Travel Diaries: Hunter Valley, Australia

I’ve been meaning to get up the following post, a continuation of my adventures in Australia, for almost 2 weeks now.  In my defense, every time I tried to post it the computer or internet was giving me troubles.  So much for keeping my commitment to myself to blog often this month!

I was also away in Monterey, one of my favorite places last weekend, so I’ll have to get on top of it and write a yummy post about my adventures there as well!  Until then, I leave you with tales of Hunter Valley.

Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia

Friday   22 December 2006   18:42

Today began much the same as yesterday, with a good breakfast at Peppers resort in the Blue Mountains.  We packed up, then went for a nice “bushwalk” on a hike leading off from the grounds of the hotel before heading out (in Oz, the natural regions are called “the bush”, so going for a hike is going for a walk in the bush).  I always forget how much I like hiking; it’s so nice to be immersed in nature, and even the sweat and dirt just feels good.  We saw a giant lizard on a tree and some interesting birds, then departed for our long drive to Hunter Valley, a region known for it’s wine.

The drive took us through suburbs, then forests with winding roads and loud insects.  And when we stopped for gas I had to try another flavor of Nestle Drumstick ice cream treat not found in the states: peppermint creme!  Once we reached Hunter Valley, the area was noticeably more backwoodsy, not quite the outback but more country than forest, and dry and hot to boot.  We started passing fields of grapevines and wineries.  As we had spent over three hours in the car, the Nightengale Winery seemed like a good place for some refreshment so we went in for a tasting.  Lisa, the woman there, was very friendly and informative.  The best wine was the one whose name I can’t remember, but also good was an acidic white, the chardonnay (and I don’t like chardonnay, but this one was good!), the cabernet savignon, and the sparkling shiraz, a “party in a bottle” according to Lisa.

From there we continued on to the Hunter Resort, where we are staying.  Part winery, part hotel, the hotel part of the Hunter Resort has a small town, country-ish feel, with wooden furniture and a tin roof.  But there is something very peaceful and idyllic about this part of the country that I like, despite the flies and heat.  I’m writing from our cute little brick patio.  The view is of a sad little field with a dead tractor.  I hear cows and bugs.

We also went wine tasting at the winery here at the resort, but it was mediocre, not nearly as good as the Nightengale.  Though the guy there was cute, the girl who helped us was not nearly as friendly as Lisa.

22:29

After writing the above, I took a glorious shower to rid myself of the incredible amount of sweat from the day.  Though it is December, it is the height of the Australian summer, and I feel the full extent of it.  The shower here is one of those European-style ones with only half a door.  These are so pointless.  The water goes everywhere.

The first restaurant we attempted to eat at was pricey and seemed a little dead, so we ended up at Harrigan’s Irish Pub.  It was great.  Good food, bun and lively atmosphere, outdoor tables and a live band (at 19, I had yet to learn one of life’s most important lessons: where ever you are, there will always be an Irish pub, and it will always be awesome).  And I could legally have a drink!  I went for a Victoria Bitter, an Australian beer from, where else, the Australian state of Victoria.  It has a reputation for being good. I was not disappointed.  It was fantastic!

Harrigan’s seemed to be The Place for all the local kids celebrating the start of their vacation. There were long tables of them, with bottles of champagne.  My sister Mel, by the way, decided that since we were at an Irish pub, to get a Guiness.  An excellent choice, sister Mel.  Afterward, we came back to the resort and went to the spa (or Jacuzzi for some of you Yanks).  I wish we were here longer than just one night.  The air here makes you want to slow down and stay a while.

Good Luck and Happy Travels,

Mo

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