Our final leg of this journey takes us where it all began, Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It was quite a change coming from the hot Northern region to coastal fall weather. We went our separate ways to settle into our new homes and get to know our local hosts. I am staying with Neil and Julie Merkel of the Henley Beach Rotary Club. Neil says he’s retired but when he rattles all he does from shuttling grand kids to Rotary duties I think he works more than I do. Julie is a practicing psychologist, which is probably why I got this placement!
The following day was free time, so Neil and I met up with Reto and his home host John and we headed up to Hahndorf. Settled in 1838, this small community outside Adelaide was a farming community settled by migrating Germans. Today the tree lined streets and old buildings attract thousands of visitors annually. We spent a few hours browsing the stores, touring galleries and museums and of course, hoisting a few beers in a 150 year old pub.
The next day (Monday) we had a full slate of events. First up was a visit with botanists at the Botanic Gardens of South Australia in downtown Adelaide. We first met with Martin O’Leary, a specialist in Acacia and Eucalyptus species. He walked us back stage through their massive (one million give or take) collection of cataloged specimens including trees, plants, algae, mosses, lichen and the like. There are some 5,000 plant species in Southern Australia of which around 800 are the Gums/Eucalyptus. In case you have not guessed yet, “Eucalyps” are a favorite tree of mine. When I was a young kid, I lived in the Los Angeles area. Our yard was bordered by the massive trees, so I have many fond memories of them.
We then went up a floor to visit with staff collecting and preserving native species seeds for future regeneration, should the need rise. For fourteen years, the South Australian Seed Conservation Centre has worked to conserve South Australia’s threatened plants and support on ground restoration. To date, more than 200 million seeds have been collected and stored, including seeds from nearly 70% of the States threatened flora.
At lunch we walked downtown to meet with staff of the Government of South Australia staff directly responsible for the primary industries of agriculture, food and wine. They gave us an excellent overview of the industries, statistics on the industry and the roles they play in building these sectors. They shared with us their relatively new website AgInsights. This data rich and robust site offers potential investors and other with detailed, real time data ag related resources.
We closed out our busy day back at the botanical garden for a session with David leach, also with the Government of Australia who focuses on the wine industry. He toured us around the impressive new National Wine Centre of Australia. designed to resemble a wine barrel turned on its side, the facility has more than 12,000 bottles in storage for events and tastings, massive halls for trade and consumer rentals plus a walk-through tour of the country’s wine industry and regions. The highlight of the facility is a self-serve tasting room that, for fee, you can taste among some 120 wines “on tap” in pressurized dispensing units. Naturally we ha to try the system out!
It was a great start to the week. In future entries I’ll discuss our trips into the country and down to the sea.