced Cormorant for my Bird-a-day project.  Sister's abode looks out over the sea, where the sun was doing the Adelaide thing of setting into the ocean.

Having to drive 30+km back to the caravan park my fine meal was accompanied by very little alcohol, but I still got a warm glow of satisfaction - when the police car that followed us for the last 5 km revealed its nature as it passed by.

Awards time:

Bird of the Day: Black-faced Cormorant
Bad taste of the Day:  the kitsch 'roo at d'Arenberg.  As I type,  the group of about 12 folk who emerged from a stretch limo at Pirramimma paraded down the crimson carpet but I decided that they were more to be pitied than criticised, while the 'roo was done with malice aforethought.
Art of the day: A few contenders, but the Floozie decorated water tank comes up trumps.  A pity the plonk didn't match the design
Scene of the Day: Fisherman by cliffs at Maslins Beach

Back to the Index Post

No comments: