03 November 2013

Travels in Oz (Adelaide)

Our initial stops in Australia showed us quite a difference in temperature and humidity levels. Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere and it is Spring here at the moment (October/November). I live in Auckland which has a temperate climate and winters are cool rather than cold, but I was looking forward to warmer temperatures in Australia.

Sydney was pleasantly warm (mid 20 degrees C) and a little humid when we arrived, rather like Auckland in the summer. Northern Queensland was hotter and sticky, and I’m not sure I could cope with the higher temperatures and humidity during summer, especially as that is also the rainy season. One morning we walked up a long steep hill to a lookout and I was less than nice-to-know by the time we reached the top. During the time we were there the temperatures ranged from high 20 degrees C to low 30s.

Ayers Rock was our next stop and I knew this would give us some extremes as it is a dry, desert environment. The temperatures were several degrees higher but felt vastly different due to the very low (around 8-9%) humidity. Mornings until around 10am were beautiful with light breezes and evenings were pleasant. Not surprisingly many of the organised trips take place during these times. One of the surprises I’d had was the lack of flies and other insects at Port Douglas and then the annoying amount of them at Ayers Rock. I had somehow expected it to be the opposite way around.

Our next stop was Adelaide which does have some extremes of weather and temperature but we enjoyed pleasant mid-20s C. We hadn’t expected to change our watches again but discovered that South Australia is an hour ahead of the Northern Territories.

Adelaide appears to be the butt of many Australian jokes, and a number of people asked why I was going there when I mentioned it was the next stop on the trip. Adelaide, like most places I’ve visited in Australia, enjoys beautiful beaches and it is also an incredibly green city in that it has lots of wooded areas and parks. The main business area is bounded by four terraces (north, south, east and west) which are parks, and so from the hills surrounding the city there is plenty of greenery.

The Barossa Valley is probably the place most people mention when talking about Adelaide and we enjoyed a trip to the Barossa with friends, and had a wonderful lunch in Tanunda at 1918 Bistro and Grill.

On our way to Tanunda we visited the German town of Hahndorf. It has a lovely village atmosphere and reminded me (in a good way) of the time I lived in Germany.

There is much to like about Adelaide but the best part for me was during our first evening. We stayed with friends who live in the wooded hills on the edge of Adelaide, and as we ate dinner on their deck a mother and baby koala ate their meal of eucalypt leaves from a tree next to the deck. We’ve seen koalas in wildlife sanctuaries, but nothing beats seeing a mother and baby living in their own environment. They weren’t at all bothered about us enjoying our meal or taking photos of them, and were obligingly quite mobile (for koalas), moving along the branch for more leaves and in the case of the baby climbing up and down branches. It was a magical experience.

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