The Barossa – Travel Log 17

It couldn’t be easier to locate…

Drive north out of Adelaide along the Port Wakefield Road [A1] until the off ramp for the Northern Expressway [M20] is reached. The latter is a beautiful road and along its length overhead road bridges/interchanges each named after battlefields in honour of Australian Veterans who fought at them; such as Long Tan, Tobruk, Kapyong and Kokoda.

The M20 gives way to the Sturt Highway [A20] near the town of Gawler where the countryside is flat in all directions and on approaches to the Barossa the first of the vineyards begin to dominate.

Our initial destination was the town of Nuriootpa [Aboriginal word for ‘Meeting Place’] and from there we would strike out to locations we wanted to see. Nuriootpa might be a small town, but it has a nice little shopping centre which included a post office. The High Street has a variety of shops including cafes and all the major banks. The town is about an hour’s drive from Adelaide and has a growing population of around 5500. It is the largest in the area and services more than fifty wineries.

We arrived mid-morning and our first stop after Nuriootpa was Maggie Beer’s Farm. Driving back towards the Sturt Highway we turned left into Samuel Road soon reaching the turn off to the farm at Pheasant Farm Road. What a wonderfully peaceful location where a café/farm shop sits on a large pond which is home for a variety of water birds and turtles!

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Sitting at a table protected from the sun by large canvas parasols we enjoyed the vista whilst drinking our Lattes. After a visit to the shop it was time to move on and visit some vineyards. If in the area a visit is well recommended.

We left the farm turning left back onto Samuel Road and headed for the town of Tanunda and stopped at the Lambert Estate which was the first winery we came to.

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With hindsight we should really have taken a tour to the Barossa as for me having to drive all day I couldn’t really sample too many wines; although my wife assured me some were quite nice. We purchased a couple of bottles of sparkling wine which was quite palatable and set off in search of the Langmeil Winery which had been recommended to us by our bus driver the previous day when we had been on the Murray River Highlights Tour. He wasn’t wrong. Apart from having a beautiful ambiance the winery’s Cellar Door had a certain je ne c’est quoi and the wines on offer were of a particularly fine quality. Trying to decide what to buy was difficult, but we settled on a delightful Rosé.

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We left the wineries, for now, and went to find the Mengler’s Hill Lookout; another “must see” location recommended by the bus driver. Following the map in our visitor’s guide book we took the road out of Tanunda and at about two kilometres out stumbled upon the small community of Bethany…

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Bethany – viewed from Mengler’s Hill Lookout

…It was like stepping into a time warp: Established in 1842 it is one of the oldest settlements in the area. Originally known as Bethanien [changed after WWI in an attempt to remove all German place names from Australian towns] by its first occupiers – Lutheran migrants accompanied by a pastor named Gotthard Daniel Frietzsche arrived from Silesia. Approximately two thousand acres was leased from the land owner, George Fife Angas (1742 – 1879). The most prominent building is the church built-in typical Lutheran style.

The first vines were planted by the Schrapel family in 1852 in establishing the Bethany Winery which is still being run today by the sixth generation.

Leaving Bethany behind, we drove up to the Mengler’s Hill Lookout. A memorial commemorating the pioneers stands proudly at the car park. A sculpture park beautifies the landscape with weird and wonderful rock creations, but the real masterpiece is the views of the breathtaking Barossa landscape as far as the eye can see.

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By now it was well past midday and the worms were biting. The previous evening the wife and I demolished a pack of Pringles and drained a nice bottle of white wine from the Yalamba Winery located in Angaston before we went out to dinner. As we were quite near to Angaston we decided to head over there for lunch.

So far the trip had been easy-going; the roads all well signposted and every destination easy to find – until now… Thanks to some bright spark twisting the road sign and then twisting it back at a fork in the road it wasn’t too easy to determine where we should be heading. How I longed for my Tom-Tom at that point. Stopping across a driveway to a remote property I went in search of a local to obtain directions – none to be had I flagged down a passing motorist who was able to assist.

It didn’t take too long to find, after yet another wrong turn and tempers fraying; but driving down the main street was a worthwhile reward in itself. Apart from the obvious new buildings the town retained many of the original historic structures. Having found a “modern” pub we snacked on a couple of beautiful steak sandwiches – washed down by a glass of wine for her and a cold lemon lime and bitters for me… whose idea was it to drive oneself in a wine-producing area??

We had just one more winery to visit before we returned to Adelaide. From Angaston we headed back towards Nuriootpa and going through it to return to Samuel Road where we had been that morning. We drove past the turn off for Maggie Beer’s Farm until we reached the junction at Seppeltsfield Road. Here we turned right to visit one of Australia’s most iconic and largest wineries. The entire road is lined with massive palms on either side and is affectionately named by the locals as the Avenue of Hopes and Dreams. Just before the Seppeltsfield Winery is reached you can’t help but notice the Seppelt Family Mausoleum located high up a small hill on the side of the road – too many steps for us to make the climb – we drove past it and entered the winery. It certainly was a huge complex compared to the smaller boutique wineries we had been visiting all day.

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The winery was established in 1851 and most of the buildings seemed as if they dated back from that period. Apart from the winery though there were lush gardens. The Cellar Door was large and the high ceiling gave it a formidable, but cold feel. Some of the merchandise on offer was quite expensive, as were the wines. We settled for a Rosé which was smooth, had a good nose, and extremely palatable… spoken like a true connoisseur!

To fully appreciate the Barossa you have to visit it. The South Australian Tourist Board put out an advertisement which I simply adore, especially the music so I can’t resist but add the link to my blog:

The drive back to Adelaide was quite pleasant and we looked forward to our planned evening of dinner at our hotel’s rooftop Skyline Restaurant to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

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