So flat is Australia south of Adelaide it’s possible to view the lights of Adelaide much of the way down the Fleurieu Peninsula. In fact, the road from the airport leads South to this popular holiday maker’s destination.
Ringed by flat sand beaches narrowly separating the Southern Ocean from limestone cliffs, the peninsula’s temperate clime produces some of the finest Australian agriculture offerings. Over a hundred cellar doors feature local wines and gourmet restaurants have grown apace. Winemakers like those from Barossa and McLaren Vale, famous for its shiraz, cabernet savignon and grenache are excited to try old world vintages such as Barbera, Fiano and Tempranillo and proving that these can be very successful in this terroir. In fact it is here that Thomas Hardy – dubbed the father of the South Australian wine business – planted two acres in 1854, an act that spawned an industry.
The dusty red soil of South Australia and its vast expanses of water typify a drive through the region, punctuated by undulating hills, pastures of sheep and tall stands of cypress. The bush here is drab olive wit the earthy scent of juniper and eucalyptus, with herds of kangaroo grazing by the dozen. They are also plentiful as roadkill, babies still in pouch.
The region is dotted with quirky establishments born of the region’s agricultural heritage and the strong individuals who settled here. Below McLaren Vale is Aldinga Beach, then south to Sellick’s Bay and Normanville, a town of one gas station, grocery store and cafe, established by Australia’s first dentist, Robert Norman, in 1849. Because of the area’s wheat production, shared with the world via the town jetty, it was a regional center until Adelaide came to prominence; today it sports surf shops and other tourist-centric operations, and is the last town before the jumping off point to Kangaroo Island at Cape Jervis.