I Went To ‘Australia’s Andalusia’. It Ruined Me For Life

"Something anyone with a mouth and a stomach really ought to try."

I Went To ‘Australia’s Andalusia’. It Ruined Me For Life

Image: @kim_zrn, reposted by @thelouisebarossa

Think you need to jump on a 24-hour flight to sink a world-class red while overlooking a bunch of grape gardens? Think again. You can do that right here in Australia.

In fact, as I learned earlier this month, when you compare what we have just a domestic flight away compared to the rest of the globe (think: everything from Maldives alternatives to Polignano a Mare proxies), as well as our remarkably low numbers of confirmed Covid cases, any concerns over Australia becoming a hermit kingdom become a lot more palatable.

RELATED: Photo ‘You Won’t Believe Is In Australia’ Blows Minds Down Under

Lacking the funds to pay for any kind of hotel quarantine or a business class ticket back home (and not having an essential reason to leave the country), the last 12 months I have been forced to throw my anti-establishment tendencies aside and explore Australia… along with the rest of Australia (and their van).

Along the way, I have discovered that my flippant belief that ‘going overseas always makes for a better trip’ was wrong.

RELATED: Australian Wine Snob Learns Important Lesson After Committing ‘Ultimate Barossa Valley Sin’

Before the latest floods turned the east coast into a big muddy washing machine, even places like Port Stephens were popping up on Instagram and being compared to places like Crete. On top of that, formerly neglected gems like this remote island – the Uluru of the pacific – have been rediscovered with much enthusiasm.

To help promote this domestic Down Under boom, I was recently invited by Qantas to visit South Australia. Though I arrived sceptical of what this land of plains could produce compared to Spain, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Beyond having my mind buffeted by Adelaide’s Northern Lights and lively city centre (which both put Sydney’s current nightlife scene to shame) I also experienced a number of revelations in the Barossa, Eden Valley and McLaren Vale regions.

Though I still plan on heading back to visit Spain as soon as I’m able to (sorry not sorry), what I’m calling ‘Australia’s Andalusia’ (read: Adelaide and its surrounds) is something anyone with a mouth and a stomach really ought to try.

Here’s a highlight reel of my time there to convince you why…

The flatness of the landscape (and the climate) are remarkably similar to that of southern Spain

Though Andalusian cities like Seville (the warmest city in continental Europe) are slightly warmer than the Barossa, the climate is very similar (which is perhaps no surprise considering both the Barossa and Andalusia are prolific wine cradles).

The Barossa has a winter average high temperature of 14 degrees celsius (and low of 5), while Seville has a winter average high of 17 degrees celsius (and a low of 7). In summer the Barossa has an average high of 29 degrees celsius (and a low of 14), while Seville has an average high of 35 degrees celsius (and a low of 18).

Described as a Mediterranean climate, Barossa usually has cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, which is perfect for grape growing. As a consequence, it has 80 cellar doors for tourists to choose from.

The long sunny days – and proliferation of burly barrels you can eat off, with rolling green and orange landscapes in the background – are also reminiscent of the sort of scenes you might experience in the countryside of southern Spain in areas like Jerez and Cadiz.

Adelaide’s main street gives Granada’s Calle Caldereria Nueva a run for its money

Speaking of southern Spain, Granada’s Calle Calderia might be full of life, and Jerez’s Calle Larga might have pleasant alfresco dining…

… but – especially at this time of year – Adelaide’s Rundle Street, upon which restaurants are given free rein during its annual Fringe Festival – gives them both a run for their money.

RELATED: Iconic San Sebastian Image Reveals The Secret To Spain’s Nightlife Success

Adelaide’s Fringe Festival rivals Jerez de la Frontera’s Feria de Caballo

Speaking of running for dinero… Adelaide’s Fringe Festival (pictured below) is the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

It has hundreds of stalls, entertainment and musical attractions, and is the closest thing I’ve seen to a Spanish-style feria in all the years I’ve lived in Australia.

It’s also very different from the ghost town Sydney’s Kings Cross was revealed to be earlier this month…

Like Spain (and unlike many other places in Australia, where ‘going out’ seems to be limited to distinct demographics) everyone from their grandad to their youngest cousin seemed to be out and about at Fringe.

Gluttony is the name of the popular, quirky outdoor hub for the Adelaide Fringe, which is set in the beautiful surrounds of Rymill Park in Adelaide’s East End.

Though there were no Flamenco dresses or Rebujitos to be found, it is certainly a ~vibe~.

I enjoyed strolling past a circus, a concert and all sorts of food stands, all in the space of about thirty seconds, before arriving at the much-coveted Borealis – a light show designed by international artivist Dan Acher.

RELATED: I Visited ‘Australia’s Northern Lights’. It Completely Blew My Mind

As DMARGE reported last week, “Borealis is created by high power laser beams, which travel through particle clouds to create the illusion of Aurora Borealis. Variations in weather conditions, movement, colour, and density mean the effect is different every night.”

Highly recommended.

Despite all this gushing… the architecture in Adelaide’s ‘Andalusia’ still leaves something to be desired…

If you like Lutheran churches and high rise buildings, Adelaide (and the adjacent regions) are great. But it still doesn’t quite impress like Granada’s Alhambra or Seville’s Plaza de España.

The more ‘wholesome’ aspects of the trip are just as good as Spain’s though

As the late great Anthony Bourdain once pointed out, many tourists don’t spend enough time smelling the coffee and eating the cakes. In his upcoming book World Travel he reportedly wrote about Paris: “Drink some wine, walk around a bit more, eat, and repeat. See? It’s easy.”

RELATED: The Secret Spanish Town Blowing Up On Instagram

So even though Adelaide doesn’t have as much intricate architecture, when it comes down to it, that’s probably not what’s going to make or break your trip – it’s more about who you’re with and what you tickle your tastebuds with.

According to Traveller, “In the France chapter of ‘World Travel,’ Bourdain instructs those lucky enough to visit Paris to do as little as possible. Running through back-to-back activities like hitting the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame in one day is going to leave you exhausted and overwhelmed.”

“The most important thing to do the instant you arrive in Paris is stop,” Bourdain said, Traveller writes.

“Don’t pack your itinerary with a destination’s highlights unless you want to miss out on its magic. Instead, slow down and savor a new place. Grab a seat at a sidewalk cafe, at the end of a dive bar, on a city park bench, and take it all in,” (Traveller).

I’d recommend you do the same in South Australia. With the likes of Maggie Beer’s The Farm Eatery and d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant out in the sticks and Indian-Australian fusion restaurants like Daughter In Law on offer in the city, you certainly won’t go hungry.

The hotels and lodges are in tune with the growing demand for eco-conscious living, and locally sourced products

Go back 20 years and I doubt you would find Australian Sandalwood conditioner (with a hint of Kakadu plum), and Blue Mallee Eucalyptus shampoo (with a touch of lemongrass) in your hotel room amenity kit.

Some of the lodges also offer stunning views, which appear to be designed with The Instagram Effect in mind. The vistas from The Louise’s pool, for instance, could easily be picked up and dropped off in Andalusia without raising an eyebrow… Likewise, you could easily be forgiven for entering a winery like Seppeltsfield (see below) and thinking you were in a Spanish Bodega.

Image: DMARGE.

Even if you have seen Kangaroos a thousand times before, it’s always nice to do so again

Image: DMARGE.

Especially with a muffin and a breakfast Mimosa (for more information on The Louise’s Breakfast with the Kangaroos experience, click here).

Image: DMARGE.

The wine is more ‘old world’ than Europe’s

Yep – you read that right. Thanks to some forward-thinking governance (as well as a helping geographical hand), Australia avoided the ravages of phylloxera (a vine eating louse) that hit most of the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In contrast to the rest of the globe, South Australia guarded its precious vines (the oldest of which date back to 1853) with strict quarantine laws. Winegrowing regions like the Barossa remain phylloxera free to this day.

As Ashleigh Evans, brand ambassador for Henschke, explained during my time there: “Australian wine is actually made from more longstanding vineyards than Europe’s thanks to pest control.”

Going there in person lets you take part in Australia’s latest wine trend

Another benefit of going on a cellar door mission to South Australia is that you can impress your friends and family on your return, by signing up to a direct-to-consumer monthly wine order (or one-off purchase) from the likes of fine wine producers like Bekkers Wine.

There is plenty of ‘big city vibe’ accommodation kicking around too

Fancy a Kubla Khan style monument to city living and urban escapism? Look no further than EOS by SkyCity. More modern amenities than you can throw a 3/4 soy flat white at and a ballroom to boot.

That’s it: I’m officially ruined for life. Sydney: you had better raise your game…

DMARGE travelled to Adelaide as a guest of Qantas, and was invited to stay and eat at all of the establishments named above. 

Read Next