I put on my tourist hat for a weekend of exploring close to home. I discover how lucky we are. Not that I didn't already know that. Welcome to my backyard - the McLaren Vale area on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Magpie Springs and Southern Boulder, Hope Forest www.magpiesprings.com.au
Vineyard, cellar door, gallery and bouldering wall. These guys have it covered. Kids are welcome, but keep an eye on them, with lots of art scattered across the property - nobody wants it broken.
We signed the paperwork then set out across the lawn to the bouldering wall. I could get up a couple of the walls, and stood amazed at how people could climb over the rest. The strength these guys and girls would have in their fingers, hands, arms and body. At some points, they would be hanging upside down, holding on to small knobs with just their fingers. It would be an interesting event to watch.
Artist Avril Thomas lives and works here. I photographed her for an editorial while I was working at News Limited and enjoyed seeing where she has come with the property from 'run down' to an incorporated natural art gallery. Using what is on the land, and in nature, there are surprises everywhere I look. We are lucky enough to have Avril show us around, pointing out things as we go. I especially love the three woven vine rings that hang from towering trees near the dam.
The Victory Hotel, Sellicks Beach www.victoryhotel.com.au
Established in 1858, it's a local icon. But it's the first time I have eaten here. I have photographed here before - chef, owner, renovations - but never 'enjoyed' it. I have been missing out. We sit under the pergola watching the Willunga plains and ocean change colour and tone as the sun sets. The party hanging around from lunch are particularly entertaining as we speculate who is holding themselves the best, as they chat and laugh in front of us. Kids play gymnastics and ball on the lawn beside them as bowls of chips are handed out.
The food is good - very good. And don't forget to check out the wine cellar like I did. Hubby went down to find a bottle of wine and came back confused - too much choice. He was probably even more confused by the selection process of going into the cellar. :)
Sea and Vines Cottage, Willunga area www.seavinescottage.com
This two bedroomed little cutie feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, but in reality, is under five minutes to Sellicks Beach, five minutes to Willunga and less than ten minutes to McLaren Vale. Surrounded by gum trees and vineyards, I heard three cars drive past the entire time we were there (an afternoon and morning). Sitting in the claw foot bath, a glass of port on the caddy, while reading a magazine (in between looking out to the paddock from the big bathroom window) was a definite relax. As was sitting on the front porch having a child-free chat - until the mozzies came out. The next morning we enjoyed a bbq eggs and bacon breakfast under the pergola while dreaming of living in such an area.
Port Noarlunga jetty and beach
One of my favourite beaches in Adelaide. I'd love to build my dream house here - on The Esplanade south of the little main hub of town. The beach is plump with squeaky sand (and no seaweed!) while the water is so clear you can see the bottom, even when standing at the end of the jetty. The reef that lays at the end of the jetty is popular with scuba divers and the morning we are there, a team are practicing first aid and retrieval skills. All while teens are jumping off the end of the jetty, pulling bikinis into place as they surface and fisherman are catching (and then releasing) Port Jackson sharks.
I still have so much to discover - but I can't help but wander further afield. I'll just discover what I need when I need. It's a good way to see the world, I think.