State and Federal governments - and a lot of well-meaning private companies - have paid many millions of dollars to haul a rotting hulk (aka The City of Adelaide) from Scotland to Adelaide in the hope that the sad pile will become a tourist attraction somewhere in Port Adelaide.
How sad. Even the penny-pinching Scots through their government contributed to the fund, to rid themselves of an eyesore that should have been broken up or torched years ago (picture source: www.bbc.com). The Scots obviously couldn’t believe their luck when the Save the City of Adelaide group and their influential friends offered them a solution they couldn’t refuse - and which they eagerly contributed to.
Now as noble as that cause might be - and time will tell whether that which was once a fine ship will ever become more than a ‘middling’ tourist attraction at what was first known as ‘Port Misery’ - the question must be asked: will it work? History may record the City of Adelaide experiment as a (largely) tax-payer funded expensive folly.
In the meantime, other potential tourist magnets languish through lack of modest government funding and lack of political will.
We refer here to already existing train lines through regional South Australia - in particular through the Barossa Valley, the undisputed jewel in South Australia’s tourist offerings.
A thoroughly well maintained train line (used to service trains from Nuriootpa’s Penrice mine - now in liquidation) is invaluable infrastructure begging for government/private investment input to resurrect THE BAROSSA WINE TRAIN.
The Barossa Wine Train was launched in May 1998 and was a unique experience from Adelaide to the Barossa Valley. It operated between 1998 and 2003, and on average 10,000 to 13,000 people travelled on the train each year—70,000 passengers in total.
The train received great media coverage and was reported to have injected $20 million into the economy every year - but significant world events (9/11, terrorism, SARS, the outbreak of bird flu et al) contributed to forcing the train off the rails in 2003.
Despite strident efforts by the (now retired) local MP for the Barossa, The Hon. Ivan Venning, the then (and recently re-elected) Labor Government has so far refused to provide funding to re-instate the train, despite the fact that it has spent millions on attracting tourists to the Barossa with its highly successful ‘Be Consumed’ campaign.
Now, in 2014, one group is trying to do something about it - and resurrecting other abandoned train lines through rural South Australia. The REGIONAL RAIL IN SA ACTION GROUP is raising a petition to force the SA Government to get off its bureaucratic bum and bring trains back to the regions - for tourism, and commuter traffic. We urge you to sign the petition (you can do it electronically, on-line). See the details below, but before you do, read our take on what may be possible (Tourism Minister Leon Bignell take note!)
Let’s resurrect the BAROSSA WINE TRAIN. The rolling stock exists, it just needs refurbishment. We’re no train experts, but consider this: Let’s set up the train this way - one or two VIP carriages (let’s use the old-fashioned term, ‘first class’). These first-class carriages would offer a level of service and accoutrements similar to ‘Gold’ standard on the iconic Ghan train (high quality Barossa Valley food platters and nibbles, with premium wines for example, served by attendants). Then a number of ‘second class’ carriages offering pre-packaged Barossa foods (Linke’s mettwursts and delights from Tanunda’s Apex Bakery spring to mind, along with ‘airline’ bottles of Barossa wine). Then a number of ‘commuter’ carriages for locals starved of public transport to and from Adelaide.
In the meantime, we urge you to share our blog with anyone with an interest in the Barossa Valley and tourism.
AND WE URGE YOU to sign the petition to resurrect regional train services - particularly those to the Barossa Valley. Click here to go to the petition page.
With the early Barossan settlers' Osterhase (or Easter Bunny) hopping away to hibernation for another year - but with the school holidays still in full swing and the Anzac break upon us, this is a great time to visit the Barossa as Autumn settles over the Valley.
As you see in our pictures here, the lush green vines of summer have given up their fine vintage and the exquisite autumn yellows and greens of the myriad vines are casting an unforgettable glow over the Barossa - and with temperatures ranging from 22 degrees to 26 degrees and only slightly cloudy days for the next week, the Barossa is at its best. This Easter Monday night is balmy and the stars are at their brightest on a cloudless night.
So get up to the Valley - and get our Talking Tours to make the most of your visit. Use our Contact Form on our website www.barossatalkingtours.com and if you're coming through Williamstown, we'll arrange for you to pick up your tour - or of course we can post them to you!
IF YOU'D LIKE TO PICK UP YOUR DISC/S over the Easter/ANZAC day holidays, go to WINESTAINS in the main street of Williamstown, Easter Saturday or Sunday (and the ANZAC weekend (Saturday/Sunday) - and we'll also be at BAKER ST Bakery (immediately on the left at the Williamstown/Lyndoch intersection, coming into Williamstown from Kersbrook) from 10AM to 12 Noon on Easter Monday.
For other pick-up details in the Barossa, use our Contact form on our Contact Us page and we'll be in touch!
In the latter part of last Century it was, staggeringly, abandoned by its then corporate owner (remember when ‘greed was good’?) and effectively became a ruin - until its current owner John Geber chanced upon it in 1988 and has since restored it to its former glory.
It boasts an international-standard cricket oval on which many senior world cricketers have played - and today, has a fine croquet lawn too - not to mention an immense cellar door with wines which have received the highest accolades - and huge entertainment spaces available for hire.
It is, simply, stunning. When you’re in the Valley, call in and take a look!
This year, we've been following Langmeil Wines, the custodians of the world's oldest block of Shiraz vines (learn more on our Talking Tour!) - and in early April, that meant getting the maximum juice and flavour from the berries from their Freedom Block. To do that, they shovel the berries into basket presses from their open fermenters to ensure they extract each precious drop. We shot a video on the process, which we'll be loading here soon - but in the meantime, check out the 'red legs' in our images here!
Can't get to the Barossa for the best Hot Cross Buns in Australia? Now you could just go down to your suburban supermarket and buy the bland versions, but here's the next best thing!
Why not make your own? There's nothing like something hand-made!
Here we share our recipe (for Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, no less!) to rival those made by Nipper Fechner at Tanunda's historic Apex Bakery (which we feature on our Talking Tour), and those made at the Baker St Bakery in Williamstown (see our post below!) This recipe will have your tribe coming back for more!
To get the recipe, click on the .PDF icon below, then print it out. You'll need a full morning or afternoon to make these Hot Cross Buns, but believe us, it's worth it! These will taste so much better than anything you'll buy from suburban supermarkets, and combine the best of Easter - Hot Cross Buns and chocolate!
So why not give it a go?
For the Easter/Anzac day week, we're offering our discs at a special price. We're including next-day delivery to your door (by Australia Express Post assuming your area is serviced by Express Post) - or you can pick up your discs in Williamstown over the Easter or Anzac day weekends. Buy one or other of our discs - or buy them together for a further discount! OUR OFFER LASTS UNTIL APRIL 27.
For details go to our shop!
When you visit the Barossa over the Easter/Anzac Day break, you need to call in here! Where, did we hear you say?
This is a great, if largely under-publicised gem in the heart of the Valley - tell us if you know where this is! In the meantime, stay tuned - we'll be telling you more about it shortly!
With Easter just around the corner, here's something we bet you didn't know! The Easter Bunny - or Osterhase in German - actually was introduced to Australia by the first settlers to the Barossa Valley - Lutherans who were escaping religious persecution in their European homeland.
For German Lutherans, the Easter Hare dates back to 1682 and
originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide.
The Easter Bunny actually came out to Australia on the barque Catherina, which in 1839 carried the Silesian Lutherans to South Australia, and who were to make their home in the Barossa. Johann Christian Auricht, whose first vines in the Valley - planted 170 years ago, and still producing wine today at Langmeil Winery - would have entertained settlers' children with tales of Osterhase, and no doubt chided them to be on their best behaviour over Easter.
We visited Langmeil Wines for their 2014 harvest, and while we were filming, we came across Osterhase getting his own 'crop' together for the Easter to come....
So if you're visiting the Barossa over Easter (a perfect time to do so!) get the kids to watch out for Osterhase, and why not get our Barossa Talking Tours Disc#1 to learn more about the early Lutheran settlers to the Valley. We join the settlers on the Catherina on their last weary leg of their journey to South Australia, then follow them as they arrive to set up home in the Barossa. Our audio tour is a perfect Easter gift - buy now and we'll throw in an easter egg from Osterhase!
Baker Jess Sankey shows off her Hot Cross buns in our picture (yeah, there's four missing - but we couldn't help ourselves as they came out of the oven!)
And here are some things you might not know about the superstitions behind Hot Cross buns:
One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mould during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.
Sharing a Hot Cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time.
Because there is a cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck (we note that there were no Hot Cross buns on the Titanic!). If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly.
So we'll see you at Baker St at Williamstown!
processed in open fermenters before being basket pressed to extract the finest juices for the iconic Freedom Block wine.....The 2014 vintage is currently being processed - and Cellarmaster Jonathon Bitter says the vintage will be excellent despite challenging weather. To learn more about Langmeil Wines and its amazing 170 year old vines, get our Talking Tours audio CD... a great story for visitors to the Valley, or for armchair travellers...
With Easter just around the corner and the weather in the Barossa Valley cooling down, it's time to think of warming foods - and no better than that from the Apex Bakery in Tanunda.
Call in on Nipper Fechner and his brothers to see what they're cooking up in their 100 year old 'Scotch' wood oven!
Barossa bakeries are great year round, but Easter is special.
To learn more about Nipper and the Apex Bakery, check out our talk with Nipper on our Barossa Talking Tours disc#1 - you'll be glad you did!
For some superior vineyards, the cooling weather has provided great relief for those whose grapes are best picked by hand -- those vineyards which mostly produce small yields, from some of the oldest vines in the world - or those vineyards producing premium wines from select vines where machine picking, as good as it is these days, just can't operate.
Here we take a look at Wolf Blass, where select vineyards are still picked in the traditional way - and we spoke with Senior Site Winemaker Matt O'Leary about his expectations for the 2014 vintage.
While there might still be a hot 'kick in the tail' of summer, cooler but still sunny days are rolling over the Barossa Valley, making it an ideal time to visit!
The cooler weather is not only bringing out the visitors, but it's also stirring the locals - none more so than this mob just outside of Williamstown, which we mention in our Barossa Talking Tours disc.
These are to be found on the rise to the right of the Kersbrook to Williamstown Road, about 3-5 kilometres from Williamstown - and it's no small mob - several scores of roos graze happily only metres from the road. So if you're coming up to the Valley (on its most scenic route), drive carefully - and enjoy the locals!
Barossa Talking Tours provides an entertaining and informative look at the Barossa Valley as an audio tour - perfect for car or caravan!