Back in dear old Adelaide, South Australia, which is famous for its Menz Fruchocs, Woodies Lemonade, Fritz (not Devon) and copious amounts of Polish Sausage, all of which, for some reason are not available in NSW. The Fruchocs are particularly addictive, or it is childhood memories which keeps me munching ..dried peach and apricot smothered in creamy milk chocolate. I bought quite a few packets, none of which survived the trip. All of this on the Fleurieu Peninsula named after French explorer on Baudin’s ship which encountered the British ships in ‘Encounter Bay’ in the very early 1800’s.
This was a sudden and unexpected trip, and there were very few flights from Canberra to Adelaide in the day, and so we flew out of Sydney. This of course involved the tedious drive up to the Big Smoke in sweltering heat. We ate at the Coogee Pavilion which was all so hip and cool – lots of smashed avocado eating hipsters.
Arriving in Adelaide to a cool change, we headed straight down to Port Elliot, the seaside retreat for ‘Adelaidians’, on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Hipsters have moved in here as well, and this is no longer the cute sleepy seaside village of my childhood summer holidays. There was an assortment of vegan cafes, organic whole food restaurants, good coffee and small boutiques. And the Real Estate….. oooffff! So expensive.
We found as with most seaside destinations, there is a huge influx of visitors during the school summer holidays. This was also the Australia Day weekend…(good on ya, Straya Day!) The last hoorah before school starts again, and it was crowded, much worse than Batemans Bay. Parking was impossible and we had to park in town to get to the beach of beautiful Horseshoe Bay.
Port Elliot was supposed to be the location of the capital City of South Australia. The Murray River ended at Goolwa and goods and produce, from farming communities further up the river were then railed through to Port Elliot. Alas after one too many shipwrecks the harbour was deemed unsafe and the capital was moved to its present position, and the safer harbour at Port Adelaide. The train line is now used to shuttle tourists on the Cockle Train between Victor Harbor and Goolwa on the hour with a very annoying whistles and beeping- talk about Thomas the Tank Engine on steroids!
As a child we used to stay in the now demolished Cliff House which was the Governors’ residence, and what a fine old building it was, complete with old ballrooms, carriages and spooky cellars. It was a magical old fashioned experience with marble washstands and washbasins –even a potty. The bedrooms had brass beds and were festooned with beautiful floral friezes. The dining room was a delight with its stiff white linen tablecloths, polished wood and silver and crystal and hand written menus. Of course we had to ‘dress’ for dinner which we summoned to with a gong. After all this we would round off the night with a singalong around the piano, charades and a brisk walk around the headlands!! Wild living in the fifties and sixties- eat your heart out, Hipsters.
Sadly, this residence was demolished in the 70’s and in its place they built ugly, gruesome units. The National Trust would not allow them to knock anything down as significant as this today. So Port Elliot has fabulous memories for me , even though I nearly got washed out to sea in the dangerous surf on the treacherous boulders on the headland and was regularly thrown off the jetty by groups of local lads, eaten alive by mossies most nights, and dumped in the huge surf at Boomer Beach. We were tough then!
The Port Elliot Hotel which had superb reviews on the Old Trippy was packed to the rafters and we only just got a table in the bar. I recommended the King George Whiting as the fish to eat when in South Australia.
Four weeks later we are back again to finalise the family business which called me there in the first place, this time via Mount Barker and Handorf. Although Handorf is a tourist hotspot of the early German settlers in South Australia, it is not without its charm and lots of German sausage and beesting cakes. The new freeway makes for easy access into Adelaide Hills. Then, we were back down to Port Elliot, this time staying at the unique and very comfortable Middleton Beach Huts and onwards to Adelaide. The pleasant drive through the backblocks of the Adelaide Hills presented views of stunning ghost gums and fertile farming land, until we got to Strathalbyn which is still a slightly strange town. A good place for a weird murder.
‘March Madness’ had hit dear old Adelaide, and it was buzzing ..no longer the ‘Land of the Living Dead! I can remember as a younger version of myself when all I wanted to do was to get out of the place and overseas. Now overseas has come to Adelaide. The Clipsal race had just finished, the Festival of Arts was in progress as was the Adelaide Fringe which has become enormous and of course WOMAD or WOMADelaide, the Festival of World Music.
Adelaide has had a reputation of being snobby and cliquey, but we found everyone to be very friendly and welcoming. People smiled in the streets- we are used to being glared at by some at home. Some bogans are great glarers. The street café scene was exploding all over the place and of course there were crowds of people everywhere and so many interesting arty types, wearing incredible ensembles. So many new eateries and little alleys opened up to be amazing little scenes. It was very similar to the Melbourne alleyways. Of course it was a great feeling to meet up with so many old friends, and I do think ‘Adelaidians’ are unique and different, and friendly. Makes me feel like moving back, and then I remember those horrendous hot summers and the freezing winters!
As usual the food and wine in this part of the world is always fabulous. We mostly ate in The Garden of Unearthly Delights which is open for business during the Fringe Festival and raged to the early hours-but the prices were a bit over the top. Fritz did not eat any fritz ..so sad. However he did get a copy of the FRITZ Magazine ..a slice of South Australia! It has pride of place on his coffee table.
Finally I got to see The Leonard Cohen Tribute Show that I missed in Sydney which was great entertainment. Everyone in the audience was over 65 and The Panama Hat and I were the only ones dancing. However the next night we all went to see Blanc de Blanc, and I was bit unsure of what we were in for. Every show in the Fringe is billed as amazingly sensational, when often a lot of them are embarrassingly terrible. Blanc de Blanc came with excellent reviews – a mixture of cabaret, burlesque, theatre and acrobatics ..hmmm? it was perhaps one of the slickest, entertaining and clever show I had seen ..and it was all about champagne ..How appropriate.
The Millennials went off to Womad and reported back that it was wonderful, and full of old hippies who did not know the 60’s were over!! We should have gone-the fact that there was no seating did not appeal to me,( how did all the old hippies cope, they must be on their pensions by now) and it was expensive for musicians who were unknown to me.. Next time!
March Madness in Adelaide was truly a wonderful experience.