A walk on wild side in Oz; ADRIAN PEARSON visits the natives of South Australia ... the furry, four-legged variety.
IF sitting on a South Australian beach as a baby sea lion calls out for attention then flops asleep in front of you does not count as getting away from it all, then you really shouldn't leave wherever it is you are.
Adelaide and the various delights of the other half of the world are being opened up to an everincreasing audience as more and more opt for a memorable trip.
Certainly, South Australia is a relaxation holiday worth the trip, be it as a result of the world famous wine region, the festival state's cultural offering or the little slice of the outback located within travelling distance.
The baby animals in question are met on a walk down to one of the many white beaches on Kangaroo Island, known as Australia's Galapagos Islands.
A 30-minute flight from Adelaide, the island is in effect an open zoo, offering the sort of animals made famous by gift shops across Australia.
Kangaroos in their thousands join seals, eagles, and koalas doing what they do best, lounging around.
Best seen with a guide, and if you have the time take two days, the island is one of those places which make a 20-hour journey worth it.
Using the services of Kangaroo Island Odysseys, the island can be explored as part of a personalised tour which, as well as the delights of a seal-rich beach, includes lunch in the bushland and more kangaroos than you might imagine.
Ideally then, for a trip this far and this unique, the getting there should be part of the holiday. Emirates' business class flights certainly fulfil that criteria.
Flights from Newcastle to Dubai are now joined by direct Dubai to Adelaide flights, and a journey of this length offers the chance to use the best of this airline. A chauffeur-driven door-to-airport service makes for an easier start, as does Newcastle International Airport's business class departure lounge.
The real difference though is on the plane. Pod-like comfortable seats, and a dinner menu that wouldn't look out of place in one of the many destinations below your 34,00ft flight are a big part of the delight.
But more so is the service, which I have reason to be very grateful for. Having lost my phone on the flight to Dubai, I was more than grateful when, as the flight to Adelaide was getting ready to depart, an air hostess presented me with my missing phone. A reassuring level of service which, for this uncertain flyer, was part of a package which made the flight a treat.
But back to the world of kangaroos. Adelaide offers more than just a delightful Kangaroo Island. As well as a charming city centre it is also home to many festivals, and it has wine. Lots of wine.
Beginning at the Adelaide and spreading out into the Barossa wineproducing region, the state is home to some of the world's best-known wine producers, but is so much more than the big names. Guided tours here are again a must, especially the ones led by those with a little - more likely a lot - of specialist wine knowledge.
With that little help the vineyards small and large are yours to explore at a leisurely pace. If there is a must from the experience it is perhaps the Penfold Winery. Here, among one of the world's best-known brands, is the chance to enjoy what might count as the theme-park wine experience; the make your-own-blend day. Dressed in the mock lab coat of the Hollywood scientist and equipped with wine samples, measuring flasks and tubes of all sorts, even the novice, and it is mostly novices, can spend a relaxed morning trying to work out what the next hit wine will be. And the chance to keep the product is, in this case, to be sniffed at. The wine obviously would be all for nothing were the food not up to it. Thankfully, Australia has done much to impress here, including at some of the vineyards.
Anyone heading to Adelaide and the surrounding valley would foolish to miss the food at Hentley Farm Wines. The du Jour set menu, with their own wines made from the grapes outside, is a meal you will remember for years to come, including a dessert which would be difficult to beat. A little closer to the big city is Hahndorf, which while easy to reach still retains a laidback feel, and a chance to get a real feel for Australian life. If that doesn't sell it for you, the menu at The White House should. Away from the hills and valleys, Adelaide East End is well worth a visit, especially for those seeking a little R&R after dark. Again, here as in so many places, a bit of wine knowledge was never far away. In Argentinian delight that was the Sosta Argentinian Kitchen, even our waiter was a trainee sommelier keen to show some regional pride. And, finally, that chauffeur service home from the airport makes the flight back just that little bit better.
FACTFILE ADRIAN flew with Emirates. Flights from PS967 return from Newcastle booked by 3/12 travelling between 16/01/13 and 20/03/13 and lead-in for a 10-day holiday to South Australia is from PS1,199 through Flight Centre. For more itineraries and prices, go to www.flightcentre.co.uk/holidays/ south-australia To book, tel 0844 800 8624, www.flightcentre.co.uk Adrian stayed at the InterContinental Adelaide www.intercontinental.com/adelaide Tour guides available include Kangaroo Island Odysseys, www.kiodysseys.com.au, and Rich & Lingering, www.richandlingering.com.au Places to visit: Penfolds Winery www.penfolds.com.au Adelaide Central Market Tours: www. centralmarke tto ur. com.au Places to eat: Sosta Argentinian Kitchen, www.sostaargentiniankitchen.com.au
The White House, Hahndorf, www.thewhitehouse adelaidehills.com.au For further information on South Australia www.southaustralia.com Away from the hills and valleys, Adelaide East End is well worth a visit, especially for those seeking a little R&R after dark LOCAL WILDLIFE Kangaroos NATIVE A koalaREADER TRAVEL - HOLIDAY OF THE WEEK NEW Year in London .Departs December 31, 2012, two days from PS129pp. London's New Year celebrations are truly incredible - their high-point an amazing midnight fireworks display close to the London Eye. Central London is transformed into one, massive street-party centred on Trafalgar and Parliament Squares. Then, on New Year's Day, the spectacular London Parade celebrates the New Year in a riot of colour and sound.
Price includes: Return coach travel. One night's bed & continental breakfast accommodation at a good quality hotel in London (single supplement applies). A coach transfer to the London Eye for the New Year's Eve celebrations. A trip to see the New Year's Day London Parade. Tour manager. For a New Year in London brochure telephone The Journal Reader Travel Department on 0191 201 6000 or Newmarket Holidays on 0843 3161155 or log onto www.newmarket.travel/nec14540 or call into our front reception at Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1ED. CHEERS Barossa winep roducing region
LIFE'S A BREEZE A seal on Kangaroo Island