We had the perfect plan, travel to the Barossa Valley wine region in South Australia, stay in budget accommodation and get around using the cheapest possible methods: busses, trains and bicycles. This was so we could save on the overall trip and spend more on wine……little did we know mother nature had a little something up her sleeve to disrupt our plans!
Watch our adventure below and learn about the ins and outs of doing the Barossa by bicycle.
We arrived in Adelaide on the day they had decided to completely shut down central station and therefore had no trains running out of the city, Yaay! We decided to enjoy a leisurely 30 min walk to the North Adelaide station where we could pick up a train heading out to Gawler, and from there a links bus (www.linksa.com.au/) to the Barossa. All in all costing us $14.80pp each way….not too bad seeming the Barossa is about 70kms outside of Adelaide, and the bus dropped us right at the doorstep of our home away from home for the next 2 nights.
Doubles D’vine is the name of the budget cottage we had booked, I wont go into too much detail as the owners have since sold up and retired and this little gem is no longer available (Alternative budget rooms are available at the Barossa backpackers or check out the deals on HotelsCombined). I will say however that it was a great deal at $80 a night inclusive of queen bed, kitchen, en-suite, air con and use of the pool! Having also the option of hiring bikes for $20 per day, we thought “what could be better than drunky cycling around the Barossa?” ohh we were so naive.
Don’t get me wrong, this area is ideal for cycling. The old railway lines have been converted into bike tracks that are a safe and convenient way to get from drunky-point A to drunky-point B, the area is relatively flat so its easy for someone with the most basic of riding skills (i.e Megsy) to get around easily, also all of the wineries are more than happy to help you out with refilling your water bottle with cold water.
This day however a heatwave, unseen in the region for a quite a few years, hit and hit hard!
Generally the area in January is quite hot, the rolling hills are a surprising colour of yellow where the grass has dried away and is actually crunchy underfoot. The only true colour is the the green of the vines stretching out as far as the eye can see, and the smattering of wild flowers along the side of the road. This is the usual sight for this time of year and it is actually these warmer temperatures that ensures that South Australia well known for its full robust red wines keeps this title intact.
However continuous days of the temperature being over 40 degrees celcius hadn’t been seen for a while, and we had landed in town on the hottest day of the season so far!!!
We had prepared for it to be a little warm that day, so we headed out early before it got too hot, with lots of water and totally lathered in sunscreen. Even with the sunscreen you could feel the sun sizzling your skin…..ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!
Our determination to make it to one of our favourite wineries, Thorn Clarke, may not have been the best idea in hindsight, but that is the beauty of hindsight, right? This winery was at the end of a very hilly road and all the ups and downs took a lot longer than expected which sadly meant we couldn’t visit as many wineries as originally planned.
With the determination to drink as much free wine as possible we soldiered on!
The remainder of our day included wines of many varieties, chocolate port, honey mead and a taste of wine made from what are “allegedly” the oldest producing vines in the world. At $100 a bottle we were more than happy to give this a thorough taste test!!!
Top temperature we were told reached 41 degrees….and we survived (just). With our one and only day in the Barossa complete it was time to head back to our cottage crank the aircon and make the only difficult decision of the day, which bottle of wine to crack open for dinner….oh its a tough choice!!!
There are quite a few options, from guided tours down to budget rental. $20 – $25 per bike per day seemed to be the cheapest rates, normally prices that are offered by accommodation to guests. The Barossa backpackers also has similar rates.
Obviously we’d suggest not doing this experience in the summer, and choosing a route of wineries that are close together so that you get to maximise your experience – we spent far too long cycling and not enough time trying wines.
When we arrived in the Barossa we had no idea just how cheap car hire could be (Read more about our self drive Mclaren Vale experience for $24.90 per day) being as most of the major companies were a minimum of $55 per day, so cycling seemed like a great budget option, but given the cost of public transport and the price of bike hire we really didn’t save any money doing it this way. On the positives, we didn’t need to worry about having a designated driver and it was quite an adventure! It was a worthwhile experience, quite a talking point at the wineries and if we’d planned our route to be easier and on a colder day it would have been very enjoyable too.
You can read our price comparison and pros and cons of the different ways to experience the South Australia wine regions on our post: Barossa vs Mclaren Vale.
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