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This week is a pretty epic post from me, so I hope you're prepared for lots of photos. If you follow me/us on Instagram, you may have seen a few of these photos already!
A few weeks ago, Captain Poprocks travelled with my family and friends down to Apollo Bay again for the Great Ocean Road Running Festival. We had a great house right in town, with an excellent view of the Great Ocean Road itself.
My dad ran in the 6km race...
My brother James in the 14km race...
And Pat and my sister Kathryn in the 45km ultramarathon!
They all finished their races in close to the expected time - a great success! And there were lots of little stalls around for the festival, including some amazingly delicious cupcakes :)
After some recovery time, and farewelling those who had to go home to Sydney for work or uni, Mum, Dad, Kathryn, the Captain and I set off for Adelaide. The plan was to spend 3-4 days travelling along the coast, then a few days in Adelaide before heading back to the real world.
We had a glorious day - cold but sunny! The car was exactly the right size for all our stuff!
And off we went!
We paused for morning tea at Lavers Hill, slightly inland with loads of rolling farmland.
Princetown was the next stop, where they had a proper old-school general store! I was particularly tickled by the "Do Duck In Cafe"!
At Gibson's steps, there was almost a catastrophe. The Captain, a little too eager to enjoy the view, fell off the fence and almost over the cliff! Fortunately Kathryn's arms were long enough to rescue him.
After that incident, he had to wear a leash to prevent any further, worser accidents. As you might imagine, this was only grudgingly accepted.
The views were pretty spectacular though :)
Our next stop was the 12 Apostles Lookout.
What an absolutely spectacular part of the world!! There are not quite 12 Apostles left any more (I think we're down to 8?), as they keep falling into the water. The power of the ocean to carve out these little outcrops was very visible, and just incredible.
A bit further down the road is the Loch Ard Gorge. It is named after a ship which was wrecked off the coast in 1878. Only two people survived, washed into the gorge. One of them climbed out of the gorge to get help to rescue the other person. It's a very dramatic place, and I can hardly imagine climbing out those sheer walls!
Our day's adventure came to an end in Warrnambool, in a very strange, old motel. I was super excited about visiting Warrnambool - it was the site of the well known Warrnambool Knitting Mills! I had dreams of yarn shopping, delicious hand spun, hand dyed yarns, filling my suitcase... everyone I had mentioned Warrnambool to was also excited about the Knitting Mills.
Turns out, I should have actually looked it up before we left Sydney. The Knitting Mills closed down in 2001, and the site is now a housing estate. Devastating!!
The next morning the weather had changed a bit, so we had a brief drive around Warrnambool. The most interesting part was definitely the Whale Nursery. Sadly, despite calling, we didn't see any whales. Maybe we can't speak Whale after all?
Our next stop was Cape Bridgewater, just in time for lunch. There were lots of wind farms around the area - very appropriate, given the level of wind!
The road to Mt Gambier headed inland, and we drove through hectares and hectares of pine forest plantations. Dad nodded off for a snooze in the back seat while we discussed the economics and practicalities of pine farming, when all of a sudden...
Next came another milestone of the trip for me - we crossed the border into South Australia! I had never been to this state before.
The rest of the trip to Mt Gambier was quite uneventful. After arriving at our motel, we decided to have a quick drive to the tourist information centre, and then up to the Blue Lake to see whether it was worth coming back the next morning. Although it was almost dusk, and the clouds had started coming over again, the view was amazing. The Blue Lake really is blue, even though it wasn't the right time of year for the real turquoise colour!
We even saw a wallaby of some kind, looking for its evening meal!
Thoroughly satisfied by the Blue Lake, the next morning we visited Mt Gambier's other main attraction, which we had never heard of! The town is apparently riddled with sinkholes (which in retrospect should be obvious, given the rock composition and the volcanic lakes), so we set off to visit the Umpherston Sinkhole. Named after the man who turned it into a delightful backyard garden, the sinkhole was enormous. I was much too tired to go all the way down, but Kathryn took the Captain down to investigate the ground floor.
In the late morning, we drove a little further along the South Australian coast to the town of Robe. It is obviously a summer resort town - at the end of May, it was very quiet and VERY cold. We had a brief look at the view, which was cold and threatening, and then retreated into town for lunch.
My favourite historical plaque so far was outside the bakery where we had lunch!
In the afternoon we had a super relaxing time - crocheting and cross-stitching while watching TV series together :) After all that travel we needed a bit of a holiday! In the evening we went to Sails Restaurant, and had the most incredible food. Delicious!
On our way out of Robe, we visited a local icon - Mahalia Coffee, tucked away in the industrial area of town. Such amazing coffee, and a shop crammed full of tea and coffee paraphenalia, including my first sight of my new favourite mugs! (that blue one in the background ;) )
We also visited Maud's on the Hill, an Aladdin's Cave of patchwork and fabric!
The drive across to Adelaide was fairly uneventful, except, of course, for the Big Lobster! It was certainly big and a lobster.
Adelaide! We had arrived! Our hotel was right in the middle of the city, in Hindmarsh Square.
Of course, the main attraction of Adelaide for me was the wonderful friends living there :) On Thursday evening when we arrived, we went out for dinner with our friends Matt and Alicia. There was great Italian food, lots of chatting, and then we went back to their house for tea and to finally meet their puppy Astra.
The next morning started with a bit of excitement - the fire alarm went off just as we were finishing our breakfast! We were all evacuated from the hotel and a large collection of fire trucks arrived very quickly. Sudden terrible thought: We had left Captain Poprocks in our room - what if he had decided to make toast or light a cigar?? Hopefully it wasn't our room that was on fire!
Fortunately, it turned out there was an electrical fault in an unoccupied room which had set off the alarm and sprinkler system. The poor hotel staff - it was raining through the light fittings in reception when we were finally allowed back in! At least the system works, right?
After all that excitement, we set off for a small circuit of the Adelaide Hills. This region is famous for its wineries and artisan food producers. The area was originally settled by German families, and this German tradition is still strong in the region.
Our first stop was at Chain of Ponds Winery. We tasted some very nice wines, and had a lovely chat with the ladies at the cellar door. If this was how the day was going to go, I was very happy indeed!
There were even some grape vines that still had grapes on them!
On the way to the next stop was the World Largest Rockinghorse! Of course, we had to stop and get a picture!!
Our next stop was Woodside Cheesewrights. This dairy produces mostly goat, cow and buffalo cheeses, as well as a range of fruit, jams and chutneys. We sampled the offerings... extensively. So tasty!
Next door was Melba's Chocolate Factory - we figured that was a sign. The warehouse shop was loaded with old school chocolates and lollies: raspberries, licorice, chocolate fruit and nuts, frogs... we were in heaven. The Captain may have over-indulged a little :P
Our final tasting stop was at Hahndorf Hill Winery, just outside the town of Hahndorf. While Dad, Kathryn and I were wine tasting (mmmm), Mum took the Captain on a little explore of the vineyard. The autumn colours were just extraordinary! Pity it was such a grey day.
The Captain did come back to join us for the end of the wine-tasting, and our hostess was very happy to get a wine glass for him to stand on for this photo!
Friday evening was planned to be another meeting with a new friend this time - Jodie from Lupey Loops. It's so nice to meet internet friends for the first time, and it's like catching up with an old friend after a long absence. We had lots of fun showing off crochet projects, chattering about different kinds of yarn and techniques, and all in all staying out a bit later than our illnesses would prefer. She is writing a much more detailed report on our crochet time together :) A particular thank you to Adrienne who drove and was excellent company! Please excuse the terrible photos - I'm hoping Jodie got some better ones!
On our last afternoon, we thought we had better see a little bit more of Adelaide city before heading off to another friends' house for dinner. Rundle Mall is the main shopping street in the city, and has some pretty cool street art!
In the evening we finally got to meet the children of some very dear friends, Chaka and Lori. It was just wonderful to sit around chatting, playing with tea sets and generally catching up. We have hardly seen them since they moved to Adelaide a few years ago - but that's the thing with good friends. Catching up after a long absence just gives you more to talk about :) I completely failed to get any photos of that visit at all, because we were having too much fun!!
Phew! What a trip! And what an epic blog post! Applause and cookies to those of you who made it this far :) Here's a little reward for you - my favourite sign from the whole trip!
At the World's Largest Rocking Horse there was a very entertaining sign under the tail :P In case you're not up with Australian sayings, if something is very unlikely or unusual, we say it's rare as rockinghorse poop! Fortunately it didn't happen to Captain Poprocks, even though he disobeyed the sign and looked up.
Have you ever travelled to any of these places? We'd love to hear your travel stories!