Last chance for Willunga survey

Willungans! Time is running out to be part of this historic study! Responses to the survey have been great and I really appreciate the time so many of you have taken to be involved.

Unfortunately I will have to finish taking more responses at the end of April. So if you have some last minute enthusiasm to participate please do… and tell friends!

Also don’t forget to let me know if you have any relevant links to add here to the blog to show Willunga to the world 🙂

I will be back in Willunga in May to talk to more residents before I finish my final report. Please do get in touch if you would like to take part in an interview about the project at this time.

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Taking a tour with Chook

In Willunga I took a tour of some of the local vineyards with Chook McCoy, a local entrepreneur who also runs a very busy taxi service about town. For each booking Chook matches the itinerary of the tour to your taste. Working in the McLaren Vale region, he has a wide range of vineyards to choose from.

I was lucky to join a tour with some Shiraz fans, Tilla and Alexia. We covered four vineyards in an afternoon. In McLaren Vale, we tried Maxwell Wines and Mandelli Estate, which has the “Simply Organoleptic” and “Diplomat’s Daughter” labels. We also sampled some local cheese, olives and almonds.

Back in Willunga, we went to Danshi Rise and Rocky Ridge. Here we are at Danshi Rise vineyard with Chook and owner Steve.

Chook McCoy (L) and Steve Daniel

This is not your typical cellar door. Visitors get to taste wine straight from the barrel, then sit back and admire Steve’s Harley Davidson while enjoying the signature 2007 vintage. It’s a very Australian experience to meet a bloke in a shed and sip wine as John Williamson plays on the stereo!

When we visited our last stop, Rocky Ridge, the “Gully Breeze” picked up as we sampled grapes straight from the vine.

Tasting the grapes just days before harvest

Light rain sprinkled as Chook drove us home from an unforgettable afternoon.

Rain shower passing over Sellicks Hill

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Happy birthday

This weekend is the Willunga Farmers Market’s 9th birthday! Every time I visit the market on a Saturday it seems to be busier than last, so no doubt this week will be quite an event.

The character of Willunga changes markedly on Saturday morning, as residents come in to town to do a weekly shop and catch up with family, friends and neighbours. It’s not just locals either. Those further out – in the hills and nearby neighbourhoods – join Adelaide day trippers in soaking up the occasion.

With no major supermarket in Willunga, the market is a great place to buy fresh produce, much of it proudly organic. There is also plenty of singing – each week I’ve seen a different musical group entertaining each other and visitors amidst the buzz of sizzling breakfasts, coffee dates and shopping.

From what residents tell me the market has been a source of optimism and growth for the area over the past decade. It’s one of the ways locals mark the development of the town towards its present ‘gourmet’ identity, nestled alongside the famous McLaren Vale wine region.

So, happy birthday WFM! Enjoy the special day!

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Late night internet

Willunga library is one of the main public places that locals can access internet facilities. It provides computers and wireless for registered users.

Perhaps it was fate, but when I visited the library yesterday afternoon the internet had crashed and no one could use the computers. This was very disappointing for the influx of kids arriving straight out of school.

Local residents who can’t get broadband at home have told me how they drive in to town and do their email on a laptop, sitting in their car in the library carpark.

After a day working in the grape vines, visiting backpackers also park nearby to make use of the wireless.

Thursday night the library stays open late – til 6pm – and the wireless stays on until 8pm. It made me remember when I was a kid, Thursday night was late night shopping.

Here the internet is a civic infrastructure, responding to our changing needs and desires for social and commercial experience.

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On the beat

Some snaps of the NBN roll-out happening in the streets of Willunga…

So far I’ve heard a number of stories about digging, drilling, and the logistics of laying cable. And tales of a few sewerage pipes coming off the worse for wear. If you have a story to share about the roll-out in your street, get in touch!

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After visiting the Waldorf School and hearing a bit more about the Tour Down Under, the past couple of days I’ve been learning about some of Willunga’s co-operatives.

Yesterday I called in to Off the Slate Gallery and had a lovely chat with Rae Nation, one of the artists who runs the venue. About 22 local artists take turns to staff the gallery which displays their work. Every few months the display changes and there is a launch event for everyone in town to attend.

Today I spoke to one of the residents of the Willunga Garden Village, which sounds like an amazing place. It’s home to some very passionate people running innovative businesses (I’m pretty sure the rammed earth I saw at “Our Place” on Willunga Hill last weekend must have been from this company).

Elinor not only works as a naturopath but is leading efforts to have Willunga join the Transition Town movement. She also told me about LETS – the Local Exchange Trading System – which has been running for the past 20 years.

There is a food co-op on the main street in Willunga, and an artists’ eco-village just a little way out of town, on the road to Aldinga Beach. If you are part of any of these communities, I would love to hear your story and even come to visit!

Leave a comment or get in touch at

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Facebook page

It’s nearly a week since I arrived in Willunga and the study is building some steam! I’ve now done quite a few interviews with businesses and locals, and the survey is taking off as well.

It’s already clear from those I’ve spoken to that Willunga is a special place, and people love living here. What I’m yet to discover is what young people think… so I’ve tried to begin that conversation by starting a Facebook page for the study and an event (just to cover all the bases!).

If you’re on Facebook, or know of some youngish types in Willunga who love their technology, maybe you could let them know? 🙂


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