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Good Country:
Shangri-La at Second Valley and Wirrina

Swimmers at Second Valley
Michael X Savvas
Swimmers at Second Valley

As I motor along the always impressive coastal road from Normanville to Cape Jervis, two questions form. The first is “Why is it the Second Valley?” and the second is “Who’s New Terry?”

The first question is easy to answer. Colonel William Light initially landed at Rapid Bay in 1836 before coming across Finniss Valley, which he referred to as Second Valley. The name stuck. The valley became a township and is now a popular destination for holidaymakers, fishos and shackies. With its distinctive and imposing multi-coloured cliffs, pirate-style caves, island and fertile jetty, it’s understandable why this beach has been rated among Australia’s top ten and is one of SA’s most Instagrammed locations. It also explains why this location has been used as a setting for films and a TV mini-series (Deadline Gallipoli, starring Sam Worthington). The swimming beach is small, but its intimacy is its charm. It’s like seeing an act at the Gov, rather than at the Entertainment Centre.

Artist Simon Simms lived in Second Valley for 20 years and ran the store there. He expresses his love for the place in realist paintings. “Second Valley is the easiest and best place to paint. My Second Valley paintings sell quickly. The locals put them in their shacks.”

Despite Second Valley’s allure, Simms points out that the beach is only truly presentable in summer. “In winter, there’s not a drop of sand. Only rocks.” Yet having this beach materialise just in summer makes it even more magical—the beach equivalent of jacaranda flowers.

What are the chances that alongside this hidden valley treasure is another Shangri-La in the neighbouring Wirrina Cove? Wirrina provides an unexpected display of Chinese culture at the New Terry Hotel and Golf Resort.

New Terry is owned by Chinese interests. Prior to its current management, the large resort had a troubled history, with investors in the original complex losing money. Now, New Terry is an enticing fusion of Chinese and Australian influences, with Chinese-speaking staff and a restaurant with a dual Chinese/western menu. You can dine while looking at kangaroos grazing on the connecting golf course.

New Terry, Wirrina
Michael X Savvas
New Terry, Wirrina

Simms, who now lives in Wirrina Cove with his wife, is impressed by New Terry. “Wirrina is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. The resort had such a bad beginning and left a bad taste in people’s mouths. But the current owners are there for the long haul.”

The director of New Terry is not, in fact, Terry, but Andie Xu. Through social media and sponsorship, Xu and New Terry actively bring Chinese tourists to SA by promoting the beauty of rural SA and the features of New Terry. At least one group of Chinese golfers comes to New Terry from China every month, which is great for spreading the word about the region. It’s also good for local people such as Simms. New Terry exhibits many of Simms’ paintings of local scenery. “The last three I sold were to Chinese buyers.”

And who’s Terry? Xu explains that “New Terry” comes from the sound of Chinese words, te (peace) and rry (success). New means new. To me, to New Terry means to reframe in a positive way.

Of course, Wirrina Cove also attracts visitors from Australia and other countries. One such example is Dutch couple Rob and Christine Wennink. They’d flown from Holland specifically to see Cold Chisel at Glenelg Beach and were in the front row at the concert. Rob had heard the song Choir Girl in a Dutch cafe 35 years ago while smoking a joint and became an instant Chisel fan.

After experiencing Rob’s dream concert, Rob and Christine spent a day driving around the “beautiful countryside” of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Rob says, “We went to the Barossa, and we only saw mown grass. But this drive was really great.” The drive ended at New Terry. While eating local scallops and drinking local wine, the thrilled couple saw kangaroos for the first time, only metres from their table. The one sad aspect was the haze in the sky from the bushfires on Kangaroo Island. When safe to do so, it’s crucial to continue visiting and supporting the regions affected by the bushfires. In the words of Chisel, “When the war is over, got to start again.”

Michael X Savvas

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