Road Trip day 1 Wine country and The Big Lobster

We left Adelaide early, ready to cover 1000km in 2.5 days to get to Melbourne in time for the cricket world cup final. We definitely did not allow enough time to really make the most of the trip, but boy did we fit a lot in!

Given our growing interest in all things German, our first planned stop was a little town called Hahndorf on the edge of Adelaide’s wine country. It’s a picture-perfect place, especially in autumn as the tree-lined streets were turning orange-red and the local coffee house had an open fire blazing, as well as excellent coffee and home-made strudel, which Joe obviously couldn’t resist. Gotta love second breakfast.

From there it was on through open countryside to our first kangaroo sighting (sadly roadkill, so it doesn’t count) and on to Mount Bold reservoir. We were already realising Australia operates on a different scale to the UK, and this enormous dam and reservoir didn’t disappoint. From there the fun really started, with wine tasting in McLaren Vale, the home of Jacobs Creek and Hardy’s as well as a raft of far superior wines that are too good to export to UK supermarkets. Admittedly, wine tasting with 400km of our day’s drive still ahead of us was not ideal timing, but we made it work: one sip for me, one for the bucket, two sips for me, one for the bucket, three sips for me… ah screw it, let’s just take a couple of bottles to enjoy later.

Back in the car, our journey continued to the Murray River, where rather than building a road bridge the South Australian government operates a tiny car ferry shuttling back and forth across the 15m width of the river. I reckon with decent acceleration and a good run down the hill, you could launch across the river and get to the other side without needing the ferry at all. Maybe Jeremy Clarkson can give that a try now he’s looking for gainful employment.

With the river safely traversed, it was on to THE most famous landmark on this stretch of road, recommended by everyone from Bill Bryson to Lonely Planet: the big lobster. It is indeed a giant orange lobster on the side of the road, built back in 1979 by an enterprising businessman to draw attention to his Kingston restaurant. It turns out that Australia has something of a thing about massive roadside papier-mache statues, but apparently this is the biggest. So we took the obligatory photos and then strolled over to the cafe – which apparently most passing photographers don’t bother to do, much to the annoyance of its current owners. The doors were locked and the cafe closed, but the owner saw us coming and swiftly invited us in anyway, made us a coffee, and then proceeded to tell us all about the lobster’s history as well as his side-business of bee keeping. This led to a round of honey tasting, trying out his different varieties from local blue gum, pink gum and orange blossom trees. All together it was just the caffeine/sugar fix we needed to hit the road again to Mount Gambier, our nightstop.