Resilience – Unity – Persistence in the Adelaide Hills – Day 8 of Road Trip March 2020

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.

Adelaide Hills map

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.

Bill's Photos Adelaide Hills Winery (6)rs

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.

Singed Grape Vines rs

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 🙂



26 thoughts on “Resilience – Unity – Persistence in the Adelaide Hills – Day 8 of Road Trip March 2020

  1. Pingback: Adelaide, Old friends, Old Times – Day 10 of Road Trip March 2020 | The Reluctant Retiree

  2. Watching your video of the devastating fire damage was a shocking reminder and then the baby alpaca made me think of all the animals, both domestic and wild, that were lost too. Must have been a harrowing experience driving through those burnt out areas, I congratulate you on your decision to support those hard-hit communities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are more photos to come from other parts of Australia. Some photos of regeneration will astound you. And it was weird to be able to see land contours when normally that would be covered in undergrowth.
      Today was the official end of the bushfire season. Huge numbers of wildlife were killed, and many more will die as a result of habitat and food loss. Baits are being air-dropped to kill off foxes, but there are concerns that wildlife who would normally not touch them, will be so desperate for food they will eat it too.
      Also as of today, we have been officially cautioned against taking road trips such as we have just done. At the risk of spreading coronavirus. So no tourist recovery for the business owners that are still trying to operate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh dear it is all sounding more and more like a Biblical tragedy. 2020 is turning out to be a nightmarish ordeal and they say it will be a marathon and not a sprint to nail this outbreak. ‘Green shoots’ were mentioned in yesterday’s briefing here in the UK regarding the bad numbers, but it is early days and we’ve been warned to expect much worse before it starts to get better. Hope you manage it better in Australia than the politicians here and the US are performing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Our deaths are about 1% of yours, while our population is about one-third of yours. All the same, no room for complacency. It could simply be a matter of distance and timing. Our Prime Minister has learnt from his inept handling of the bushfire crisis and is being active and visible. Although I sense he is waiting to see what other countries do and then cherry-picking what suits here. For example, he has now announced an income support package to convince companies to retain staff – something vaguely similar to yours, although he denies it is like any other country’s. Legislation is still a week away.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think looking at what point and on what trajectory Australia is on will give you an idea of what is coming your way. So far you really have the benefit of being late to the party – I hope your government is serious about taking an approach more like South Korea than the UK. If you have access to Twitter there’s a Financial Times journalist, John Burn-Murdoch, who has been posting daily comparison plots of countries data from around the world. So far, I couldn’t see Australia on the plots and I presume that’s because Australia is still at the very early stage.

            Here, it has been clear to folk with some grasp of numbers and an ability to read a graph that the UK has been about two weeks behind Italy. I know it’s not quite that simplistic, but the science of infectious viral spread is the same across the globe – it’s human societies’ responses that will make a difference or not. On that sobering thought I am not entirely sure why our PM and his cabinet have been so tardy with their response. Wishing you a better outcome in Australia.


          • Today’s statistics are showing UK cases 33,718, deaths 2,921 versus Australia 5,314 cases and 26 deaths.
            But that is just a top-line figure and depends on good reporting. Many of our cases are in clusters. A good percentage of the cases and deaths track back to cruise ships. We had a debacle where one cruise ship was able to disembark 2700 passengers in Sydney without testing. They then moved all over Australia. That single error of judgement (potentially based on incorrect information from the Captain) accounts for 600 cases and 7 deaths, with more expected to emerge.
            We’re entering winter soon. Some suggestions are we will see our peak numbers in July.
            A complication here is that the State governments are in charge of some things, and the Federal, others. So we see the Prime Minister make declarations, then the States interpret them to suit their local conditions. Pretty much though, we are all in lockdown conditions, and many states have closed their borders to other states.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Australia’s figures aren’t looking too bad at the moment with only one death for 20 over here. Hopefully, the spread has been contained and your country will not move into the exponential phase.
            These late decisions to stop boats docking and failures to check incoming flights has provided opportunities that have been expertly exploited by the virus. All around the world despite having national plans for dealing with a pandemic, many countries have failed to act swiftly. It seems economics initially trumped science and medicine. Perhaps this is the event to trigger a genuine hunt for an alternative global economic system. It would be good to think there might be hope for a more equitable and sustainable society in the future.

            Liked by 1 person

          • With less planes in the air, ships at sea, cars on the road, etc, etc, etc – I’m almost hoping this will go on long enough to chart the effect on the environment. We can envisage a new world order, whether that will transpire, who knows? I keep thinking of all the shopaholics and their pent-up demand.
            Somewhere in my cupboard I have “The War and After” by Oliver Lodge. I tried to read it in my twenties and foundered on the language. I should try again, and see if there are any parallels.

            Liked by 1 person

          • On the effect of all this on the environment according to the climate scientists I see on YouTube, there are already documented changes. The most striking so far has been the reduction of smogs in the big cities of China. Good news for asthma suffers and others with breathing problems, but actually has caused a spike in temperature.
            Short explanation if you’re interested
            It would appear that seeing the virus as an event like the First World War makes sense. The downside of that is just 20 years and we were heading for WWII. Let’s hope our leaders don’t take us down an insular, protectionist rabbit hole when this emergency is over.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great post Gwen! Rob is really enjoying reading your news! Lovely th throw a kiss to you on the balcony yesterday – hope to get closer soon!!


    • So glad Rob is following along too. I’m not coming out to play until I’ve finished spring (autumn) cleaning; and after that I have enough projects to keep me going for months!!! Did you see Bill has returned the furniture to the back balcony. Maybe I can sit looking out on to the cafe tables and share a drink with you from there. Xxx


    • Thanks Diane. It caused us to cut short by a few days, and for a while we debated that we might be safer away from our home over-55s community. In the end though, there’s no place like home, is there? Hope you are staying safe, too.


  4. Courage, a poem by Helen Frazee Bower, ends:

    Perplexed, we closed the book and took a walk.
    And came where fire had worked untimely death;
    The woods were gone. But on a slender stalk
    A flower inched for life. I caught my breath.
    “Courage,” I said, and took you by the hand,
    “Is one white flower in a fire-swept land.”

    May white flowers spring up all our world.
    Thoughts and prayers, Gwen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • What a touching poem Don. Later in our trip, we saw the miracle of bush regeneration, and I hope I got some decent photos to include in that post when I get to it. In fact, some species need fire to reach their best. Perhaps not on this scale, though.
      “May white flowers spring up all our world.” is such a beautiful thought. Stay well.

      Liked by 1 person

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