Our Final Days in Australia

Next up in Adelaide was a day out in the country (Tuesday April 12th). This time it was “all about Jim” as the emphasis was on smaller operations in the fruit industry. But first was a stop at Mt. Lofty to get a sweeping view of the city and beyond.

The first farm visited was Flavells Apples. Though I was unable to attend this session, Jim reported it was a great visit.  We did reconnect at the Lobethal Bakery in the Adelaide Hills for lunch.

On tour at Chamberlain Pears

On tour at Chamberlain Pears

Afterwards we were off to Chamberlain Pears and their Paracombe Premium Perry operation.  The facility is nestled on a gently rolling hillside covered by their pear orchard. We met with Damien McArdle, a fourth generation pear grower who is expanding the family business to make perry, an alcoholic drink similar to hard cider made from apples. He toured us through their production facility and grounds. Then we sampled various perries along with hand crafted pear ciders. I really liked the Triumph, a semi-dry variety made from Packham Triumph pears.

The next day we headed south to the Langhorne Creek Wine Region and Bleasdale Vineyards for an intensive three hour workshop on pruning and plant care, put on by the local wine association. Now Reto was in his element as he discussed with other growers best practices in viticulture.

35Afterwards we toured and tasted at their winery. Bleasdale Vineyard has been around since 1850 and is the second oldest winery in Australia. The most fascinating thing I saw was their red gum lever press built in 1892 and used until 1962.  Made of hand-hewn timbers of the red gum that dots the landscape, it’s modeled after the much smaller European screw presses. The massive press stands in the cellars along with large red gum vats. Lunch was at nearby Lake Breeze Wines in their scenic dining room overlooking vineyards dressed in fall colors of gold and red.

Thursday we toured Flinders Ports in Port Adelaide, a privately held company with a variety of port facilities in the area and South Australia. Quite different how the private sector manages much of the waterfront in Port Adelaide versus public held ports here in Washington state. That was followed by a Rotary meeting of Port Adelaide where we made a brief presentation.

Meeting outside the Urrbrae House, built by Peter Waite in 1891.

Meeting outside the historic Urrbrae House, built by Peter Waite in 1891.

On our final day of the trip (Friday April 15) we spent the morning at the Waite Research Institute of the University of Adelaide. The facility is a partnership of educational, industry and government entities that conduct research for the benefit of Australia’s agriculture, food and wine industries. It is located on 500 acres of land gifted to The University of Adelaide in 1913 by Peter Waite (see Waite History). We had a succession of meetings and tours with wine focused staff and researchers. Following lunch, we split up. Jim and I went to meet Damien Keto, the CEO of the Adelaide Convention Bureau while Reto and Lynn went to historic Penfolds Winery (ironically, our host at the Convention Bureau served us some very fine Penfolds wine while we were with him!)

Final night goodbye dinner.

Final night farewell banquet.

And so, as the saying goes, all things must come to an end. Our final event was a farewell banquet with many of our Rotary friends, hosts and families from the trip coming to Adelaide. We shared our stories and pictures, memories and laughter.

In the morning we boarded our planes as District Governor Doug Layng and local hosts waived goodbye. While Jim, Lynn and Reto went home to Yakima and British Columbia, I went on a post-trip to New Zealand.

Now we are back to our lives and daily routines. But we will always remember and cherish the time we spent ‘down under’ and most importantly, the great people of Australia. As they say in the sun burnt country… Cheers mate!

John

FOOTNOTE: Come back to this blog in Mid-May as Rotary International District 5060 will host a group of five Aussies for similar vocational training experiences in Washington State and Canada!

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About Vocational Training Team, Rotary District 5060

This is the blog of the Vocational Training Team (VTT) of Rotary District 5060 about their trip to Australia. For 30 days this team of four from Washington State U.S.A. and British Columbia Canada will be the guests of Rotary District 9500 in South Australia and part of the Northern Territory. They will learn about local viticulture, agri-tourism and agricultural practices while enjoying the history, scenery and culture of the region. Follow along on their adventure!
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