March 24 was our first anniversary! Graeme was working that day so we celebrated over the long Easter weekend, heading up to Barossa overnight. Barossa Valley is only an hour from the city, there is a lot to see, wineries to explore… It’s a great place to recharge!
Firstly we headed up in time for lunch at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. For those of you who don’t know, Maggie Beer is an Australian chef, voted Senior Australian of the Year in 2009 – and she has a show on ABC, the Cook and the Chef. You can see cooking demonstrations here (I think from 2pm), presented in Maggie’s ‘kitchen’ where the show is filmed, which apparently is a replica of her kitchen at home (up the road).
In the shop, you can taste the various Maggie Beer products, from pates, sauces, condiments to ice creams and verjuice… You may even bump into Maggie Beer herself! (We saw her but missed a chance to get a photo with her)
They have a pheasant farm next door for the pates and pies hehe
We love to have our lunches up here – you can choose one of several 'picnic boxes,’ – this one is mushroom pate –
or a pheasant pie… presented with the rustic feel of the bush (I think so?)
The place backs onto a beautiful little lake where you can see lots of native birds and ducks.
In recent years (I think 2008) they have opened a beautiful function room – you could have a wedding here!
To top it off they have several peacocks wandering around the property… I’d love to have a place like this :)
After our thoroughly enjoyable lunch, we check in at the Novotel Barossa in Rowland Flat. My husband and I have stayed here several times. We choose this particular hotel not only because we got engaged here and we have fond memories of the place, but we like their simple, efficient customer service and easy-going atmosphere.
I personally love the fact that they have an Endota Spa here – we were lucky enough to enjoy a couple’s treatment (as a wedding present from our wonderful friends Michael & Rosi) where we had a body wrap and massage – we were both so relaxed and falling asleep to the beautiful music and scents. It is so heavenly. After your treatment you can spend a few moments recovering in the front room with a delicious herbal tea (and possibly buying a few skincare products on impulse haha) – and when you’re ready, you can float out into the peaceful grounds of Novotel. It’s so wonderful. Love, love, love!
It does not compare to my other experience at Endota in the city where the treatment was so wonderful but I had to come crashing down to city reality as soon as I stepped out on to the street.
The rooms are really clean and modern – this one was a king spa room.
The view from our room –
After a quick nap, we head out again to explore the region. You can visit several cellar doors for wine tastings, or drive up to some beautiful lookouts. We did a bit of both :)
We wanted to head up the hill towards a winery that Graeme has visited in the past and on the way came across the Mengler’s Hill Lookout –
I absolutely love this wine country view – we were lucky enough to drive through the Champagne region of France last year but the view is so different. This is so very Australian… perhaps a different green?
There is a sculpture park display below the lookout… (although I have to say my appreciatiation was quite muted… if I knew what they were about, I might have enjoyed them more) –
and a memorial for the Barossa pioneers.
After our quick stop, we continued up the hill to Yalumba – it’s a gorgeous winery & cellar door – definitely worth a visit! They have a huge wine range and you could easily spend a good 30 minutes here. I don’t drink but enjoy tasting the varieties, and hubby likes a good glass, mainly red. We usually visit one winery per trip since we’re driving ourselves.
If you’re up for a more substantial wine tasting, you could consider using a pick-up service where a local guide will drive you to all the wineries that you could wish for and you can taste away to your heart’s content. You could Google for private guides in Barossa.
We head back to Novotel but it takes a good 20 minutes; this trip made us realise how sprawling the Barossa actually is. It’s made up of several townships including Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Angaston and Lyndoch – with many more dotted in between. The local map is pretty unreliable too, so if you pick up a free map of the region, I have to warn you that not all the roads are marked and it’s completely inaccurate! Some roads look like T intersections when they actually go through, so it was very confusing to work out which way we were supposed to be heading. Gah!
On the way back, we drive through Angaston, and we spot an interesting looking restaurant – 40’s Cafe, proudly sporting a banner saying “Awarded Best Pizza Maker in Australia & Best Gourmet Pizza in Australia” – naturally, we had to check it out!
I had the "Barossa Valley Blend” –
and Graeme had the “Best of the Best S.A. Seafood”
Oh my goodness. These pizzas were… divine! They were the thinnest, crispiest pizza bases we’ve ever had. I’m usually very conservative when it comes to pizzas – a Margherita girl through and through – but here the gourmet pizzas looked SO good I had to try them! They were delicious, had so much flavour yet not over the top, and we could eat a whole pizza and not be over it… Yum yum!!! I can’t believe we hadn’t come across this place earlier. We’ll definitely go back before we leave Adelaide!
After a quick night cap in the hotel bar, we called it a night to prepare for more adventures ahead.
The next day was Good Friday – which meant that most places would be closed – so we decided to stay in for breakfast and have the buffet at the hotel. I was a good girl and only had continental (in line with my Lite n Easy scheme).
We have cats so we obviously had to start thinking about heading home. After many false starts (we were trying to get to some National Parks but they were too far down a dirt road and we were so over it that we turned back a few times), we decided to go down to the Whispering Wall in Williamstown.
As the name suggests, it is a wall built for the Barossa Reservoir – curved in design allowing special acousitc qualities that made it famous. Apparently during its construction between 1899-1903, the workers on one side discovered that they could hear conversations of those on the other side.
To experience the Wall’s famous acousitc qualities, you walk down into special ‘whispering’ points – the other person walks across to the other side and does the same – and you can have a conversation. It’s pretty cool.
Here’s a video I took for fun
Well, there you have it. Good times were had by all, what a great first anniversary!