Western Victoria 2018

Who said Truck Drivers don’t drink? Ah… nobody!

Reluctantly we leave our favourite spot this glorious Thursday morning and take the long way around for a quick visit to the world famed Mount Arapiles. Back in the day when I was a very enthusiastic rock climber, this set of granite monoliths was on every ‘rock ape’s’ bucket list to conquer. And though I never actually made it there back when I had forearms and calves of steel, rubber climbing booties and a harness; it was great to finally see the place and discover that climbers are still flocking there from all around the globe.

Right on the top there is a manned fire lookout with a sensational view of the whole area. As is often the case, the Bushman attracted a conversation with Ron, today’s fire patrol officer who was on his way up to begin work in the tower. Alan spoke some of his magic “man-of-the-land” language, which without fail has opened many a door for us, and we are invited in for Ron’s personal fire tower tour. It’s definitely experiences like this that make our adventures truly memorable.

We stop for a quick resupply in Garoke (where the friendly copper Jim is from) and find 2 more young blokes who can’t do enough for us. Like unlocking the parent’s closed IGA store so I can buy groceries and helping us fill from the backyard water tank. After a bit more “farmer” talk of sick cows and improving pasture we head to their recommended camp for the night.

For what is expected to be pretty much our last bush camp for the trip and for a little 4WD action, we drive into The Little Desert National Park…. and promptly stop dead up to the axles in deep soft sand. Ah yeah right, need to drop those tyre pressures a little sooner than expected!

Tonight we have Broughtons water hole entirely to ourselves. Its dry and very hot out here so we crack the beers and sit back to watch the hoards of wildlife come in for a drink at dusk. A spectacularly serene place but what turned out to be a single-Roo show, was rather disappointing!

We plan a big drive today, with intentions of crossing the border into South Australia and reaching the Barossa Valley, a wine growing region renowned for it’s big bold reds. Our favourite! We want to do some serious wine tasting over the next few days.

But there is a problem. The driver of a medium-rigid truck, such as the Bushman, must be zero-zero alcohol to get behind the wheel. This law, although very reasonable, is not conducive to a somewhat drunken crawl from farm gate cellar to boutique vineyard to wine co-op. There are 97 such places of alcoholic indulgence here!

It’s Friday so I need to get onto booking some tours so we can park up somewhere, and just day trip from the truck over the next 3-4 days. The plan works perfectly. A sneaky little gravel parking lot at the back of Angaston, in the heart of the region and barely metres from quaint gourmet eateries and providores, serves us very well indeed.

Getaway SA Tours pick us up virtually at our car park door this morning and Scott whizzes us off in a mini bus for a full day of wine tasting, eating and general slurry happiness. We cover predominantly mainstream vineyards and learn that we would like to further delve into the technicalities of wine growing and tasting. So another personalised tour is planned for Monday. Woohoo! More beautiful bold Shiraz to try.

By 9am Sunday morning, I’m up sipping a latte and getting ready to whip up a few batches of homemade pasta for lunch. I thought goats curd, spinach and nutmeg tortellini, crispy pancetta and parmigiana maccheroni, pesto alla Genoese pasta finished with a desert of chocolate cannoli filled with ricotta, pistachio and orange… nah, just kidding! Well not totally kidding. I’ve booked myself into a 5 hour pasta Masterclass at local Angaston Italian restaurant, Casa Carboni today, and our expert chef, Matteo, is putting 5 of us through our kneading, rolling, folding, saucing paces. Then, with the obligatory couple glasses of vino, we devour the fruits of our labour as a well earned late lunch.

Our final day in the valley is a wonderful mix of wine school, tasting blends from young rockstar estates and chatting with Ma and Pa growers from very small, farm gate cellars in the middle of grape fields. We can now legitimately be those ‘wine wankers’ at your local BYO restaurant, shoving noses into their glass and sniffing fulsomely, swirling, swishing and squinting to check for alcohol and sugar content, gushing loudly with words like “raspberry pepper notes”. We leave the Barossa Valley big headed and drunk on new-found wine knowledge that we can’t wait to show off. Look out Barry and Matt!

Sadly, this is the end of our short little FIFO adventure. We spend a day, emptying, cleaning, shutting down and covering up our Bushman in the locked yard of our kind friends in Adelaide and fly home to the Gold Coast.

Until next time dear friends, stay safe, get the kids back to school, get up to some adventurous mischief and have a great Australia Day!

If all goes to plan you’ll hear from us again in about 5 weeks time when we return to the Aussie Bushman in South Australia and resume our tour of this beautiful state.

Thank you as always for following us,

Cheers,

Julie and Alan

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