McLaren Vale

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Today was our last day in Hahndorf before hitting the road eastbound so we did not leap out of bed early. When we did rise around 8:00 am we took our time about breakfast before making a serious start on the day.

After breakfast Majella went to deal with the small amount of laundry we had accumulated since leaving home. She soon returned, having found that both machines were busy and that she would need coins and pegs to get the job done. We headed off to the IGA in nearby Hahndorf to procure the necessary supplies. 

That part was quick but then we needed to promenade up one side of the main street and down the other before going back to our unit. There were a few shops that caught Majella’s attention and before we drove away we had acquired a souvenir Christmas tree decoration and a new blouse on sale.

Once we were back at the unit Majella headed off to take care of the laundry. When she returned we had coffee and then thought about how we might spend the day. 

We had driven in from the north on Friday and out that way again yesterday so going a different way seemed reasonable. Kangarilla was an interesting name that I recognised on the map and it was possible to drive there by one route and return by another in a circuit. We did not know what we would find along the way but assumed we would find somewhere that served lunch.

The drive to Kangarilla was an easy 30 minutes or so along winding roads through bush and farms that seemed mostly devoted to horses. After the last week of driving it was a pleasant change to be driving again along treelined roads.

As we approached Kangarilla we saw a sign announcing the beginning of the Epicurean Way. That seemed to be a good omen for lunch and we continued through Kangarilla and along McLaren Flat road. There was a cafe in the part of Kangarilla we traversed and a bakery but not much more that we saw in McLaren Flat. We drove on toward McLaren Vale, passing several wineries that may have had fine dining but gave no sign of that along the roadside. We recognised some names but others were new to us.

A little before McLaren Vale township we reached Serafino which did have signs suggesting the large building set behind a pond was offering something that might be epicurean. Moreover, it had resonance. I’ve been enjoying some Serafino wine I bought in a good deal last year and Serafino is the name that Majella’s Swiss friend, Marie-Françoise and her husband, gave to their house in Veyras.

In addition to the winery and associated cellar door, Serafino has a resort hotel and restaurant on site. We were able to get a table in the restaurant with a view across the pond. Lunch was kangaroo for me with a glass of tempranillo and courgette flowers for Majella with a glass of moscato. We shared a bowl of salad. The food was delicious and the portions acceptably generous without causing us to feel stuffed. We had a very enjoyable lunch.

After lunch we drove on through McLaren Vale township and headed back north via the alternative route. Along the way we passed several more wineries but a sign for the Onkaparinga River National Park caught our attention. 

The sign at the park promised a short, 1.6 km circuit to a lookout over the river gorge and return. (Un)fortunately Majella had her walking shoes and socks in the car so she changed shoes, rolled out her trekking poles, and we set off. It was sunny and warm in the early afternoon and the ground we walked over was open with no shade. 

We passed an olive orchard as we set off and soon found that the area we were walking through was covered in olive trees that had gone feral. Perhaps some had been planted long ago but they were randomly placed and looked untended. Later as we drove on we passed a sign advising that wild olives are a declared weed. These had many very small olives that were mostly still green but occasional ripe fruit was also very small and looked to be of little use for human consumption.

We heard birds and occasionally saw some small ones and a couple of times glimpsed a rosella. The track was not well worn but there were signs to show the way. It ran up and down some hills and, when we came to the point where it led down to the lookout, Majella decided it was better to rest in the shade of a couple of larger olive trees than to venture down and back up. I walked down to find a rocky ledge overlooking the gorge with no obvious safety features. I took some photographs and walked back up to join Majella and complete the circuit back to the car. The last quarter of the trail ran along a fence that protected a vineyard where clusters of ripe grapes were hanging ready for the coming harvest.

Our drive back to Hahndorf passed through Kangarilla but we took the other way from there, through Clarendon and Cherry Gardens. The road wound over hills and around curves. It was not one road but a succession of back country roads with some tight turns at intersections. On one occasion Majella missed a turn and our navigation app helpfully directed us into the next suburban street and down a succession of streets until we reached a cul-de-sac where a u-turn was possible. We saw some very nice houses with landscaped gardens to match protected by tight traffic calming devices.

Eventually we reached our base where we picked up the laundry and retreated to our unit to relax. After a fine lunch we had no need of a large dinner and planned to enjoy some of the figs, cheese, and chocolate we had gathered on our travels yesterday.