Days 264-265 Wednesday-Thursday January 9-10, 2008
Adelaide to Mildura, Australia
Wednesday was the first day that we ventured into the Australian Outback. While the drive through seemingly endless desert was highly anticipated by all of us, we still had a few places to see in Adelaide before getting on our way. In order to partake in the two things in Adelaide on our agenda and make it to our destination by nightfall, we were forced to stick to a pretty tight schedule. This meant another early start.
Upon arriving in Adelaide we found out that Haighs, a local chocolate maker gives free tours of their factory on a regular basis. When we called, they booked us into a spot at 1:30pm, which meant that we had the morning free. This plan worked out perfectly because the other place we wanted to see before leaving was the Adelaide Zoo and three hours seemed to be just the right amount of time to do it.
We arrived at the Adelaide Zoo around 10am. The zoo has an ideal location, as it sits adjacent to the botanical gardens in the middle of the city. During our near three hours of touring it, we saw a variety of animals including pelicans, monkeys, zebras, meerkats, tigers and more. Of course a zoo in Australia isn’t complete without kangaroos, emus, koalas, cassuarys, crocs, wallabies and various other species found only in Australia. In fact, it is seeing these animals that made the experience worthwhile.
Shortly before leaving the zoo, we headed to the petting zoo area where kangaroos were roaming free. We suddenly became excited at the possibility of an encounter, only to see that every one of the kangaroos was sleeping behind their “safe” rope. The safe rope marks off an area where guests aren’t allowed to go. This allows the kangaroos to escape the clutches of us horrible humans if they are tired. While I definitely understand why this area is needed for the animals, it didn’t stop me from being a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to pet and feed them.
We left the zoo at 1pm and ventured over to the Haighs Chocolate Factory. Haighs is a premium chocolate manufacturer who only sell their chocolate in 10 company stores spread around Australia. We arrived at 1:15pm and spent the extra time before the tour browsing around the gift shop and eying the many different kinds of chocolate. We figured given that the tour was free, we would have to buy something. Right?
Once the tour began our group of twenty was shuttled into a small room where we sat on chairs arranged along the wall. Our guide spent ten minutes talking about the difference between normal chocolate and premium chocolate and the history of the company. After our history lecture was over, we spent the next twenty minutes walking along a corridor where windows provided a glimpse onto the factory floor. During the entire twenty five minute tour, our guide continuously handed out delicious samples of chocolate. While this didn’t compare to the Cadbury Factory tour in scale or size, it cost a whole lot less money! (Free)
After the tour was over we bought some chocolate (we were obligated) and went to get some lunch before getting on the road towards Mildura. Mildura is located about four hours away from Adelaide and is considered to be on the southern edge of the Outback. The scenery between Adelaide and Mildura reminded me of home. Basically, it amounted to endless vistas of brown desert! When we finally arrived in the mid sized town around 6pm, the temperature outside was 42 degrees Celsius. (107.6 Fahrenheit)
When planning our route, we decided to get the cabin for two nights in Mildura so that we could explore the surrounding region on Thursday. The heat in Mildura was horrible. We are from Las Vegas and know a thing or two about brutal heat, but the sun was as harsh in Mildura as I have seen it anywhere else in my life. Luckily, our cabin had a great air conditioner and we spent most of Wednesday night locked away under its protection.
Thursday morning the weather forecasters were calling for temperatures in excess of 40 degrees once again and by the time noon rolled around the weather was brutal. In fact, it was one of those days where people honestly should not be outside. We did manage to take a quick drive out of town to see portions of the Murray River, but other than that we spent most of the day in the cabin with Mr. A/C. I know it sounds weird, but standing in the sun while in Mildura made me feel like skin cancer was growing on my skin. (Maybe all of the graphically disturbing Australian Public Service Announcements about skin cancer are getting to me!)
While Thursday turned out to be a bust, our spirits were still high, because we were making our way through the outback and would eventually emerge at the nation’s capital before pushing on to its premiere city. While driving through the outback we had also hoped to see a kangaroo or two running in the wild. On these days this didn’t happen, but who could blame any animal for hiding out in such heat!
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The Coomer Family