First off I’d like to apologize for the blatant loss of Wednesday’s description in my last post. One of my photos cut out the paragraph, so don’t worry Wednesdays are just as fun here in Australia. They’re actually my day off from classes. I’ll usually stroll down to Rundle Mall or hide out in a cafe if the weather’s bad and catch up on some work.
It’s always fun though to break the routine I’ve fallen into and with mid-semester break coming up (a two week break in the middle of the semester which I very much believe F&M should adopt) I’m looking forward to all the new experiences other parts of Australia have to offer. I’ll be going to Cairns the first week of the break and snorkeling/diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and in the second week I’ll be heading to Kangaroo Island for a research project in my Conservation and Restoration course.
That isn’t to say of course that nothing exciting has been happening here in Adelaide. This past weekend I got to experience a lot of the rich cultural experiences Adelaide has to offer. The first of these experiences was known as the Royal Adelaide Show. The show was made up of markets, bazaars, art shows, musical performances, a giant agricultural show, food and wine tastings, carnival rides, and a stadium show with fireworks. I actually ended up visiting twice just to be sure I didn’t miss out on any of the attractions offered. First, I went with my IFSA-Butler class and our adviser escorted us around the grounds to all the must see events which of course included the dog show taking place. I don’t think I stopped squealing the entire time we were in that tent. Along with adorable dogs there were tents filled to the max with all types of different agricultural animals. We roamed around looking at the prize winning pigs, horses, cows, sheep, goats, cats, and even alpacas. Needless to say I was quite in my element.
Our group adviser, Sharna, also showed us through the food tent, packed full of different vendors all offering free samples from smoked Australian sausages to even Eucalyptus flavored ice cream (and other outback inspired flavors). The grounds of the fair itself were huge and the amount of people there was perplexing. I’m used to small fairs back home for my town that usually run up and down main street, but this was full of multiple pavilions used just for housing art displays, small business set ups, or food stands. Later on when myself and two of my friends came back at night we walked around the carnival area of the show, full of your standard Ferris wheels, haunted houses, roller coasters, and kiddie rides. The night was lit up with neon lights and the grounds were flooded with people.
Eventually we made our way over to the stadium where we found motor car racing, stunts, and other spectacles being performed before the fireworks show. I was so close to the experience that during the racing I got, much to my surprise, dirt flung all over me from the tracks. Needless, to say there should have been a “splash zone” warning if you were too close to the railing. My two friends who were with me, Tanner and Sydney, love going to car and truck rallys and felt right at home. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit as I shook the dirt out of my shoes, it was pretty cool after all. It was a taste of Adelaide and the community it supports. Everyone at the show was friendly and out to have a good time. There was definitely a lot of pride for the city and I could understand why after experiencing just some of what it has to offer, including a fascinating treat called “chips on a stick” which as weird as it sounds was actually absolutely delicious.
The next day, IFSA-Butler had even more in store for us with a wine tour through the famous Barossa Valley of South Australia. We were picked up at our apartment building and on a small bus with about 10 other people we headed to the Barossa Valley about an hour out from the city. Our bus driver commentated the drive with some local history on the way there and how the valley came to be the prominent wine spot it is today. We drove over hill after hill as the sun rose in the sky. The further we got into the valley the more I felt like I was being taken back through time. The houses became very spaced apart and almost all were made with sandstone or blue-stone as our tour guide explained there wasn’t enough lumber in Australia to build houses out of anything else when people first arrived. It was so picturesque. We passed miles of rolling, grassy hills where herds of sheep, cows, and horses were grazing. Eucalyptus trees twisted and turned over the road with bark of a light gray. It’s amazing to me that just a small difference like the kinds of trees present here make everything seem like a new world as I watched them pass by. Before we got to our first wine tour we also stopped at a famous dam in the Barossa Reservoir called the “Whispering Wall”.
There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary about it when we pulled up, but our tour guide told half of our group to walk to one side of the dam and stand on the ledge while half of the group stayed on the ledge at the other side of the dam. As we stood far away on the other side our tour guide just said “hello” clearly but softly while we stood there. Next thing I new a voice sounded as if it was standing right next to me from someone all the way on the other side of the dam. You could just speak in a whisper and be understood perfectly on the other side. I was in shock. We continued having a conversation with the group on the other side. The dam was engineered so perfectly that the sound echoed across it to the opposite side without losing any of the vibration and volume. I giggled to myself as I thought about how much more entertaining this might have been on our way back from the wine tour, but it still blew my mind nonetheless. Now, it was finally time to head to our first stop (1 out of 5 wineries we’ d be stopping at). All but one of the wineries we visited had structured tastings and as someone who’s never had much if any experience in different kinds of wine, I was really surprised to see just how many there could be and how intricately each bottle was designed.
At one winery, Peter Lehmann, we were actually able to see the oldest shiraz grape vines still known in the world. The wine itself also wasn’t too bad. The whole day was full of cheese, crackers, wine and lots of fun. Obviously, the bus ride home was full of napping people.
It’s nice to know that even more excitement awaits me in Cairns and on Kangaroo Island but the rest of this week is strictly school work. Until mid-semester break!
*obligatory cliche study abroad photo*