Sweet Adelaide + Warrawong at Night

We arrived in the port of Adelaide about 10 AM and, as soon as we could, we went into town via the shuttle bus. Our destination was the Haigh’s Chocolate store and much to our surprise, when we got off the bus, we were right in front of it.

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Two Wood girls in a chocolate store are dangerous! We did not buy out the place but we did make purchases, asked lots of questions, and tried to absorb the information they shared.

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Originally Haigh’s operated the concessions at Adelaide theatres and cinemas in the 1950s and 60s. Aprichocs, Scorched Almonds, Carmel Chocs and Chocolate Sultanas were some of the big sellers in those days. A process called “panning” is used to make these treats. The centers are placed in a pan (a giant rotating drum) and then covered by multiple layers of thinly sprayed chocolate. The rotation of the drum continues and polishes the treats until they are smooth and shiny. Scorched almonds have been the biggest seller for them for decades and today they sell over 18 million Scorched Almonds a year.

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Haigh’s was established in 1915 and its passion for quality chocolate making continues today. Haigh’s employs 300 people, has 13 stores, and actively supports environmental causes, such as saving the Australian bilby and the Australian frog. The company manufactures and sells chocolate frogs in three sizes and 3 flavors (milk, dark, and peppermint chocolate).

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The bilby is a very cute little marsupial animal, native to Australia. This small burrowing bandicoot used to be found in the millions, living across 70% of the country. Sadly over the past 200 years, this animal as been pushed almost to extinction – by settlement and clearing, plus the introduction of rabbits, foxes, and feral cats.

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In 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia created the Easter Bilby in order to draw public attention to the plight of this endangered species. Two years later Haigh’s stopped making bunnies and made Australia’s first chocolate Bilbies. Part of the profits from the sales of all Haigh’s Easter Bilbies assists FRA in their work to help protect the Bilby’s habitat. Large and small chocolate bilbies in both dark and milk chocolate are sold at Easter time and the small ones in foil wrap are sold year round.

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We did find a Telstra store so MJ could unlock her new dongle for use it other countries. The young Telstra rep tried very hard to help her but it needed to be synced it with her computer. MJ said once she was back on the ship she would try and finish the job later in the day. However, she was unsuccessful even after spending more time on line chatting with Telstra’s tech support.

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Our shore excursion for this port was entitled “Nocturnal Nights,” and was a six hour journey beginning at 4:30 PM returning to the ship at 10:30 PM which is hours past our bedtime. But we thought it would be a different way to see the nocturnal, marsupial mammals of Australia in their natural environment.

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We boarded the coach at the pier and, after a scenic drive along the river and into the Adelaide hills, we arrived at the Warrawong Sanctuary. We enjoyed a delicious casual dinner overlooking a lovely view out over the native trees and natural surroundings. As the sun started to set our guide led us on a walk to meet and hear some of the animal species that call this place home including kangaroos, ducks (black and wood ducks), and lots of other birds.

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Warrawong has the only breeding colony of the elusive platypus on mainland South Australia. We saw several small furry platypuses feeding in the ponds and several hopping marsupial mammals that lived in the wooded hills, whose names all ended with …roo, such as potaroo. We also saw opossum bettongs, and bandicoots scurrying through the scrub. We did see a couple of bilbies too but they were impossible to photograph as they scurried just too fast to focus on.

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The animals were not in cages and were free to roam and interact with us within the large fenced community. The fence was to keep predators out of the native species habitat. Most of the animals in this environment come out at night, making this the perfect time for our discovery walk.

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Taking pictures was not possible with the lack of light; however, we enjoyed the experience walking in the dark up and down, over the hillsides, and around various bodies of water, finally wending our way back to the point of beginning. We were both sadden to learn that this lovely sanctuary for many species is closing at the end of this month (February 2013) as they have lost their funding from the Zoos SA, a not-for-profit conservation charity that plays a role in the conservation of threatened native species in this area.

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We were late leaving the sanctuary and were afraid that we might not get back on time. The guide informed the ship of our plight, but lighter than expected traffic, and a determined driver, got us to the ship’s ramp with about two minutes to spare.

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