Monday, 22 December 2014

Sausages and Penguins

Do you know your Brockwurst from your Bratwurst? Do you like pretzels, soda bread, Christmas shops and art galleries? The pretty town of Handoff is Australia's oldest German settlement about thirty minutes drive west from Adelaide. Settled in 1839 by Lutherans fleeing religious persecution in Prussia, Hahndorf was named after the ship’s captain who helped them purchase the land. His name was Hahn, while dorf is German for village.

After staying the night in a nearby layby we strolled about the high street marvelling in the shop windows. Some of the buildings are super examples of fachwerk (half-timbered) houses of traditional German design. Being a Monday there were a lot of 'grey crinklies' around (that's what my Dad calls them). Chris brought a hat made of kangaroo skin. We treated ourselves to a brunch in a popular tea shop. Chris devoured his bacon and eggs whilst I was in heaven with my choice of eggs Benedict. Mmmmm's all round!

Some of the oldest buildings in Australia can be found here, many following the German timber-framed designs of the times

"More milk in your coffee sir?" asked fraulein Sarah

Fantastic traditional German breakfast

Habich's Cottage - built by the Habich family in 1890 unusually, for this area, out of brick. Now a charming cafe

A pelican flew past us as we crossed the Murray River at Tailem Bridge. The Murray is the longest river in Australia. We thought we'd see the sea as we got to the south coast, but were instead met by an elongated coastal lagoon system. The sea was hidden behind a long extended spit, behind which lagoons had formed. The stench of salt and dead fish was horrid. We later found out this area was called 'the Coorong'. (We were too cheap-skates to buy a proper map, so had traversed the whole of Australia using a free pamphlet).

We passed vast salt pans with pinkish tones. There were no flamingoes munching the algae here, so the algae released its red pigment (called carotene) in the water. This combined with the salt as the water evaporated to produce an attractive pink tinge.

The wind blew strongly. Bent double pine trees lined the road. Many had fallen or had died, their dead skeletons where baked white by the sun. We were now tripping down the Limestone Coast, which reaches from Coorong to the Victorian boarder.

Reaching Port MacDonnell in the late afternoon we found a windy camp site on the foreshore. The temperature soon dropped to 16c as the evening drew on (which was pretty chilly when only a few days before we'd been in 35c plus!). We took a drive up to the site of the old lighthouse around dusk. In the murky light we saw some Fairy Penguins coming in to nest for the night. From our vantage point on the cliff top they looked like black ducklings! They each wobbled unsteadily up the base of the cliffs flapping their tiny wings, stumbling a few steps forwards, then a step back, until they found their rock crevice burrows.

Thermadore anyone?

We passed a turquoise blue crater as we journeyed south, part of the Mount Gambier volcanic complex which was last active around 4000 years ago

We reach South Australia's most southerly point

Only a few more kilometres to the South Pole - puts our drive from Darwin into perspective!!

Fairy penguins emerge from the sea at dusk and head back to their burrows

Found only n Australia and New Zealand these little guys grow to about 35cm tall, weigh just over a kilo and live for about 7 years. They eat their own body weight in fish every day

1 comment:

  1. Yummy!! I'm quite partial to eggs florentine for Sunday brunch Xxx