Category: Australia

Airbnb in Australia

To hostel? Or not to hostel? That was my question. Luckily I had previously had a bit of experience with Airbnb. I knew friends that used it, I have friends that are hosts, and I think the idea is great.

However, I had no idea how it was approached in a different country. While traveling in Australia so far I have used a few different hostels, and although they are great for meeting other travelers and having fun, they have a few downsides. I think the most important is that you are sharing sleeping space, and if you’re with all other strangers that might result in you staying up literally all night.

Hostels also, while being great for meeting people, end with you forced in a small space with others constantly. I’m just not someone who enjoys 100% constant interaction with other humans. I think at some point in my childhood maybe I did enjoy this, but my recent travels have shown me that I really do like my own company and I am comfortable when I have some space to myself.
Airbnb in Australia

Now, because of my own personal traits, Airbnb is basically a dream. Here are the biggest benefits (according to myself):

  1. Your own room. Now, obviously you have options when you select a place to stay. I look for something that has a private room, and a real bed. And internet. Those are pretty much the basics for me. The website itself offers you some great filters so you can really hone in on what you prefer and what will make you comfortable.
  2. Interaction with locals. As opposed to hostels where you are surrounded by other travelers, Airbnb allows you to stay with people that actually live in the area. It’s awesome. Provided that your hosts are friendly (and all of mine have been), you have someone to ask questions to about local dining, museums, fun things to do, beaches, and anything else that suits your fancy.
  3. Security. The nice thing about not sharing a room is that all of your stuff is only with you, and you don’t have to worry about your phone charger running away.
  4. Oh glorious sleep. Nobody is coming into your room after a night of drinking and trying to get into the top bunk. This might not seem like a huge deal, but after a few nights of questionable sleep, you understand why this is of the utmost importance.

So, if you haven’t tried it yet, Airbnb is awesome. Do it.

My experience in Australia specifically has led to lots of fun conversations with locals where I have been advised about the best activities in each area. However, I did learn that “peaceful” is code for boring, and other travelers ratings really are important. Because of this, I have done my best to write reviews for the places I specifically enjoyed. Some hosts are beyond accommodating and so lovely you want to keep in touch as friends. In these instances I have made a point of telling other people that I would definitely visit those hosts again. Overall, I have stayed in quite a few places and have never had an upsetting stay. It’s absolutely worth checking out.

And thank you to all the Australians that have made my visits so wonderful.

McLaren Vale

I’ve made it! I’m officially in McLaren Vale, and for those of you who don’t know, I’ve come here for the opportunity of working vintage. This means that starting soon my life will be devoted to a winery for essentially every waking moment. Until of course, the grapes stop coming in, and the fermentations are complete. aboriginal

This sculpture is at the war memorial right in the middle of McLaren Vale. I thought it was very beautiful. The people I am staying with here are very nice, and I was taken on a little driving tour when I arrived to orient myself in the area.

It’s gorgeous. And very close to the beach. An added bonus.

 

McLaren Vale

It is illegal to take stones off the beach, something this resident clearly ignored for the sake of art. Every inch of this house is completely covered in beach stones. I found it very amusing.

rock house

Now you’ll have to excuse me- there is wine that needs tasting.

Henley Beach

henley

Henley beach is beautiful. And quiet. It’s a bit further north from the more touristy locations, and the water is clear. It has an almost green hue to it as well. After spending time in the Barossa with my friends, consuming a notable amount of alcohol and learning about the unique wine region, I needed to chill. And the beach is the perfect place for that. Luckily, the beach culture here is so strong, that the weather is irrelevant. Even if you go on a windy, rainy day, there is still a cafe overlooking the ocean where you can sit with a nice cup of caffeine.
It was exactly what I needed.
A day with my own thoughts.

Which were actually mostly about wine. Oh well. I’m eager for vintage to start. There is something intoxicating about harvest work that is hard to explain. It’s like you turn yourself into a wine-making machine, who enjoys pressure washing metal, and lives for fermentation. Working 12+ hours a day during vintage actually seems fun, and until you’re on the other side, winding down for the season, you almost don’t realize that you never slept.
You’re a season inspired animal.

I’m ready.

How to Order Coffee in Australia

First, this is me sunburned, but happy. I don’t think I’ll be any less pink or red until I return to the Northern Hemisphere. The sun here is brutal.

sunburned summer

Now, on to my musings of coffee. In Australia, you have instant coffee, or you have espresso. If you go to a cafe, then you only have espresso. There is no drip coffee here. No fancy pour overs. No fancy cold brew. They seem to fancy themselves coffee snobs and therefore only serve espresso related beverages.

  1. The traditional latte. My favorite. Coffee, milk, perfection.

coffee

2. Their cappuccinos have chocolate on them. What? Yes. I don’t have any explanation for it. They just do.

3. The long black. Akin to what Americans call the “americano”.

4. A flat white. I believe this beverage is actually Australian in origin, thus if you’re here, you had better try one. It’s somewhat like a latte but with a higher coffee to milk ratio.

It is nothing like the weird holiday flat while spiced thing that Starbucks came out with in America. For the record, I had one of those this last year and then was just thankful that eggnog lattes where an option.

5. Iced coffee. Now, this is a truly brilliant beverage, although the name is misleading. It is not coffee poured over ice. It is a coffee milkshake. I repeat, you will be indulging in an ice cream containing beverage. And it’s wonderful.

 

Okay, what have I missed?

The Little Things

I have seen more city-vegetation in Australia than I ever remember seeing in America. There are roundabouts filled with flowers, shops with vine covered arbors, and succulents hanging out in pots everywhere.

red rose

It’s really an uplifting thing to see. I love it. And it makes just walking though a city of town so much more fun.

I like noticing the little things.

yellow rose

U-Pick Strawberries

Hahndorf. It’s a little town in South Australia that retains it’s German heritage. Everything from the food to the buildings pays homage to the German culture.

Migrants from Germany settled in Australia as early as the 1830s and started farming in parts of the Adelaide Hills, as well as the Barossa regions. Hahndorf itself is a great little town to visit for food, wine, and to experience some of the area’s heritage.

Just after all the shops on the main road heading west, there was a U-Pick Strawberry patch. Now that I had acquired a car, I could actually do things like pick strawberries and not worry about them getting squished in my backpack.

strawberries strawberries

Plus, they were so juicy! I had a great time. Both with the strawberries and with the town itself.

Head Trained Vines

Head Trained Vines. Not a thing you really see in Washington, so now that I was in Australia, I was determined to see them. Basically, you grow your grapevine as a little tree or bush. No fancy wire action here, no sir.

head trained

It’s really a very pretty landscape to look at. However, I can’t imagine hand picking and pruning a vineyard like this one. It just seems like all the maintenance would be much more arduous than the trellis systems I’m used to seeing back home.

bush vine vineyard

Tasting in the Barossa

Our first full day in the Barossa was spent doing a little bit of tasting. First we went to Chateau Dorrien. Their building which they use as a tasting room is an old winery. All of the old tanks are still there, and they have since had an artist come in and paint murals on the tank walls depicting the history of the region.

tank mural

Along with their wine, they are the only producer in the valley to make mead. The mead is really what drew me in. There are only a handful of brands in South Australia that are fermenting the honey beverage, and I was very curious to taste.

It definitely had a more refined taste than some of the meads I’ve had in Washington. Additionally they are the only people in the world to make this:

chateau dorrien

It’s a mead liqueur flavored with quandong fruit which grows in a desserts of Australia. It was great to taste something so unique.

 

Stop number two was the iconic Penfolds. Their winery is massive. My friend and I were looking at how many tanks there were, and just how large the warehouses appeared.

Their tasting room was welcoming and modern, and I could hardly contain my excitement about going.

Enfolds

I was a very happy camper.

Penfolds

For the non-wine drinkers they also have a cafe which serves coffee and snacks.

And the wine- oh goodness. If you’re ever in the Barossa, you really can’t leave without tasting here. They had quite a few wines on the list to try, and they also had a side by side comparison of two Shiraz wines from different regions. I was like a kid in a candy store.

And I fell in love with the port.

So much in love that I went back to the airbnb and took a nap, dreaming about it.

Angaston

Well, sometimes you go to school in a small town in Washington State, USA.

And then sometimes you meet up with some of those very same people in Angaston, South Australia.

Can you see Skylar in the tree? At 6 foot 5 it’s difficult to make him look short, but I think the tree and I made it work.
skylar

After picking him up in Glenelg, we drove to Angaston (stopping at Krispy Kreme on the way). That is where we met up with our friend Joe, who also went through the Walla Walla Enology and Viticulture program with us.

czarny

After lunch he took us to the winery where he is working for some tasting. It’s a lovely place called Lambert Estates. It was a great first stop to taste and get our bearings in the Australia wine scene. It’s so awesome how climate and soils and just the general place where the grapes are grown can have such a predominant impact on the wine. After tasting to much wine from Washington, I am super excited to try everything I can here.

Lambert Estates

Also, this tasting room was beautiful. Here’s to wishing Joe an excellent harvest.

 

Granite Island Walk

granite island

When you arrive on this island you are indeed met by actual granite. Who would have thought. A whole pile of it. And this pile has a little sign telling you that it’s been here since the discovery.

granite island

Oh, and a stunning view. The view back on the harbor is arguably the best part. UNLESS, you are a nerd and like to talk about nerdy soil/parent material/geologically based topics. In that case, you’re busy staring at flecks of rock that make up bigger rocks.

And the other tourists look at you funny.

granite island

There is a whole path that goes in a circle around granite island that you can take. It’s not very far at all, but when you wander off to take close up photos of the previously mentioned rocks, you can end up spending quite a bit of time doing the full circuit.

granite island

The wind was pretty strong when I was there so the waves were making a whole lot of noise. I think some people find the sound of waves relaxing, but these were not.

granite island

The side of the Island facing land however, has beautiful calm waves that you could easily be mesmerized by.

granite island