May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship Days 19, 20 and 21

August 04, 2013

May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship Days 19, 20 and 21

If you were to read this post and this post only, you might come to the conclusion that I’m having a complete holiday – that is not true at all.  But I did have a day off to visit the beautiful Barossa Valley.  We awoke to torrential rain on Friday morning and a bleak forecast of 13 degrees and showers.  It didn’t matter though – this was the only day we could get to the Barossa and we were going regardless of the weather.

We picked up my mother in law Joan and sister Sarah up and headed into Norwood to what is one of the best cafes I’ve been to in a long time.  It’s called Argo and has delicious coffee and fantastic food.  We then set off for the Barossa with intermittent showers along the way.

I never expected it to be so pretty.  Rolling green hills and miles and miles of vineyards.  I think I had anticipated rougher countryside more like the Hunter Valley or Margaret River.  The Barossa is by far one of the most picturesque wine growing regions in the country.

We drove straight to Tanunda which is a gorgeous little town with one of the loveliest entrance points I’ve seen.  The road is bordered by two high stone walls and an archway celebrating the town and its fame as wine country.  We stopped at the tourist information which also happens to house the local library.  Never one to miss an opportunity I had a browse through the shelves then spoke to the librarian.  She said that Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose were both part of the collection but as the facilities were small, they had boxes of series that rotated around the different branches.  She suggested that if we had time we should pop into Nuriootpa and meet Julie Bailey the coordinator of Library events and Community engagement. We then paid a visit to a beautiful little bookshop called The Raven’s Parlour where I met Colleen, who was very keen to do some events with me next time I came to the Barossa.

We then headed for our first vineyard, Langmeil, which had a delicious selection of reds and whites and a fantastic vintner Jonathon who was incredibly knowledgeable.  We enjoyed the tasting and ordered some wines which will be shipped home.

We decided to drive to Seppeltsfield and have a look at the area including the Seppelt family crypt which dominates the side of a hill on the way into the vineyard.

The rows of palm trees are an impressive addition to the landscape and must have been planted many years ago to have matured to such a magnificent stage.

Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm was high on our list of must sees – she’s an Australian icon and we love her pheasant farm pate among other things.  The kitchen was serving mushroom soup which, on a chilly day was just perfect for lunch.  We also ordered a pate basket and had a leisurely stay, followed by a walk around the farm where Sarah and I witnessed some interesting animal behaviour!  Let’s just say that the ducks we thought were doing a dance weren’t.

We headed back toward Nuriootpa and found the library where I stopped in and met the lovely Julie and some of the other staff.  I can feel a 2014 Barossa book tour coming on!

Our final stop for the day was St Hallett winery where we sampled some more delicious wines and my mother in law Joan came up with the quote of the day.  She wanted to try one of the white wines she’d already sampled and said, ‘I want that fluffy one.’  The young girl serving us laughed and said that she’d never heard that word used to describe any of their wines.  Of course we asked her if it was a technical term – Joan said that she meant light – ‘you know a lovely light luncheon wine for little old ladies’.  We didn’t know it before but we do now and it’s one she’s not going to live down for a long time!

The heavens really opened up as soon as got back into the car and we decided that we’d head back to the city and have a rest before dinner with James and Chrissy Williams and Rebecca Bird from Pegi Williams Bookshop.  I have so enjoyed getting to know the three of them (and James and Chrissy’s gorgeous little boys) while I’ve been here and we made a date to go for dinner.

We went to a gorgeous spot on the river called Jolly’s Boathouse.  It was loads of fun; great wine and great company and the food wasn’t bad either.  Joan kept us entertained with her fluffy wine tales and it was terrific hearing more about James and Chrissy’s business and life in Adelaide. Ian and James share a love of all things cricket.  I am looking forward to going to a match at the newly rebuilt Adelaide oval with James sometime in the future.



Saturday morning was similarly wet and miserable.  I did some writing first thing then headed over to Pegi Williams Bookshop in Walkerville to sign a pile of books for James for their upcoming catalogues.  I signed my very first Alice-Miranda diaries and the new Alice-Miranda Shines Bright, both of which will be out 1 September.  As well, I signed all of the other books in the series plus any Clementine Rose books they had too.  James had told one of his best customers, Stella and her dad that I would be in the shop so they stopped by and we had a lovely chat about Alice-Miranda and Stella’s school and netball.  What a gorgeous girl.  I love meeting the readers and she was so a sweetie.  Ian and I then had a sneak peek at the plans for James and Chrissy’s new shop which will be built just around the corner within the next 12 months.  Exciting times ahead for them and I can’t wait to come back to Adelaide and work with them again soon.


I had a signing at Collins Edwardstown at 1pm so we picked up Joan and Sarah and headed down there.  I had to go to the ladies before we went to the shop.  I was in the toilet stall when I looked up only to see myself smiling back – not a mirror (that would be truly horrible) but a poster advertising the event.  Never seen myself on the back of a toilet door before and have to say it was a slightly strange and unnerving experience!  The staff had done a wonderful job of promoting the signing (not only in the loos!) and the shop looked amazing too with balloons, a lovely display and even a spot where the children could sit while I did a reading.  We were there about half an hour early and I was so thrilled to find that there was already one little girl, books in hand ready to say hello.  In the end we had a lovely crowd and it was great to meet everyone including some of the mums who follow my FB fan page and their daughters.

We had a late lunch back in Norwood and had a quiet afternoon.  Dinner consisted of wine, with pate from Maggie Beer.  I think we’ve eaten far too much the past couple of days!

On Sunday morning the family were heading home.  We had a lovely breakfast at another local gem of a spot over in Dulwich – where the houses are just as beautiful as Norwood – before they left for the airport.  I spent the next half hour doing some housework and getting myself organised for a full day of writing.  So far I’ve managed 2700 words and am hoping to double it before I go to bed tonight.  You see, it’s getting close to the end and the action is really heating up – and I tend to write faster at this point too.  My goal is to have the draft finished by tomorrow night and spend Tuesday tidying it up before sending it to Chris (who will no doubt be pleased to read this!).  Then I have to make a very quick start on the next Clementine adventure – but it’s been brewing for a few weeks now so I’m looking forward to leaping straight in.






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