Tuesday 2 – Saturday 7 December 2019. Adelaide. 0km.
Our original plan for Adelaide was to stay four nights with three full days off. But it took us slightly longer to get there, so we decided to only take two days off – and from what we had read about the city that seemed likely to be enough. However after two days we decided that we hadn’t seen everything we wanted to so went back to our original plan – and our lovely WarmShowers hosts Rosalie and Ian were kind enough to let us extend our stay with them.
Adelaide is the capital city of the state of South Australia (SA). Of the 1.65 million people that live in SA (which is 4 times the size of the U.K. in terms of land mass), 1.35 million live in Adelaide, which it’s pretty much nearly all of them – and we can see why. The city itself is quite spread out so it doesn’t feel congested or overcrowded but there is still plenty going on – to give a couple of examples, Elton John performed while we were here (we could hear him in the garden in the evening!) and West Side Story is currently running – so it definitely feels like a city. The Torrens River, which runs through the city centre has miles of lovely walks, the Adelaide Hills surround the city, the Barossa and Clare Valley wine regions are nearby and there is of course a beach – so there are loads of opportunities to have a great outdoors life while still having all the benefits of living in a city. So we think it offers the best of both worlds….and might explain the great relaxed city vibe that is has. Apparently Adelaide has taken its lead from the ‘cool’ factor associated with Melbourne, which is regularly voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, and copied a lot of its cafe, street and social culture – but surprisingly, of the 10 million people that visit Australia every year only 500,000 visit Adelaide! We think this is a shame as they are definitely missing out. And we obviously picked the right time of the year to visit as the city had hundreds of jacarandas in full bloom….
We did our usual chores, treated ourselves to some new kit (including finally getting a new helmet for me to replace the one I bashed in Vietnam!) and generally took it easy over the three days. Rosalie and Ian were very relaxed hosts and happy for us to come and go as we pleased so we also took in plenty of the city sights and experiences. We hadn’t done a walking tour in ages as Asian cities didn’t offer them, so we decided to see what the Aussies had to offer – it was brilliant and probably one of the highlights of our visit!
We visited the Adelaide Arcade, an old Victoria shopping centre, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of an old caretaker who lived there with his family….
It is right beside the Malls Balls sculpture, which apparently is one of the top tourist highlights in the city. We weren’t convinced……!
One of the many interesting facts we picked up on the tour is that unlike other states, South Australia wasn’t colonised by convicts, but based on free settlement. Instead of granting free land to convict settlers, as happened in other colonies (such as New South Wales and Tasmania), the land in SA was sold and it was the only colony in Australia intended to be developed at no cost to the British Government. It was advertised as convict-free with no religious discrimination or unemployment and a promise of a representative government when the population reached 50,000 people. The bottom line being that people chose to live here all those years ago rather than being forced to!
Since we arrived in Australia we hadn’t educated ourselves much on its Aboriginal culture, so we put that right by visiting the South Australian museum. We aren’t normally museum lovers but it was really good with lots of of Aboriginal artefacts, information and exhibits ….
We also visited the national art gallery, which was running an exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art. Again we really enjoyed it and feel slightly more educated about the Aboriginal culture than we did when we first arrived. It’s amazing and fascinating how resourceful they were (and still are!) in surviving and thriving in really harsh living conditions.
We walked the Torrens River…..
…..and on Friday we visited the central market – fantastic gourmet food market in the centre of the city. Needless to say we sampled plenty of the food on offer!
Saturday 7 December 2019. Adelaide to Wellington. 112 km.
After 3 days off the 5.30am alarm call was a bit of a shock, but we were on the road out of Adelaide by 6.45 along nice quiet tree-lined roads through the suburbs. Most of our route was on cycle paths, which were busy with the weekend Lycra-clad locals all doing exactly what we would do if we lived there – cycling! We knew we had to get out over the hills so it wasn’t long before we were into a climb – but it was more of a gradual climb than a steep one so it wasn’t too bad to be honest. Lots of cheery hellos, encouragement and funny comments from passing cyclists…my favourite being “Are you movingly house?”, which I got a few times!
When we were not far from the top an English guy and a Kiwi, Clive and Rob, joined us and persuaded us to go an extra 4km to the Mount Lofty viewpoint. Despite the fact that Adelaide Rally was on and there were loads of boy-racers on the road and that it would add about an hour to our day as well as more climbing, we decided to go for it – and were so glad we did as there were stunning views over Adelaide…..
…as well as a great coffee shop where the boys treated us to tea, coffee and cake before we parted ways.
Getting back on our planned route was slightly complicated but Navigator Nigel got us back on track and the remaining 30km ride out of the hills was through lovely countryside along the Angas River scenic drive….
…some of which was very green and lush and could have been in the English countryside. We did get invited for more coffee with other cyclists but had to decline as we wouldn’t get to our end destination if we kept stopping!
Lunch was in the lovely little town of Strathalbyn and from there on it was flat almost boring landscape into a headwind. Oh well…it can’t be beautiful all the time! The problem with boring landscape is that the last hour always seems quite difficult – and since we had been going since 6.45am and had climbed a total of 1200 metres over the day we were pretty shattered when we arrived at our campsite in Wellington. We had planned to camp but this little cabin was only $11 more expensive than a tent spot (and actually the same price as camping in Ceduna), so it wasn’t long before we made it our home for the night!
Sunday 8 December. Wellington to Policeman’s Point. 97km.
We had to get a ferry across the River Murray first thing and for a small little town like Wellington we were surprised (and glad!) to find that it was a 24 hour/7 day a week service. So we rocked up nice and early and joined 2 more cars on our 5-minute crossing…..
… where we could then start our ride for the day. We knew today was “gonna be a stinker” with temperatures reaching the high 30s, but the tailwind blew us along nicely. By 9.30am we had covered nearly 45km to reach the town of Meningie where we arranged to meet an American cyclist Scott. We have been in touch with Scott since May…..he commented on our blog while he was in Bangladesh and we were in Myanmar, and we have sporadically kept in touch since. We arrived in Australia around the same time but he is travelling in the exact opposite direction to us – from Sydney to Perth. We had hoped our paths would cross at some stage – and today was the day, even if it was only for a morning coffee! Scott is cycling solo on a 5-year journey to take in 50 countries – and his motivation for doing it was to improve his health! Unfortunately we only had an hour to chat as we were all keen to get going to stay ahead of the heat, but it was great to finally meet up and put a face to the name. We hope to see him if he makes it to London next year on the European leg of his journey!
In our hour of chatting with Scott the temperature has ramped up a few notches, so although the wind was still in our favour (poor Scott pedalling in the opposite direction!) it was starting to get uncomfortable, and our water no longer kept us cool. It’s amazing to think that exactly a week ago we were freezing our arses off on the Riesling Trail and had to seek refuge from the cold! But the scenery was pretty spectacular as we cycled alongside the salt water lagoon of Coorong National Park on our right and a few pink salt lakes to our left…
Very different to anything we have seen here before and apart from the 37-degree temperature and the hundreds of flies that had come out to enjoy the hot weather (hence the fly net!), the wild scenery made me think that we could have been in Ireland or Scotland!
We arrived in Policeman’s Point in the heat of the day. The was named because it became a camping ground for the mounted police although name apparently it was also a changing point for mail and passenger horses in the 1800s. The only thing there now is a motel, which suited us just fine! We had rung ahead to book a room as the idea of wild camping in extreme heat was not something either of us wanted to do, so although it looked closed when we arrived we were soon welcomed in by Graham the owner and given a lovely air-conditioned room to cool off and snooze away the afternoon. A German couple that have been cycling around the world for 4.5 years were also staying at the motel – so definitely our day for meeting other cyclists! And we got to see this sunset just before bed time…