The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

22 May, 2013

Polish Hill, Clare Valley

After being in Adelaide for a week we packed up and headed to Polish Hill, located in the Clare Valley region of South Australia between the towns of Sevenhill and Mintaro, for a 4WD Club gathering.   We made our way to Auburn, a small town to the south of the Clare region for Wednesday night.  Here we stayed at the Auburn Recreation Ground [Camp 6 - 390] and had an enjoyable night around the campfire before turning  in for the night.  At this stage the layers of clothing had increased to 5!!! - with some overnight rain to freshen things up.

Polish Hill River Church & Museum
Polish Hill River at its peak had a community of more than 300 Poles who had immigrated to the area in the early 1850's onwards.  The old church still remains today and is a museum featuring artefacts from the Polish settlers.

From Lance's comprehensive itinerary for the weekend we knew the gates to Polish Hill hall and our camping area didn't open until 11 o'clock so this allowed for a sleep in which Hels was most great full as it was quite cold.  Upon arrival at Polish Hill we joined another 4 vans already set up and by Thursday night 12 members had settled in which set the scene for a great 'Happy Hour' around the campfire.  By Friday night we had more than 30 families camping in the area with several fires in various types of fire places.   I'm not sure if this was not a small competition to see who could build the best fireplace.  Friday night included soup and sausage sizzle, this just seem to blend into the happy hour, thanks  to the cooks Phil & Rolly and Soup makers Jill, Fiona, Carol, Karen, Eli.

Activities enjoyed during the weekend included:

"Popeye" was the first to light his brazier

"happy hour" in the hall

Our camp site

The other happy hour

More braziers, I think the competition was on
Melrose Day Trip
- was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, subject to track conditions, this travelled via Clare, Gladstone to Melrose then entering a private property driving around tracks up and down hills providing some beautiful scenery and views of the gulf towards Port Pirie . Finishing at Bartagunyah Wines before heading back on predominately gravel roads to camp.  We chose not to take this drive but instead went into Clare on the Friday for supplies and to post some mail and could not go past the Clare Bakery, particularly as it was lunch time!  Tea was provided by the club and included a selection of soups, baked potato and sausage sizzle.  A big thanks must go to Michael, David F and Craig for arranging the trip.

Clare area day trip

- visiting Warwick Grove Olive plantation @ Leasingham (tasting award winning olive oil), morning tea, coffee and cake & wine tasting @ O'Leary Walkers Winery, visited Blyth& called into Medika Art Gallery where resident artist Ian Roberts spoke about his work and history of the Gallery which is a beautiful restored Church built in 1886 (if you're ever passing through Blyth it is well worth a visit). He also instigated the opening of a small cinema which brings big screen movies to the rural community, for me this was a real surprise when I walked through the door and saw the relatively modern theatre.   From Blyth we travelled to Clare where we had lunch at the Middle Pub - everyone enjoying delicious meals.  From here we travelled back to Polish Hill with a couple of hours to spare before Happy Hour and wine tasting!  This trip was organised by Chris and Carol with their local knowledge made for a great day, thanks guys.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting @ Warwick Grove Olive Plantation

The convoy lined up at O'Leary Walker Winery

View from veranda at O'Leary's and emu sculpture

Was a nice spot for coffee & cake .... & wine

Blyth Church and now Art gGllery

Blyth Hall

Sculptures depicting the farming area in Blyth
Saturday night Bush Dance - the Band Wild Matildas had everyone up learning the art of bush dancing and thoroughly enjoying dancing to their wonderful music.  I think some of the guys had initial doubts when we had to hold hands and form a circle. A lot of fun was had by everyone and I'm sure with lots of video evidence taken on the night will be some stirring at the next club meeting. You should have heard the moaning in the morning, not from hangovers but the old muscles were felt the next day, who said age is no barrier!!

Let the music begin

Now for dancing ....
Pancake breakfast Sunday, as if we needed more food, but that didn't seem to stop anyone from taking part in the breakfast and some pancakes, thanks to the cooks Alan & Eli and the maker Fiona & Mel. Oh by the way I did see Hooky come back for seconds .... or was that for Marie's breakfast in bed? Sunday morning followed by visits to local wineries while some packed and headed back to Adelaide and W@#k,  he, he.  - we visited Sevenhill winery which is the oldest winery and vineyard in the Clare Valley.  Within the winery is the magnificent St Aloysius Church (with crypt) and visitors are welcome to look through.  The Winery has been owned and operated by Jesuits since 1851 and still produces sacramental wines plus an extensive selection of table wines.

St Aloysius Church - Sevenhill

It was fantastic to catch up with old members of the 4WD club and reminisce about the wonderful trips we had shared over the years.  Great to also meet new members and we thank Lance and Jill for all their planning and organisation of a great few days. 

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