Sunday, 11th November – Hunter Valley

Breakfast was offered as part of our package – rude not to partake. More nice views on the way to the restaurant. Beautiful weather again.

Planned to visit a local winery (Tyrrells), offered as a complimentary trip, but due to a misunderstanding (I thought they would come and collect us, but we were actually supposed to drive there), we missed it. No matter – chance to visit it tomorrow if we so wish.

Instead, we drove to the Audrey Wilkinson winery, not to buy any of their wine, but to see the views from there across the Hunter Valley. Very nice, but not spectacular. Be better if it wasn\’t so hazy……

Thence to the Hunter Valley Gardens, which feature, inter alia, \”the largest display gardens in Australia\”, whatever that means. Unfortunately, there was a rather tasteless Christmas theme here which rather jarred our senses, having pretty much managed to avoid any references to Christmas in Australia so far (unlike the UK, where I imagine it\’s in full swing two months ahead of the season).

We decided to take a \”train\” journey around these gardens, just to get an impression of what they were like. Very pretty, but artificial and manicured, I suggest. Enjoyable, though.

The unreality of this place was further enhanced by wandering around the various retail establishments here – it was almost Disney-esque in its weirdness.

Back to our hotel for spa treatments for us both, courtesy of Jean\’s credit card. I opted for a \”therapeutic massage\” – basically a fairly tough back, neck and shoulders job, much needed – whereas Jean went for a \”botanical bare foot indulgence\” and a \”heavenly hair\” scalp massage. Me neither…..

This place runs what they call an \”honesty bar\”, where you can help yourself to pretty much any drink you like, as long as you honestly sign for it on a form, which I honestly did. I can honestly say I helped myself to quite a bit of some very nice,  crisp, cold, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc!

Thence to the Botanica restaurant, previously mentioned as having a formidable reputation. We opted for the full chef\’s signature tasting experience – five small courses with paired wines. Here\’s the menu:

Some wonderful flavours and some interesting, although not always compatible, wine pairings in my opinion. However, our waitress, Jackie, was very good value. We both enjoyed it immensely – very nice not to have that over-eaten feeling.

Back to the room, where I lit the log fire which is a feature of it. Not that heat was required – I just like the log fire effect.

We drive to Sydney tomorrow on the last stage of the Australian leg of our journey. Four nights there, which promise to be a blast.

Interestingly, no mention anywhere of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Given the part that Aussies played in both World Wars, I find this very surprising.

New Zealand beckons…..

One response to “Sunday, 11th November – Hunter Valley”

  1. Hi both of you! You have helped me relive our amazing trip to Australia. We, like you, stayed in Sydney and also spent time in The Blue Mountains, The Hunter Valley and loved exploring Sydney itself. We too had a somewhat stressful time returning our hire car to the centre of town after our two week coastal trip to Melbourne and back inland via the Blue Mountains where we saw a couple of lyre birds just pecking around in the earth – they are the symbol of the Blue Mountains National Park. Like you we enjoyed the cable car and hadn't realised how the mountains were situated in a 'bowl'. It was pretty cold there as we had to buy gloves and a hat even though temps were mid 20s when we arrived back in Sydney. Yes, very surprised about the lack of commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice [it's been wall to wall here] – perhaps you ate some Anzac biscuits! Have fun in NZ. Our son moved from Sydney and now lives in Hamilton but we've not yet been to see him yet so will look forward to your NZ diary. You are correct Christmas is everywhere here. In Aus they are much more concerned with end of school term, proms and Summer holidays! Who can blame them! Bon Voyage Jan

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