The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Petticoat Lane, Penola,

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It’s Wine O’Clock in Coonawarra

Coonawarra? In Rosemary speak, that’s Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon! After leaving the Solos Rally in Penola we toured the famous South Australian wine areas of Coonawarra, the Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley.

Penola to ClarePenola is in the heart of the Coonawarra wine growing region, famous for its Terra Rossa soil and the amazing full-bodied red wines it produces.But Penola is famous for more than wine. It is also the home of Australia’s first saint, Mary McKillop and Marion and I visited the Mary McKillop Centre for a very informative hour or so delving into the life and times of this remarkable woman and also Father Julian Tenison Woods, who inspired Mary as they shared a common vision for the children of this area.

when Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods made their dream a reality
‘Little did either of us then dream of what was to spring from so small a beginning.’ Mary MacKillop 1891

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I found the information about Father Woods fascinating – what an amazing man! Not only was he a priest and an educational visionary at the time, but he was also a botanist, a scientist, a fossil collector and more. He deservedly shares an equal space in the Interpretive Centre with Mary McKillop.

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Neither Marion or I are particularly religious but I have to say we were both quite moved by our visit to this centre and the insight into the amazing lives of these two people.

The schoolhouse is on the corner of Petticoat Lane – now doesn’t that invite you to wander down the street, which is what we did to admire some of the old cottages.

Driving away from Penola you could see the changing seasons reflected in the colour of the vines along the side of the road. It was just a taste of what was to come! In the meantime, we’re off to find a camp for Easter on the Murray River on our way to the Barossa and Clare Valleys. Cheers!

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Penola Solos Rally

What a great catch up with many Solo friends I hadn’t seen for 12 months. Lots of HUGS all round!

I have to say Penola wasn’t the most enjoyable rally I have ever been to, although that is no reflection on the rally organizers – more to do with the weather, which was cold and wet for most of the rally. This really stopped a lot of informal gatherings that normally happen and I found the cold weather a real shock to my system…. I’m definitely a sunshine and summertime girl!

The program was stacked with things to do – line dancing, rock ‘n roll and ballroom dancing lessons plus trips to wineries and the Naracoorte caves. There were workshops for musicians, computers and photography and of course the traditional Poet’s Breakfast, where I told a couple of my poems.

Our Big Night was themed red and white as Penola is in the famous Coonawarra wine growing area of South Australia.

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The final day of the rally was our Sports Day organized by Rainey and her band of helpers. The sun shone and it was a lot of fun, with the old fashioned egg and spoon races, tunnel ball and a three-legged race. The highlight, though, was the grape stomping competition. Handmaidens washed the feet of our grape stompers, Tony and John, and then they trod the wine and filled the bottles with grape juice as it poured from the barrels. A lot of fun – and a lot of energy expended by the stompers!

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Sunday night, our last night, was skit night which was a lot of fun and then there was a promotion for the next Solos Rally in Wagin, Western Australia. Glenyce Mills, who I spent some time travelling with in Tasmania is going to be the Rally Manager and she has a huge job ahead of her. But she is an extremely organised person and I know it will be a most successful rally. I wrote a poem called Ragin’ in Wagin to help promote the rally, and this is what it says:

We’ll be ragin’ in Wagin
The Solos Rally in the West
Where the wild flowers are spectacular
And the beaches are the best.
And whether you come over the top
Or across the Nullabor
You’ll find that Western Australia
Has amazing things in store.

From the pure white sandy beaches
That you’ll see at Cape Le Grande,
To the rugged cliffs of Kalbarri
And the red earth of the inland.
The National Parks provide great camps
And it’s not hard to find free sites
Where fellow travellers meet for fun
To enjoy the starry nights.

The country towns are friendly
The station stays a must
But the wind blows strong on the west coast
And you’ll never get rid of red dust
But the dust’s like a badge of honour
It says you’ve travelled far
And you’ve ventured on those long dirt roads
And not stuck to the tar.

So make the trip to Wagin
Enjoy your journey on the way
Gather lots of great experiences
And we’ll see you in WA!