Category Archives: Loving it Local

Local delights

I have spent two days out locally in recent weekends, one Saturday in the McLaren Vale wine region south of Adelaide and a lovely cruise Sunday afternoon in Mannum along the River Murray.  We are so lucky to be within a hour or so’s drive from these  great regions and blessed with fabulous sunshine on the days we went.

The architectural wonder that is the D’Arenberg Cube was the reason we headed to McLaren Vale.  Opened this year, the cube is a Rubik’s cube on five levels twisted this way and that to change the views from the platforms and challenges how we see architecture.

Cube and Mannum cruise April May2018 1167

The decor may not be to everyone’s taste – the art works are eclectic to put it nicely! and the couches fabulously colourful, but the sheer inventiveness of the building and the views from the top floor tasting room are worth the $10 fee which includes the tastings.  And they are happy to let you taste a $70 bottle of red.

We indulged in lunch and then headed to one of my favourite wineries Wirra Wirra.  The new viewing platform out towards the vineyards gives a lovely view over the area and the wine is as good as ever.  Woodhenge – the massive fence and gate made from huge red gum tree trunks is an added bonus. We finished with a trip to Red Poles, a winery, eatery come art space.

Just an hour and a bit from the city, we had a great day out.  Check out your local area.


Beach beauties

Did you know that there is such a job description as a Tourism Australia Aquatic and Coastal Ambassador?    Brad Farmer has that happy role  ( and yes, that’s a real job)!

He has put together a list of the top 10 beaches in Australia as below
#1 Cossies Beach, Direction Island, Cocos Keeling Islands, INDIAN OCEAN – pictured 

#2 Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island, Far North Coast, QUEENSLAND
#3 Moonee Beach, Coffs Coast NEW SOUTH WALES
#4 Turquoise Bay, Coral Coast, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
#5 Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QUEENSLAND
#6 Maslin Beach, Adelaide, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
#7 Dolly Beach, Christmas Island, INDIAN OCEAN
#8 Shelly Beach, Nambucca Coast, NEW SOUTH WALES
#9 Boat Harbour Beach, North West Coast, TASMANIA
#10 Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road, VICTORIA

We are really spoiled for choice when it comes to white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.  Not all of the beaches listed above are hard to reach.  Maslin Beach is an hours drive from Adelaide CBD and the scenic Great Ocean Road will take you to Apollo Bay.  Burleigh Heads is a short drive from Coolangatta airport.

So if refreshing waters and fine white sand are on your agenda for a holiday, consider a few of these.

Hint :  Beaches are busiest over the summer period and especially over the Christmas New Year break.  If you want to truly explore and relax at one of these great places, book really early – now is good for December 2018!

Winter greens


I made the just under two hour trip to Burra this week to meet a new client.  It was one of South Australia’s wonderful winter days – crisp and cool but clear skies and bright sunshine that makes driving a pleasure and shows the countryside off to its best advantage.

In Australia the colours of the seasons are different from those in the northern hemisphere.  For us, summer is brown and yellow, white sand and blue skies and seas.  Autumn is a combination of reds, browns, oranges and yellows with a healthy dose of the evergreen eucalypts as well.  In spring there is the purple of wisteria, Salvation Jane and jacaranda trees, and the bright yellow of wattle flowers plus a myriad of other hues as the wildflower season gets under way.  But winter is green.

We get most of our rain in winter and it is the prime growing season, so the drive up through farm land was a picture in green hues.  In the winter sunshine it is even more beautiful.

June 2016 013

New crops growing strongly in the paddocks, sheep grazing and a few cattle, white clouds scudding before the breezes- it was a delight to be alive.

Visiting a place in what might normally be considered the “off” season, has its advantages.  Provided you are dressed for the weather, you can experience a place without the crowds and at your own pace.  You can explore and discover all those nooks and crannies that make the destination uniquely itself without having to battle crowds.

So don’t let winter be an excuse for hibernating and going nowhere.  Shake off the winter blues and try the winter greens instead.


Melbourne Moments

Melbourne is renowned for four season in one day – wintry rain, blowing gales, broiling hot and full of pollen – but it is not always that way.
Last weekend we had dry skies and sunshine on both days; we discovered the Rose St Markets, saw Whistler’s mother at the National Gallery and despite checking out the dazzling array of shops completely failed to find anything for me to wear!
Melbourne is well know for its markets and laneways.  We discovered the Rose Street Market in Fitzroy – hand made craft and art work with everything from soap and handcream to hand knits, jewellery in wood and silver and resin and quirky cat and dog ornaments.
Melbourne June 2016 005
We also discovered cronuts – a decadent combination of croissant pastry and filled doughnut not for weight watchers!
Melbourne June 2016 004
The production of Matilda! was fabulous. Great set and a stellar cast of very talented kids and a few quite talented adults too!
The set design made sure you always had something to keep you occupied – finding the words spelled out all around the proscenium arch.
Melbourne June 2016 026
The combination of Roald Dahl’s story and songs by Tim Minchin is irresistible and every one needs to be a little bit naughty at sometime! Its on until November 2016 in Melbourne.
Top Tip – if you are in Melbourne the trams are not only iconic they save legs after a long day wandering around markets and laneways.  The City Circle has been free forever  and is a great way to get a commentary and orient yourself in the city.  But the trams within the city zone are all free as well.  Just be sure you pick up and get off the tram within the Free Zone and you are laughing.

Rediscovering the Barossa


Last Thursday I joined a group of other travel agents and spent the day in the Barossa Valley.

I am a regular visitor to the Valley but this day out provided two new experiences I did not know about.  Driven to the valley in a very comfortable AAT Kings coach driven by the wonderful Ben and guided by Victoria also from AAT Kings we stopped first at the South Australian Company Store just outside of Angaston.  But it is off the main route and unless you know where it is, like me, you will not have found it before.  A typical country building with long shed like interior, the store has produce such as jams and chutneys along with all sorts of other goodies.  I picked up a recipe and the jam for Pear and wattle seed friands.  Watch this space!

Oz Focus Barossa March2016 011

The Store provided our lunch and that was plentiful, healthy and delicious.

After lunch we headed to the new building at Lamberts Winery on Long Gully Road, not far from Angaston.  Opened in 2015 by Jim and Pam Lambert, with their son and his Peruvian wife being the winemakers, we were treated to great hospitality, a warm welcome, a tour of the beautiful winery cellar door and function space and learned about the energy saving and efficient design.  The local cheese platter and local produce platters were really good, and the fact that the tomatoes and the grapes on the platters had been picked that morning by Jim and Pam just demonstrated their commitment to fresh, local and if at all possible, grown on their land produce.

Oz Focus Barossa March2016 015

Oz Focus Barossa March2016 016

A word of warning – the flight of stairs up to the tasting room is a test of sobriety.  They are steep.  If you can manage them okay you deserve a taste of the wines, and if you taste a few too many there is a lift to get you safely to ground level again.   The Chocolatier port is their best seller worldwide-and with very good reason.  A large number of bottles enjoyed the ride back to the city with us.

Whilst the rain the night before made the grass at the South Australian Company Store a bit squelchy underfoot and there was a light sprinkle or two on the day, we had a great day.  Thank you to Oz Focus who organised the day to show case Australian wholesalers.