Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Southern Hospitality

This little getaway was years in the making.  When Roger first started working with Craig in 2006, we started hearing about Beachport in South Australia and dreamed about going there.  It was clear this spot on the ocean was Craig's equivalent to our Idaho. A place where roots are planted and a sense of community grows.  Where you are happy doing little and where little things make big memories.

I had become friends with Craig's wife, Wendy, through emails and Skype, so when we finally met face to face at the Adelaide airport, it was like we had been friends for years.  And what better way to christen a new relationship than to have a fabulous evening at a Paul Simon concert.  Paul played all the old tunes from "Slip, sliding away" to "Graceland" and we'd never guess he is 71.  The next day Roger spent a few hours meeting potential suppliers then we headed south to see what Beachport was all about.

Craig and Wendy's house on Beach Road.  They built a duplex along with Craig's brother who owns the other side
Craig, Wendy, Heather and Roger enjoying a glass of bubbly to celebrate us finally getting to Beachport
View from their balcony never gets old and constantly changes
The beach is rugged and beautiful
Beachport's jetty is over 2500 feet long which is much shorter than the original one built in the late 1800s.

Incredible scenery was around each corner
Despite it being in a beautiful bay, the waves can really come in

Roger and I took a drive to Mt. Gambier which is an hour away from Beachport.  It is a picturesque town with a series of lakes formed from volcanoes.
Aptly named --- Blue Lake
A huge sinkhole was formed before the early settlers arrived and was transformed into a garden
We've visited interesting caves in the States, Spain and Colombia and so had to check out Tantanoola Caves near Mt. Gambier.  What it lacked in size, it made up in beauty.
The cave was originally discovered by a curious young boy and run for decades by his family until it was taken over by the government.  It is now one of the few caves to be wheelchair accessible.  

We kept our eyes open for kangaroos --- not only because we're still excited to see them, but because they are a huge hazard on the roads.  Like deer in North America, they dart out and hit cars which usually ends badly for both driver and roos.
We found them to be bigger than what we've seen in zoos, and incredibly inquisitive.  It took some time and Craig making funny noises before they hopped away.
Craig and Wendy drove us around the countryside and we enjoyed stopping at Wendy's family farm that is now run by her brother.  He raises highly sought after sheep, and took the time to demonstrate how the shearing process works.
Leigh showed us how the shearing equipment worked
These are bales of wool ready to be sold
We also drove around the Coonawarra region which is home to vineyards such as Penfolds and McWilliams.  The area is known as "the other red center" of Australia because many of the fine red wines come from here.  A couple of our favorite wines that we tasted were Jack's Chardonnay and Brand's Laira Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep your eye out for them!

It's harvest time in the Coonawarra region
Ready to be picked
We had a wonderful Easter dinner at the Stratford's along with their friends Pam, Celine (who is an actress and singer) and Dume (who is a sculpture working on a project for Beachport).  Celine and Dume are from France and have been adopted by those who call Beachport home.
Wendy, Celine and Dume

We left Beachport with the hopes of returning again and discovering more about the beautiful area, and headed back to Adelaide for a couple more meetings.  We didn't have a lot of time in Adelaide, but it is an interesting city that has diverse architecture with many restored buildings from the 1800s standing side by side modern buildings.

Adelaide is famous for the Central Market which is in full gear 3 days a week, but a lively, bustling hub when we stopped by on one of the "quiet" days.
Loved the name of this shop!

We went out for my birthday at a great tapas bar.  The seafood paella was fabulous.
So, another trip to a new part of Australia for us is come and gone.  We saw kangaroos, met new friends, and experienced Craig's "Idaho".  It was a sensational week and the Stratfords showed us southern hospitality at its finest.

I smile when many friends and family mention how happy I look in photos, and how I sound in phone calls, emails and on the blog.

It's because I am.

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
                                                                                                                          Mahatma Gandhi

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