Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
November 9, 2002
And then there’s chocolate.
That’s right. Stand between me and my dark master, the cocoa bean, and you risk mortal injury.
Constitution Dock is a picture on a sunny autumn morning. Hobart’s waterfront is a short stroll from the city centre and the docks are abuzz with the new day. Bold colours of recreation craft dominate the greys and whites of working vessels, all reflected in the glassy waters. To the west, the scene is flanked by the gaze of Mount Wellington’s cloudless summit.
"Good day for a cruise," says Karen, pre-occupied with a sign promoting excursions to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, about 15 kilometres up the Derwent River. Hmmm – sunny day, cruise, chocolate, free samples."Lead on, MacDuff."
Our 10am boat departs as Len regales us with a commentary of the local landmarks and history on a 70-minute journey along the Derwent’s extensive deep-water harbour. Industry is minimal and the city hugs the undulating landscape, a generous mix of green belts and unobtrusive development.
We meet Peter and Jenny, school teachers on holiday from Melbourne. Jenny’s chocolate addiction rivals mine – she’s wearing a six-pocket jacket, four of them lined with plastic bags in case some of the samples are unwrapped. My jealousy is obvious and I lament my lack of preparation. Jenny relents, giving me two of her bags and Karen cringes.
At the factory a meet and greet team brief us on etiquette and the inappropriate use of plastic bags. Karen cringes again. We’re issued earplugs and cute little hairnets – insurance against stray hairs in your chocolate bars.
For the next 90 minutes a well organised tour of the plant demonstrates the finely tuned processes that produce our favourites. Founded as a one-man business in 1824, Cadbury is now one of the world’s largest chocolate producers. Its signature product, Dairy Milk, has been the biggest selling milk chocolate in the UK and Australia since 1920. The formula hasn’t changed and neither has its nutritional value – it’s still good for you!
Regular tasting stops fuel the fierce competition for free samples but the "stayers" are quickly sorted from the "sprinters". By tour’s end the competition gives way to a chorus of gurgling stomachs and we exit the factory only to find ourselves in Australia’s cheapest chocolate shop where everything we’ve just seen, tasted and collected can be bought in bulk at ridiculous prices.
Back on board we conduct an audit of our bounty with Peter and Jenny over complimentary tea and coffee. Some of the passengers look uncomfortable. I’m sure nobody was thinking about the cruise home whilst assessing the merits of milk, dark and white chocolate in extraordinary quantities.
Thank goodness for smooth seas.
From journal Australia's Great Southern Island (A Capital Idea)