McLaren Vale - 35° 14' 52" S 138° 32' 33" E

Different parts of our world are woven together in strange ways.

Oppy, Kate and Sean - Women's Tour Down Under

A few years ago, during our marshalling gig with the Tour of Alberta we met Kimberly, the Chief Marshal, who also is the Technical Director for the Women's Tour Down Under (WTDU) in Australia.  We asked Kimberly if she needed marshals for the WTDU to which she responded, "Yes, if you are around, I would love to have you help out."  This year, we were around, so off to Adelaide we went.

From our Raja Muda sailing experience, we had met Matt and Kate, who live in Adelaide.  They had invited us to visit them if we were ever in the neighbourhood, so we bunked with them while taking part in officiating.

Locals make the best tour guides

Highly underrated, the WTDU is a chance to watch and actually talk with the competitors.  Post-race, the teams are available and willing to hobnob with spectators, officials and fans.  The courses are challenging and have lovely scenery.  The men's Tour seems to get all the attention and press coverage, though.

Decked out

As part of the race preparations, the small towns that are start or finish points compete with one another for the "Best-Decorated Town" designation.  Dispaly bikes are set out, hay bales are assembled into artwork and locals come out in big numbers with banners, flags and noise-makers.  It's quite festive ... even in the rain!

noice bikes, drizzly conditions

As marshals, we endured 40c heat (Day 1), drizzly, cold rain (Day 2) and 25+ knot winds (Day 3) at our stations.  No crashes or incidents took place on our posts, although Kate had some sheep shenanigans and Sean had curious cows come to visit.

very remote locations

sheep shenanigans
Sean and friends
hay bale decorations

Spending some time with Matt and Kate was a nice balance to our "working" side of the trip.  We had some lovely evening visits that didn't involve trimming sails or jibing.

Matt took us up to Mt. Lofty, the premiere viewpoint overlooking Adelaide.  The climb to Mt. Lofty is a top destination for cyclists and there were dozens enjoying a well-earned Sunday morning coffee while we were there.

 The view from Mt. Lofty

Flinders Column

We did a day with the whole Buchanan family, visiting D'Arenberg Winery and their favorite local beach.  The winery was become quite the tourist attraction, as a visit is billed as an "experience."  Before a tasting you are led through rooms at their main building that are meant to stimulate you with sights, sounds and smells (lost on Sean) before you get to experience their wines.  You make your way through their very distinctive building to the top floor to enjoy the fabulous views and their fabulous wines.  Matt was designated driver, which meant that we could all have a good guzzle of a  number of their offerings.

D'Arenberg Winery - inspired by a Rubik's Cube

funky furniture

Kate and Grace have a seat

At Port Willunga Beach, Matt shared memories of a childhood spent along the shore, thinking nothing special of days exploring the old sandstone caves, swimming around the jetty pilings and digging in the sand.  The beach has always been well-used.  Early settlers dug storage caves into the soft sandstone, abandoning them when the wharf fell into disrepair and eventually remained only as a few pilings.  A gorgeous swimming beach has remained and still draws many of the locals.

Willunga Beach

Matt, Kate and a little clown

shady hidey-holes

making sand art

Kate and Grace

Hooray - more sand for our collection!

On our way home, we had all time to stop at local attractions, like Land Rover on a Pole (Keith, SA) and Pink Lake (Dimboola, VIC).  Who says an eight-hour drive has to be boring?

They come from the four corners
of the earth to see ...

Pink Lake - lots of pink, not much lake


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