We survived our first weekend on Waiheke Island! Yesterday our hosts, Dave and Sue, invited us over for a Sunday roast with their friends Ben and Kim. It was a great afternoon playing cards with Zion and Kai (Dave and Sue’s kids), eating lots of good food, trying out mulled wine and Dave’s home brews (both of which are quite good), and chatting it up about everything from music to traveling to politics. And yes, Bobby even threw in a little singing and dancing to some punk music to show the Kiwis and Brits how we roll in the States. Definitely a night to remember. And so cool to receive such a warm welcome from Dave, Sue, Zion, Kai and their friends. Cheers!
Tag Archives: Explore
We said goodbye to the van (a.k.a. W.A.) yesterday. In the 35 days we had it, we put on 8,000 miles. Just to give some perspective, that is about the same as driving to Duluth from Minneapolis 51 times. Or as Debra likes to think of it, driving from Anchorage, Alaska to Mexico City, Mexico and still have a 1,000 miles to hang out. As we have been walking around Melbourne we have been catching ourselves look at all the gas stations to find the cheaper fuel, that habit will take some time to break. Cheers.
So we’ve been enjoying this beer in Australia brewed by Coopers. It’s their pale ale and is pretty good. Finding really hoppy beer in Australia is like finding a locksmith in Canada. It’s a thinker kids. Apparently Australians like light beers, whatever. Well we found out the Coopers is made in Adelaide and they have tours, well you can image what I said. Yippy skippy, or something like that.
At $22.00 a person, we were kind of weary, but then found out that ‘almost’ all of it goes to charity. I say almost as the brewery takes the money and you all know how much trickles out at the end. Well, let me allow negative Bobby to take over. The tour was one of the worst tours I have every been on, to date in life.
The guy picked to do the tour, Frank, spoke about the brewery / beer making processes as if he were the micro-machine commercial from the 80′s talking about the new tax code being implemented in 2012. He started the tour with this ground rule and I quote, “don’t ask me questions about the process before we get to that part of the tour. I don’t have time to answer things out of order”. Really? As if everyone on a brewery tour understands the brewing process to wait?
As he raced us through the factory, which more resembled a Miller beer lab, the co-workers watching us all seemed to have smiles on their faces. Not sure what that was about. After the tour he lined us up and we took a shot of each beer, I’m not kidding. There were 10 beers and we slammed a shot of each in a matter of 15 minutes. At this point Debra and I can’t hold our laugher in as he continues to refuse questions. My favorite was; “hey Frank, how many kegs vs. can / bottles does Coopers sell in a year?” Answer, “I don’t know, that’s not a question I care about, so why would I know that answer”. Yup, that about sums up Coopers. We have decided to boycott the brewery moving forward Cheers, Kids
Monday we had another full day in Adelaide. We started with the Botanic Garden, which was a great way to kick off the first sunshine in four days. There is a waterlily pavilion which is a greenhouse with tons of Victoria amazonica waterlilies in the center of the park. It explains the biology of the waterlilies but beware if you bring your kids along – the description of pollination says it is a night club for the bees and gives a play-by-play in night club terms of how the mating and pollination work.
A local Adelaidean (James Metz) told us about Vego and Lovin It – a fantastic vegetarian restaurant tucked away on Rundle Street. There is only a small mosaic sign above an unmarked doorway telling the world this place exists. As we ventured up the narrow staircase we came to a small door and inside was packed. It was an apartment with 200 sq ft holding 25 people with real retro (not manufactured to look retro) posters and clippings covering every surface. Walking in, we knew the food had to be good. All they really serve is veggie burgers and they are by far the best burgers we have ever eaten. And that includes any of the Aussie beef burgers I’ve been eating lately (which are kind of gross but in a good way with ham, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, beetroot and sweet chili sauce).
After that we checked out the South Australian Museum for a little culture. A very cool exhibit on Aboriginal culture that included a few honest discussions about the past, which was refreshing to see.
Then we caught a train to Glenelg (that is a palindrome for my grammar savvy friends) to check out a brew pub we had read about called Holdfast Hotel. But the place was out of its own beer – yup, I said a brewery out of its own beer. It would be like going to Rock Bottom and they had none of their beer so they served Summit instead. After that we quickly headed back to the city to meet James and his friends to see where the locals hang out. And they definitely did not lead us astray. We hit up the Colonist for a few beers and a little Chinese restaurant that we knew had to be good because they greeted Marty, one of our new friends, by name. Always go where the locals go and you won’t be disappointed!
Rob wanted me to post about Port Augusta where we visited the Australian Arid Lands Botanical Gardens, which were pretty cool with the birds and flowers. Other than that, this town is basically just a stopover on the road to Adelaide so that is more than enough said about it!
Now that we made it through the outback and back to the coast, we have rejoined civilization and are back to city life. We took a wine tour of the McLaren Vale with Bums on Seats today, which was a blast. Our tour guide Paul was a riot with all sorts of jokes that reminded me of things my Uncle Larry and Dad would crack together on a family trip. Our first stop was Hahndorf, which is an old German town with lots of historical buildings and character. The free tasting at the cheese shop was awesome. After that, we headed to the vineyards for a day of vino (not to be confused with goon) and some good food with our new friends on the tour. My favorite vineyard was Foggo where Herb, the wine-maker, taught us all about his good ol’ boy approach to wine-making. Rob liked Hugh Hamilton’s Black Sheep vineyard with its scenery and history. Definitely glad we listened to the silver foxes in Port Augusta that suggested McLaren Vale over the more commercial Barossa Valley!
Today we hit up the oldest underground home in Cooper Pedy. For all the U.S. Kids ‘pedy’ is pronounced ‘peedy’. Rinnie will completely kick me in the leg for how I explained that, but the web page will not let me add characters above vowels to show that in the right way. Sorry Rinnie! Nonetheless, the home was cool, in a kind of creepy way. The older couple that runs the tour lives in the home and we arrived at 8:30am as they were having breakfast. The home is decorated in 1970 decor and well lets be honest, is a home underground. The story about Faye is very cool and well worth a look, but be ready for a bit of creepy.
Debra and I have begun a social experiment on the silver foxes of the caravan parks throughout Australia. As we meet people, as we have each night, we ask them if the area is ‘safe’. Three out of the last three have responded with…….wait for it……..“I’m not racist, but…”. Really? You should see Deb and my mouth as they continue with their sentence. One part of me wants to stop and the other wants to see how far these people will take it.
After the tour we drove the 560km drive to Port Augusta and I’ll keep our description for Debra later. Cheers
Today we hung out at Uluru (Ayers Rock). As you approach the rock, it presents this sheer size / presents that is really hard to capture in a photo and even harder to describe. You drive through a relatively flat desert and out of nothing comes this huge rock. The walls of the rock have been weathered for so long the surface is nothing we have seen throughout Australia. Debra wanted to have an MN moment and did a little ‘Laverne and Shirley’ jump once we saw it. As we drove closer, the walls were littered with waterfalls and tree.
Given the colder weather and rain, we opted to drive around the rock instead of the 10km walk around it. Tomorrow morning we plan to walk if the weather clears up. We’re staying at a ‘resort’ that is something straight out of Mexico. There is an exclusive resort that anyone staying within 100km from the rock has to camp / stay at. One company owns a chain of hotels (that can accommodate 5,000 people), 4 bars, a grocery store, etc, etc. The prices are crazy high given you are 1,000km from any major city. For us to park the van in an unpowered parking lot it costs $30.00 a night, crazy. Nonetheless, well worth the trip. Uluru was a sight you just have to see. We have about 60 photos of the rock, so if you want to see more, e-mail us. Tomorrow, its on to Cooper Pedy. Cheers.
This morning we left Tennant Creek to make our way to Alice Springs. A fairly easy drive at 508km (316 miles for the Americans following along) versus the 763km from yesterday. Keep in mind kiddos Chi-town is about 657km / 409 miles, but here there are no signs of lights, people, direction, or any other aspect of life outside the wandering cattle by the road and a WWII rest stop each 80km in AUD. This place is crazy outback. We have done zero night driving given the level of huge road kill (cattle, donkeys, and/or 200+ lb. animals) sitting on the side of the road, which we firmly stand behind. So given we have a limited amount of driving to do in the day, we wake at 7:00am and stop driving at 4:00pm.
During the hike to Alice Springs we stopped at the Devils Marbles, not to be confused with the Devil’s Marbles which would represent possession. As you can see from the photo (above), they are these huge rocks that are very out-of-place given the surrounding area is completely flat and void of any life.
As we drove through the desert to Alice Springs, we approached a crazy smokey area, that from a distance looked impassable. Given some inhuman-like maneuverability, we passed it. Yes and I quote Debra, “Bobby drove like a crazy driver that was sent directly from the heavens of driving school to get us out of this driving issue”. (Debra interjecting – Rob actually drove today without having to turn the wheel for hours – real rough stuff ) Oh ya…… we made it people. Stay tuned for more amazing driving events from this guy, Bobby.
Last but not least, we opted for a night outside the caravan (RV) tonight. Yup, 3 weeks and Bobby needs a bed that doesn’t turn into a dining room table. We’re crashing at the Diplomat Motel in the “heart” of Alice Springs. The caravan, dubbed WA, is safe in the lot and we are painting Alice Springs some colors tonight. Not sure what color that is Cheers kids (here’s a shot of the extension we have done to the van).
Yesterday was a cool day at the Kakadu National Park, about 200km west of Darwin. From most of the photos / videos we have seen about Australia, almost all of them are from this park. We stopped at one of the walks for a quick 3km hike around some rock art. The views were cool and tons of drawings from thousands of years ago are still visible. Debra’s favorite was a picture of a dude that throws veggies at his mates. We have now instituted food fights at all meals! Cheers.
On Friday we spent the afternoon hanging out with some crocodiles. We took a ride on the Original Jumping Crocodile River Cruise on the Adelaide River and saw some huge crocs. The “Sheila” working onboard fed the crocs huge ham hocks from the upper deck. This lady was pure outback – cracking jokes with a rough/tough sense of humor while getting her job done. It made my day when she said all the tourists were up in the NT to see us sheilas (meaning me too!) like I’m a local. Although I was super annoyed before the cruise started because I thought they had turned their clocks back 30 minutes so they could wait for more tourists to show up and we were going by their pretend time instead of the posted times. But then I realized that we were in a different time zone that is 30 minutes earlier and just had to laugh at how not local we are