Wednesday 16 March 2016

The interstate trifecta: Some pretty flowers, wine and fresh produce.

As we continued west and got closer to the Victorian border we found ourselves entering a fruit fly quarantine zone. This is a security checkpoint where you need to dispose of all your fresh produce to minimise the chance of spreading fruitfly. Whoops, we weren't ready for this! We pulled over and chowed down on the last of our fresh produce, all we had to chuck was a single lonesome banana. I would highly recommend, if you are travelling to places known for fresh produce, to browse over this site here: just to double check quarantine laws for where you are headed. See after throwing out our fresh produce we thought we'd just stock up in Mildura, this could have been a big mistake if we didn't double check the next quarantine zone, it wasn't far away!
There is heaps of fresh produce in Mildura and some really nice looking roadside produce stalls, but not long after you cross into South Australia you will come across another check point. You can try to get special certificates that allow you to transfer fresh produce, however we thought it would be best to just gun through and stock up after the next quarantine zone. So that we did! We skimmed through Mildura, which is on the Victorian side of the Murray river which was full of house boats and continued to South Australia.
The South Australian quarantine zone was much more heavily enforced than the previous one with quarantine officers that search your vehicle, best to be complient too as there are some heavy fines! Once the security check is over a big Dunlop structure across the road welcomes you to the Riverlands section of South Australia!

The Riverlands is quite interesting country, driving through here was the first time I felt I the scenery was completely new and unique to anything I had seen on this particular trip. Red dusty dirt beside beautiful green crops, small red cliffs and winding green rivers. Along this road are some amazing free bush camps, look for the ones by the rivers and you will not be disappointed! We spent a night at a place called Plush's Bend, which you can see to the left and it was quiet and tranquil. 

Rows of rose
Near Plush's Bend is Ruston's Roses, which is Australia's largest rose garden. I personally am not the biggest rose fan, but this place was well worth the look around. Entry is only $4 per person. Jeni and I strolled through the gardens, enjoying the scent of the blooming flowers while checking out some of the other interesting plants and sculptures on site. Another thing that always excites Jeni was the fruit trees that surrounded the place. We never asked, but I'm pretty sure they don't mind if you help yourself to a bit of fruit while you wonder as beneath the trees many fallen fruit turns to insect feed! Indoors there is also an assortment of unusual gifts for purchase and also a collection of old cars, my personal favourite being the Zeta! After our stroll we enjoyed spearmint milkshakes and some of the nicest scones we've eaten.

As we continued into Berri we found ourselves in another wine tasting area. We had driven through so many vineyards on this trip, maybe we noticed them more because of our recent Hunter Valley wine tasting adventure, but we couldn't resist them any longer! Berri Estates would be our first wine tasting destination in South Australia, turns out this place is one of the largest wineries in the southern hemisphere! We tasted a few wines and decided to grab a bottle of the Oomoo Cab Sav and one of the William Hardy Shiraz... But we ended up with a dozen of the Shiraz. Maybe Michael, the cellar door bloke was just a good salesman, but with the option of $20 for a single bottle or a case of a dozen of the exact same wine just cleanskin for $60 there wasn't really a choice. I mean, each bottle of the great drop worked out cheaper than a schooner up the pub! We're not wine'os I swear!

Next up we set off for 919, I was pretty keen to check this place out from the brochure I had seen alone. A picture of the two owners fishing for wine between their vines, check it out on their website. When we pulled up, between the Tempranillo and Durif vines, Jenny (No, not Jeni from Trooprock, Jenny from 919!) greeted us with a wave and a big smile and escorted us to the cellar door. When we walked in we discovered the cellar door was connected to the winery, so while we tasted wines and had a yarn with the woman behind 919 we got to watch the man behind the company work on the wines! My favourite would have been the Tempranillo, Jeni's the Durif, however we ended up grabbing a bottle of something completely different, a white wine in fact! This wine was the their Apera Pale Dry. Tasting this wine was a whole adventure on it's own as it's such an unusual wine. I found it had a nutty after taste with a bit of a cheesy creaminess, whilst Jeni was tasting maple. Jenny suggested apple and immediately I could taste it on the tip of my tongue, just so many flavours going
around and round! I'd highly recommend checking this place out just to try this wine alone! Afterwards we tasted their Classic Topaque, which we agreed was a nice tasting dessert style wine, but then ended up talking about the Apera again! On our way out Jenny was nice enough to give us some information on free camping and the direction we were headed. All in all I really liked 919, we felt welcome to be in their winery and enjoyed sharing a yarn.

We tried to fit in another winery afterwards, but we let time slip a little too much and had to call it a day. We ended up camping by the river at Berri, it's a little bush camp close to town and costs $5 a night for a vehicle. The grass by the river is really soft and is a nice change from a lot of the dustiness in the area. It's also a nice place to crack a bottle of wine and relax as the sun sets, we had 14 bottles sitting in the troopy so figured it would be a good idea to help minimise carrying weight!

One last thing for this post, we have decided to release some awesome Trooprock merchandise! Find out more by clicking here!

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