2011-10-26 06.46.46-2 We may plan an amazing trip to faraway places, but do we know what’s in our back yard? Have you ever just decided to be a tourist in your own town or area, go exploring to see what’s in your own neighborhood? Here’s why I’m asking…….

Growing up we would take really good driving trips around America and Ohio where I am from. Even though we would always follow the map to get to where we wanted, every so often we would see a billboard or sign for a place which looked interesting to check out. So off the beaten path we would go. Not really knowing what we would find. Some little shop with produce from the area, a “Mom and Pop” diner with good food and a nice walk, a touristy place representing the area. I think it was the unknown of what we would find that was the big intrigue of the adventure.

Living in Elizabeth, South Australia, we have the Barossa Valley in our immediate back yard, so during the warmer months Phil and I head up there, looking for a new vineyard we have never heard of before. One day we stopped at Penfold’s Wines and they told us that Maggie Beers Restaurant had an outlet near here. She is one of Australia’s top chefs. Wonderful earthy food and great recipes and you can actually eat your way through her shop. She has products out for you to taste. The shop is set on a beautiful lake and you can sit outside during the summer and have a meal. Maggie has birds on display and you can walk though and take pictures. If it weren’t for the lady at Penfold’s telling us about it we would have NEVER known it was there.

Further east in my back yard is the mighty River Murray, which is a great grape, citrus and stone-fruit growing area. The most notable establishment is Berri Wines and Fruit Juices. It’s a shame to have seen what has happened to this once great and thriving fruit producing area. With the end of the drought they are starting to climb their way to the top where they belong. West in my front yard is the Gulf of St. Vincent, which has great fishing for those who love to drop a line. It is also the main source of crop growing areas in my yard. Out in the north 40 of my yard are market gardens growing everything from potatoes to pumpkins, tomatoes and sweet corn. Further north to that are more grazing and grain-growing areas, along with the Claire Valley wine Region. Keep going north and you hit the mines for Opals of Coober Pedy.

As you keep wondering in my back yard you come across Sydney in the eastern half, Hobart to the far south-east, Darwin to the north, Perth to the west, and out here somewhere in the back yard you will come across Canberra. As far east as you can go to the coast is our favorite destination to hide out for a week or two, Batemans Bay, New South Wales. We all have that city we love to hate and that is so true in Australia, that city is in the south-east corner among the bamboo patch which Phil is trying to kill is Melbourne.

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As you can see there is much to explore from tropical Darwin and Northern Queensland to the snow fields of the Great Dividing Range and deserts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. A boat ride across the ditch as we say here gets you to the rain forest of Tasmania.

There is much to see and do depending on the choices that you make. Anything form a day trip with lunch in the cooler to packing the caravan, filling the petrol tank and just going.

So here’s the Question – What’s in YOUR back yard???

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