Day 69 – Kangaroo Island – Girls tasting day

The weather bureau forecasted wet weather for today, so I formulated a plan to make the most of KI on a wet day. After escorting Audrey to the toilet around 6.30am this morning, rubbing the sleep from my eyes I soon realised that the sun was out. Another beautiful day on the island.

After breakfast we started the day of tasting for the girls. They had patiently sat at many cellar doors, it was time to return the favour. First stop, a mere 80kms from our campsite was Clifford’s Honey Farm.

Clifford’s Honey Farm was a lovely building literally in the middle of nowhere! We drove around some swamps and through ornate tree ‘guards of honour’ before arriving at our first destination. Entering the building the first thing we encountered was a retail shop filled with everything honey (no surprises there), along with the ability to taste three different types of honey made by the famous Ligurian Bee. At the back of the shop was the entry to another room filled with interesting facts and figures on the bees and honey production along with a live bee hive encased in glass. Time to brush up on some interesting facts on bees and honey production before the tasting.

Here are some of the interesting facts we learnt:
– To gather 500 grams of honey a worker bee flies a distance equal to more than three times round the world. For one teaspoon of honey, a honey bee has to make 154 trips.
– A queen bee can lay 2,000 eggs in one day and lives for 5 years laying one million eggs in a lifetime
– Worker bees only live for six weeks.

After polishing up on our knowledge of bees, we had a good look at the hive encased in glass. The hive had a tube connecting the external world to the hive, allowing the worker bees the chance to bring pollen from neighbouring plants to the hive. It was pretty cool being able to see the pollen being transported from outside the hive to the inside. We also noticed some bees shaking about furiously when inside the hive. According to an on-looker, this dance communicates the directions and proximity of a source of pollen.

We left the rear room for a taste of some honey, sampling Blue Gum, Sugar Gum and Mallee. The flavour of the honey is determined by the plants the bees obtain nectar from, usually foraging 1km from their hive. As plants flower at different times, you can taste the difference between all the honeys – Audrey and Caroline preferred Blue Gum, Ava the Sugar Gum, while I liked the Mallee, honey with a hint of smoky characteristics. After sampling the honey, I noticed they had a honey mead – a drink I am familiar with from period movies but have never tasted. I had a sample of the mead and shared it with Caroline. It was definitely not Caroline’s drink of choice, rejecting it immediately with a ‘no’. I had a taste and would agree with Caroline’s critique. A little like beer, sweeter with no gas. Having tried a thimble of mead, I can happily say that it isn’t my drink of preference.

We purchased a few goodies before leaving Clifford’s Honey Farm. Caroline and Audrey decided that a pot of Blue Gum honey was required, while I bought a small batch of honeycomb covered in chocolate (similar to a Violet Crumble) and two honey ice creams for the girls. The girls endured a spoonful of the ice cream and then said those four words parent love hearing from their children “I don’t like it”. Reluctantly Caroline and I ate the left overs. After tasting a few mouthfuls, I have to admit I didn’t think it was that great and threw the remainder in the bin. Hopefully some of the other tastings will be more of a hit with the little ladies.

Stop number two was a quick one, going off the recommendation of my parents of a lovely wine grown on the island called Hazyblur. After many unsuccessful google attempts to locate more information on this wine, I couldn’t tell whether this vineyard was on Kangaroo Island or on the mainland. In desperation I decided to email the owners of the vineyard who got back to me extremely quickly. It seems Hazyblur doesnt have a cellar door on KI, but it’s wines are available in select bottle shops. So stop number two was Ozone Cellars Bottle Shop in Kingscote.

We added another 30 minutes to our driving today to sample some of these wines. If dad gave it a thumbs up, it should be pretty good! Not having the ability to taste before we buy, something we have become quite accustomed with we purchased a bottle of their flagship wine, the Basket Pressed Shiraz and a bottle of the Pinot Noir. Will have to wait to the end of the evening before we get to taste our first KI wine.

Our third destination was Island Pure Sheep Dairy, a farm originally set up as a cattle farm that converted to a sheep farm, that became South Australia’s first sheep dairy and cheese factory in 1992. We went on a small tour of the operation, sampling a myriad of cheeses ranging from a haloumi, manchego, feta and kefalotiri along with some yoghurts and olive oils made by the farm (clearly not made from sheep). Following the sample we went to the milking shed and watched an informative DVD on the milk extraction process. We enjoyed Island Pure Sheep Dairy so much that we left with a few different varieties of cheese for afternoon tea.

Our final destination for the day was Andermel Marron . Not sure whether this was a tasting experience for the girls or something that Caroline REALLY wanted to do. We drove on some windy, bumpy loose backroads for around 50 kms before arriving at Andermal Marron.

The building itself was quite unassuming – a large tin building, connected to a nice cafe in a bush clearing. We headed towards the shed where the marron were housed, a huge room with large tanks holding marron of different weights ranging from greater than 300grams, 200-300grams and smaller tanks with juvenile marron. The lovely assistant took us through a history of marron and did a fantastic job of engaging the girls – particularly when she continued to bring live marron from the tank. Audrey was a little concerned every time they were pulled out by a net saying “I don’t like it, put it back”. A very funny sight!

We learnt that marron are native to southwest of Western Australia thriving on clean feast water river systems. They grow to over 1kg and may live for up to 20 years. They were first introduced to KI around 50 years ago and have thrived since. Marron are slow growing but have the best meat to shell ration of any crustacean in the world at around 43%. They range in colour from jet black, to bright blue, some pink to red. Irrelevant of their colour, they all end up a brilliant reddy colour when cooked!

We ordered some marron from the cafe, a chilli and lime marron dish. Before being served the dish, Caroline advised me that marron were delicate (not like a lobster) and sweet meat. Not being the biggest lover of seafood, I was looking forward to trying our lunch.

The dish was served with a bed of rice, vegetables and of course marron. Caroline said the chilli sauce was a little overpowering on some of the marron, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Delicate meat that wasn’t too overpowering – I would be quite happy to eat marron again. I think Ava shared my sentiment, initially resistant to trying the crustacean, I believe her remarks after tasting a mouthful were ‘yummy’!

We headed back to the caravan park to give the girls an opportunity to have a little rest before heading to the beach. As the sun was out with temperatures around 31 degrees, it made sense to have a swim and a fish at Hanson Bay. The girls had a VERY short sleep and we headed to the beach to soak up some rays and go for a dip. Arriving from the beach, the sun had gone away and dark clouds started rolling in. The wind picked up – it looked like we were in for a storm!

I soldiered on, put some squid onto the line and headed to the waters edge – truth be told I went waist deep into the waters as my casting skills are not sufficient enough to allow me to fish on dry land. The girls played on the beach, making sand castles and tipping buckets of water over the sand while my English rose huddled under a towel to remain warm. With no fish biting after 45 minutes and noticing how patient Caroline was being cold on the beach, I decided to call it a day and suggested we head back to the park to start dinner.

Caroline was cooking tonight, a bbq with salad along with a bottle of the 2013 Hazyblur Pinot Noir. A lovely bit of protein with an equally lovely wine. Well done Dad! After dinner the girls went out to look at the neighbouring kangaroos. Close enough to be interested, far enough away to be cautious. Amazingly we still saw some tourists (nationality withheld) trying to sneak up on the kangaroos while being photographed. I was worried that the larger kangaroo that they were trying to round up may turn around and punch them in the face. No doubt some light entertainment while the sun goes down.Version 2

Another relaxing day tomorrow is planned. Possibly more beach time (weather permitting), wine tasting and purchasing some oysters!!

One response to “Day 69 – Kangaroo Island – Girls tasting day

  1. All sounds great. Glad the girls have had their opportunity of tastings, especially as they are learning their likes and dislikes. One enjoying one flavour whilst the other prefers a different one. Growing up.
    KI must be very sparsely populated with so many miles to travel between destinations. Bet there is not the quality or quantity of playgrounds for Ava and Audrey (sorry Lachlan included).
    Lachie you will need to cast your mind back to the first time we met when we ate an English, cold water, lobster washed down with a most wonderful bottle of Grange. A fresh Cornish lobster is the most delicate and tender lobster no doubt much like a marron; not at all like the much larger varieties of lobster found in most other places in the world, Maine lobster excluded.
    The evening was memorable – a most unlikely combination of lobster and a bottle of Shiraz, but who can forget one of the most expensive fresh foods in the U.K paired with one of the most, if not one of the most expensive Australian wines, gifted by whom was to become our Son in Law.
    Australian Marron v Cornish Lobster – no contest….


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