Guess where I’ve been for the past few nights? Adelaide!
I scored an invitation to Coopers Brewery’s 160th anniversary celebration.
In May 1862, 10 years after arriving in South Australia from Plymouth with his young family, stonemason Thomas Cooper recorded his first brew.
And, on May 20, 2022, Alana arrived at the Freemasons Hall in Adelaide to celebrate a milestone 160 years.
My invitation included flights, transfers and a night at the fancy new Eos by SkyCity hotel in the city.
I was giddy with excitement when the invitation arrived and I asked DD if he’d like to come along and have a weekend in South Australia with me.
He ponied up for his own fare and on Thursday I asked if there were any last-minute COVID cancellations for the dinner so he could come along.
There were originally meant to be 160 guests for the 160th but, yep, a few people were crook, so DD scored a seat.
But before I tell you about the fabulous party, here are some snazzy shots of our hotel:
The Freemasons Hall, built in 1869, was the most stunning venue. Our jaws dropped when we walked through the doors.
There were Coopers ice sculptures dotted around the room, the most incredible foliage everywhere, a singer/guitarist playing on the stairs as mist swirled around them, delicious nibbles and lots of Coopers beer and Pol Roger champagne flowing.
After pre-dinner drinks we moved into the ballroom, which had been styled with three super long tables festooned with chandeliers and more foliage.
Check out the clever beer-inspired dinner menu:
Shane Jacobsen was MC and MD Dr Tim Cooper gave the main speech. I made lots of new friends, including Nadia, a lovely author from local “what’s on” website Glam Adelaide, who gave me a few tips on what to do the following day in McLaren Vale, which was our next stop.
Check her website out by clicking here.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel – I had avocado on toast with dukkah and poached eggs – before hitting the road.
We took a quick twirl down to Glenelg before striking out for Chalk Hill winery in McLaren Vale. It’s also home to the famed Never Never Distillery and Cucina di Strada, which serves up Italian-style street food.
It’s a stunning location with a rolling green lawn overlooking McLaren Vale. We settled into chairs on the grass with glasses of wine – look how pretty my rose was – and ordered a bowl of meatballs and a pizza.
It was all soooooo delicious and we were entranced by the warm air and vivid blue sky compared to the soggy, miserable Sydney.
After lunch we reluctantly hit the road and decided to have a sticky beak at the famed d’Arenberg Cube, a five storey multi-function building set among Mourvèdre vines.
The building has the optical illusion of floating in the vineyard, with each level offering spectacular views overlooking the rolling hills of Willunga. Inside is the winery’s Tasting Room, a casual eatery, private function areas and numerous artworks and features throughout.
It’s quite the contrast to the bush and vines that surround it, with Salvador Dali sculptures thrown in for good measure. We decided against going inside and continued our exploration of the countryside.
We wandered a little further along the country roads to Coriole vineyard, where we sipped a couple of glasses of wine with another beautiful view.
Our destination for the night was Serafino winery, where we had a motel room for the night and a booking in the vineyard’s restaurant for the chef’s degustation menu.
We still had a few hours up our sleeve so we ducked down to Aldinga Beach to watch the sunset. I love seeing the sun sink down over the sea.
Our dinner kicked off with a few amuse bouche and a glass of sparkling, followed by zucchini bread with black garlic butter; scallops with cauliflower purée, salmon roe and radiccio; pasta with crumbled pork sausage and feta; and steak with mixed mushrooms and potato purée. All were matched with wonderfully matched wines.
There were two desserts – peanut ice cream with a tuile, followed by a theatrical tiramisu inspired dish with a chocolate lid that was melted with a hot coffee sauce to reveal the delicious contents below.
We settled on a chesterfield sofa in front of the fireplace after dinner with a glass of tawny before wandering back to our room to lie in bed and watch the Liberals get slaughtered.
Next morning we took it easy, meandering through a market in Victor Harbour, watching the seals bask and frolic at the barrages near the mouth of the Murray River at Goolwa and touring through the Adelaide Hills.
We’d been planning on grabbing a burger at Bridgewater Mill, but the chef had gone walkabout and the barista suggested we head to Fred Eatery in Aldgate instead. It was a sensational tip.
DD had Malaysian Bang Bang – barbecued red chicken satay sticks with lime leaf risotto cake, coconut and peanut dressing, mint and coriander coleslaw and a soft friend egg. I had Sticky Black Chicken with yellow Thai curry dressing, coconut and lime leaf rice, Asian greens and pickled carrot.
We’d have loved to explore the Adelaide Hills a little more – there was a great looking market unfolding in the next little town, Stirling, but it was time to bolt to the airport to catch our flight home.
We had such a great time in South Australia – we can’t wait to head back there again soon.