A Paradise of Wine and Old Tractors

Guest author: Richard McSephney

You can’t spoil a drive through the Clare Valley.

It’s grey and cold but the valley is spectacular. Every kilometre there is the name of an old friend, Annie’s Lane, Mitchell, Mintaro Wines, Knappstein and so it goes on.

A personal favourite name but not tasted is Mad Bastard Wines. Allegedly Mark Barry the winemaker is known as MB by both name and nature, his unconventional ways have earned him the title. That may well be the case, but equally I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a warning on the label that after just one sip it has a dramatic effect on the consumer’s personality! I may even know one who has partaken of that brew and he certainly could equally be named after the wine.

We visit Sevenhill Winery. A beautiful location dominated by St Aloysius Church and adjoining Jesuit retreat surrounded by an immaculate garden. I think this might be a little bit of heaven if you’re a Jesuit priest hanging out here for a break. Turn right out of your lodging and you have some fine rieslings or tokay or turn left and praise the Lord at St Aloysuis. It’s all so convenient that you wouldn’t even get your cassock wet if it was pouring down.

My favourite part though was an inscription hanging above the cellar cat’s bed, a half barrel filled with straw. He was very cosy and so as not to be disturbed a notice pronouncing that he was not receiving visitors today protected him from endless visitor fussing.

The inscription reads;
Blessed are you. Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
Hallelujah….this isn’t on the inscription but I’m adding it. It seems very appropriate.

Our plan is to head for Booleroo Centre where there is a rare steam and farm machinery museum like no other you’ve ever visited.

Ian, a retired farmer, personally shows us around.  His knowledge and anecdotes are timeless, but he insists he came late to the society.  He was standing in for someone otherwise overcommitted for a particular role and here he is now, 25 years later, raising his concerns over the future of the collection with diminishing membership and even worse diminishing population in the area. Who’s going to keep it open?

Every item was donated, an amazing feat unlikely to be achieved in today’s society. This whole collection was the vision of one man and has been kept going by the efforts of a few. Well done chaps keep it going.

Of special interest is a Benz 125 hp model engine and generator believed to be out of a WWI (1914-1918) German U-boat, or submarine.

Next year is the 50 th anniversary of the society. On the 25th March 2018 a rally will be held with many of the exhibits showing their capabilities.  So if you happen to have an old Lanz Bulldog or a steam traction engine lurking around at home get on up to Booleroo and blow some smoke into the air with the best of them.

Ironically it looks like modern day technology provides a stable income for the group. Two mobile cell towers, 21st century equipment contributing to a 19th century maintenance bill. I like that.

During the day I notice a number of road signs: ‘Dog Registrations Now Due’ with a strap line “desex your dog”.

I’m wondering if the dog population of South Australia is so sizeable the Government sees dog rego as a major line of income? If they do, why then add desex your dog? Isn’t that restricting future income potential?

How did this initiative come about? Did the SA Government Finance Committee see a hole in their budget? How was it proposed? The right Honourable member for Woop Woop moves to remind residents of the drain on our economy of the dog population…..

As I approach Port Augusta my mind slips into neutral, just like the Landcruiser. The end of a great day.  Wine and old tractors, who could ask for more?

Thanks to Tourism Australia for the photo of St Aloysius.

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