Almanac Travels: Tramping through Tanunda

 

 

My fifty-second consecutive day of jogging four kilometres begins at our Valley Hotel apartment. I cut through the beers garden (note plural: who has just one beer?) and consider how often I’ve run to, but never away from a pub.

Tanunda’s Murray Street is Barossa vine-zero and already enjoying pedestrian traffic with tourists and locals shuffling in and out of the coffee shops and bakeries. A community market’s on and the sun catches the golden varnished pine of trucks and steamrollers and assorted wooden toys.

Scurrying along Bilyara Road I recall that Wolf Blass has a shiraz named Bilyara. Us Kapunda folk used to frequent his winery and I wonder if Claire and I should invest a nostalgic hour but given that the Barossa now hosts one hundred and fifty cellar doors perhaps we should keep our visits to novel vinous venues.

It’s downhill past the Tanunda Oval which is being widened to accommodate (hopefully) SANFL footy and first-class cricket. A second, smaller oval for the kids is under development although the skyline’s disarmingly clear because many ancient trees were felled for this progress.

It’s just after eight on the Queen’s Birthday holiday so it’s effectively Sunday. A ute rumbles past with a dog hanging out the window.

Glancing over towards the wicket area I remember a Colts cricket game when I was fielding at very short leg as in thundered my mate Rocket. Already scary quick, in a few brisk years he’d be selected to play Sheffield Shield. The only helmets within the postcode were, I suspect, on the bonces of a bikie gang as they made their philanthropical way towards the pub.

The Tanunda batsman and I were shaking in equal measure, but it was worse for him as with trembling mitts he was attempting to keep hold of some dreadfully narrow willow. As the Kookaburra collected his head the crack was awful, preternaturally percussive, and he dropped to the concrete pitch, a flannelled tangle. Deeply concerned (well, as concerned as boys become regarding matters of physical safety), we rushed to his splayed self, and knew he was fine when he announced weakly, ‘You bastards.’

Now on Langmeil Road and pushing towards my halfway mark I’m taken by the wide, tree-lined boulevard and its handsome homes.

It’s crisp and mercifully still as the ferocious front of the previous week has absconded. According to Mum and Dad it plonked nearly five inches at their place on the Greenock side of Nuriootpa.

Approaching the brashly-monikered and tucked-away cellar door Riesling Freak, I vow to visit prior to the first Test against the Windies given that cricket and white wine seasons conflate. As the gleaming folk of HR might say, some useful synergies may then be generated.

I pull up puffing at Langmeil Wines where my wife marked a significant birthday. We all then traipsed, with purpled glasses in hand, to Peter Lehmann’s and the now defunct Richmond Grove wineries.

But today we’ll explore the Barossa Valley Estates and David Franz cellar doors. Given the affection with which we know the earthy and personal contours of this valley, I’m hoping for both wistful memory and shared discovery.

I turn back towards the town centre.

On Fechner Drive (highly Barossan nomenclature) there’s a single vine on an empty block. It’s still smeared with shrivelled black dots and I wonder what happens with its annual fruit yield. Birds, possums, furtive backyard vignerons?

Across the road is a lemon tree bursting with confident blobs, already tennis ball-sized and auditioning for Van Gogh’s yellow period. Then there’s a pastoral counterpoint: an olden stone barn with rusting implements scattered about with the entire mise en scène evoking the original German settlement.

I notice a succession of peppercorn trees and recall the one a nine iron from my childhood home, where under its secretive branches was an enchanted space of games and invention. These, I decide, are the trees of innocence while surging, aspirational gums are for adults.

Nicking through the Tanunda Oval I recollect a rare win in my first year of senior footy for the Bombers. I wonder at the pronounced south to north slope of the ground. As a kid this escaped me.

On the canteen wall, the chalk on the Magpie menu blackboard shows hotdogs are $5 and this seems about right. In the clubrooms under the grandstand, I assume mettwurst and port remain available for the stalwarts.

I skirt the white terrace benches by the southern goal and remember dark, wintry afternoons as a kid scampering around in my footy boots. These silent symbols have been there forever and are redolent of all that’s nurturing and treasured about long past Saturdays.

My fourth and final kilometre concludes as I burst back through the Valley Hotel’s beer garden.

 

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Very nice, Mickey.
    I admire your commitment to the 4km jog, alas my knees no longer allow for such activity.
    First class cricket at Tanunda? That would be very appealing indeed.

  2. Mickey, Tanunda is a great spot for any number of reasons – Apex bakery, Tanunda Oval, good coffee outlets, and only 150 wineries to choose from! David Franz is a favourite of mine – easy to while away a day there with the food and wine offerings. (A gun winemaker in his own right regardless of the family heritage.) My in-law’s extended family used to have a share in Langmeil until a few years ago. Valley Floor shiraz is a good ‘un, as is Orphan Bank, Three Gardens, Blacksmith…I felt like I was following you around the streets.

  3. Thanks Smokie. I really like the idea of cricket (and footy) going beyond the traditional venues. Glenelg used to host a couple Shield games a season but this has stopped now Karen Rolton Oval near the city is used. Nuriootpa hosted a WBBL game a while back and word was that Darcie Brown (Kapunda’s own) was to make her debut so lots of locals attended only for Darcie to carry the drinks!

    Thanks Ian. David Franz was especially good and the distressed doors they use as rustic table tops are fantastic. Langmeils used to do a great cleanskin that my brother-in-law lapped up because he’d heard it was their now discontinued Hanging Snakes shiraz!

  4. Mark Duffett says

    I remember the slope on Tanunda Oval. I once kicked a goal up the hill there from a highly dubious mark in the forward pocket.

    One hopes the tree removal doesn’t have undesirable consequences in exposing the playing arena to prevailing winds.

    Maximum evocation from the willow trees, though. One whiff of them and I’m instantly transported back to childhood in Riverton.

  5. Give me Tanunda’s slope over that ferocious, icy wind at Eudunda, Mark! Nothing like playing there in hail. I was also saddened when the big pine tree behind Kapunda’s northern goal was felled but it probably snared too many balls over the years although I bet all of the Burleys were instantly spat back out. Thanks Mark.

  6. Thanks Mickey.

    The tree carnage is an utter disgrace. It has changed the character of the ground forever.

    I’m conducting a Loyal Commission in the Tanunda Club tonight.

    PS Funny to bump into you in the street Mickey.

  7. Thanks JTH. I’m sure all matters Barossa are debated and often decided on Fridays in the Tanunda Club once the weather has been analysed and evaluated.

    Kapunda’s season is cooked and Tanunda would be looking to bank the two points today at Angaston to make their spot in the four more certain.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Really good stuff, Mickey – very much you in your element. There’s a highly pleasing ‘Mickey Randall in Arcady’ thing going on here.

  9. Thanks KD. I’m lucky in that I have an Arcady in Kapunda and by extension the neighbouring towns of my childhood. I’ve written a few pieces like this one about my observations as I go for a jog and admit that I’ve been inspired by Richard Ford’s Sportswriter series in which the narrator Frank seems to be in perpetual motion. He invests his journeys by car across New Jersey, often in the most seemingly mundane of contexts, with wonder and mindfulness and it is a trait I find appealing. I’m taking my boys to Melbourne this weekend to binge on footy and culture and immerse ourselves in the place and might try something similar about this.

  10. I reckon the footy oval at Robertstown was the worst don’t you think? Cold and dreary and bleak maybe? I experienced my worst turned ankle on the netball courts there. Great read Mickey.

  11. Thanks Someone. Like you (I imagine) I found the post-match showers as warm as the hospitality! My definitive memory of playing under 15’s footy at Robertstown was encountering giant, side-burned men-like monsters who appeared as if they spent their days hoiking tractor tyres about paddocks. Them and Moseys.

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