With both of our 28th birthdays within just a few weeks of each, we decided to celebrate them with a weekend away. After I had planned such a successful weekend in Hunter Valley earlier in the year, this time it was Rachael’s turn to surprise me.
I left work early on Friday afternoon expecting a long road trip, however I was surprised to be picked up in a taxi and it was soon revealed we would instead be going to the airport.
The excitement grew even more when I was told we would be flying to Adelaide, before driving on to Port Lincoln where we would spend the following day diving with Great White Sharks!
Thankfully the flight to Adelaide was just a few hours as, this being Australia, the second leg of the journey involved a seven hour drive. We picked up the rental car as quickly as possible, keen to complete as much of the journey as we could before darkness. We finally arrived at the hotel just after 1am, thankful to have not hit any of the many kangaroos we saw along the way
After just a few hours sleep we were picked up from the hotel at sunrise and taken to the nearby marina where we were soon boarding the large boat, ready for our shark diving trip.
We had arranged the tour with Calypso Star Charters, the only tour provider authorised to use natural fish barley to attract the sharks. Port Lincoln soon disappeared into the distance as we navigated around several smaller islands, and continued towards the Neptune Islands Conservation Park. We were briefly accompanied on the journey by a pod of dolphins, while one of the smaller islands we passed was filled with Sealions.
As we neared the Neptune Islands, we were put into groups and given wetsuits, ensuring we were ready to enter the cage on arrival. Once we had stopped, the crew began to throw bait into the water.
We were in the first group to go into the cage, and as we were given our final instructions the adrenalin began to kick in. One-by-one we picked up a diving regulator and slowly lowered ourselves into the ice cold water. Visibility was low as we looked out for any movement in the water, while clinging to the bars of the rocking cage. Just the anticipation of being so close to a shark was incredibly exciting, and a little terrifying.
Despite the best efforts of the crew, after around 40 minutes in the cage, we had seen nothing larger than the hundreds of tiny fish surrounding us. We climbed out, very disappointed, but thankful to be back in the warmth.
Unfortunately as the next few groups climbed in and out of the cage without any sharks making an appearance, we realised it probably wasn’t going to be our day. Thankfully the weather was perfect, and we sunbathed on the top deck of the boat while we waited.
Eventually the crew gave up and we began the long journey back to the mainland. This meant it was also time for the boat’s bar to open, and we sank a few cold drinks, while admiring the stunning scenery. We arrived back into Port Lincoln just as the sun was setting behind the marina.
After such a long and eventful day by the time we arrived back at hotel we were exhausted. We therefore decided to cancel our dinner plans and instead order room service, which turned out to be an excellent decision.
The next day was my birthday and it was another early start, as we began the journey towards our next destination – the Barossa Valley. After all, what better way to celebrate than with some wine tasting!
After another six hours of driving, we finally arrived in the Barossa. In urgent need of some lunch, we made our first stop at Chateau Yaldara, which was founded in 1947. We enjoyed a pizza and a selection of local meat and cheese, all washed down with an excellent Shiraz.
Our next stop was at Penfolds, one of Australia’s oldest and renowned wine producers, with the Penfolds Grange Shiraz possibly the most famous wine produced in the country.
The Barossa Valley cellar door offers a range of tasting lists as well as the opportunity to create your own blend. We decided to sample the basic tasting list, which included wines starting at $35 a bottle and rising to $135 for the 2015 Shiraz. The more expensive wines were a little underwhelming to our uncultured palettes, and we settled with a $40 bottle to take home with us.
After a short break from the wine at the nearby Greenock brewers, we finished our tour of the Barossa at The Louise luxury resort. The exclusive onsite restaurant was well out of our price range, however we enjoyed a drink outside on the deck, while admiring the stunning views across the valley.
It was then time to return to Adelaide, where we were staying for the final night of our trip. We enjoyed dinner at 2KW, a great venue situated on the eighth floor of a historic building, which provides excellent views across the city, while the food is still definitely the star attraction.
After two extremely busy days, we decided to take the final day of our trip at a far more leisurely pace. We wandered into the city from our hotel for some brunch, before continuing to the iconic Rundle Mall and down to the banks of the River Torrens, which winds through the city.
It was another warm day, and we decided to spend the afternoon in the beachside suburb of Glenelg, which is very popular with locals, and has the feel of a British seaside resort with its amusement parks and jetty. We found a nice shaded area under some trees, perfect for a relaxing picnic.
After a walk along nearby Henley Beach, it was time to return to the airport for our flight back to Sydney. It had been an action packed weekend, expertly planned by Rachael and the perfect way to celebrate our birthdays. Even with the slight disappointment of not seeing any sharks, it is going to take some beating!