Friday, October 21, 2011

South Australia, Barossa and Murray River

As I mentioned previously I was away on a holiday to South australia recently. A wonderful trip to the Barossa Valley to taste and select fine wines followed by a week on a house boat on the Murray River. It was like two separate holidays rolled into one.

Me with Two Hands
The reason for the trip, apart from the need to have a break from work, and choosing South Australia was to do with a present of a bottle of wine. I was bought a bottle of Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2008. A Barossa Shiraz made from gnarly old vines. It is the most delicious wine I have ever tasted andI am something of an Australian shiraz fan. Indeed, I liked it so much I searched New Zealand for all the Gnarly Dudes I could find. But I couldn’t find much so I had no option other than purchasing a case online from the winery and having it shipped to NZ at no small expense. Unfortunately the 2008 was sold out and the 2009 I purchased, while still the second best wine I have had left me desirous of the 2008. I also had a hankering after tasting some of the other two Hands wines. After all the Gnarly Dudes was one of their ‘lesser’ wines.

The Two Hands Tasting Room
A colleague at work had been on a house boat holiday to the Murray River and had waxed lyrical about it as a holiday. When I realised that the Murray and the Barossa are so close a holiday plan was hatched.

Nine days in the Barossa was enough time to taste wines from over 30 wineries, yum yum yum. But after all that tasting, and there was a selection of maybe 5 or six wines at each winery, Two Hands still came top of my list and Gnarly Dudes top of my Two Hands list.

When I mentioned to the guys at Two Hands that I had come all the way from Christchurch just for their wine we got chatting and it was discovered that the winemaker I was talking to was from Sefton, not 20 km from where I live. I mentioned that I had drunk all the Dudes 2008 in NZ and he told me that he had found some left over in the warehouse. Yippeee!

Several hundred dollars later I am proud owner of 50% of the world’s Gnarly Dudes 2008.

My travel companion and I had selected a range of Barossa and Adelaide Hills wines for out trip to the Murray. The interesting selection included quite a lot of sparkling shiraz which I have come to find a great compromise for red wine and white wine drinkers. It is refreshing but with a more robust round flavour than white sparklers.

The Murray River was a fantastic trip. A house boat is the most relaxing of holidays. The combination of great scenery, great, wine and great company made this a superb way to spend a week.

Scallywag Houseboat
The revelation of the trip was the wildlife, particularly the birdlife. I would be hard pressed to find a photo, amongst the several thousand I took, without a bird in it. There were egrets and eagles, swallows and swans, pelicans and parrots, ducks and divers.

Welcome swallows followed the boat, swooping around the bow and stern, picking off insects disturbed by the wake and flying under the hull. After many attempts I finally got a decent photo of these agile birds.

Welcome Swallow
A kookaburra spent an evening fishing beside the houseboat and it seemed to delight in showing off for the camera.

Kookaburra and Dinner

There were also kangaroos and spiders, ants and skinks, frogs, flowers and dragon flies…….  it was a naturalists heaven, and I loved it. I would thoroughly recommend such a trip to anyone seeking a holiday of total relaxation and interest. But don’t forget your camera and a decent lens.

Kangaroo Skipping Past

Huntsman Spider – Brave Finger

Flowers Facing the Sun

Red Fire

Red Cliffs

Sitting watching the sun go down and lighting the red cliffs with red sunlight while sipping red wine beside the red of the fire on the bank of the river. What better?

How do you stop a kangaroo from charging you?
Take away it’s credit card.

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