Wild flowers are the joy of October in the Adelaide Hills

27 11 2008

If beaches, wineries, restaurants and culture have all become a bit passe … how about some healthy exercise? All you need is good pair of sneakers, a sun hat, a water bottle — and a reason to walk a few kilometers in the fresh air.

October has the potential to be the best month in South Australia. On an average day it’s warm without being hot, there’ll be plenty of sunshine and also plenty of cloud (though little in the way of rain lately; the drought is settling in, big time), and it’s early enough in the season for the countryside to still be as green as Ireland. In fact —


–everything in the world seems to be blooming. Australia is not well known, overseas, for its wild flowers, but if there’s a botanist hiding inside you … if you have a camera with a “macro” function you can’t wait to put to the test … then here’s your big chance. There’s no better time so visit SA than October, because —


— it’s the one time of the year when you can wander a cool, green woodland trail, and see both delicate floral beauties no bigger than your thumb nail, and huge great “flowers” that look more like a yard scrubbing brush! Australia being Australia, much of our flora (as well as our fauna) is different. Even the folks who live here are constantly astonished by the variety in the flowers —


— which seem to explode into color when spring begins to warm. The honey bees downunder are a little different from those in the northern hemisphere; many of those you’ll see in the countryside are wild. They’re smaller than European and American honey bees, but they work just as hard…


…and they’re equally as harmless. Incidentally, there are kinds of honey down here that, if you’re a honey fancier, you just have to try. We don’t have the heather honeys, but try the yellow box on your toast at breakfast.


Virtually any of the national parks offers fantastic opportunities to see South Australia’s wild flowers in October of any year. Our recommendation would have to be Belair National Park, for several reasons. It’s so easy to get to — just minutes from the suburbs; it’s big enough to get off the beaten path and go “bushwhacking,” with a great chance of also seeing koalas, kangaroos and emus; and since it’s in the hills, it’s also inclined to be cooler and greener than other parks … of which there are many. And we’ll be visiting those on this blog in the weeks to come.

The photos on this post were captured at Belair, and at Worrawong Earth Sactuary.


Hahndorf welcomes you … hope you brought an appetite!

26 11 2008


One of the loveliest places in the hills near Adelaide (and it is near — close enough to head there for lunch!) is the town that’s described as “the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.”

It’s Hahndorf … 28 kilometers from the city, and seeming like a great hunk of Australian history come to life. The town was named for the captain of the vessel which brought the original colonists out here from Europe. They fled to escape religious persecution and made a new life in South Australia which was so successful, Hahndorf is thriving in the twenty first century and has a wonderful future — quite an achievement, when you remember, the region was settled in the 1830s!


The town remembers its history with a lovely little street-corner memorial garden, in which you’ll find this statue, a likeness of Captain Hahn, who was so impressed by these coloists that it was he who found them a place to settle. His choice was superb: sheltered, fertile and beautiful.


Most people go to Hahndorf for the shopping (Main Street is a kilometer-long festival of curiosity shops, every one different, and astonishing. Want to buy an authentic cuckoo clock, or the best German sausage, or hand-made candles, or leather goods …? You’ve come to the right place here! There are also more curbside cafes, restaurants, pubs and courtyard dining areas than you could check out, if you ate at a new place twice a day for a week! The German Arms (above) is a terrific place for lunch. Imagine a real, German pub … with an Aussie twist!


We like the outdoor dining style, though … coffee and pastries “under the vines,” watching the world go by. Hahndorf is in wine country — some of the finest in South Australia are grown and made not far away. And everyone knows (!) South Aussie wines are the best in the world. (Well, they are!)


But the Old Mill is the place to be … especially for dinner at Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and such family celebraions. Mind you, you not only need a booking, you might need to book a couple of years in advance!

Getting to Hahndorf from Adelaide is easy: it’s a drive through some of the loveliest country on very good roads. But be sure you bring an appetite, because everywhere you turn, it’s fantastic food and wine. Want to stay overnight? There’s hotels, motels and a caravan park with cabins, any of which come highly recommended.

Sand between the toes — in Noarlunga

25 11 2008

Not long ago, Noarlunga was a town, separate from the city of Adelaide. In the last thirty years of metropolitan sprawl, it’s been absorbed and is now an outer suburb … yet much of the original character of the old town endures, giving Noarlunga a charm all its own.


One of Adelaide’s most in-demand features would have to be its white beaches. Miles and miles of them … and almost empty, and all of them accessible right from the suburbs, which sprawl north and south along the eastern shores of the Gulf Saint Vincent. Only at Christmas do you see quite a crowd on the beach — Christmas dinner by the sea is an old, old Aussie tradition.


Noarlunga offers fishing, snorkeling, body-boarding, sailing and sunbathing, with blue-green waters, red-gold cliffs, and a long jetty extending out to the rocky reef.


And for those people who’re addicted to the other side of life — you can literally shop till you drop on Beach Road, in scores of little “hole in the wall” specialty stores. Everything from a shop selling reptiles, to a magic shop, and “op shops” galore. Best of all, this green-ocean playground is about fifteen minutes from downtown … you can get there by metropolitan train, and (!) there’s a monster shopping mall at the other end of Beach Road, if you have to shop or die!

Jade, Dave and Mike … online at last!

24 11 2008


This blog … Exploring South Australia … will be a collaborative work in which three locals to one of the most beautiful areas in the world travel, explore, taste, photograph, and share. South Australia is incredibly varied, with landscapes and seascapes, culture and wildlife, so diversified, you might imagine yourself in five different countries — while you’re still thirty miles from the heart of downtown Adelaide! Join us for a ramble through South Australia … discover nooks you never knew existed. We’ll tell you how to get there, where to stay, the best things to eat and drink, and where to find them.

Updating every few days — join us soon!

Jade, Dave and Mike