By Mark Eggleton
I’d just ordered myself a full Prairie breakfast with freshly squeezed juice and a rhubarb parfait to start. Spooning it into my mouth I realised stewed rhubarb and cool yoghurt was the refreshing morning pick-me-up I might need every morning. It was something quite refined in a hotel plonked down in a harsh environment.
I’d woken up in the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna after a night’s sleep without stirring. The room was sunk into the earth to assist in keeping some of the monstrous desert heat at bay. Standing up and looking out the window, the ground was at eye-level as I spied insects going about their daily business in the undergrowth before the day became too warm.
Outside the cool desert night air was slowly seeping away as the sun rose in the sky. I’d already been for an early morning walk to discover if the population of Parachilna was actually more than three – it wasn’t.
On arrival the previous evening I’d enjoyed a late night supper of Feral antipasto featuring smoked kangaroo and camel mettwurst, bush chutney and sourdough bread. What I really had wanted was the Feral mixed grill but my late arrival meant the chef had driven off to get his own dinner about 50 kilometres away.
The antipasto hit the spot and I went to bed fulfilled yet struggling with the millennial affliction known as FOMO (fear of missing out) although I’m far from a millennial. Bearing this in mind I wasn’t about to deprive myself of the Prairie breakfast. Following the parfait came fried eggs, bacon, oven roasted tomatoes, more juice, ciabatta toast and good espresso. According to hotel owner Jane Fargher the aim at the Prairie Hotel was to create a civilised experience in a harsh environment – a haven away from the heat, the flies and the dust. And after breakfast – I can categorically state – it works.
Walk inside the front bar and you’re in a quintessential outback Aussie pub dominated by a curved bar and friendly chatty staff. Enter further into the hotel sanctum and you’re in an art gallery as well as a rambling country home. It’s cool and relaxed and importantly, welcoming after a long drive or a day exploring the surrounds.
In the evenings as the cool night air sucks away all the heat, you can’t go past standing outside in front of the hotel. Lean against an old oak barrel with a refreshing ale or wine in hand and watch the stars or other worlds millions of miles away slowly switch on for their day just past.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide via Melbourne.
Major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.