Tag Archives: Adelaide

8 nights/7 days in Adelaide

Good sign isn’t that?

Adelaide wasn’t a place I expected to be spending more than 4 days in, so it’s nice to have found somewhere completely unexpected.

Whereas Perth had the location (and weather) but lacked the personality and the people, Adelaide delivered the opposite. Immediately on arriving at my hostel, it was obvious I was onto a good place…

Day 1 in Adelaide was supposed to be a quiet rest day following 5 days of tours… instead I was up at 6am to go dolphin swimming. Not in a pool with specially trained dolphins – totally wild ones instead. Thanks Ji Hyun!

We missed the tram, which was a good thing as we wouldn’t have made it to Glenelg in time anyway… one taxi later and $98 and we on the Temptation, a catamaran to take us into the harbour.

It was borderline torture – being dragged on a rope behind a boat at 8am isn’t exactly my idea of fun but it was worth the effort (even if I had to bail out a few times). We certainly saw some dolphins – including a little baby one too (no more than 2 weeks old). Definitely worth the early start.

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From there we headed back into Adelaide Central Market – somewhere completely unexpected. It’s a mecca of fresh fruit and a tourist haven. Noodles in the Chinese quarter for lunch capped off a pretty good day (I slept for most of the afternoon).

Day 2 ended up being my quiet day doing the essentials (like washing) but I did manage a quick walk around Adelaide Botanic Gardens and the old F1 track… and ended the night in Grace Emily –  a pub with live music. There’s plenty of places like it at home, not many in Australia… certainly a good suggestion by my tour guide Sandy to go there (more on her later…)

The next 2 days I spent on Kangaroo Island – where I managed to meet Amalie and Sofie from the Uluru tour… and kept bumping into Sandy again, who was doing a one-off Kangaroo Island tour for a different company…

It’s an astonishing place – certainly far more interesting than Rottnest in Perth (though Rotto definitely has it’s charms). Another early start didn’t help, especially after the tour company I booked through gave me the meeting address…. failing to mention that they meant the bus terminal.

It’s a long way there – 2 hours on the bus, another on the boat (again, a place not for mother unless flying in). Once there, we started with a sheep shearing demonstration, followed by the Eucalyptus farm, Sea Lion watching and sandboarding…

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I’ve learned that sandboarding is definitely not something I’m good at. “Tumbling with Style” is perhaps more accurate, since I didn’t make it down the slope once without falling off the board. One fall was particularly nasty – and our guide Kate was “kind” enough to take a picture of me afterwards…

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before heading to our accommodation for the night, we had a few hours to do our own thing. 90 minutes on the river in a Kayak was certainly worth the effort… and we had a wild Koala to take a look at…

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There was just enough time for a quick cycle to the beach for sunset… Amalie and Sofie definitely missed out on a a stunning sunset!

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Day 2 took us to Flinders National Park, the Remarkable Rocks and the Natural Bridge – far more impressive than the one I saw at Torndirrup National Park on the South Coast near Albany… especially when there were plenty of seals to watch!

From there we headed up to Stony Bay for an hour on the beach before heading home. 2 pretty awesome days…

…but not the end of the story. Again, I’d planned on going pretty much straight to bed…I checked back into My Place hostel to find JB and Alonso. After hearing the suggestion of going to Grace Emily…

…2 Frenchmen, one Taiwanese and a Welshman go to a bar. With live music. The punchline?

Once again, I met Sandy. My night ended around 4am.

Valentine’s Day was mainly spent wondering why men who obviously felt at home on the beach were carrying single red flowers. Clearly not one of my finer days…

The Barossa Valley was far more interesting – a day of wine tasting, including seeing THE Jacob’s Creek that’s named the safe wine option I buy for house parties… along with 3 other wineries, including one that has a family tradition of making port that’s kegged and left untouched for 100 years. Today as I’m typing this (Feb 20th) is the day they’ll open the 1912 keg (apparently a 500 litre keg will reduce to 200 thanks to fermentation over the years). It’s not cheap stuff – a 375ml bottle of 100 year old port will set you back $975. Thankfully you can pay $30 for a quick taste – definitely worth putting the money down for that. Compared to the 3 and 10 year old ports we had, the 3 year old is caramelly in taste and texture, the 10 is syrupy. The 100 year old is similar to the 10 but the texture is closer to water and the taste is ridiculously strong….

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Which leaves my final full day in Adelaide – a final walk around the Market before going to the Zoo (where I got to touch River the Koala thanks to his keeper being there to feed him when I went to have a look) and the South Australian Museum – not as interesting as I’d expected, except for the opalised fossils.

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There’s no question that Adelaide has plenty to offer – certainly far more than I expected it would. I’ll definitely be going back at some point. Just a pity the bus to Canberra took nearly 19 hours. I’d also definitely recommend “My Place” at a good hostel to stay – it’s certainly the best one I’ve had so far.

I’m almost up to date now. I’m typing this from my hostel in Canberra, where I’m moving on from tomorrow evening to Sydney. A completely different place, if only for the thunderstorms… more soon.

Alice Springs to Adelaide via Uluru–Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon

OK, it’s not lost on me that it’s been nearly 2 weeks since my last update… but I’ve done so much since I left Alice Springs 2 weeks ago to see Uluru that I haven’t had the time to update recently…

As I type this I’m in Canberra – but more on that later, plenty to talk about…

As I said in my last post, arriving at Alice Springs airport was hot – VERY hot. 42 degrees – something I haven’t experienced before. And to think that people in the UK were complaining about snow…

Thankfully, there’s a free bus to the Alice Lodge Backpackers, where I stayed the night… and was introduced to Monopoly – The Card Game. One to buy on my return home…

This was the trickiest bit of my time away to plan – I gave myself 2(ish) weeks in WA and 6 on the east but timing the tour to fit in with various travel options to Adelaide was the difficult part. I was going to take the Ghan from Alice Springs to Adelaide (I didn’t and it’s a good thing too, as a Copper Sulphate spillage had closed the passenger train).

Sunday morning… and 3 tour buses show up, none with my name on the list of people on their tour. Thankfully, the fourth and last was my bus. Onwards to Uluru!

It was a pretty good group – as I’m finding, there’s plenty of Germans in Australia – we had 6 on our tour of 19. We had what is probably a typical mix of people, mainly 20 somethings but with a few older couples. Talking of which, only 5 of us were travelling alone…

We also had a pretty amazing tour guide. Heff certainly kept us entertained (Water pistols and Frisbee helped, as did a few games of Bus Cricket) but he was very good, especially after having had a week off…

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park might look close to Alice Springs on a map but it’s still a 6 hour drive away.  We stopped a few times on the way too – Stony Creek where we could ride camels (I passed as it’s very expensive), Erldunda (where the Stuart Highway – the main road between Darwin and Adelaide meets the Lassiter Highway, the main road to Uluru) and along via Curtin Springs before arriving at Yulara, the town purpose built to serve the National Park. Typically, it’s $25 for 3 days access and $32.50 for a year…

After lunch, we started with Kata Tjuta – The Olgas. It’s pretty impressive in it’s own right and, in hindsight, far more so than Uluru itself. We only completed about half of the Valley of the Giants Walk but the scenery is impressive to say the least.

From there, we headed to the Uluru Sunset Viewing Point – it’s that big a tourist magnet they have to have a separate place to watch it from. The colour changes are as dramatic as described – and the sunsets are very fast in Australia compared to the UK, so there’s not long to get pictures… still, we had champagne at sunset (though in plastic cups, far more classy!)

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From there we headed back to our campground at Yulara, where I ended up cooking on the Barbie. No shrimps, but Kangaroo – can’t get more Aussie than that!

Before bed, we had the option to sleep on Swag’s – Aussie bedrolls (I’ll let Wikipedia explain in better terms). I couldn’t refuse that, so slept outside with most of the group but not before checking out Yulara lookout and getting possibly the best picture I;’ve ever taken – The Southern Cross over Uluru.

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Day 2 started very early thanks to getting up in time to get back into the National Park (you’re not allowed to stay inside overnight – that’s what Yulara was built for) in time to see sunrise over Uluru. Again, pretty impressive stuff.

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We’re also apparently in the quiet season… still not sure I can believe that after taking this one…

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Then followed the Uluru Basewalk. Usually it’s pretty tough thanks to the heat (and they suggest finishing before 11am). No such worries thanks to the coldest day of the year so far – a mere 28 degrees at its hottest. From there, we spent the rest of the day travelling to King’s Canyon, about 300km away. Again, places aren’t close in Australia! We had a bit of a wait as our tour guide went to help another with a blown tyre… so we got the Frisbee out at King’s Canyon Station… only for the dog to take an interest and literally leave it’s mark…

King’s Canyon is perhaps the highlight of the tour – a 4 hour walk around but it’s pretty easy… after the first 20 minutes of climbing straight up.

It’s got a massive variation of scenery – and again, with much cooler temperatures than normal, was a pretty fun way to end the tour.

Having said that, I’m pretty annoyed with STA travel – when I booked the tour I asked them if they had anything from Alice Springs directly to Adelaide – which they didn’t. Turns out that the tour split after getting back to Erldunda, which most of us heading back to Alice Springs and six continuing on to Adelaide. Annoyed doesn’t cover it…

So we got back to the hostel… only for me to have a message from the tour company I’d booked to get me to Adelaide. Three people made it pretty pointless for them so they wanted to cut a day off the tour and get us to Adelaide in 2 days. In hindsight it’s a blessing in disguise, though it certainly wasn’t at the time.

Tour 2 started with Sandy picking me up, again from the Alice Lodge. From there it was a pretty intensive drive down to Coober Pedy, the Opal Mining capital of South Australia. We had a tour of the mine, got our underground bunkhouse and went to the local Pizzeria for dinner… only to bump into the remaining members of the tour I’d left the previous day! Small world indeed… though I had an inkling it would happen.

Coober Pedy is a strange place – mainly built post WWI thanks to very little in the way of building material, so underground was the way to go – around half of the town is under the rocks. We got a pretty impressive sunset too.

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Even better, we got an amazing sunrise too!

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Day 2 was even more intense – most of it spent in the bus travelling the 850km to Adelaide. We did stop Lake Hart, a large Salt Lake (not anything like as big as Lake Eyre, but still huge).

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It’s also very salty – being a salt lake, that should be expected but even so I had to have a taste…

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From there we drove pretty much straight to Adelaide. Five pretty intensive days. My plan was to have a rest day in Adelaide when I got there. That certainly didn’t happen! I’ll finish that story tomorrow… I’ve typed enough for one day!