Friday 13th March 2020
March is festival month in Adelaide, and 2020 is the 60th anniversary. Two years ago I wrote about attending the Writers’ Festival. This is only one of the many diverse celebrations on offer. Our hosts have tickets for a circus show from Colombia this evening. I had meant to book tickets for something / anything, but hadn’t got around to it before leaving home, and in a way, we weren’t sorry. We were happy to stay home and do our level best to empty their refrigerator while their backs were turned. Since they have plenty of family living close by , including voracious grandchildren , theirs is much better stocked than ours, so we failed at this endeavour.
They had, however, left the daytime fully at our disposal, and proposed a day trip to the wineries of McLaren Vale, which I have written about before, click here if interested.
One of the reasons we have come on this road trip is to support the communities who were ravaged by the recent bushfires, so I suggested that we go instead to some of the worst hit areas. Kangaroo Island was out of the question on account of distance, and to some extent that also ruled out the Barossa Valley, so we settled on the Adelaide Hills. This is also close to the hearts of our hosts, as they had formerly been the police force in this area, and still knew many of the people and businesses.
The Cudlee Creek bushfire broke out in early December 2019, and by Christmas Eve it had taken out 72 homes, 404 outbuildings and 227 vehicles. It also destroyed or damaged many of the wineries in the region.
The fires, spreading from Cudlee Creek and Gumeracha, had encroached several townships of this region, including Woodside and Lobethal, places so very familiar to our friends. As we drove around, they could recount who had lived in which houses.
There is no sense to a fire’s path. A one hundred year old timber house can remain untouched, while its next door neighbour, a recently-built, full-brick house is razed to the ground. Here is a short video to illustrate what bushland we drove past:
We called in to the cheekily named Barristers Block Winery in Woodside, which according to their website is so named because of a legal battle to hold on to their family-owned winery in the nineties, and not because it is owned by a bunch of lawyers. On 20th December 2019, they lost their entire vineyard to the bushfires. They are slowly re-building their business. On this day, Friday 13th (March), they were simultaneously celebrating the arrival of a new grand-child, and apprehensively predicting what the coronavirus epidemic would do to their recovery.
Our friends and we shared in purchasing a six-pack of wines Barristers were marketing as the “Rebuild Recovery Special Release” with the slogan “Resilience – Unity – Persistence“. As they say, “The courage and resilience that has been required to work our way through this terrible day and work to recover has come from the amazing support the community has shown us.” And we were happy to do our bit to contribute to that.
Barristers also has a small farm yard, a big hit with the littlies – and also with us, although our arrival had the deer and alpacas scarpering for the shelter of nearby trees. Bill, with the zoom lens on his camera, managed to capture this newly-shorn alpaca.
I contented myself with snapping the few vines that abut the actual homestead. Although it doesn’t show clearly in this shot, all the tops of the vines are fire-singed, which demonstrates just how close the blaze came.
I’ve mentioned before that South Australia was the only state who did not accept convicts. Among its free settlers were Prussian Lutherans who arrived in the 1840s. This group has left a distinctive mark in the Adelaide Hills, not the least of which is the Lobethal Bakery, where we next headed for an indulgent pastry-rich lunch.
We headed home mid-afternoon, slightly sleepy with carbohydrate overload and midday drinking; before our hosts roused themselves for their evening out. By 11pm they were home in time to hear our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, deliver his first televised national address explaining how the Federal Government is trying to handle the coronavirus epidemic.
He announces that, commencing Monday 16th March, mass gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned.
“That of course does not include schools, it does not include university lectures, it does not mean people getting on public transport or going to airports or things of that nature.
“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict are non-essential, organised gatherings of 500 persons or more.”
Meanwhile, with the National Rugby League (football) season about to kick-off, he also assures the nation he will attend the first match of his “beloved” Cronulla Sharks (Cronulla, NSW) who will play their round one game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday evening at 5.30pm.
(He later decided against the wisdom of that).
Two weeks later, the COVID-19 situation has moved along at a startling rate; so readers are encouraged to view these posts in the light of how it appeared at the time we were travelling. Meanwhile, we are happy to report we are home, isolating, and dousing the apartment in disinfectant 🙂