All hail, Tanunda Pines!

The opening hole at Tanuda Pines after a huge storm hit.  Photo: Troy Summers

Each year I spend a few days in the Barossa Valley researching a story for The Rockford Rag. Rockford is a superb winery on Krondorf Road, on the Adelaide side of Tanunda and each year it puts out a little newspaper and in recent years I have been writing for it.

I have been coming to Rockford since Robert O’Callaghan opened it in 1984, and have enjoyed Rockford wines over many a celebratory dinner. But that is a story for another day.

Robert is a magnificently eccentric bloke who wanted to make wine in the traditional Barossa way, by hand. And so the process moves at the pace of human endeavour.

His Basket Press Shiraz is legendary – each year Bart Cummings orders a few dozen just in case he wins the Cup.

Robert has many enthusiasms apart from wine. Cricket: he was a ‘keeper and nuggetty batsman. Football: he was a slow back pocket player who barracks for Port. Boats: he loves wooden boats and has been the force behind the restoration and re-commissioning of the P.S. Marion, a beautiful wood-fired steamer which paddles the Murray out of Mannum. And golf: Robert has played everywhere.

So my research this year was to start with a game of golf at Tanunda Pines up in the hills which overlook Jacobs Creek and Rowland Flat.

It was a beautiful morning as I drove up from Adelaide. Still. Mild. Partly sunny. Very unusual for a Barossa winter.

While having a practice putt a few clouds circled above. Robert and I were just about to head to the first tee, just metres from the clubhouse when, bang, the lightning struck, and from a seemingly innocuous cloud came the most remarkable downpour, which turned into hail within a minute or so and then proceeded to belt down for half an hour. The noise on the roof was phenomenal, and quickly the ground was covered.

The photo of the opening hole (snapped by Troy Summers, the pro, on his mobile phone) was taken about 10 minutes after the hail began.

The surrounding hills were white with hail for the remainder of the afternoon.

I have seen some wild weather on the golf course, especially storms in Queensland, and this was one of the most spectacular sights I can remember on a golf course, or anywhere really.

We adjourned to the bar for a stout.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. JTH – bet the hail stones made the greens hard to read.

  2. John, you don’t have a spare bottle of the Basket Press do you?

  3. Ben Footner says

    I’m a big fan of Rockford’s Alicante Bouche, one of the best Rose’s on the market.

    There are some spectacular photos of Barossa’s hail whitened hills getting around today.

  4. Weather fine track good at Goolwa yesterday Harmsy. Should have been at South Lakes Course.
    Ben do you reackon the Creeks are on for another flag this year?

  5. Ben Footner says

    They’ve lost a few games this year but only by small margins David, they will be around the mark again.

    The line up has been a bit all over the shop as well, but the side should settle nicely for finals I reckon.

    GSFL very open this year, great to see!

  6. John, what a day, huh?
    Our photographer got some amazing shots of the weather on Thursday – we’re going to run a double page spread. It was a very unique experience.

    And Rockford…yum! Been visiting there since my parents first took me as a teenager. Nice, nice stuff.

  7. John Kingsmill says

    John Harms. Why is it that our amazing world follows you where ever you go?
    I still can’t believe that a grand final ball bounced on the tarmac and landed in your lap.

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