Sunday, 17 September 1995


Gawler, Lyndoch - (Sturt Highway, Barossa Valley Way) 74 kms

Leaving the delight of a solid roof over our heads, we moved off through the quieter Sunday streets of suburban Adelaide, heading to the northwest and a day and night in the Barossa Valley. This had been a precondition to the change in our itinerary negotiated at Flinders Ranges and one of the bargaining chips thrown on the table by Sue.

Widely regarded as the most famous wine producing area in Australia - although many in NSW's Hunter Valley might disagree - this area was first settled in 1842 by immigrants from Prussia and Silesia. They had come to South Australia four years earlier, to escape the religious persecution they were suffering in Germany. Although many of them brought some of the grape varieties they had used in the Rhine Valley, the majority of the vine stock harked back to that which was imported from South Africa with the first fleet.

Tanunda is at the heart of the valley and is one of its largest towns. The influence of those early settlers continues today and is clearly evident in the fare on offer from the shopping centre strung along the main road. It is also evident in the accents which flow from the owners of these shops.

Our host at the caravan park was a German expat who was extremely friendly and very keen to make sure we were happy and settled, despite the fact we were only staying one night He also showed a more than passing interest in our trailer and we had no sooner parked the car than he was over to the trailer, looking it up and down and asking questions.

With the tent erected, we set off to explore.

Our destination was Seppeltsfield Winery, the original home of the Seppelt family, but now just another part of the South Corp Brewing Company. The earliest buildings on the site are the part of the homestead Mr J Seppelt built soon after he settled here with his wife in 1851. This residence served for over 100 years as the home of the family and under its roof, visitors were entertained and workers fed.

It was Mr Seppelt's youngest son, Beno Seppelt, who really made the family name in association with wine. It is his name which appears on the largest of the buildings at Seppeltsfield and it was his body which was interred first in the family mausoleum, located approximately two kilometres away on a hill overseeing the original property. The Seppelt Family sold all stock, buildings and land a few years ago for $70 million and the buildings here have been part of the rationalisation which took place under South Corp. The only wine produced here now is the fortified wines of a number of famous wine names. Other branches of the large company include Great Western and Penfolds.

Picnic grounds, an outstanding cellar room and an informative tour of the grounds were included in our two hours at Seppeltsfield. The last leg of the tour included viewing the barrels which contain the famous 100 year old port, released ever year, exactly 100 years after each batch was barrelled. The oldest of this port now sells for $5 000 a bottle and the most recent, $2 500. I judiciously selected a slightly cheaper variety for our time in Canberra with Art and Anne: now less than a week away.

From Seppeltsfield, we drove further north to Nuriootpa, the other major town of the Barossa Valley and again, the German heritage of the area was very apparent. North west of Nuriootpa, on the Start Highway, we found the well known Wolf Blass Winery. Sue selected two wines for our later consumption and we returned the way we had come.

Our afternoon was pleasant enough, but more enjoyable for Sue than the rest of us. It did prove to be a very pleasant time for us as a family and we spent the afternoon imbued with a sense of fun.

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