Five surprisingly good locations across SA & NSW

Author: Mrs A

To conclude our top 20 locations on our lap of Australia, our final 5 leave Western Australia and take us in to SA and NSW. These locations were surprising in that we had reasonably low expectations and were delighted by what we found there.

Again, these are in order of visiting rather than ranked in any way:

1. Streaky Bay – Eyre Peninsula, South AustraliaReason: This was our first stop after having crossed the Nullabor, and our first taste of oysters since leaving Sydney back in May. It was spring when we reached Streaky Bay, and the weather was not quite settled. We had some fabulously warm mornings, but the afternoons often whipped up with quite a blustery wind. Nevertheless it was a great location to introduce us back into semi-civilisation, with a 10km coastal cycleway to explore, and some interesting road trips to natural landmarks. Quite a unique location.

2. Port Lincoln – Eyre Peninsula, South AustraliaReason: We visited this location purely so I could go cage diving with Great White Sharks (a bucket list item and well worth the trip – I chose the ethical option with Adventure Bay Cruises). We originally booked in at the caravan park there for two nights, but loved it so much we stopped longer. Port Lincoln as a town has some great little restaurants, fabulous seafood and plenty of services. A short drive away is Lincoln National Park, home sea eagles, osprey and fur seals you can snorkel with, and numerous picturesque beaches. A flat cycleway follows the coast around into town and along to the marina (and possibly beyond), great exploring with plenty of birdlife. We really enjoyed our time here.

3. Clare Valley, South AustraliaReason: Anyone who knows us well (and our love of fine wine) will probably question why this fits as a surprising visit. Well the fact is we almost left on the first night due to the cold damp weather, but we were pleased we stuck around. The rail trail is a great drawcard here, relatively flat and guiding you to some fabulous tastings. The visitor information centre is award winning, and if you are there on a Friday night they do a wine tasting with $5 glasses of wine and $25 bottles and a cheese and nibbles plate – a brilliant way to meet your fellow campers and taste some local fare.

4. Tanunda – Barossa Valley, South AustraliaReason: Of course the wine was fabulous – we had some great fun cycling around the area which is pretty flat with some off road cycleways, and great tastings. Highlights were Artisans of Barossa, Izway and the Taste of Eden. It was also our first opportunity to taste Vietnamese food in a long while at FermentAsian – a restaurant with a veritable bible of wine on offer – more than 1000 bottles. We settled for one!

5. Cowra – New South WalesReason: Cowra is just an hour from Orange which we have visited on many occasions, but remained a blip on the map for more than 18 years. This time we picked up some literature about it while visiting Forbes, and thought it sounded lovely. As usual we laughed about what the differences were likely to be from the marketing material (often towns read like quaint French villages but disappoint horribly!). Cowra actually exceeds expectations! Surrounded by rolling hills (making the cycling a bit more of an effort than we’d been used to!), lots of interesting history surrounding the Japanese POW camp and some stunning gardens, Cowra also boasts a wine bar with fabulous selection of local beers and wine, and some great places to eat out. We loved the Indian restaurant – we’d put it up there among the best we’ve been to in Australia! The campsite was delightful too, grassy and shady, hosted by a lovely couple who became friends. Definitely worth a visit.

And that concludes our top 20 locations around Australia so far! We’ll be setting off again in two weeks, first to the Sapphire Coast, before doing an about turn and heading north through to pastures new. We’re looking forward to more (hopefully positive) surprises on our horizon…

Where can you find these locations?

Day 172: 18 November – Cycling the Riesling Trail

Author: Mrs A

Location: Clare Valley

Distance cycled: 28km

Finally the sun decided to show itself in the Clare Valley with the day promising to give us no wind, and temperatures in the early 20s – hurrah! We had decided to explore some of the Riesling Trail today. The total trail is 35km long, and follows part of an old railway which was closed in the late 1980s.

We jumped on the trail from our campground and headed south. It passes through some very picturesque scenery – rolling hills of grazing land for cattle and sheep as well as vineyards.

Our first stop, Sevenhill Cellars, was in fact the first vineyard in the area in 1851, set up by the Catholic Church to provide wine for holy communion. Other vines followed but it wasn’t until the 1950s that Riesling was finally planted here – the grape the area has built its reputation on.

Sevenhill encouraged visitors to explore its grounds, which had multiple historical buildings from the 1800s and under the tasting room, steps down to the old wine cellar.

We continued on, the trail gradually going uphill most of the way (but nowhere as steep as yesterday!), before reaching a peak and heading downhill towards Watervale. There we turned off the path and headed to Crabtree Wines for a tasting. What a fabulous selection of wine and a great tasting experience in amazing scenery.

We had lunch in Watervale before turning back to camp, enjoying the downhills when they came.

It was then the car’s turn for an explore as we returned to the Sussex Squire from yesterday and Crabtree Wine to pick up a few bottles. We are now fully loaded in the caravan and have had to extend our wine cellar to under the bed. Luckily we are heading into Adelaide next week where we will have several opportunities to share a drop or two with our surrogate family members…you know who you are!

Tonight we are celebrating the warm wind free evening with a BBQ – cooking up some sardines we purchased on our travels through WA with some roasted pumpkin and salad…which wine to pair with this fine dining…? Ah decisions…decisions…

Day 170-171: 16-17 November – Let the wine tasting begin (again!)

Author: Mr A

From: Whyalla

To: Clare

Distance: 272 km Cycled: 22.5 km

Yesterday we drove into the Clare Valley, stopping to make a very important purchase at a ‘fine foods’ shed by the side of the Port Augusta road…


Yes…food of the Gods…pickled eggs. Thirteen years ago we had driven that same highway on our way to the Flinders Ranges and I had seen this sign from heaven by the roadside, advertising pickled eggs. I just had to swerve off the road and buy some. And here we are all these years later and I’m back…never having being able to buy any more in Australia in the intervening period…Criminal!

We were soon set up on a cold dismal looking campsite just outside of the small town of Clare. Thoughts of cycling into town were abandoned as we shivered in the 13 degree late afternoon temperature. Instead we popped in the car and after a quick tour round the less than inspiring shops decided on a early (5.45pm!) Indian dinner, at Indii of Clare. When you walk into an Indian and its still light it feels all wrong.  Anyway the food was great – fabulously cooked ‘street food’ menu of entree size dishes. An excellent bottle of local straight Grenache from Vangaurdist Wines. A good start to the Clare.

We listened to the rain hammering down overnight, sounding like dried peas were being chucked at the caravan roof – a disturbed night. Morning dawned wet, cold and foggy. To perk us up I did my (now World famous) BBQ egg and bacon sarnies (much to Mrs A’s approval), unloaded the bikes and off we set for a ride.

When will the iOS app for Google Maps show altitude? Mrs A had picked us a nice looking circuit shown on a wineries map, but no indication that we would be cycling up near vertical roads for the first 10km. This picture does not do the gradient justice as Mrs A reached the peak of yet another 242 metre ascent.

We paused for a breather at the first winery we came to, Sussex Squire. Given Mrs A is from the old county of Sussex we felt it was worth climbing up their steep drive. And it was. What a great selection of wines – from their crisp Riesling, very unusual apple and pear notes Pinot Grigio, to a wonderful straight Malbec that was so elegant, their Metaro was silky smooth, and the dry grown Shiraz just gorgeous. The owner, Mark Bollen did a terrific job of explaining his philosophy of organic wine making in this small, family owned vineyard.

I can only contrast that experience with our next tasting (up more hills) at Skillogalee, which was dreadful. The young lady delivering the tasting either knew nothing about her wines, or if she did was very reluctant to share. She stood there with her arms folded, gazing out of the window and giving out an air of complete boredom. We’ve drunk a lot of their wines over the years, but my finger will carry on past them now on the wine list.

We wandered back up the hill (how come in a loop ride we only seem to be going up?) and back to the caravan park. Now what do you think could be under this down jacket when the temperature as shown is 20 degrees centigrade…?


Yes, some of you know our Burmese cat is is born for more tropical climes than this!

Yup…cute….

So the local Tourist Information centre next to the campsite does a wine tasting every Friday night, brilliant. We went along and it was heaving. What a great concept. Use these facilities not just 9-5, promoting local businesses, selling a wide range of food and wine,  not just have leaflets with content everyone can find on Google now anyway. As usual we got talking to Tim and Angie, a lovely couple from the Gold Coast who were traveling with their 9 and 10 year olds. They saw that we were in a Zone RV and said “We met some other Zone owners in Port Lincoln”  – John and Shelley – the same people we met the day before yesterday! Such a small world in such a big country – love it!