Beaches and wine (and The Rock) – these are a few of my favourite things

Given my love of all things beachy, wine-y, and more recently 4WD-y (and the Rock-y) – it is pretty fitting that we ended up with some of McLaren Vale’s finest, driving along the sand, on a beach called….Moana. (Sorry Dwayne, not the best shot of you dude).

 

South Australia – not such a hole after all

East coast Sydney snobs often enjoying paying out on South Australians (or was it just my team at work who find that a highly amusing pass time?). But after a week here – I have to take it all back, this place is not a hole after all. Well, except for Mount Gambier, which is actually a hole. Full of them – the earth keeps collapsing all over the place and being filled with nice things to take photos of.

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Hole filled with water. Blue Lake – not sure where they got the name from.
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Sinkhole – filled with lovely green stuff

Next stop was Beachport. Don’t really need to say much about this – just check it out…

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Stroll along a 776m long pier in Beachport

And then a few days in Robe on the Limestone Coast. Despite our best attempts at free camping, sometimes we have run out of luck. We tried a few dry shadeless exposed spots along the lake, but after the third snake we saw slither across the campground as we were driving in (still such wusses), we thought we would stick to the caravan park for this stop. A few more days of not really roughing it, and direct beach access. I suppose we can live with that. Though we probably do need to get better at actually doing some advance planning instead of just rocking up and hoping for the best – have now downloaded Camping Australia and WikiCamps apps and I am stalking Aussie campers instagrammers for tips (among other uses for instagram – see below)

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Nope – not getting down – no way are we camping here

So we ended up in Robe ….not too shabby

Near miss on the Nora Creina track 

We were told the beach and dune tracks between Beachport and Robe were some of the most amazing 4WDing in Australia*. But we were also given lots of warnings about how we should go in groups, and to watch out for tides and soft sand. Since we don’t have any 4WD buddies (yet – anyone out there??), and since we are pretty awesome at 4WDing having done one tricky run this trip, and watched loads of 4WD you tube clips, we ventured out on our own – on a Tuesday morning – and had the entire Nora Creina track completely to ourselves. Not a soul in sight.

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It was spectacular and we had a few lovely hours fishing, swimming and building sand castles on a isolated rugged beach on a beautiful sunny day. And then because we’re sensible and the tide was starting to come in, we headed off to drive down a few more beach tracks quickly before finding somewhere stable and un-sandy for lunch. At the next drop in to the beach we saw some tyre marks leading towards the very end of what we could see of the beach and thought that was where the 4WD track led. This was definitely not the 4WD track – it just led to the ocean. But by the time we realised this, we couldn’t turn around because the wheels were spinning us deeper and deeper into the soft sand.

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Bogged Bonnie

Much max trax, frantic digging and winches attached to rocks action  – but still stuck. The tide was getting closer and closer to the car. I had visions of Bonnie drifting out to sea and our adventure coming to an abrupt, sad, ocean-y end.

Eventually we called the NRMA who told us they don’t cover getting idiots out of trouble on the beach. Fair enough. But they tend to get quite a few calls from around these parts so luckily they put us through to someone local with a winch. Neville turned up within 20 minutes and had a bit of a laugh at our predicament. He stood by Bonnie chuckling and told us to let our tyres down to 12PSI (we had already reduced them to 17 PSI  – and see this new language I am learning). With softer tyres we were finally able to drive out. No more winches needed. $50 for some friendly advice and a good lesson in beach driving. Thanks Neville – money well spent!

And now advertising for some 4WD buddies!

23/7 from now on

I have to admit that being together Every. Single. Minute. Of. Every. Single. Day. has its challenges. So this week I have been getting up early and getting in some sunrise beach walks. An hour all to myself and some scenic exercise.

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I usually also take a few minutes to indulge in my newfound social media interest without the kids whinging at me. They do have a point – I am quite the monumental hypocrite. At the same time we are trying to get the kids to spend less time on the their iPads and spiralling down you tube vortexes, I have discovered instagram. A typical conversation:

Kids: Muuuum – why are you on your phone, why can’t we go on our iPads?
Me: I’m doing important research about where to camp next
Kids: But you’re on instagram – not fair
Me: There are lots of handy hints from travelling families here [True]
Hubby: So why are you looking at pictures of The Rock and smiling dreamily??

Oops. Busted.

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So, ah, I was wondering – has anyone else taken their kids to see Moana? Twice? So they could listen to the Rock’s voice for two hours? Or is that just me?

Anyway – morning walks have many benefits.

All the rest have just been a warm up for SA WINE COUNTRY….woo hoo!!

The drive into Coonawarra is magical for a wine fiend. Wineries left and right like cruising down the Las Vegas strip. With (actually remarkably patient) kids in the back, we made it quick, ducked into a few, and several (dozen) sips later, spent way more than we had budgeted for.** Penley Estate was the stand out and we left with a few sparkling reds for sipping by the campfire.

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Bonnie and The Shack in the vines

Back on the coast now (and the McLaren Vale wineries), and we Sydney siders are adjusting to the sun setting over the ocean.

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Mae looking at the ocean from the surf club….what is going on here??

McLaren Vale is easily our favourite wine region so far. Both for the delicious and huge variety of varieties, and for the scenic drives between vines and beaches.*** But we need to get the HELL out of here. Pronto. Easy going, friendly and chatty wine dudes and gals have lured us in with tasty wines from proseccos to merlots to easy drinking red blends to special reserve sangioveses, and we have sipped our way into spending a large portion of the proceeds from selling our house. Vamos.  Step away from the wineries….

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Vines to beaches -ah, McLaren Vale

*You need to pick up the 4WD maps from the information centre in Beachport. The tracks are so off-road (and often underwater) that they don’t even show up on our HEMA map

** Due to not having a wine cellar in our camper trailer (Complete Campsite – possible optional extra for your next model for the thirsty travellers??) we have been sending some wine back to a wine storage place in Sydney. We figure once we end this adventure we will need to console ourselves somehow.

*** Perhaps a post for another time. All this amazing-ness in one spot  – plus I sampled too much fine wine yesterday (assisted by a drinking buddy visiting from Sydney who is a very,very bad influence)  to write about it today. Head hurts. So much. 

 

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I am (was?) a corporate lawyer who has packed it all in and hit the road. With my hubby, three young kids, Bonnie (our 4WD) and "The Shack" (our camper trailer), we are taking a year (or so) to forget about work and city life, enjoy our amazing country – beaches, mountains, outback, desert, food, wine and adventure – and figure out what we want to do next.

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