Author: Mr A
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.
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 a 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!
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!