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Yesterday we reached the extremities of our journey at Kimba and Port Lincoln. Today we needed to get back within easy range of Adelaide so we can return the van and be ready for new adventures tomorrow morning. South Australia is blessed with more wine regions than we have been able to do justice on this trip so Majella had planned this last night at Clare, a wine region we had not yet visited, as a nod in that direction. We really did not expect to experience the wine in the time we had available but we could claim to have been there.

I was awake at 6:00 am and soon heard activity from other rooms in our apartment. Our scheduled departure time was 8:00 am but we had eaten breakfast and were ready before that so we were on the road with Michael driving a bit before 8:00 am.

We expected today to require about 6 hours of driving to cover the 530 or so km to Clare. With that in mind we set Cowell, about 160 km away as our first waypoint and coffee stop. We made that in good time and found coffee at the Cowell Bakery in the main street. I drank my coffee quickly and found time for some photos of buildings in the local area. The women found a special treat across the road from the coffee shop – a quilt shop equipped with an impressive computerised quilting machine. The proprietor was more than happy to give a quick demonstration of the machine which Majella was happy to assert was worth every cent of the $50,000 price tag. Some small purchases were made before the women reluctantly left the shop.

Refreshed, we drove on. We passed through Whyalla without stopping but managed to see some of the city on our drive by. Along the way, Majella had been checking on the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden at Port Augusta. We had been too late to get there on Thursday but she found that it was open today and had a visitor centre with cafe that might serve for lunch. We all agreed that seemed worthwhile and headed in that direction as we approached Port Augusta.

We parked and walked through some of the garden to the visitor centre to look for lunch. Majella was very keen to see Sturt’s Desert Pea and we were fortunate to find one blooking beside the door to the visitor centre. The photo was secured before we went in for lunch.

Majella and I shared a tasting platter for two with kangaroo pepperoni, cheese, damper, crackers, quandong chutney, and other goodies. Majella added a quandong smoothie. Others enjoyed pies, quiche or toasted sandwiches. The cafe offered ice cream in native flavours – quandong, wild desert lime, lemon myrtle, and wattle seed. Jim had been pining for lime ice cream and ordered that but later, when Warwick, Colleen and I were enjoying samplers with all 4 flavours, discovered he had been served lemon myrtle in error. He enjoyed that but is still hankering for lime.

Well satisfied with lunch, some looked a little more at the gift shop and then we walked back through the gardens and Warwick drove on south toward Clare. We arrived at the Clare Valley Motel a bit before 4:30 pm. Because we had mostly eaten substantial lunches we doubted that we would need much dinner but Majella checked on arrival and found that, though the restaurant would be busy later, we could get an early dinner booking for 5:30 pm. After some checking of menus we were more than tempted to eat dinner, so Majella confirmed the booking.

In the meantime we enjoyed a glass of wine and nibbles to polish off the stock we had been carrying around. The local dog, a bordoodle (border collie & poodle cross), took an interest in us and we played with it for a bit.

Dinner was excellent and exceeded our expectations. Our servers, Jayde and Katie, looked after us well and nothing seemed too much trouble. Majella, Colleen, and Jim had the lamb which they pronounced cooked to perfection. Russell raved over his pasta. My pork was tender and tasty. Warwick had kangaroo and several of the others had soup. All were very impressed with the quality of the meals. After we had eaten our mains, the chef, Ryan, came out to talk with us. He was pleased with our response to the meals and encouraged us to eat dessert. Several did try the affogiato, the pavlova, or the bread and butter pudding. All of those were excellent too.

We had thought the meal last night in Port Lincoln was a fitting end to our trip but the culinary delights of lunch and dinner today took us to a new crescendo. Everyone is settled now, preparing for an early start tomorrow.