Barossa Valley, Murray River, Handolf
What a great way to spend a lazy Sunday. Today Nadja, Pamela, and myself were personally escorted/chauffeured around South Australia by this really nice gentleman who is originally from Serbia but has lived in Adelaide for the last 27 years. Pamela, my Mexican friend, works as his office aide part time. He loves students and has a lot of respect for those who leave there “home” to explore other countries. He offered to drive Pamela and some friends to Barossa Valley (famous known wine region) and pay for everything! He owns an engineering company, so he has a lot of money. He explained that he had it hard when he came to Australia, and he wanted to help us out because he was in our shoes once. He really enjoyed our company, as we did his. He is a very smart man, full of amazing stories and jokes. I could listen to him all day, very interesting man. He picked us up at the dorms around 9am and off we were to try our first time wine tasting. We stopped at 3 different wineries and tasted all sorts of red and white wines. The first winery we stopped at originally came from America. The guy working is from Wisconsin and actually distributes some of his wine to Bozeman, MT. I was excited to relate with someone who knew the area I came from. What a small world. Bozeman, unfortunately doesn’t sell his best wine; the Cho-co-lot. This wine is mixed with dark chocolate and tastes like heaven. I of course bought a bottle to bring back home to enjoy with my friends and family.
After tasting wine at three different wineries we decided to get lunch at a local restaurant in the valley. Pamela’s boss offered to show us the Murray river too! We took a long windy road in the backcountry to the river. The scenery was spectacular. The Murray River is “the biggest river in all of Australia.” Don’t let that saying fool you, for the river wasn’t any bigger than the Missouri river. I chuckled to myself when I saw how “big” the river actually was. It was a fun experience though I have to say. We drove on a ferry that took us across the river, which took a whole 30 seconds. We got out of the car to explore and walk alongside the river and have a cup of coffee.
Our adventure to the Murray River ended and we headed back towards Adelaide. Pamela’s boss insisted that we had to see this cute little German town, Handolf. Sweet little cottages and beautiful lush green landscape filled the small German town. By the time we arrived there all the shops were closed. The shops close everyday at 5pm, the only place that was open was the German pub where we ordered cheesecake and pretzels. We got back to the dorms at 7:30pm and gave our thanks and said our goodbyes.
Today, Friday October 22nd 2010 I got to experience rock climbing for the first time. We drove to this national park and walked 10 minutes to the top of a cliff overlooking a gorge. A lot of people recreation-ally rock climb here, but today it was only Craig, Nadja and I. The cliffs were about 200ft high. At first I was a little unstable and unconfident, but after awhile I learned the climbing technique. Its very challenging because sometimes you find yourself stuck, not knowing where to put your hand or foot. I never realized how much upper body strength you need in order to climb. Thank God for my background in gymnastics! After a few climbs we went down to the waterhole to take a quick swim and eat our lunch. The weather wasn’t all that great, the clouds were coming in quickly and we had a few minutes of light rain. You had to hike down to the waterhole and there were cliffs on the other side of the water. The weather was chilly and so was the water, but that didn’t stop us from diving in. Craig insisted that we “had” to experience swimming in the waterhole. We took things a little further and decided to get the full on experience and we climbed the cliffs on the other side to jump off. Once we got up on the cliff there was no turning back. You had to jump. There was no other way down. If you chickened out and walked down the same way you came up you could have easily slipped and hurt yourself. I wanted to jump anyways but it took me awhile to take that “leap of faith.” The exhilarating feeling of accomplishment after the jump was totally worth it. To finish off the day, we spotted a wild koala bear sleeping in the tree by the waterhole and a kangaroo on the footpath. The koala bears make a funny groggy high pitch noise. I got its attention by mimicking that sound, it was quite funny. Today I learned that no matter what type of weather there is, you can have fun by making the best of each and every second you have. I learned the wonderful lesson of confidence by doing life-threatening activities. Confidence is key in everything you do.
Weekend In the outback
This weekend I went home with one of my friends from the hall. She lives in Manangatang, Victoria on a small little farm literally in the middle of nowhere. On our way there we almost ran over a koala bear trying to cross the road. This weekend has been heaps of fun. Her family loved me and I loved them. The first day she showed us around the farm and we met some of her neighbors. Later that night we had dinner at a local pub. The towns around this area reminded me a lot of home because they were small and friendly. Sadly, most of the towns are becoming “ghost towns”, there are a lot of empty and closed down buildings. I thought it was funny that the only thing that was open is a pub. The nearest gas station is 50 kilometers away, so most of the farmers have their own gas pump. The second day we drove 2 hours to the next small town where the TV show “The Flying Doctors” were filmed. My friend was nice enough to let me drive, I have always wanted to know what its like to drive on the opposite side of the road. Its actually pretty easy, I just had to constantly remind myself to stay on the left. I drove about 30 kilometers to her neighbor’s house for dinner. They had a huge Barbie (BBQ) and almost everyone from the town was there. The kids were playing cricket in the yard and the adults were sitting around drinking and munching on barbecued wings. After talking with a few blokes, I’m sure I convinced them to come ski in Montana, preferably Big Sky or Moonlight. I met this family who loves to ski and they want to make a trip to America and ski now. My sale skills are kicking in! I’m a natural advocate for the beautiful state of Montana.
The Australian family I stayed with came to America to farm for a little while. They mainly farmed in North and South Dakota. It was fun listening to their stories when they were over there. They were amazed on how many states there are in America, they even quizzed me to see if I knew all the states. It was pretty entertaining to discover that I only knew 37 of the 50 states off the top of my head. Australians only have to remember 7 states! That’s nothing! Even though farming in Australia is similar to farming back home, they use different lingo: Combine is a “header” and Field is a “paddy.”