At the end of each month I am going to send out a summary of the highlights of the month and update you on our plans for upcoming trips and activities. Here is the summary for July 2018. Follow me on social media or by email to see the full posts coming up soon.
We’re in the Second Half of 2018 Already?
Where is this year going? It’s just zooming past! I guess the positive to that is 2019 will soon be here, along with my next international trip. Yay! July seems to have been the month of beautiful winter sunrises so you will see a few throughout this post.
At the beginning of the month I was invited to attend the opening of Winterfest here in Port Adelaide. This is Australia’s version of a European Christmas market, even including the Christmas trees as decoration. We had a great evening trying so many delicious foods, drinking mulled wine and warm gin tea and checking out the market stalls put on by local businesses. I even put on ice-skates and did a couple of wobbly laps around the ice rink set up inside a huge tent on the banks of the Port River. If you are visiting Australia in July, look out for these events that happen all over the country – just because our seasons are the opposite to the northern hemisphere doesn’t mean we don’t do our best to keep up with them!
In the middle of the month I went up to stay with my parents for a few days with my daughter MacKenzie. They live in Wilmington, in the lower part of the Flinders Ranges about three and a half hours drive north of Adelaide. While we were there we had to check out a couple of the local attractions.
My parents were making a trip over to Port Augusta, and while they were doing what they needed to do, MacKenzie and I went to check out the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. The gardens here have plantings from many of the different arid regions of Australia. Spring would be the best time to visit to see many of the plants in flower. To me, having grown up with this same vegetation growing all around me, it just looked like native scrub, but there were little name markers by the plants, and I admit, there were some really strange plants I had never seen or heard of before. Particularly interesting were some of the rare plants. We seriously have some weird flora (and fauna!) here in Australia! There are daily tours for visitors at 10am for a few dollars to learn more from an expert.
We spent about 45 minutes doing one of the loop walks before making our way back to the visitor centre to enjoy a coffee. If it wasn’t still before 10am I would definitely have tried the native icecream tasting plate, with quandong, native lime, lemon myrtle and wattle seed flavours! I think quandong would have been my favourite, as I grew up with a tree in our front yard but haven’t had any for years! The cafe here serves all sorts of native foods and tasting platters, so this could be a good places to come if you would like to try something unique. Also, if you are planning to grab a take away coffee, bring your own cup and save 50 cents off the price.
I had been a little sad that during our walk I hadn’t see any Sturt Desert Peas. These are the floral emblem of South Australia so it’s alway nice to spot them when I can as they don’t grow in Adelaide very well. I wasn’t all that surprised that we didn’t see them though, as they do flower mostly in spring. As we were leaving though, I noticed one plant sitting right by the doors of the cafe with a few flowers on them. How unique are these flowers?
The following day we all drove half an hour up the road to the town of Quorn to take a ride on one of the Pichi Richi Railway steam trains. My parents have been living in this area for around twenty years, and none of us had done this before. The trains run on a limited timetable, and only through the winter months (the steam engines pose too much of a fire danger in the dry summer months), so I was glad to be visiting during school holidays when the trains run more often.
We did the return trip from Quorn to Woolshed Flat which took about 2 1/2 hours. I just loved looking at the countryside, and watching out for both kangaroos and emus. We had a Canadian couple sitting across from us, and their excitement at seeing our wildlife was infectious. Normally at this time of year the area would be green and lush, with water flowing in the creeks and perhaps even some little waterfalls, but unfortunately, this area, like so much of Australia, is experiencing really bad drought conditions right now so was more brown than green.
There are lots of different train trips offered by the Pichi Richi Railway, including trips to and from Port Augusta and evening trips, and also trips on different types of trains such as the famed Coffee Pot train or the Barwell Bull. Check out their website because it really is worthwhile to do one of these unique rides.
The last weekend of July was spent in Melbourne again. I know, it seems like I am always over there, but I just can’t get enough of this city. Last time I was there my friend Bronwyn started me on a theme of trying to do as many free things as possible in Melbourne. We continued on with this on this trip, and I have to say there is SO much to do in Melbourne that doesn’t have to cost you are arm and a leg. We did not pay a single cent for all the things we did over a very busy three days. We also found a couple of places to still get tasty food on a budget. I didn’t get through my whole list of ideas though, so maybe I will have to go back again soon!
In August I have precisely nothing planned. It’s unlikely it will stay that way though, as I don’t seem to be able to stay in one place for too long. I have so many ideas for road trips around South Australia that I’m sure to take off on one of them. I also have tentative plans to spend a day wine tasting in one of the fantastic wine regions around Adelaide, so I will be sharing all the details about that if it comes off.
I have now booked our flights to Europe for next year – or at least mostly booked them. Some of the challenge of booking flights with frequent flyer points is getting the right combination of available flights, especially in busy periods, such as school holidays and Easter, when we are travelling. So far we are flying from Adelaide to Dubai with Emirates and then from Munich back to Adelaide with Singapore Airlines, all in business class. I still have to find a flight from Dubai to Frankfurt, but it’s looking like that will either be two flights, or in economy, or even both! I may even have to – gasp! – actually pay for a flight. Oh, the first world problems I have!
I’ve also been working on coming up with an itinerary for the six weeks we are in Europe. I have the basic path we will be taking, but have not yet decided on the exact towns we will stop in or for how long. We will likely hire a car and drive for a lot of it, and we will hopefully be visiting three European countries we have not been to before along with some new areas of others. I can’t wait.
I’ve also started my planning for a trip to Canada in the second half of 2019. I know it’s a long way off yet, but part of flying with frequent flyer points is planning well in advance to have the points ready to purchase flights as soon as they become available, often 330 days before the flight. I’ve not been to North America before, so I’m having to learn about new airlines and frequent flyer programs. It can be difficult to find flights across the Atlantic using the standard Qantas or Virgin Australia programs, so I will likely be signing up to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program. Luckily I can transfer my stock of Amex points to them, so I am already well on my way towards my points goal.
In case you missed them, here are my July blog posts:
June 2018 Summary
Travel Diaries – France
Travel Diaries – Singapore (Our 3rd gap year visit)
Things to do in Mount Gambier South Australia
Our Ten Biggest Gap Year Failures
Riding the Richi Pichi Railway in Quorn South Australia
Don’t forget to follow along on social media where you will see some content that does not make it onto my blog.
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I am just loving my time spent working on this blog, but ugh! It can be so frustrating sometimes. I have yet again had my best month for visitors to my blog and I can slowly see things I am putting in place working. I know there is a 6-12 month time frame for seeing real changes, but patience was never my strong point. It’s been three months, and I want results now!
One of the things I am doing is going through my old posts and re-editing the photos to improve the quality and adding in new information. Two I have done this month are my posts on Port Adelaide, first the Things to Do, and then the Street Art. Have a look at them to see the new, improved versions.
I have a few more ideas to put in place this month, along with more informative posts coming up, so I’m hoping things keep ticking over and improving. Of course shares, comments and clicks always help me out and I would love to know any questions or suggestions you may have, particularly if there is something in South Australia you would like me to investigate.
Until next month, take care.
Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.