Adelaide - Live on Air

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Well I didn't think I'd find myself hobnobbing with the glitterati so soon on my adventures but here I am, this rainy Friday afternoon, sitting in the studios of Fresh FM 92.7 with superstar dj mate Carrie who presents the drive time (4-6pm) Kaboom! programme. I'm sitting quietly on a lounge in the corner of the studio tapping away and trying to stay off air, so not really a case of 15 minutes of fame, but certainly a first time for me and an interesting diversion. What are holidays are for..?

I'm staying with Carrie until Wednesday next week so should be able to ride the wave for a few days longer. Last night we used our influence when visting the Bombay Bicycle Club, a great pub local to her place decorated in a quixotic manner with life-sized carved Indian animals sat on the heavy wooden bars. I didn't visit the toilet but apparently the piercing cries of said wild animals accompany those trying to relieve themselves (at random intervals - probably making relieving onself a lot easier), so might leave that til next week when I'm of sounder mind.

Uh oh, battery is going to die and like the rain outside, this entry isn't going anywhere, so better wind up. Tomorrow is a wine tasting tour to the Barossa which sounds a treat. More merriment will surely follow so will update things mid next week. Until then, cheers!

Adelaide: Wine, women, song and errr- churches...

15:28 5/07/2005

My view over Adelaide's botanic gardens certainly beats those of the mine tailings in a previous entry. It's a beautiful sunny day today and most of the city is out for lunch enjoying it, as Adelaide has four distinct seasons and we've only seen wet and cold winter here recently. Brrrr.

Last Saturday saw Carrie and I head up to the Barossa Valley for a wine tasting adventure that certainly delivered the goods. We were up and gone by 8am as there was four wineries and a three course lunch to cover, all for the winter special price of $59 per head. Bargain! Romeo the driver was very chatty as we headed north, taking us on a short city tour along architecturally significant North Terrace before hitting the scenic tourist route that saw us through some quite unusual terrain along the Torrens River valley. Some of the thickly overgrown mossy riverbed reminded me quite vividly of a Lord of the Rings style haunted forest. Or maybe it was just lack of sleep and coffee. Either way it was a little trippy.

A pitstop a Gumeracha helped sort the coffee deficiency and a brisk climb up the giant Rocking Horse assisted to further clear the head. As we continued up the road, plenty of evidence of early British and German settlement in the area was found in the distinct stoneworking of the cottages and chapels in places such as Birdwood, Eden Valley and Angaston. Herbig's gnarled tree was another highlight - apparently the cheap Bavarian bugger lived and raised a sizable familiy in the base of it for many years sometime in the mid 19th century.

Once we'd headed into the Barossa the back way, our first winery stop was Wolf Blass which really underlined the scope and importance of the wine industry in SA (apparently accounts for 70% of all Australian production/exports). His vineyards are enormous and the production facility is equally substantial, including more than 2,000 (huge) storage vats occupying acres and acres of the site. Makes other vineyards I've seen look like hobby farms. Anyway, we were ushered into the new tasting facility and although a little sterile (it only opened Spetermber 04 and needs a bit of 'living in') the wine offered for tasting was impressive, so the eight testers in our group were certainly more jovial as we headed onwards to Nuirooptia for lunch.

We were tasting with an odd young bunch (two camp gay guys from Liverpool, two twenty year old college girls from southern USA and a quiet couple from Sydney), however Carrie is pretty outgoing so she got people a chatting over the Kangaroo steak main meal. It was properly cooked and tasted pretty good which wasn't enough to convince the poms to eat up, but that was their loss. Once the roo was ingested, we took a quick peek at a handful of the owner's more than 100 lovingly restored antique Chevvies out the back, and then trundled 50m down the road to well recognised Cockatoo Ridge.

The name elicited some giggles from the gay boys and the wine was more than satisfactory, including a Checkered Cab label that is obviously branded and targeted at the US market (and which the young girls certainly preferred so the focus groups must be working). Unfortunately there was more emphasis on sales than tasting. Next stop was a Grant Burge winery, but the servings were mean, the wine not great and again the service came with strings attached so we quickly headed off despite the winemaker's impressive reputation. After passing Jacob's Creek, our final vineyard was a small and cosy Kies (no website) which ended up being the best stop of the day.

I suppose it has a good reputation on the tasting circuit as the place was packed with locals. They served with plenty of jokes and smiles and let us taste the menu from start to finish - around 14 wines in total - including some interesting Sparkling Red and Rose varieties that nicely complemented the more conventional reds and whites. The highlight however was their frozen Muscat finisher - a great idea that's apparently frowned upon by neighbouring winemakers (the Kies staff didn't look too concerned) - just like a Port squishy. In the end I took a tasty $15 Deer Stalker Merlot for the upcoming train trip.

After tasting 40 wines throughout the day we headed home nicely toasted and well satisfied with the day. One final stop found us at the Whispering Wall, a large arch dam built in 1902 and that sports some amazing acoustic capabilities. It turns out that the curved wall is perfectly shaped to carry noise from one end to the other with crystal clarity - an impressive feat seeing the span is more than 100m across. Even minute whispers uttered at one end of the dam will be heard clearly by anyone standing at the other end - a fact that ensured much trouble for a couple of workmen who made some inappropriate comments about the foreman's wife during the building of the structure!

We returned to Adelaide after that but the night was still young so we ended up watching NZ crush the Lions, then had a birthday dinner to attend and finally Karaoke with a gaggle of women to contend with. I won't go into details but no wonder I was glad to get home and sleep! Fresh FM playing Future Sound of London's 'Papua New Guinea' in the cab on the way home was the perfect way to finish a great day.

Sunday's highlight saw a trip out to Semaphore beach for brunch. What a nice place and what a huge meal! The grease content was perfect to lift the hangover and move on with the day, so we stuffed that in before taking a few happy snaps on the Esplanade.

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