The thing is with cruising is there’s just so much to do!
If you’d told me that before we jumped on board, I would have said, “Nah, don’t be daft. It’s all about relaxing, sipping cappuccinos on striped sun loungers looking out to sea, eating fabulous food, and seeing a cabaret show or two.
Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In just three days we’ve been to lectures, had a tour of The Bridge, I’ve joined the Sea Princess pop choir (think Glee), and been to a make-up demonstration. Dave’s played table tennis and signed up for some spinning classes and in amongst all that we’ve eaten amazing food, been to our first formal evening, watched a champagne waterfall, had a hot tub session on a windy night under the stars, and importantly made lovely new friends.
Life on board is amazing. There’s never a dull moment.
But right now I’m sitting in our Stateroom gazing out at a rather inclement night, typing this as we sail towards Esperance from Adelaide. We had a light buffet supper, and now I’m nursing a cup of tea, not a glass of wine and reminiscing about our fabulous first organised shore excursion.
A day in the Barossa Valley
Disembarking from the boat and out onto the tour bus was amazingly slick and well organised. One minute we were in the Wheelhouse Bar getting our stickers and instructions and the next we were whisked by driver David and garrulous tour host Paul off and away from Adelaide into the Barossa Valley, a wine making region famous particularly for Shiraz and Grenache wines.
There are around 750 grape growing families who supply grapes to more than 170 wine companies in this region, with Barossa Shiraz and Eden Valley Riesling leading the way as regional heroes followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro and, Grenache.
The Barossa is ranked alongside Bordeaux, Napa and Tuscany as one of the world’s great wine regions, and has a winemaking tradition stretching back to 1840.
We travelled via places with story book names like, Sandy Creek, Cockatoo Valley, Lyndoch and Rowland Flat to the historic town of Tanunda.
This sleepy little town is considered to be the heart of the Barossa. It has a strong European heritage and it’s also said to be the most German town in the area. German speaking settlers first came here seeking religious freedom in 1842.
What to do in Tanunda
Take a leisurely walk along the tree-lined main street. Look out for the old post and telegraph office built in 1866. Interestingly the building hosted the area’s first demonstration of the telephone! Imagine the novelty of that performance.
There are four Lutheran churches and you’ll come across picture perfect, historic, sandstones cottages and lots of funky little cafes for a coffee, and if you’re in the market for presents there are some classy boutiqes and interesting retail options too.
The Whispering Wall
What fun we had at the Barossa Dam with its whispering wall. Stand at one end and whisper or speak a message to your loved one at the other end, then put your ear to the wall to hear their returned message. It’s incredibly clear and quite a novelty.
Seppeltsfield Palm Tree Drive and Winery
The palm tree-lined Seppeltsfield Road is a bit of an “Ooh Aah That’s a Lovely Scene” ripe for photographing. It’s named after the Seppelt family who played a significant role in defining the Barossa’s early history and was planted in the 1930s as a work creation scheme for unemployed vineyard staff.
The road takes you via the imposing Seppelt family mausoleum situated high on a hill, to the Seppeltsfield Winery built in 1851 where we really enjoyed wandering around the lovely grounds which were awash with autumn colour, and then we had an informative wine tasting – Dave and I particularly enjoyed the Grenache and Shiraz.
We had a wonderful tasting board followed by a slap-up lunch in The Company Kitchen at the South Australian Company Store in Angaston which is nestled amongst picturesque vineyards with lavender filled gardens.
I’ve bought, slurped and enjoyed Jacob’s Creek wines on flights, at home and in restaurants, so it was fascinating to drive over the creek from which the winery takes its name and actually see the real thing.
It’s a very modern cellar door experience with an interesting wine information centre which charts the history of Jacob’s Creek. For me it was the cool climate sparkling sauvignon blanc which came out tops, although the wine/cider was definitely super quaffable too.
Whistle-stop Barossa Valley
On a whistle-stop tour of the Barossa Valley we could of course only sample a ‘taste’ of the region. It was a breathtaking area and definitely one to which we’d like to return and discover more.
Oh and because we were running ahead of time, Paul and David made an ad hoc decision to drive us around Port Adelaide and beautiful Semaphore beach as an extra add-on prior to returning to the ship.
Advantages of a ship’s organised tour excursion
So what were the advantages of a ship organised tour excursion? We were taken off the ship swiftly straight onto the tour bus, and didn’t have to think about how or where to find our way anywhere. The driver and tour guide were excellent – safe and well informed. The tour was designed to show us a little bit of everything in a short time and also made sure that we were back on board in good time for the ship’s departure.
I’d recommend the Barossa Valley shore excursion to anyone wanting to delve behind the scenes and have a peak (and taste) of this beautiful region.
I’m a guest of Princess Cruises, but we paid for this excursion. All opinions are my own. To find out more about Princess World Cruises for 2017, you might like to check them out Here.