Day 181: 27 November – Barossa delights

Author: Mr A

Location: Tanunda, Barossa Valley

Distance driven: 45km Cycled: 12km

Feeling somewhat worse for wear from yesterday’s excesses, we packed up and bid goodbye to our wonderful hosts. The Lobethal Bakery provided a much needed food injection, and then we were off, the Barossa here we come.

It was a short drive through the twisty roads of the Adelaide Hills and we were soon driving through very picturesque little townships. This is our first visit to the area, one of the few wine region in Australia still on our unexplored list.

First impressions were “wow”, everywhere we looked so was so green and neat, clearly a lot of money floating around still. We passed some of the big producers like Grant Burge and Jacob’s Creek, not ones on our hit list but still it was interesting to see so many household names all clustered together and looking very prosperous. Bike paths were everywhere, although devoid of cyclists as per usual.

Our campground on the edge of the small town of Tanunda was deserted, so we were were somewhat mystified after we had unhitched to find ourselves right next to a construction site where they are building a new swimming pool. An ‘error’ apparently. They did offer another site but the thought of moving everything again…we gritted our teeth against the constant noise of paving slabs being cut.

I headed out into town on the cycleway to explore, and was absolutely delighted to find rows and rows of gorgeous little shops and cafes, with a real buzz about the place. I dropped in at a little bike shop housed in the lobby of the local museum, my brakes had been squealing and I wanted to get them checked over. What a well presented shop, and Evan the owner said he could look at the bike straight away. Amazing…

I supervised….We got chatting, and sadly an all too familiar story emerged. After 18 months of getting the shop set up he was throwing in the towel at Christmas. Just not enough business. He told me that cycling participation in Adelaide and its surrounds is down by 20% this year. A similar story to Sydney. We both mused over the cause. I shared with him a little bit of research I had done this week. If you’ve read my Facebook post skip this bit. After reading about another cyclist being killed in Sydney I Googled on the phrase “cyclist dies” and set my search parameters to Australia and the last month. Eight deaths and another two left ‘fighting for their lives’. In three of the cases the driver didn’t stop but just left the cyclist in the road. As Evan said, there’s not much good news reported on cycling in Australia. Instead it is often tales of road rage from either the motorist or the rider, or reporting on these terrible accidents.

Another reason we both agreed on, which is a little more controversial, and I do risk upsetting some of my “roadie” friends, is the idea that to use a bike you need to go and spend thousands of dollars on some lightweight machine that will tip you off at the first sign of rough road, and wear skin tight outfits every time you want to use the bike that are not exactly flattering to most folk contemplating riding. Then you can’t be seen on a slow cycle path when you’re clearly training to ride as fast as possible, you have to get in with the traffic and take your chances. Oh, and you musn’t look like you’re having fun either, a serious game face shows everyone this riding is not something you enjoy but is a process to go through to…get fit? Now I exaggerate for affect, but I can guarantee that if Mrs A and I smile and say “hi” to a roadie as we potter down the path (as we always do just to prove our theory) we will be completely blanked.

The concept of just stepping on your bike in normal clothes and shoes that you can walk in, heading out to meet some friends, or potter around the shops, its almost completely lost from our image of cycling in Australia.

Mrs A joined me in town and we soon found an ice creamery selling dairy free options as well. Yumm we like this place.

Catherine then got pulled over by the police for not wearing a helmet. Oh dear…more bad news for cyclists, you can’t just potter around the shops wearing a hat. You have to wear a helmet for every type of ride, including wandering along a cycle path to pick up an ice cream. So guess what, another reason people give for not taking their bike out for that quick trip to the shops.

We went back to camp to collect her helmet, and it was such a lovely evening decided to head out again around town. Right round the corner from our campsite we discovered this amazingly grand winery, with a blackboard outside announcing they have previously won the best Shiraz and Grenache in the world. We will certainly investigate this further!Everywhere is kept so spick and span, it is a real treat to see after these struggling outback towns we have spent so many months travelling through. The scenery surrounding the town is just gorgeous, rolling hills frame the vineyards. Who needs the Loire Valley?!A quick stop at the shops for some more supplies for dinner (so easy on a bike!) and we headed back for another fab meal, and the peace and quiet of no evening construction works, oh and no wine 🙁

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