Southern Australia (2017)

Sea lions, koalas, Hahndorf, Port Fairy happiest town on earth

Seafood and sea lions

Shally Beach is the best Caravan Park so far. We get a pitch on the dunes with a clear view of the beach. The stay outside is a bit difficult because of the stormy wind. 

The lady at the reception has provided us on arrival with materials and travel tips and strongly recommended a visit of Eyre Peninsula.  Besides its beaches  the peninsula is known as a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. On the coast, oyster farms line up with fish farms and shellfish farms. Every local camper seems to own a boat to indulge in the passion of fishing.

The deciding factor for us, due to the lack of fishing equipment, is the prospect of a sea lion colony at Point Labatt.

Before that we pick up our Nullabor Links certificates at the tourist office. Now we have it in writing that we have (more or less) successfully played the longest golf course in the world. As usual, we are served in an extremely friendly manner and engaged in a casual conversation. We take a few more brochures of the area, then off we go.

After a relaxed 150 km we reach Streaky Bay. We look for a small fish snack, but all stores are closed. Luckily we had filled the fridge before we left.

It is 42km to the sea lion colony. We enter Point Labatt into the Navi, but no route appears. Instead we get the already known message "Route not possible, unpaved road".

The 42km are unpaved and the contract with Britz allows only 12km unpaved road to reach a campground. Should we miss the sea lions? No! We try to change the settings first, but then decide to turn off the navi and drive without its "help".

The navi is one of a special kind. The model TomTom Bridge is a mixture of navi and tablet. One can book (if Internet available) directly by touch screen accommodations and tourism offers, see his booking details and call up everything around camping with the help of the app Campermate. If necessary, it can also be used as a hotspot.

But what does it do in the background? Does it record the route or send unauthorized car use to the rental company? We don't know. The fact is, driving on unpaved roads can be fined $300 by the rental company. We will see.

We are going to Point Labatt and it is worth it!!!

Oyster beds or Koalas - a time problem.

So today is the day of the oyster beds and the tour through the aquacultures of the fishing industry. The trip along the SA Seafood Frontier is not only for the epicurean pleasure but also for the increase of knowledge.

After the late check-in last night, we only have to pay and then book the tour at the tourist office.

Punctually at 9:30 I stand in the office and hand over the 30$ in cash; no more paperwork, everything easy. The round tour with fish tasting starts at 11:00, i.e. we still have an hour to stroll leisurely through the lively little town.

In the tourist office we inform ourselves on the bulletin board about the other offers in the area, decide only for the boat tour and possibly for the "wild" koalas. Finally, we want to be in Port Augusta (380km) in time to swing the golf clubs again (on an appealing golf course).

Short look at the cell phone, 10:00 o'clock. I go to the counter and ask in a friendly way if we could still book in for the fish tour. The sevice-lady on duty looks a bit irritated and says that today the boat was already gone but for tomorrow we could book. How, gone? She points to the clock, it is 11:30.

Garbage...peals of laughter, here comes light into the darkness, our clock still shows Eucla time; in the meantime, however, we have landed in the Adelaide time zone.

We had switched off the automatic, because the cell phone had dialed in again and again with Perth time and did not remain on Eucla. The clock in the car shows anyway still the old time and the Navi could not decide by the Nullabor, therefore we trust this clock no more at all.

Slowly everything clears up. The clock in the reception of Shallybeach showed 21:00 when I got the login data for the internet, the cell phone 19:30. So dinner was at 23:00. The long opening time of the office (previously 6 pm, here 9 pm) is not a special service but due to the new time zone.

The restaurants in Streaky Bay could not be open at lunch time, because it was already late afternoon.

The campground owner wouldn't offer us a site anymore because it was already 9 pm and he didn't live on site.

No, in Port Lincoln people don't go to bed at 8:00 pm (the campground was dark when we arrived) and no, the fishermen don't go fishing at 5:00 am.

We are both very well rested today and just came from our first unexpected brunch at the Fresh Fish Place.

We will catch up on the fish tour and surely we will meet the koalas more often. Let's go to Port Augusta.

P.S. Long live the world time clock of my cell phone, on which I entered all places of the journey at the beginning. But since there is hardly any internet, I use it quite seldom. And... it doesn't matter at all.

Barossa Valley - Golf and Wine

The rough direction of travel is clear, we have to get to Adelaide. We let the golf courses decide and head straight for Sandy Creek Golf Club. 380km from Port Augusta and located directly in the Adelaide Hills; fits perfectly.

Around 11:30 am, after successful negotiations with the club-manager regarding green fees, we tee off. The older ladies arriving at hole 18 at the same time are horrified: "It will be very hot today, are you starting now?" No problem, the thermometer stays below 40 degrees and the course plays great.

Klaus gets hold of another polo shirt and at 4:00 pm we are on our way towards Tanunda.

We want to spend the night in the "heart" of the Barossa Valley. The campground is perfectly located on the "edge of town" so we can explore the area on foot in the evening.

The clock shows 20:15 and there is exactly one restaurant open, after all. We use the footpath to sound out the photo motifs for the next day; exercise does no harm.

On the pro's recommendation, we tee off at 9:00 at Tanunda Pines Golf Club. It's around the corner and allows us an extensive afternoon program in the surrounding area.

Like the day before, we are among ourselves on the course, so we can calmly search for balls in the eucalyptus and pine thickets. We were forewarned that the courses were very narrow....

Three kilometers away we stop at the Jacob's Creek Winery. A new and architecturally appealing building with an adjacent garden invites you to winetasting and to the restaurant. The procedure is similar to that in South Africa, you choose a tasting (depending on the quality level), pay and receive the relevant information from the staff for each wine. The wines on offer range in price from AUD 15 to AUD 120. We choose the Heritage Tasting for 10 AUD and are allowed to taste a Shiraz for 80 AUD as a conclusion. Not bad! The drive continues along the wine road through the vineyards of the Barossa Valley, past flowery front gardens and cute little houses.

Next we head for Penfolds in Nunriootpa. Rather inconspicuous from the outside, the luxury winery shares rooms with a coffee roastery and a restaurant. We are the only non-Asians in the tasting room, where the cheapest bottle costs AUD 25 and the most expensive AUD 900 (Grange 2010, Jubileumsedition). (The magnum bottles of Grange are without price tag).

The ladies behind the counter are stunningly friendly. They explain the process and let us choose from the wine list. We learn that one of the ladies has relatives in Bayreuth.

It is indescribable, the wines are really outstanding. Finally, a Tawney (port wine) ("tasts like christmas pudding") and when it comes to pay, we learn that we were invited spontaneously. Well then, no complaints.

Hahndorf - Germany, Germany everywhere

Before we move into our quarters at the sensational Hahndorf BIG4-Holiday-Ressort, we ring the bell of Carola Sanders in Churchstreet. Carola is the cousin of Winfried Gerlinger from Rieschweiler. The family lives in Australia in second generation. Winfried had given us the address. Over a cup of coffee she informs us about life in Hahndorf and we learn that she also has relatives in Zweibrücken-Ixheim. In April she will come for a visit. She is a pensioner and likes to travel a lot, as her photo books prove.

The campground, besides a pool with two pools, an entertainment center with ping pong table (which we use diligently), even offers an attached restaurant and all sorts of other bells and whistles. The cottages on offer are very nice and on Friday evenings everything is fully booked. Many families with children seem to flock here for a getaway weekend.

Our little camper is always easy to find in the supermarket parking lots because of its size. On the campgrounds, our vehicle looks more like a small car, next to the sometimes monstrous vehicles of the professionals. Here we see the biggest part so far. A kind of bus with garage and Fiat 500 Abart. The owners, a pretty blonde and a shaven-headed man in bodyguard format, still extend the weight bench in the morning and train diligently.

The German, or Prussian, roots are unmistakable in Hahndorf (pop. 1800). The buildings (from 1839) in the village center are beautifully restored and give a good impression of Hahndorf in the Gründerzeit. In the evening it is Schnitzel day at the "German Arms", which we don't miss. My first Schnitzel in a long time and probably my last.

Cleeland Wildlife Park - finally animals

The weather forecast reports a change of weather again. Plan B: no golfing, but more sightseeing. We visit Cleeland Wildlife Park in the mountains, about half an hour from Hahndorf. There we finally meet the animals we were curious about and which had successfully hidden from us until now. Snakes, which are all poisonous except for some phytons, are presented in terrariums. Kangaroos are eating out of Sabine's hand (not only me!) and koala bears can be stroked. They are said to have a rather small brain. But (or just because of that?) they live their lives without any signs of stress or burnout.

We only see wombats in their underground dens through a glass pane. It was just too cold for them (15 degrees). The shy Tasmanian Devil, which we hope to see again in the wild in Tasmania, also makes a brief appearance.

On the way back to Hahndorf we stop at the "Pransing Pony" home brewery. Comparable in size to Kuchems in Pirmasens. They brew different "craft beers" from light to dark, from strong to light, and have won the world championship with one variety. We treat ourselves to a 6-beer sample and gallop back to Hahndorf, slightly elated.

Adelaide - unexpected events

Adelaide, capital of South Australia, is only half an hour's drive from Hahndorf and can be reached quickly via the freeway. The accommodation for 2 days in the "Adelaide Shore BIG4-Holiday-Ressort", we have already booked from Hahndorf. The parks belong to the same chain and the onward booking is included in the service.

We can't play the Royal Adelaide golf course we had in mind. The Australian Open of the ladies is taking place there. There are also German participants (among others Sandra Gal, Caroline Masson) at the start. While we are watching, Gal moves up from 61st to 30th place. Therefore, we let her give us an autograph after the round. We like the Danish young hopeful Nanna Madsen (22) best, who takes 3rd place. The crowd is good for a women's tournament, but not comparable to the hype at the Solheim Cup. Everything is very relaxed here. As a souvenir, we treat ourselves to a logo polo each. Afterwards we learned that you can only play this course if you are invited by a member and make an application beforehand. The green fee of $265 would have minimized the pleasure of playing anyway.

Adelaide is currently hosting the Fringe Festival. For one week cultural and artistic events are offered. The "Fringe" is the second largest festival in the world. On Saturday evening there is a "parade" (procession) in the city center, which we do not miss. After all, it's carnival time! That's when you need a parade. The parade will start at 20:30. Accordingly, the parade groups bring a lot of light effects into play. The spectators, comparable in quantity to Mainz or Cologne, have on average a much lower alcohol level compared to the aforementioned.

Mount Gambier - picturesque lakes in the mountains

From Adelaide we drive towards Melbourne, taking of course the small detour over the world famous "Great Ocean Road". On the way we will have a short rest at a dry salt lake before we spend the night in Mount Gambier in the Adelaide Hills. Mount Gambier is actually the second largest city in South Australia. It has only about 25 000 inhabitants but 2 golf courses. One is directly at the "Blue Lake Caravan Park", the second one, the "Mount Gambier Golf Club" was once among the top 50 in Australia. For the sake of convenience we wanted to play the "worse" course. There was a 9-hole tournament there, so we went to the "better" course. We didn't regret it: Friendly all-around service, nice conversations and an extremely appealing course in hilly terrain. The fairways lined with old trees full of parrots. The area around Mount Gambier (French origin!) is of volcanic origin and therefore has (similar to the Eifel) lakes and sink holes. The most famous sink hole is located in the middle of the city, was used as a garbage dump in the 60s, cleared again and provided with plants. Have a look at the photos. Very impressive. Right next to the Caravan Park is the "Blue Lake", a lake of volcanic origin (like an Eifel maar). It is quite deep with 75 m and its water shines deep blue in summer. There are different theories why this is so. Since the experts do not agree, I do not need to commit myself. Nevertheless a wonderful sight.

Port Fairy - the most livable community in the world

The "Great Ocean Road" begins in the picturesque town of Port Fairy. Now home to 2900 residents, the community was founded in 1833 as a center for whale- sealhunting. It is located on the sea as well as on a river. Typical are the old "Blue-Stone" houses, made of large natural stones. In addition to a picturesque boat harbor, there is (importantly for us) a links golf course that ranks in the Australian top-50. Although a tournament is taking place, we are placed in between and the players in front and behind us are not pissed off! (worthy of imitation ?), but extremely friendly.

Perhaps that's part of the reason Port Fairy was named "Most Livable Community in the World" in 2012.


Who can find the 12 apostles?

From Port Campbell, our 2nd overnight stop on the "Great Ocean Road", we head to the most iconic sight, the 12 Apostles in Port "Campbell National Park". The rock needles (surf pillars) rise spectacularly out of the sea.

However, even we did not manage to count 12 apostles: There are, in fact, only 7 left, and there have never been 12. The sight used to be called "sow and piglets" until a clever marketing man fell for the biblically-inspired name in the 1960s to increase its appeal to tourists. Since 12 apostles are commonly assumed, it was generously adopted. As a result, hordes of tourists (mainly Asians) are almost desperate to find the 12 apostles.

Even if there are only 7, they are impressive in any case.

We also see "Loch Ard Gorge", "The Grotto", "London Bridge", "Bay of Martyrs" and "Razor Back". Bizarre rock formations, which are hardly inferior to the Apostles, but not quite as crowded. (we have not posted photos of all of them)

Melba Gully State Park

On the onward journey the road winds in partly adventurous serpentines away from the sea into the mountainous country behind it. In the "Melba Gully State Park" we hike through absolutely fantastic rainforest with tree ferns and trees up to 60 m high. An amazing contrast to the coastal landscape.

 Anglesea - small town at river and sea

After more short detours into the rainforest, a winding road with spectacular views of the sandy and rocky shores winds along the coast to the seaside town of Anglesea, where we set up camp for the night and shake our bones with a game of golf the following day. We use the good seafood offer in the supermarket for a delicious paella. The "Holiday Park", one of the biggest so far, is beautifully situated between the sea and the estuary.