Adelaide, known as Australia’s culture capital and the capital city of South Australia, was the next stop on our Aussie adventure. The city is full of spacious green parkland and the city center in encircled by botanic gardens and popular parks. Within miles of the city you’ll find world class wineries and award winning breweries. The temps during our time here reached highs of 108°F and we found ourselves retreating to breweries and wineries to escape the heat and quench our thirst.
Beautiful sunset views of Adelaide from Mount Lofty
Our first stop before arriving in Adelaide was the Smiling Semoyad Brewery, located in Myponga, a mere 35 miles south of Adelaide. We shared our love for IPA with a local on the Great Ocean Road and he told us about this brewery's award winning IPA. Once we read up on it a bit more ourselves, we knew we had to check it out. Myponga is a very small town and has a population of only 540. With one small main street, the brewery is the main attraction. The taproom looks like a small guest home with a barn feel. The walls are covered with bottles of different beers from around the world and we were impressed with the taproom’s laidback style. We ordered the house IPA and it lived up to the talk. Although the brewery is a bit out of the way if you’re going to Adelaide, it’s worth the stop if you enjoy craft beer.
The day we visited Smiling Semoyad, the Tour of Australia, a bike race, was taking place and would be passing right through the middle of town. The race was live on the TV in the brewery and minutes after ordering our drinks, the bartender said the race would be passing by the brewery in fifteen minutes. We quickly finished our beers and joined the townspeople on the main strip in the town, just in front of the brewery, to cheer on the riders. We could see the helicopter not too far away, obviously filming the national coverage that we were watching a moment earlier at the brewery. After about five minutes of cops clearing the way, we saw the two front runners come wizzing through with their spare bike and maintenance vehicle team tailing behind. They had a very healthy lead from the middle of the pack. About a minute later, the middle of the pack of about ten riders came flying by. Lastly, another minute later, came the rest of the pack, about 50 riders all riding in close quarters as a group passed by. They were going so fast, probably at least three times faster than Casey imagines he could ever go. It was 107 degrees, too. Amazing. After the riders came, there was a parade of spare bike and maintenance vehicles buzzing through in their Subarus. It was a cool, authentic, and unexpected experience. Once we realized it was over, we took off, back to cool A/C of the campervan and continued our journey toward Adelaide.
Our next stop was McLaren Vale, a small rural community known for making world class red wine. McLaren Vale is 21 miles south of Adelaide and is home to over 160 wineries. We didn’t intend on stopping for wine tastings and honestly didn’t realize we would be passing through wine country. We weren’t in a rush to be somewhere and once we spotted the vineyards, we thought it was a good idea to stop for an afternoon tasting. We stopped by three wineries; Fox Creek, Kay Brothers, and d’Arenberg. Our favorite wine of the day was a Sparkling Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Fox Creek. Neither of us had tried a sparkling red before and we were surpirsed by the powerful fruit flavor and drinkability of this wine. Our favorite experience of the day was the d’Arenberg estate. d’Arenberg features a cube tasting room, complete with sensory rooms designed to entice the senses and other fun rooms to explore. The winemaker, Chester Osborn, was inspired by the complexities and puzzles of winemaking when he had the idea to build a cube shaped tasting room. We happened to be there only 3 weeks into the cube’s opening. Casey was the DD (and good sport) for the afternoon and only participated in one tasting. However, we purchased a few bottles at each stop to enjoy together as we continued through Australia. If you plan on visiting Australia and love red wine, be sure to include Adelaide in your itinerary (white wine lovers stay tuned for our review of Hunter Valley near Sydney).
Great company, lovely views and delicious wine
d’Arenberg Winery cube tasting room
We agree, "Life if too short to drink bad wine."
We spent the majority of our second day in Adelaide catching up on work. Luckily we finished just in time to drive up to the Mount Lofty Summit to enjoy sunset and views of Adelaide from above. Mt. Lofty is the highest point in the Adelaide Hills and offers spectacular panoramic views of Adelaide’s city skyline stretching to the coast. As we approached the summit parking lot, we passed a kangaroo and her joey eating in the field. We quickly pulled a u-turn and parked on the side of the road to marvel in yet another kangaroo sighting. The two kangaroos were approx. 20 yards from us and while the mother wasn’t bothered by us being there, the joey popped his head up several times to see what we were doing. It was so cute to see their relationship and witness the joey hop around her as the sun set in the distance.
Kangaroo and joey spotting at Mount Lofty
We returned to our car and drove two minutes up the road to the summit parking lot. The views were beautiful from the summit, especially since the sun was setting. If you enjoy hiking, there are a few trails that begin at the summit, however hiking during dusk wasn’t in our best interest. As we were walking back to our car, we noticed activity in the eucalyptus trees at the opposite end of the parking lot. To our surprise, we found a koala eating in the tree. Koala’s are known to sleep 20 hours of the day and we’ve been pretty lucky to spot as many as we have. This koala was grunting and it appeared he wanted to be left alone so we took a few pictures and continued on our way.
Casey posing with a nice sunset in the background.
Koala at Mount Lofty
For dinner, we drove to the Adelaide Hills to the Prancing Pony Brewery. This was another well-known brewery in the area and was recommended to us. It was located just past Hahndorf, a small German town. With the amount of beer gardens and restaurants advertising schnitzels and bratwursts, it really felt like something out of Germany. We had dinner and shared a tasting paddle before departing for our camp spot for the evening ten minutes down the road.
Prancing Pony is such a cute brewery! And the beer is delicious, too!
Hannah at Prancing Pony Brewery in the Adelaide Hills
We started our last day in Adelaide at a local public library to finish up work for the week. Shortly after noon we visited the Adelaide Botanical Gardens to have a picnic and stroll through the gardens. We found a shady spot outside the garden grounds and made chicken sandwiches before checking out the botanical gardens. The property is large and offers an impressive variety of lush gardens, vine tunnel walkways, lily pad ponds, a rainforest exhibit, rose garden, cacti center and much more. Best of all, entrance is free. We only had an hour and a half to spare but we could have easily spent an entire afternoon taking our time to explore.
A lovely picnic before visiting the Adelaide Botanical Gardens
HUGE lily pads at the Botanical Gardens
Our next stop was the Pirate Life Brewery, another well known brewery in Australia. We split a tasting paddle of all their pale ales and IPAs. Of the breweries we visited so far, this by far had the best selection of beers. Our favorite was the Transpacific Partnership they created with Ballast Point, a brewery in San Diego. It was a delicious and drinkable strong pale ale. We loved the beers here so much and grabbed a mixed pack for our mini fridge in the campervan to enjoy later in the week.
Our tasting sampler at Pirate Life Brewery
Before departing Adelaide we had one final stop to make, a winery in the Adelaide Hills. When visiting McLaren Vale, we learned the wineries in the Adelaide Hills are known for their Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is our favorite blend of wine and we couldn’t leave without picking up one bottle to enjoy down the road at some point. If you’re in Adelaide and want to get your Pinot Noir fix, make your way up to the Adelaide Hills.
Our time in Adelaide was short and while we wished we had more time to spend here, we had to begin our trek north into the outback. The outback is one of the more interesting experiences we had in Australia and we’re excited to share stories with you in our next post.
Did you know?
The surrounding areas of Adelaide are the largest wine regions and producers in all of Australia. Besides the McLaren Vale, where we went, there are many more regions producing some world-class wines such as the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, and Eden Valley. Barossa Valley is located about 45 min away from Adelaide and, due to it's isolation to the rest of the world, it is home to some of the oldest living vineyards in the world.
Also, did you know that Shiraz and Syrah are genetically the same grape, however they are differentiated by their origins. The French have dubbed their varietal wine as the Syrah. However, Australia's, along with many other countries such as the United States, Canada, and New Zealand call this similar variety of wine Shiraz. You will find magnificent and bold Shiraz in the regions around Adelaide.
Speaking of tips, it is not customary to tip in Australia and there is no need to feel obligated to do so. However, if you received a really good service or experience then it definitely wouldn't be strange to leave a tip. The long story short is that there's no expectation of tipping but it is always appreciated if you do so.