We have met some lovely people through caravanning holidays, some we know are just in passing, but they have made a short stay very enjoyable, others closer to home that we’ve clicked with and known we would no doubt meet again in our travels. Last weekend we did just that, by joining in on an arranged get together with like-minded caravan travellers that we got to know from an annual holiday we used to take. What better way is there to catch up with people, enjoy a few drinks and lots of good food, swap stories of where everyone has been travelling this year and enjoy great company and lots of laughs in the great outdoors.
Our chosen meeting place was the McLaren Vale Lakeside Caravan Park only 35 minutes south of Adelaide. Coming from different directions it was a central spot for us all to meet. This caravan park has a beautiful setting from driving down the tree lined road, way off the road – so nice and quiet, to lush green lawn sites with lots of space between you and your neighbour.
This gave us plenty of room to set up combined tables through the centre of our sites so all 10 of us there could come together for meals and drinks in the evenings. Every evening we were joined at sunset by a chorus of corellas coming in to roost for the night in the big gum trees surrounding the park.
Our plan for the next morning was to visit the well-known Willunga Farmers Market only around 6 kilometres further south. Held every Saturday morning and usually held in the town square area, this time it took over the whole main street, High Street, which was closed to traffic for the day as part of a street party celebration.
The theme was to ‘Spring into Willunga’ and it was a great chance to meander through the town and visit the shops, see the new streetscape which includes art installations and street furniture using Willunga slate, as well as the market with a great atmosphere and live music everywhere. This street party was a one off event but the organisers may do more markets like this in the future.
As per usual there were market stalls galore and so much for the senses to take in, our only complaint was that we couldn’t find a good old bacon and egg sandwich anywhere. Some of us were feeling a bit on the slow side after Friday night so were pretty disappointed, but next best thing we bought some bacon from the butcher (great food – bad spelling!) and bread rolls from one of the market stalls and headed back to camp to prepare our own.
When was the last time you saw double yolkers! Every egg we cracked was, what a jackpot.
With a big brunch to get us back on track it was time to hit a few wineries which the McLaren Vale area is renowned for. First stop even though we live not that far away, was to drop in to the visitor centre to get an updated map of where to find the wineries and what they had on offer. This is a great tourist info centre with not only information but things to buy, wine tasting and a really good café and outdoor eating area to use while you scan the brochures. Before the wineries I had to stop in to see a shop I had seen so much about. Called The Littlest Vintage it is an absolute treasure trove of large and small vintage finds and I couldn’t help myself but bought some old lanterns while there. But I did have an ulterior motive for visiting too, I am just a tiny bit obsessed with their little blue heeler dog who features in their Instagram feed. Johnny is his name and he is just as charming as in his photos. We found it hard to get a good photo of him mind you because he was all over us! Beautiful dog, beautiful shop, definitely worth a look if you are in the area.
I must admit my choice of wineries is as much about the setting and ambiance as the wines on offer so we trundled off to a few that made it to the list for this weekend. In the limited time we had we first visited S.C Pannell, Australian winemaker of the year 2015. This is a really popular spot with an amazing outdoor area to sit with family and friends, gorgeous view over vineyards, great food and wines to match. We also tried the Angove cellar door, excellent staff that helped us through the tasting with great information and another stunning outlook from this winery.
Our final stop was at the very picturesque d’Arenberg winery. Set at the moment in a stunning restored 19th century homestead and overlooking one of the best views you’ll see, things are changing with this winery.
As you drive in you can’t miss the two hands sculpture named ‘Handling Soil’ which represents the four generations of the family who have handled the soil and grapes to make into wine. Each of the men featured in the sculpture is depicted with something that shows their other passions from football to fishing to the current generation, Chester d’Arenberg Osborn who has a love for amongst other things, Rubic Cubes.
There is no doubt of this when you see the soon to be opened new cellar door – The d’Arenberg Cube.
This will not only be a cellar door though, it will also house art facilities, private tasting areas, restaurant and function space and office accommodation. Hmmmm its different, but sorry nothing is as breathtaking as what mother nature has provided in this place.
Back at the caravan park and it’s time for another evening with friends, a glorious sunset and plans to do this all again next year.