Adelaide - another Australian city of just over a million people. Again, it's well planned and laid out (streets in a grid system), it's clean and peaceful and has a nice beachside suburb - sounds familiar? It was to us after Brisbane and Perth but that's not to say it wasn't a nice place to stay for a while. We thought we'd be caught up in manic Christmas preparations but it seemed to be a lot lower key than Christmas in England and shopping wasn't the unbearable Oxford Street type experience even on Christmas Eve. Being a business city meant that we didn't have a nightmare finding somewhere to stay over Christmas and New Year which might have been a problem if we'd have been looking for Christmas in a popular holiday area. Having said that we did decide to stay in town rather than at the lovely beachside suburb of Glenelg over Christmas because we found such a nice and good value place to stay in town - a luxurious modern business apartment (Franklin Apartments) right in the centre of town which was cheaper than a tatty seventies style apartment in Glenelg.
So time for a relaxing Christmas and fun New Year. We didn't have the worry of having to buy presents but we did cook a roast dinner (ok not on Christmas Day because we were too hungover from Christmas Eve but we did have it on Boxing Day), we also went to the cinema a few times, went on a tour of the wine-making Barossa Valley and spent the rest of the time checking out the festive nightlife and some lovely restaurants. The only thing missing? - family and friends but we'll be with you all next year.
Nightlife was very good in Adelaide, lovely pubs and great bands (Clearway playing at the Earl of Aberdeen pub definitely deserve a mention for being in our Aussie top ten live bands). Still haven't quite worked out why everyone here seems to think that KISS is the greatest rock and roll band of all time though. Adelaidians seem very friendly too - got chatting to a few people in pubs - maybe it was the Christmas and New Year spirit but it was nice to chat to people over Christmas and New Year otherwise I think we might have felt a bit lonely as we didn't know anyone in Adelaide. The most bizarre band we saw in Adelaide stood behind a screen so you could only see their silhouettes - their music didn't make up for their overinflated egos.
Another fantastic wine region and only an hour from Adelaide this was a great place to visit, for the wines but also for the spectacular scenery, beautiful forests, valleys and vinyards. Once we'd figured out that you could drink champagne on a winery tour (Richard not being a fan of wine) suddenly Richard was well up for it. A day of drinking with like minded wine connoisseurs (pissheads) and a bus to ferry us all around so no worries about who is driving - perfect. I, of course, appreciated the information given at each winery explaining the subtleties of wine making. Oh, all right, I enjoyed that fact that eight or nine wines were placed in front of me at five different wineries, which makes a possible 45 wines in a day - even I was having to decline some or spit them out by the middle of the afternoon.
We visited the original Jacob's Creek which is actually Orlando wines and which was the first winery to start in the Barossa (est. 1847). One million glasses of Jacob's Creek are drunk around the world everyday - lovely, hic. A few boutique wineries were on the agenda and a wonderful bbq lunch was consumed in the grounds outside Richmond Grove winery which is based in a chateau. One of the highlights of the day was visiting Stanley Brothers Winery. Make sure you don't confuse Stanley Brothers with Stanley as the original version of this page did: Stanley are the makers of the backpackers fave cask wine: five litres for about £4 - not reputed to be of the highest quality. Fortunately Stanley Brothers had a good selection of quality wines for us to try, and I bought a fantastic bottle of chocolate port - perfect Christmas present for myself since this will be another year sans cards and presents. Thanks to Steve Knight at who pointed out the difference to us (as he has just started importing Stanley Brothers wine to the UK he didn't appreciate this page appearing top of a Google UK search for "Stanley Brothers wines" and maybe confusing people about the quality - pretty understandable me thinks).
To prevent us getting really drunk we also did a couple of bits of sightseeing on the tour. The first stop was to see the Biggest Rocking Horse in the world and then we went to a dam which is an acoustic curiosity because the curve on it is exactly right so that if one person stands at one end and whispers to someone 140 metres apart at the other end then they can have a conversation, hence it's called the Whispering Wall. Menglers Hill Lookout had a great view of the Barossa Valley as you can see in the photo above.
Glenelg is a very pretty beachside suburb only 10 minutes from the city centre (about 20 minutes on public transport). When we finally rose on Christmas Day (about 4pm) we went down to Glenelg on the tram and it was buzzing with people on the beach, swimming in the sea, fishing off the pier and in the cafes and pubs which were all open.
Worth a mention was the Beef and Reef Cafe Restaurant on Nile Street in Glenelg. We had a fantastic meal there one night, superb steak and fish and really friendly service from the turkish owner Terry. They even make their calypso coffees with real cream rather than the squirty rubbish you get in most places.
Another sunny Christmas Day on the beach - it will be so different next year back in Brixton!
Glenelg was expecting 50,000 people to descend on it to watch fireworks, listen to bands in the street and wander around the stalls that were being set up. Unfortunately only about 6,000 people turned up because it tipped it down with rain - surely that only happens in England not in Australia in the middle of summer? The fireworks were cancelled which was a real shame but luckily we had a back up plan (a never trust the weather plan) and we rushed (after waiting an hour to pay $20 to get in) into the Pier and Pines Bar of the Stamford Grand Hotel which was packed with friendly Adelaidians. We boogied to the band Hairy Lemon and when we met some girls drinking champagne I decided that I should drink champagne or raspberry and champagne cocktails for the rest of the night - so I did until about 2am. Apart from having to pay $20 to get into the pub on New Year's Eve which brought back memories of past New Year's Eve's in London I think that we've had more fun at New Year in the last two years than we often do at home mainly because there have been less expectations.
We've not actually been arrested in Australia but we do seem to be having our run ins with the traffic police. I got a parking ticket for not parking in the same direction as traffic flow on the street - arrrgh. There were no signs up saying you have to park the same direction as the traffic but apparently it's one of those laws that everybody knows - ooppps. Still I went to pay the fine at the Council offices and after saying that I would pay it but that I was perplexed that there hadn't been a sign and that none of my 'Driving in Australia' leaflets mentioned this rule the very nice man talked to his supervisor and waived the fine for me.
All good things come to an end so it was time to pack our backpacks again and hit the road for the next part of the road trip which would take us along another famous road, the Great Ocean Road, to Melbourne.