Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tips and Tricks : Cleland Wildlife Park

One of things that one must do in Australia (especially if you're here the first time), is to get up close and personal with Australia's native furry friends and other friendly wildlife.

Walkthrough Map of Cleland Wildlife Park
The Cleland Wildlife Park (or the Cleland Conservation Park), located 22 km south-east of the Adelaide City centre, South Australia is one of Adelaide's main attraction since 1967. It warms hearts to know that conservation parks like this are making effort to create sustainable environments that harmonize the wildlife ecosystem and giving chance to people to enjoy it now and the near future. Cleland Wildlife Park is open from 9.30am – 5pm daily (entry gates and aviaries close at 4.30pm though). Do plan your trip wisely as the park is not open on Christmas, or days of forecast of catastrophic fire danger.

The so called hidden no.38, just locate the Beehive Corner Haigh's Chocolate as the most prominent landmark and you should be fine.
We locked on a tour with Integrity Tours & Charter, where we were taken from Rundle Mall area itself. Our pick up point was located at 38, King William Street on that day at 2pm. We arrived to that street with survivable navigation skill but we somehow couldn't locate no.38. Needless to say, we went on a frantic mode as the clock was ticking down till the last minute of 1.59pm. Somehow, with a little luck, we managed to find a pick up bus stand (but for another tour) and figured that THAT was no.38.

Bro Tips :  If you are heading to Cleland via the bus, get to Stop G2 Grenfell St. - North Side, take bus no.864 towards Mount Barker, alight at Stop 16 Adelaide Crafers Highway - North West Side and hike about 1.7km towards Cleland Wildlife Park. You're welcome. :)

Our guide arrived punctually, and we were the only two visitors via the tour that day. After approximately 20 minutes drive from the centre, we passed by Mount Lofty Summit Road, Crafers and up to park entrance. Entrance fee start from $16 per adult (concession) and $10 for children.

Animal Food to attract le wild life!
Bro Tips:  : Buy a packet of animal food for a small fee and get the experience of feeding the animals. Do note that outside food may or will be prohibited to protect the dietary and behavioral habit of the animals.

Finally, a close up experience with a (totally unimpressed) koala :P
If you arrive at around 2.30 pm, it is recommended that you make your way to the Koala Close-Up first (due to the limited time constrain of 11am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm schedule, koalas have very short waking time span) as people would generally queue in this station only - the rest is roaming free and easy. There should be a koala holding opportunity for $30 but somehow there wasn't this offer that day (for some unexplained reason). Anyhow, the free interaction session with the koala suffice as we still get to take the picture with the koala anyway.

After the koalas you should be able to make your way with the help of the map to venture around the park. The marsupials here are relatively unafraid of human, so gentle petting are more than welcomed. Don't miss the wombats, potoroos, wombats, bettongs, wallabies and the iconic kangaroos.

Feeding the tame kangaroos
Bro Tips : Different kangaroos roams in different enclosures, among the types of kangaroos that you can find here include the Red Kangaroos, Western Gray Kangaroos & Kangaroo Island Kangaroos (Yes, you don't actually have to go all the way to Kangaroo Island for this).

Above : Tasmanian Devil , Below : Dingo
The dingoes and Tasmanian devil are probably the other furry friends that you might be interested to catch here, though the dingoes were tad too dormant when we were there and the Taz was too active running in circles. Anyhow, it is always fascinating to watch animals in their regular activities.

Birds of the wet land
If you fancy aviary or birds in general, do catch some of them at the wetland aviary, swamp lands, and forest aviary for your fair share of native, forest and water birds.

The porcupine looking echidnas
Other notable wildlife that you should be able to spot are the emus, elusive echidnas, various snakes, and monitor lizards. Don't worry about approaching these animals if they're out and roaming. Dangerous ones are placed in enclosures with ample warning about approaching them (e.g. the wombat bites, although they're cute, but they bite)

The emu (along with the kangaroo) are the coat of arms icon of Australia (Ozzy's are said to be the only country that consumes both their coat of arms animals. Emu and Kangaroo are chosen because they can't move backwards, noting that Australia is a constant moving forward country)
Customized tours are available as well, such as the Cultural Tour of the Yurridla Aboriginal Trail but these tours would be great if you came here without a hitched tour to begin with. Night walk tour would be awesome for nocturnal creature lookouts. Facilities here also include a cafe (for those who wish to get their dosage of coffee, especially during the winter season) and a souvenir shop.

You'll know you're at the submit when you see this lighthouse
On the way back to the city, we made a quick stop to Mount Lofty look out point, the highest point of Mount Lofty Ranges with a panoramic view of the city.

Cleland Wildlife Park is a must visit if animal and wildlife intrigues you, especially getting up close and personal with the native animals of Australia, is definitely one great experience in South Australia!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tips and Tricks : Taste the Barossa Tour

The Barossa Valley is approximately 60km from the Adelaide City Centre and arguably the major wine-producing region of the country. McLaren Vale and Clare Valley would be another tourist favorite, but we decided to just venture Barossa. It was a day before Christmas and we were surprised that we could snag a slot for the tour (FYI most tour bus rejected us prior coming to here, lol. And kudos to Ashley, our tour guide who was committed and willing to work on Christmas Eve).  

Tour Bus
We chartered the Taste the Barossa tour, where we covered a total of 4 wine sampling for AUD $99 per person. Pricey? For 4 wine sampling tour, to and fro transportation from the city and lunch as well, I think it is pretty worth it (the last wine sampling I had was in NZ, for NZD $15).

Testing the Whispering Wall
Our first stop was at the Whispering Wall (also known as the Barossa Reservoir). This dam is a famous tourist stop due to its parabola effect and acoustic qualities, where voice can be heard from an end to another at a 140m stretch.

Chateau Yaldara
We then made our way to our first winery at the historic Château Yaldara (Aboriginal : Sparkling). Homing to the 1847 Wines company, we get to sample an array of red and white wines, notably the Shiraz, Rosé (acquired taste needed for this floral tasting wine), Sémillon, Sparkly and the Tawny (which I felt its fruity and nutty flavour is suitable for festive servings).

First wine tasting of the day!
Bro Tips : Barossa is famous for its Shiraz (red) & Sémillon (white) production. 

Our trip resumes by driving through the picturesque scenery of Barossa Valley and headed to the township of Tanunda (Aboriginal : Water Hole) for a quick break and walk around in this small town with German heritage (potty break, coffee, souvenir hunting and cash out is possible here).

Bro Tips : As this was the only place that was in the tour route that has ATM, those who joined the tour but have yet to settle the payment can cash out here.

Our second wine tasting was at one of Australia's most reputable and innovative wine makers', the late Peter Lehmann's winery. Homing to Barossa's most internationally acclaimed wines, we manage to enjoy some of it before headed for the Weighbridge platter. A beautifully assembled platter of the finest meats, cheese, olives and baked breads are a strong statement from this regional highlight of fine dining.

The Weighbridge Platter (Vegetarian option on the bottom)
Bro Tips : Platter includes Linke Mettwurst (German sausage), Lachsschincken (German smoked meat), Beetroot Relish, Dill Cucumber, Kurianda Pear Chutney, Kalamata Olives, Almonds, Freshly baked Breads & Cheddar Cheese. Vegetarian menu is optional whereby Dried Apricots and Mushroom Pâté are used to substitute the meat (which contains beef/pork).

Beautiful and Rustic Langmeil

Langmeil, home to the oldest known Shiraz vineyard in the world was our next stop. A family winery in the true sense of the word, we got to walk along the vineyard and into their rustic Cellar Door and greeted by friendly, as I quote their words, part of the family. 

Peak of Mengler Hill Lookout
Mengler Hill Lookout is a splendid place for a panoramic, breath taking view over the beautiful Barossa Valley. We managed to do a quick stop here before headed to our last winery for the tour.

It is said you'll know that you are in Seppeltsfield with the sight of this Palm Road
The Seppeltsfield (Palm Valley) Road leads from Barossa Valley Way to the iconic Seppeltsfield Winery, founded by the Seppelt family in the early 1850s.  We passed by the iconic Seppeltsfield winery which ties in perfectly with the Murray Street Vineyards (MSV), the 4th and last wine tasting station. MSV has two vineyards, the Greenock and Gomersal, and we were lucky to sample the Shiraz from these two vineyards.

Bro Tips : The wines during the tasting selection includes 
2014 Vintage Black Label Sémillon & MSV Viognier Marsanne
2009 Vintage MSV the Barossa, MSV Red Label Cabernet Sauvignon & MSV Red Label Shiraz
2010 Vintage MSV Gomersal Estate Shiraz & MSV Greenock Estate Shiraz
There is also Wine of the Week upon request (which we have overlooked from our tasting list, bah!)

This tour truly blends wineries rich with history and story, lovely regional food, breath taking scenery and the friendly folks that put the standard for Barossa Valley as a world class region. The tour is full day (from 9 to 5) and I believe if you're ever in South Australia, visiting the wineries is truly an enriching experience.

Bro Tips: There are estimated 50 wineries in the Barossa Valley. Even if you fancy self drive more, you can take the above as a simple guideline on where to visit while you are there. Prices of wine tasting tour may vary, so it is imperative that researches has to be done before driving yourself there.