Posts Tagged With: Aussie life

Wine Tasting in Huntah Valley

Our journey to Hunter Valley (or “huntah” depending on what side of the equator you are from) started with a beautiful scenic drive north away from the city, through the country for about two hours until we reached our destination, the Brimbadeen Estate, a local winery that had cabins built into the hillside for incredible views in our little cosy cottage.  The hosts were lovely, bringing us welcome baskets and wine with goodies we could sample while we stayed with them. Cute!  We checked out the surrounding countryside that night, and I was treated to the finer points of a “footie” match, Aussie rugby is one mean sport!  We also got caught up with our election news, there is a big federal election going on here in Australia right now, and its pretty entertaining to watch how different Aussie Politics are both in the election and in the sports game we were watching!  The next day we got an early start on planning our route of wine destruction.

First stop was Iron Gate estate, a winery I had never heard of but that David was familiar with.  Oh my god did they ever let us sample the whole place!  We must have had ten tastings at the first place alone!  I laughed while thinking “We’re not in Canada anymore” because we didn’t even have to pay for our tastings, nothing in the entire day!  It’s enough to make someone guilty enough to buy a couple of bottles of wine!  Our next stop was my pick, I’ve always been a fan of Lindemann’s, so made it a priority to stop there, where we sampled yet another few wines and I hit the jackpot with a ten-dollar bottle barrel of wine, which I picked through and made some excellent purchases! We needed lunch at that point, and there is a gorgeous café just off the cellar doors of the winery, so we ate gourmet pizza and drank yet more excellent wine.
The boozy afternoon was not done yet, as we still had a cheese shop to check out (yummy but expensive) and another brewery, AND another winery!  The brewery was a super fun place to visit, very historic, we got the ever-sophisticated “beer flights” and I sampled ginger beah, wheat beah, and a few other delicious choices! Mmmm. Beer.
The last stop was De Bertolli wines, where I couldn’t resist but pick up another very cheap bottle of delicious wine – I’m hooked!  We decided to have a wine party, complete with meats and cheeses, while we watched the election results (lol) so we headed to the supermarket and laid out elaborate cheesy dinner plans to go with our copious amounts of wine.  It was a fantastic day, I really got a sense of what Hunter Valley had to offer and was able to sample and buy some of the best wines coming out of the country, i feel pretty spoiled by my experience there with an incredible view and excellent company.  The credit has to go to David for this trip, he planned it all out and it was fun b/c he’d never been there either despite being so close to it, like the Niagara region for us Canadians! Thanks David for taking me exploring in your country, I’m loving ‘straya’ more and more every day I stay here 🙂
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Cairns, Sunshine City

I am at the northernmost point in my trip, and Cairns is a gorgeous place!  It’s nice and warm, the weather is perfect, and there are tons of backpackers chilling out and great activities.  There’s no great beachfront, but there is a man-made lagoon area where sunbathers can hang out.  I walked around the city on my first evening, there was live music spilling out of the doorways, lots of shops still open,  and even an outdoor movie theater in the town’s square!  I am totally coming back some day to check out this city again, it’s not a huge place but there are SO many activities, I only got a small taste in the two days I was there, and decided to go and check out some waterfalls in the tropical rainforest on Captain Matty’s Barefoot Tours.  I boarded the bus early on the Saturday morning, not knowing what to expect out of the day.

It was a sweet tour, there were some little hikes to gorgeous waterfalls (not one, not two, but three!) lakes and mountainous areas that showed off the region around Cairns really well, and we got a taste of all things Australian, some new music to listen to on the bus and a history of the surrounding area.  Our guide Gili was hilarious, made the day when he rescued someones Go-Pro from the natural waterfall rock slide, my favorite part of the tour.  We saw a Cassowary in the wild, one of only 1500 of these endangered birds that are left in the surrounding area, we got a good close look at it too, which is apparently really rare.  I slid down the rocks into the pool even though it was a bit cold, it looked so fun! We even got to sample some Aussie goodies like Tim Tams and coconuts from palm trees ( which are actually not native to Aus!).
I went out that evening with some people I met on my tour, first drinking goon (ugh) and then hitting the Woolshed to dance on some tables. It was a bit of a gungy backpacker bar but it was pretty fun to watch the ultra hammered people fall off tables!  We went to a second bar attached to our hostel which seemed like the nicest/biggest bar in the area, and danced the night away with an assortment of people, a pretty multicultural crowd for Australia!  Seems like Cairns is a big draw b/c it’s actually closer to Asia + other countries than Sydney/Melbourne.  I took myself home as the club was closing, i had only one more day to check out Cairns before flying off.
I had to pack and check out before stowing my locker in storage then sneaking back up to make myself breakfast in the communal kitchen 😛 I had a not so nice goon-over, and decided to check out the Lagoon and try to get in some snorkeling before leaving for the airport later.  I lazed around at the Lagoon after walking through the main beachfront area, and have decided I really like Cairns and would totally give it a second shot with more time to look around the area and explore all the activities.  I finished up with a dip in the Gilligans pool and said goodbye to (what i thought would be the last of) tropical Australian weather! My flight went off without a hitch, and soon I landed in the Sydney Airport where there were a few new adventures waiting for me! The best part about Sydney so far is my friend David, who I met in Vancouver when we both lived there.  He’s already picked me up and welcomed me into his house for the next few weeks while I explore Sydney and the surrounding area. I feel glad to put an end to the frantic pace of my trip so far and just to stay put for a little while in the same place – after all, I’ve stayed only up to three nights at EVERY place I’ve been to so far – 5 countries, 2 months! Whew.
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Long Night Ride 2 Magnetic Island

I got off the island at Hervey Bay, and was dropped off at the bus station to await my coach.  But first, I had to stop and get some reading material for my long bus ride!  I settled in for a long haul up the coast, doing an overnight bus that left at 9pm, arriving at my destination around 1pm the next day. It wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  I slept + read my book and ate bus-made peanut butter sandwiches. Mmm.

The greyhound rolled into Townsville and I was dropped off right at the ferry terminal, which was convenient but I’d just missed the ferry! I hoped this far-flung Magnetic Island was worth it, after all the trouble to get here!  I boarded the ferry and sat on the windy top, happy to be outside in the sunshine after more than half a day on a bus!  The public bus on the island dropped me off right at my hostel, Base Backpacker.  It was one of the most scenic places I’ve stayed, right on the shore, and my dorm was a little cabin! Cute!  When I got there, I decided to explore and looked around the surrounding area.  I hiked up the hilly terrain into the sleepy town, and watched the sun set over the beach, which looked over the coast of Australia.  It was a beautiful view, and a perfect stopover on my long trip to Cairns.  I slept like a baby in my little cabin dorm, too bad I didn’t have more time to explore this little island, which is not actually magentic, but had some properties in the sand that was said to throw off compasses, so was named for it.  Looks like a perfect and popular spot for weddings, it’s so picturesque!
The ferry back was fantastic, the weather was warm, and it was ONLY  a six hour bus ride to Cairns. Luckily I was into a good book, so the time flew and before I knew it, I was in Cairns!  The small city immediately charmed me, and I made my way to the big hostel in the middle of town, Gilligans, which was definitely the swankiest hostel I’d stayed in on my whole trip! I was excited to explore Cairns the next day and check out the city.
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1 Night Only: Noosa and Rainbow Beach

I only got to spend one night in both Noosa and Rainbow Beach, I’ve seriously underestimated how long its gonna take me to get up to Cairns so I gotta hustle!  Plus I’ve booked a tour to Fraser Island, A Unesco World Heritage Site (my fourth this trip!) the worlds largest sand island.  The trip from Brisbane to Noosa was only two hours, and when I arrived in the afternoon there was a bus waiting for me from my hostel, Nomads Noosa, which ended up being an ok place to stay.  It was about ten minutes walk to the beach, I immediately met a lovely Aussie girl in my dorm, and we decided to hit the beach, and strolled the cute beachfront town as the sun went down.  Dinner that night was free because I booked through Hostelbookers (yippee!) and after a few beers and a look around the (seedy) club and empty streets, went to bed.  I’m glad i did, because the next morning Jaz an I had a fantastic hike/walk through Noosa national park in the morning as the sun rose!  We grabbed coffee and power walked back, I had a bus to catch and Jaz was going to the zoo 🙂

I got on the bus to rainbow beach around noon, and there was only a short 1-1/2 hour journey to rainbow beach, another tiny beach town where I was would be picked up for my Fraser island adventure! When I say tiny, i mean one road, a few small shops, two restaurants, and a beachfront with a giant sand blow (the main attraction of this place!) A sandblow looks like a giant pile of sand on the beach, several stories high, and in the right conditions you can sandboard down it!  My guesthouse was very cute, I went to bed early again cause I had to be outside at 7:45 to meet my bus.  A HUGE ADVENTURE  was waiting for me on Fraser Island!!
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