We went through irrigated fruit and vegetable fields and then back towards the Murray River where the cereal crops gave way to grapes, firstly table grapes, then wine varieties. This is the domain of irrigated grapes for bulk wines, familiar names such as Banrock Station and Oxford Landing graced the riverside, then out of the blue a sign warning of a stop sign and ferry. We then crossed the river on a small car ferry, one of several in the area. The lady operator told us she could tell how much water was been put on the fields by the river level.
We were off the main roads so I could open up the Alfa a bit and the performance was great, even on less than ideal road surfaces it was surefooted and brisk. The heat was up in the 40’s again so the split system AC was very much appreciated. Despite my best efforts we arrived at Clare just as the Sunday markets were breaking down, but they had been a small affair due to time of year and heat. We strolled down the main street, which was all but deserted and, as seen in so many small towns, wrecked by the blank walls of box shops and supermarkets. I can only assume the local shires were so desperate to get a big name in their town they forewent any urban planning controls.
We booked into the Clare Country Club at 2:00pm where we relaxed and sorted out things and affairs. This was the lap of luxury, but we had secured a wotif half price special, so it turned out to be the cheapest night’s accommodation we had. As it cooled off a bit we went to the pool and had a swim, and the place seemed to have very low occupancy. Searching out a place for dinner left us with a very short list, due to it being Sunday night and we chose to call the Seven Hills Hotel for a table at 8:00pm. That was too late for them and could we make 7:00? We almost declined, but thankfully said yes. The food was sublime and the atmosphere beautifully understated. I had 2 wines with dinner, a God’s Hill Chardonnay and Pauletts Cabernet Merlot. I found the Chardonnay very light and spritzing. There was also a pronounced sulphur dioxide on the nose, the fruit blossomed after some time in the glass, but it never worked for me. The Pauletts was a great match for the duck I was eating, I was in heaven. Cathy ordered the panna-cotta for desert, while I was tempted into a christmas pudding, the one and only I would eat this Christmas. The custard has the black speckles of vanilla and a sublime taste, the pudding was pretty good too! This was a very special end to a relaxing day, rounded up with a small twin cask malt whisky back in our room.