“It seems like I have been here all my life. In fact, I came from Denmark and settled here. Now, I don’t want to go anywhere else,” an elderly man on way to one of the Lutheran churches said.
That’s the feeling echoed by many we met during our short trip to Southern Australia.
The day just bid adieu with a strange longing, darkness crept in and silence spread its wings over the valley of vineyards.
“I love this valley. It’s more than home, it is my life. I haven’t found a better place to unwind than this place during my many travels,” the elderly man said, contentment writ large on his face.
He is right. Nightfall brings a strange charm to Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. The valley, which links history and culture from far and wide, is more than an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the capital of Southern Australia.
While Australia and its wine industries were heavily influenced by the British, Barossa Valley has a different heritage: It mostly traces its roots to German settlers. The German influence survives to this day, but the valley and the vineyards lulled by the misty wind seem to care less about a culture steeped in history.
Our journey started from Adelaide, a lazy, laid-back city, which is often referred to as the “twenty-minute city”, because, according to our guide, the city enveloped by beautiful open parks stretches to all four corners in equidistance.
The city was about to sleep when we landed after a 13-hour-long direct Emirates flight from Dubai. Jet lag and the eagerness to see a new city forced us to retire immediately.
Morning showed a different view of Adelaide. Unlike busy car-packed roads of Dubai, Adelaide wore a lazy look. People cycled and walked to work. Motorists courteously allowed office-goers to cross roads. Surprisingly, nobody seemed to be in a hurry.
Our guide, who traces his roots to Britain, kept on harping about the city and its myriad charms: tram, metro, wide-open parks, libraries, art houses, universities and cottages. Interestingly, they all seemed to be neatly arranged in almost a square mile. Then came the Arab coffee shop, the Indian restaurant, the Chinese market, the Italian eatery ... “It’s a big city with a big heart,” the guide said.
Adelaide, which is the fifth largest city in Australia, is the site of many governmental and financial institutions. Most of these are concentrated in the city centre along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, King William Street and in various districts of the metropolitan area.
With warm Mediterranean climate offering myriad hues to this environment-friendly city, Adelaide is the perfect example of a “liveable city”.
VIEW FROM ABOVE
Sleep constantly deprived us during the trip. We were woken up from a comfortable slumber at the luxury resort Louise in Barossa Valley around 4am by Balloon adventurers.
Balloon trips are generally conducted early in the morning to catch “favourable wind” and avoid “hot midday spells”, explained our tour operator.
But, once airborne, we forgot all about sleep. The picturesque valley, with beautiful vineyards, cottages, hamlets, farmlands and open landscape captivated us. Cameras were out in full force, capturing the world beneath us. We floated over river, valley, farmlands ... wherever the wind took us. “That’s the beauty and trouble of balloon rides; I can change directions and altitude, but mobility depends solely on the wind,” said the balloon operator.
The balloon landing, however, was bumpy and jerky, far removed from our smooth landing at Adelaide airport. The comparison is far-fetched, but the negatives fade away when memories of floating around over beautiful landscape is etched in your memory for ever.
Emirates airline flies directly to Adelaide from Dubai on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Soon, there will be daily flights to Adelaide. Log on to www.emirates.com
WHAT NOT TO MISS
The highest point in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges, it is located about 15km east of the centre of the city of Adelaide. It offers panoramic views of the city and the Adelaide plains and foothills.
Access to the summit can be gained by road. Visitors can drive, walk or cycle to the summit. Mount Lofty is the coldest location in Adelaide. It is the most common location for snow in South Australia.
Hahndorf is a small and beautiful town. Old-world charm welcomes people to this wonderful place cocooned around 20km away from Adelaide. According to our guide, the founding of Hahndorf has a colourful history: Fleeing religious persecution in Prussia, German immigrants with the help of a sympathetic captain took off in a ship called Zebra to Southern Australia. They were helped by the ship’s captain, Hahn, to set up a town near the present Adelaide, way back in 1838. The settlement was named Hahndorf in honour of the captain. German influence is apparent in the traditional architecture of the original surviving buildings.
The Wildlife Park gives visitors an opportunity to walk through large enclosures and interact with Australian animals such as kangaroos, koalas and emus, and to see others including wombats, dingoes and many bird and reptile species. The park also has a variety of rare and endangered species such as the yellow-footed rock wallaby, bush stone-curlew and brush-tailed bettong.
Visitors also can have private photography sessions with the koalas.
THE LOUISE RESORT: BAROSSA VALLEY
The Louise is a luxury resort surrounded by vineyards of the Barossa. The Louise suites, with unique design and private terraces and outdoor showers, redefine luxury. Louise stands out in Barossa Valley, which in itself is a visual treat with vineyards connecting rolling hills, villages, hamlets and farmlands. Log on to www.thelouise.com.au
Balloon flight over the picturesque Barossa Valley is another exciting entertainment/adventure to look forward to.