Only a few more towns now lay between us and the Barossa Valley–small, charming towns filled with character, surrounded by gum trees, and with an appealing, old hotel always close to the road. We passed through Freeling and then turned down Daveyston Road, back toward the Sturt Highway. We were in the Barossa Valley again, and soon back in Nuriootpa and “home.”
First order of business was shopping, not just food for my last evening but also for the coming week for Nikki and Richard. I always love visiting grocery stores when I travel, as it is a great way to see a very basic way in which life is different from back home. Australian grocery stores aren’t dramatically different from American ones, but they don’t have all the same products. There are British imports as well as Australian goods (including some wonderful, local cheeses), and a lot of wonderfully exotic produce. So I had fun doing even this.
When we got back to the house, Nikki took me on a tour of the garden. Richard has put in a pond for her, and she has filled large areas with beautiful flowers. Most intoxicating of all, however, was the hedge that surrounded the garden and had been grown into an arch over the entry grate—it was all rosemary. Every time I brushed against it, the fragrance of the herb surrounded me. Simply wonderful.
For dinner, Richard prepared a barbecue of kangaroo basted with his apricot/honey sauce. He was very pleased to get a chance to use his new grill. Nikki and I helped with sides: pumpkin, potatoes, and noodles. Of course, Australian wine was also on offer. Surrounded as we were by wineries, it was only reasonable to enjoy some local wine.
There was a lovely sunset and we were still outside when the afterglow turned crimson.
After dinner, we watched videos of Australian destinations, discussed books, and talked. Nikki put on Mozart and served port, coffee, and chocolates, as Richard set about helping me plan my onward journey across Victoria. He had an abundance of maps and valuable suggestions about places I might have the easiest time finding a nice hotel with lots of character and routes that might show the countryside to advantage. Lovely to have so much information before heading off again–and maps. Having not had maps for my Sydney to Brisbane drive, earlier in the trip, I was delighted to have maps for my next long drive.
I didn’t want the evening to end, but I need to get an early start and Nikki and Richard need to go to work in the morning. So we parted company with promises to try to get together again someday.