Sunday Special – Barossa Valley, Australia


Okay, who am I kidding? Wine is on my mind and on this a blog. I have inadvertently started  a wine series, LOL. Today we’re off to the Barossa Valley of Australia, located in South Australia, northeast of Adelaide. A friend of mine said he was heading this way so I thought I’d post about it. And as mentioned previously, my girlfriends and I are on the hunt for a wine vacation.

The Barossa Valley has a rather interesting wine history.  One of the oldest wine producing regions in Australia it dates back to the 1840s with mainly German settlers (and some Brits). When the Barossa Valley was settled it was realized that it was an excellent spot for grape growing. It was through trial and error of wine-making that port-style fortified wines became popular. Later into the mid 1900s when Australia’s wine production shifted towards non-fortified wines the area’s wines lost favour and were used mainly in blends. It seems that the the now popular Shiraz varietals were then considered sub-par. To add to the declining shift, various scenarios and circumstances further threatened the wine industry in the area.  During the 1980s, in an effort to bring about change, a number of winemakers (including Peter Lehmann) opened smaller wineries through the region. That is when the Barossa Valley wines (especially Shiraz) really took off.  Today the Barossa Valley is synonymous with quality wine. 

Reaching the Barossa Valley can be a day trip from Adelaide or you can spend several days in the area. Winery tastings and tours are a must. You can also appease your palate with an abundance of food options. Burn all that off with shopping, walking or cycling. It sounds like this area is a must for wine aficionados. 

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Grape growing in the Barossa Valley (Jacob’s Creek Winery) – Photo credit: Amanda SlaterJacob’s Creek. Vines. Barossa Valley SACC BY-SA 2.0

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Charles Melton Winery. One of many in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Photo credit: Jeff MarquisCharles Melton WinesCC BY 2.0

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Grapes in abundance in the Barossa Valley, Australia – Photo credit: Amanda SlaterWine grapes in Barossa Valley. SACC BY-SA 2.0

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Sunday Special – Lake Hillier, Australia


Tucked off the southern coast of Western Australia is the Recherche Archipelago (or Bay of Isles). Found within this cluster of isles is one named Middle Island. This small parcel of land has bit of a history – pirates, whaling, salt mining and various shipwrecks through the years. Though what bring me to post about this little isle is the colour pink. Yes, pink! A popular colour indeed, however it is rarely associated with water. Water is often blue, green, murky brown or clear, not pink. Lake Hillier is pink. Very pink. Unlike some other pink lakes found in the world that change colour due to temperature, this lake stays pink. Scientists are not 100% certain why it is such a vibrant shade of pink but believe it is due dunaliella salina, algae that thrives in highly salty water. The presence of halobacteria is also believed to contribute to lake’s colour. Additionally, it has also been deemed safe for people to swim in it, however the lake is difficult to access.  There are some local boat cruises to the archipelago though I found little on access to the lake, which may be limited so as to help keep the area protected. It appears that there are helicopter tours over the lake (and I imagine that would be rather spectacular) which I saw on Trip Advisor but again, nothing too recent or in depth.  Well, whether one can visit it or not, it does seems like a cool thing to have on our earth. 

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Bubblegum pink Lake Hillier, Australia – Photo credit: Kurioziteti123LIQENI HILLIER – ROZECC BY-SA 4.0

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Lake Hillier, Western Australia – Photo credit: Aussie OcLake Hillier 2 Middle Island Recherche Archipelago NR IV-2011CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Sunday Special – Brisbane, Australia


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Brisbane at night – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned  By wirepic (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland and the third largest city by population in the country. A contemporary city that lies along the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland, it is a vibrant urban locale with plenty of activities to take part in. What can you expect in this sunny urban destination? It appears to me that there is so much to partake in that you’d have to schedule a rest day! 

Fancy a climb? How about heading up Story Bridge? Take a 2-hour climb to the top of this landmark bridge to take in amazing views of the city. After climbing and seeing the river you can go and play on it. Activities such as kayaking or standup paddle boarding are popular. You can also cross the river in a City Cat Ferry.  Should you need a break from the hot sun then head to one of the numerous museums found around town. Notable ones include Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) which happen to be located beside each other.  Another option is the Museum of Brisbane that showcases the history of Brisbane and a variety of exhibits. Meandering through South Bank will show you parks, restaurants, cafes, beaches, the Wheel of Brisbane, family-oriented fun, and cultural sights.  A day away from the city can be accomplished with a visit to Moreton Island, a large sand island that is accessible via ferry.  Rent a 4WD vehicle to traverse the sands across the island or sand toboggan down some dunes. You can take a dip in the Champagne Pools’ crystal clear waters or snorkel with marine life and see shipwrecks. Explore and see aboriginal cultural sites and World War I and II relics. Hiking, surfing,  beaches, and flora and fauna are part of the experience as well. 

I don’t doubt that Brisbane is a fun city with much to see and do. The above is only a short list of what I have found. I imagine that Brisbane is a great place to visit.

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South Bank and Brisbane Wheel – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Brisbane City Council (28 – South Bank Parklands) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Story Bridge Panorama

Story Bridge, Brisbane – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia (Story Bridge Panorama) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL SPOT – BAY OF FIRES, TASMANIA


Found on Australia’s island state of Tasmania is the Bay of Fires. The northeastern bay was so named by Tobias Ferneaux  in 1773 when he spotted the beaches flecked with fires lit by the Aboriginals. Beginning in the south at Binalong Bay, this stretch of coastline reaches north to Eddystone Point. Unique orange lichen-stained rocks, pristine white sand beaches and clear waters beckon people from both near and far. Camping, hiking (including a 4-day guided walk), fishing, boating, surfing and birdwatching are just a few of the activities visitors can get involved in.

Lichen-stained rocks at the Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Lichen-stained rocks at the Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Owner/User: Poco a poco