It was a little chilly this morning but so quiet and serene. We had a couple of kangaroos run out in front of Bertha yesterday afternoon so we weren’t in a great hurry to hit the road too early.
Within a few kilometres we passed the Melrose Showgrounds where we had intended to stay last night, and they looked pretty good as a place to stop. Another couple of kilometres and we were at Melrose, which is a lovely little town.
We are really taken by the old stone houses, pubs and churches throughout SA and this particular area seems to have more than its fair share of them all. It is even better when we see these old stone buildings properly restored or renovated, or recycled into shops etc. We have seen a number of old churches that have been converted into beautiful residences.
It was too early to stop for a coffee at one of the great looking cafes in Melrose so we continued down the highway through a few more pretty little towns including Murraytown and Wirrabaru.
Eventually we stopped for a quick walk around the township of Laura, which features a large statue of poet C J Dennis – apparently he spent his formative years here.
The countryside has changed a bit since we came over the mountains yesterday, and we are starting to see olive trees and a few grape vines. This road isn’t as good as we had been used to so progress this morning was not as quick as we had planned. After Laura the situation got worse as we had to go through several kilometres of roadworks at 25 kmh. This was sort of compensated for by several kilometres of absolutely superb highway, but unfortunately things eventually deteriorated and progress slowed again.
We finally stopped for coffee in Gladstone, in a rest area next the caravan park and a playground. There was a fire pit just over the fence in the caravan park and the smell of the fire created a lovely ambience at our stop. Gladstone is another town with beautiful stone buildings and a very nice looking hotel (or two). The caravan park looked pretty inviting too.
Back on the highway and a few more pretty little towns later, we came through the village of Yakka. This place is amazing; lots of great looking stone buildings, everything looks quite well maintained, but we didn’t see a single person or any movement at all. Strange.
Our next major stop was in the Clare Valley at the township of Clare. As you might expect, there are plenty of vineyards in the Clare Valley, and the town is full of hotels, cafes, cellar door operations, and the like. We went for a good cruise around town but weren’t able to find a car park for Bertha – as an old but reinvigorated town many of the streets are narrow, and winding, but not suitable for Bertha. Just out of town we came across the Clare Wine Food and Tourism Centre, where we found a suitable carpark. We went inside and this is a great version of the standard tourist information centre. It is chock full of local produce from wines to relishes and jams, to honey, olive oils, snack products, and so much more. They have a huge range of local wines available for purchase and wine tastings all day every day. They have special happy hour events as well. There is also a café with coffee and a variety of cakes and snacks. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and did show us a few places on a map of town where we might be able to park next time we’re here. The map of Clare is a keeper!
Lunch stop was a couple of kilometres down the highway at Sevenhills, where we enjoyed a well earned lunch at The Little Red Grape Bakery.
From there the plan was to head basically due south and then head east towards Victoria. At this point we had the driver’s worst nightmare – we set a destination into the GPS and it wanted us to go one way and we wanted to go another way. As a result we did a very scenic tour of Gawler, which appears to be quite a nice place, but finally Ann worked out where we really wanted to go and we hit the motorways.
Eventually we managed to bypass the centre of Adelaide and get on the Eastern Freeway (M1) at Glen Osmond. Once on the M1 we had a bit of a climb through the hills then down again, through the Heysen Tunnel, and eventually to Murray Bridge and the showground there.
Once at the showgrounds having paid our $10, Ann drove Bertha up the yellow ramps to level us out. Even before we had turned off the engine we had been invited by our neighbours to come and sit down and have a beer. I didn’t even bother connecting power and water it was such a great invitation. After meeting our neighbours and having a very welcome drink, it was getting dark so we thought that we should go and set up Bertha, and think about what we would have for tea.
Today has been a bit of a mixed bag. This morning we started out slowly visiting a beautiful area of South Australia that neither of us had been to before. We could very easily spend a few weeks just slowly moving from pretty little country town to the next taking our time and simply chilling out. This afternoon we were doing battle with the SA motorway system.
Overall it has been a great day, and we will both sleep very well tonight.