RtR – Cavorting in Castlemaine

Posted: November 7, 2019 in Travel

A sensible approach, finally, to the guzzling caper had us refreshed after a good nights sleep. Last full day with family in Harcourt before we head to Echuca tomorrow as we slowly make our way home. The weather forecast is not good but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Here is one I prepared earlier

Before sampling the delights of Castlemaine we did a slight detour to Red Hill to check out an old mining site. Quite interesting and was surprised to find a couple of gold diggers still loitering

Then it was finally time to check out Castlemaine and wander the Main Street looking for quirk and coffee. As is often the way in Victoria there are excellent “food” shops even in relatively small towns. We did stop in at Saffs for our morning coffee and once again the milky weak variety, though totally drinkable, was on offer. Wasn’t going to complain to waiter mind you as looked like he didnt take no shit from anyone. Or sunshine apparently

I had been threatened with 3 laps of the Botanical Gardens but as luck would have it it started to rain. So, we stopped in at a Patisserie on way home to give our diabetes a kick along and then….. it stopped raining. Back to the Gardens then where I was welcomed with open arms and away we go

I made one lap and then remembered that the Shedshaker Coffee Brewery Complex was across the road so bid adieu to The Ladies in Lavender and said would meet them for lunch at Das Kaffeehaus. It’s an Austrian setup and they had certainly mastered the level of service seen in European culture often. I asked Frau Blucher behind counter for a Cortado and she was nonplussed. She asked if I came from Spain and I said no, give me a Flat White. She went away, came back with some streudel and said the Colombian barista knew what a Cortado was, move down. Sweet. Barista then said “Do you come from Spain? “ “Ok yeah sure why not if it is a requirement to actually get a Cortado. Ole “ I went out on Disco floor and drank my coffee

By now the LIL were back and we decided to have our lunch here as well. Apparently there is a little known Austrian tradition that you get a glass of water with any order. Our clown waiter was struggling with our order and I saw Frau Blucher walking past with a bottle of water and glasses. Big mistake …

I asked for some water and her scowl actually got worse than normal. Luckily the horses were back in the stall

Eventually our order of drinks arrived and to be fair they did get 2 out of 3 right . The two beers, one of which was Trump Piss. Go figure. The white wine Lorraine ordered – Grüner Veltliner – was delivered in a warm jug and was red like a mulled wine. Called Fritz over to replace – or you know, actually get order right – so now we had pissed off most of the Service staff. Our work here was done. I got the Weiner Wurstel with kaiser roll and mustard while the LIL had Chicken Schnitzel Toasted sangers. Always say, two sausages are better than one and twice the fun

And so our lovely few days in Harcourt of the North variety was coming to an end with an early start tomorrow to hopefully catch a slow moving Paddle Steamer on way to Winery/Ginery in Echuca. Once again, plan to have a sensible night alcohol wise but with big brother back in the frame chances are slim……

RtR – Bustling Bendigo

Posted: November 6, 2019 in Travel

Someone had to work today so The Three Amigos were on the loose and searching for Coffee and Culture. Realistically of course we could have stayed in the kitchen all day so started with some fresh fruit, yoghurt and Fruit Toast. And coffee . Then it was time to hit the road , or more specifically Bendigo

Da girls were interested in some Fashion Exhibit at the Bendigo Art Gallery but did not open until 10 am so we had a lovely stroll through the Gardens nearby. They are stunning grounds and at most angles you glimpse interesting buildings in the background. Even some Gargoyles as well 🤓

Eventually 10 am did roll around and it was easy to see the level of anticipation between Larry, Moe and Curly varied

Basically a lot of dresses behind glass and some scribble on walls at intermittent locations. Luckily we did get the Seniors Discount – and were still the youngest there, especially in the Ambulatory Division.

By 11 am da girls had moved onto the second dress so things were grim. Time to switch to Plan B. Call in a false fire alarm. It was quite impressive and the red trucks turned up in 10 mins and threw a few hoses around. Was going to join in but didnt want to embarrass da boys. Mind you, two of them didnt seem all that interested in the fire

Now it was time to drop into The Wine Bank . Hopefully we were making a withdrawal. We also had a coffee which was ok but the old rookie mistake of too bigger a cup led to a milky weak taste

By now it was lunch time so headed back into the CBD area and had a very healthy looking lunch at Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen. Even went for the colon cleansing juice to start the long overdue detox.

As we still had another day to fill in we didnt want to see every highlight in the area so headed home for a good coffee and a lie down. The plan at this early stage is to be much more sensible in the drinking caper tonight but will sign off now in case I weaken as daylight drags on. And on…

RtR – Harcourted for The Cup

Posted: November 5, 2019 in Travel

Settled in for a few days of R&R in Harcourt. Tuesday dawned bright, clear and cool. Perfect. A hearty breakfast and an easy morning before climbing up the back hill for a picnic lunch. Great view on this clear day

In the afternoon we ventured into Castlemaine to check out the local brewery – Shedshaker – and get paddled. I think that is like addled only more Pissed? Lovely warm afternoon in the sun working our way from left to right. When visiting a brewery for tasting always take along someone who is not a big beer fancier because then you get to taste theirs too. I drink, I know things.

Before you knew it we were back home just in time for G&T time which generally is before Beer O’Clock but this daylight saving has me befuddled. I do know Wine Time is usually last and luckily often involves food . Another excellent meal provided by our hosts had us ready for beddy byes just as the sun went down. You know….10pm

There was a big race on down south but I Vow and Declare I had no interest and no idea who won. Just glad it wasn’t a public holiday in Castlemaine!

Woke up in Penola to cool grey and drizzly skies which was FAD for our drive. It was about 4.5 hrs to our lodgings in Harcourt North for 4 nights – Ferguson Windy Hill. A luxurious B&B&W – the W obviously referring to Wine – on a hill (with wind apparently) overlooking a lovely valley. Peace and Quiet personified. First up though, some thriving metropolises to navigate.

2 hrs out of Penola was our first stop of Murtoa. Luckily it was bin day and the place was jumping

Then we started up our SAT NAV and it seemed to want to go down an odd street off the highway on our way to St Arnaud? It appears in Victoria SAT stands for Silo Art Trail? Nice find

Drove through Horsham to our lunch destination of St Arnaud, or more exactly The Country Kitchen. Man I thought I was back in Maryhole with Bogans to the left of me and old farts to the right. We were in no great rush but simply annoys me when an old couple interact with a moron at register and takes 15 mins to order a pie and chips! We just went for the pie.

Before you could say pop my cork we were on road again and turning into our B&B&W.

The host was a handsome devil who reminded me of someone but cant place it . Caught up on all the latest news or at least 2 weeks worth having recently spent time with them at The Wedding. This daylight saving nonsense was making it hard to justify drinking before 5 pm especially now the bloody sun was out. We pushed on through though and started with a not too shabby Verve Cliquot 2008. Apparently the older this alcohol stuff is the better it is ? Then time to drink some red, bruise some steaks and warm some Waygu

It would have been rude not to eat this fine offering so hooked in as we found another bottle to wash it down. The sun had set by now so must be time for games and Espresso Martinis. What could go wrong? Have to say not a big fan of the canned variety of EM but these were delightful

Certainly cured any tifs we may have had and also cleaned out my sinuses. Our room was in the West Wing so we waddled down eventually and prepared for the next day. The weather is rather glorious but of course always variable. Todays forecast of 6 – 17 and mostly sunny is perfect

RtR – Completing Coonawarra

Posted: November 3, 2019 in Travel

Bold statement perhaps because we will never fully complete Coonawarra until visited every winery really . However , we do need to pull our heads in on the purchasing front and hard to resist with so many good cellar doors in area. CLP wont be able to open back door when get home for boxes of wine stored there! We will visit Blok first up to sample some whites for a change and maybe do walking trail this afternoon if weather is good. Forecast is much like yesterday when morning was grey and gloomy and afternoon sunny and smiley. Opposite of me really then. So far give the weather boys a ✔️

One is reminded of Cheese Shop sketch when one enters Delis in SA but could also apply to our search for a Great White at The Blok, previously noted for aforementioned variety. “Ah, you should have been here last week” Only 2 whites for sale/tasting and one was bubbles and one was not released until 2 weeks time. So we bought a couple more Reds 😏

We drove on for another coffee at Otellia and contemplated doing walking trail as we entered. Raining as we left we opted for another “haven of white” at Peter Thompson Wines in the Main Street. Perfectly acceptable and when he told us he did sell direct to the Mapleton Tavern back home we knew we were dealing with the premium product 🤓 . Very obliging cellar doors at both places but suspect we have already seen the best of Coonawarra.

Back home then for a light lunch and a weather update at 1pm. It seems ok so we headed off for walking trail. This involves 5 wineries in close proximity, one of which is Wynns so can cross that off. It’s a great idea in concept but poor in execution. It’s a not a circular route but rather a straightish line so when you finish you have to walk back to your car past previous wineries. Also needing the car to get about in Coonawarra kinda negates the big plus of walking and drinking. You are always wary of how much you can drink at any one stop. However it was a good afternoon and we parked midway so walked up 2 , back and drop off purchases , and then down 2 . Rinse, repeat

On way home thought we would drop into Hollick Estates as close and was written up in a few guides. Would seem to be mostly for its restaurant on the first floor. Wines nothing special but a great cellar door

So that pretty well brings the curtain down on our visit. It has been a great couple of days but still something about region cant quite put finger on. Wynns and Rymill are superb wineries/cellar doors and Balnaves up there as well but the region as a whole lacks something for me as a wine region compared to say The Barossa. Maybe it is the advertisement of “local produce” basically meaning a bottle of jam ; the deli thing has been mentioned and is related; some low key cellar doors with casual staff or set up where you continually had to ask for water or spittoon ; the ridiculous 110kph highway ; no public transport/shuttle really etc. Our accommodation was great and was a quiet location. We are relaxed and have plenty of supplies but unlikely to return for “the experience” as cant really define it and WineStar stocks Wynns 😏

RtR – Cruisin the Coonawarra

Posted: November 2, 2019 in Travel

Once again we have found ourselves a B&B with space, comfort and peace and quiet. Some heavy rain during night has heralded a much appreciated cool change. Today’s plan is to visit some wineries. Duh. Not as easy as one may think though with some late opening cellar doors etc. Due to lack of any public transport one has to limit one’s visits to drinking establishments as one has to drive. Yes, the other one can drink of course 😏 Luckily the Pub is walking distance but every town has a pub. Trust me, I check these things

Of interest, this place has the hardest water have ever encountered. Having a shower is like visiting an Acupuncturist. Looks like a spa tonight – yes life is tough but I dont like to complain. Mind you, SA water tastes a bit odd too . Damn I did it again

Leisurely walk into town for some exercise after home cooked hot breakfast. Biggest question we have so far is does the word “Deli” mean something different in SA? Seriously, we have been to 3 in Penola and they dont sell cold meat or cheese! One sells petrol though so there is that

First winery today , and of most interest on visit is Wynns. First up though the tourist shot is the Coonawarra Siding. We waited a while for the 0710 express but it never showed. Maybe ran into some cheese on the track up ahead 😏

Then back to the Wynns Estate. It’s a great cellar door of course and made sure were there on time. We were only ones there at opening so had full attention of lovely lady helping us and the tastings were excellent as expected . I saw a microscope there so knocked out a few quick “50 cell diffs” (Editors Note – you need to have worked in Maryhole Pathology to understand that joke) . When I end up also tasting the fortified wine at end I know have probably gone too far. We purchased several and then it was time for some food

Now I would imagine a place called “Drink/Ottelia + Eat/Fodder” would be a safe bet but once again menu was limited but coffee was good as was the wood fired pizza. Loved the “pineapple” note on menu. Pizza helped soak up the first 6 tastings of Wynns red stuff. I could almost drive again probably. Oh thats right I already drove here from Wynns…… Now I dont want fans to think I am hard on SA as do love the place but apart from the whole Deli Debacle who the fuck has a “110 kph highway” bisecting 30 wineries. It is a disaster waiting to happen surely. There was a Centenary Monument to view and honestly CLP assures me she knows where that wood step she broke goes in being a recognised Jenga Champion. CCTV footage could prove damning in her pending court case

Had already been a full day but thought we could squeeze Balnaves in on way home. So we did. Again a great cellar door and no one around , its fair to say apart from wine this area does a rather amazing job with roses. We were much more circumspect at Balnaves with purchases limiting ourselves to a couple of the well known blend

So although only 2 pm will be a quiet day rest of day as sun starts to appear . We have supplies for dinner at home but will certainly venture out again at some stage if even on foot. The pizza at 11 am has thrown meal times a tad askew and of course completely screwed up my nana nap schedule. I dont mind living life on the edge but only within reason

Update 1830 hrs. Yep, bloody train still hasn’t arrived 😏

RtR – Cocooned in Coonawarra

Posted: November 1, 2019 in Travel

Windy night led to a grey overcast morning but at least wind eased so Ferry will go ahead. Arrived nice and early as is our go and chose Lane 2 for lineup assuming that may get us an easier middle row to park. Then we saw 4 trucks of sheep lined up! Then they started with row 2 so ended up in far left lane jammed in tight. Anyhoo at least we were on board and could settle in with a coffee and some fresh Anzac biscuits. Or not..

Started our trip north east for a 5 hr drive with a couple of stops. First up was Strathalbyn for a coffee and scone and then Keith around 1 pm for a light lunch. The locals were intriguing but a bit hoity toity. By now was a bit shaggus so quickly grabbed 7 winks before on road again

An easy 90 mins on excellent roads then had us in the Coonawarra and as had made good time decided to do Rymill today. Impressive place and very reasonably priced wines. We were keen on the Cab Franc but not on tasting menu . The Sav Blanc impressed so easily made up our dozen for free shipping. Already have 3-4 cases being shipped and yet our back seat consistently rattles and rolls with numerous bottles of wine strewn about.😏

Then it was onto our lodgings – Georgies Cottage – which once again looks superb. Space and luxury in a quiet area. The threatened storms and rain did not eventuate of course

The Main Street of Penola was an easy 10 minute walk so under grey but non threatening skies we headed off. And dropped in at first pub – The Royal Oak. Yet to work out the full connection yet but clearly Penola and Mary McKillop have a strong connection. The beer was great and we chatted to some fellow travellers for 30 mins before doing the circuit of the Main Street . It’s an eclectic mix of shops to be sure with the one common factor being all shut at 5pm. No grocery store at all. So back to pub for a typical pub meal

Oddly they also had a statue of Kirk Douglas as he appeared in Man from Snowy River

Another great day and now have the next two to fully explore this region and complete our SA Wineries Bingo card . Sadly no taxis or Ubers operate in area. Odd

RtR – Cruising around KI

Posted: October 31, 2019 in Travel

A big day yesterday has left us a rather relaxed day today but still a few KI KPIs to achieve as in Key Performance Indicators and not Keep Pouch Inward. As predicted the breeze is picking up but still a clear sunny day at present. I would suggest that in our relaxed and remote location we wont be pested by any Trick or Treaters tonight. 2000 Cruise passengers roaming free may be a different matter.

The loose plan then is have full breakfast again and then get loose at a couple of wineries before a nice dinner tonight at Sunset Food and Wine. At Sunset. As wineries do not open Cellar Doors until 11 am there will be markets involved as well as a slight detour to a magic beach we saw from Prospect Hill yesterday .

The sea was getting angry folks. But not as angry as the 2000 cruisers just informed they wont be coming ashore today due to rough seas. A good result maybe but then the markets wont open either. Ok, a great result. Ya got me 🤓 It does mean a bit more time to fill in between breakfast and first wine

It would be hard to imagine a more stunning day then yesterday but if first stop at Pennington Bay was any indication it would be a close run thing

Then we decided to drive through Penneshaw as Dudley’s Wine cellar door did not open until 11 am. The full double circuit of Penneshaw filled in a valuable 5 mins of our time

This then had us knocking on door of cellar at 1030 am pleading ignorance. It didnt work so we played with Rover. When did open at 11 am it is a stunning place with very passable wines and even a golf tee area where you could hit towards Australia. I think I winged a Phillip Island Penguin with a hooded 5 iron but cant be sure . Magic place on a glorious day

It was then time to head back about 50k to the other regarded Winery on KI called Islander Estate . Looked another low key operation but once again excellent wines and we stayed for the Drunken Jenga challenge followed by the “make your own picnic hamper” quest

The face was a bit flushed by now so time to head home for a few hours before back out for dinner at 630 pm. Cloudy evening but still amazing view from our restaurant. Here are some photos I prepared earlier

It’s been an amazing few days on KI and have been very lucky with weather. I could not put it better than my requisite T Shirt from KIS says which also cleverly implies that not only was it a very happy experience but I was also a bit inebriated a lot of the time and needed help with some basic activities

Catch a slow moving Ferry tomorrow at 830 am before heading the 5 hrs north to Penola, the heart of Coonawarra region. Not sure what it is famous for but just hope it doesnt involve wine . I need a break

RtR – Nature and Stuff

Posted: October 30, 2019 in Travel

Today have the rare opportunity to drive 150 k west, be bored, turn around and drive home. It’s another cracker day after a very restful night. Don’t just take my word for it though, take a peek at some of Old Whisker’s current work

Plan then is to have the full cooked breakfast on offer for fear we may be fading away and then head out on the rather excellent roads across to other side of island to see Seal Bay, Dolphin Inlet and Otter Outcrop. One of those is a real place but you will have to wait for photos. Or go on WWW thingy. First up better check the weather again. Yep, sun moving up not down, good to go

Our hosts are wonderful and helpful and one tidbit of interest picked up last night is that Cruise Ships often drop in on a Thursday and one will be here tomorrow. Another reason to visit the “icons” today. One thing I hate on holidays is bloody tourists. Sadly there could be a market set up so thats tomorrow morning gone 😏

Surprisingly warm days with 30 today and 34 tomorrow but of course not being Qld does mean it will change and be down to 20 on Sunday. Darool Darool

Off we headed towards Flinders Chase . Good run and no traffic had us at first destination of Admirals Arch around 10 am and only ones there at present. It is a magnificent formation set against the bluest of blue seas. And there is a Lighthouse

As we rolled out 2 busloads arrived so will need to keep ahead of them . Next stop was Remarkable Rocks set on top of Ho Hum Hill just around the corner from Cod Ordinary Cove. Like what Stonehenge would look like if knocked up when pissed. A bit more of a crowd now but one of my lesser known qualities is ability to cut out bloody tourists from my photos. It takes patience, skill and ass and as The Loaf would say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad

Next stop for The Big Three for KI Bingo was Seal Bay . You would think at least the road down to there would be sealed …

This was more of a commercial operation with overpriced souvenirs and $16 (13 for Seniors 👨🏻‍🦳) to walk a mile down a boardwalk to look at seals sunning themselves from 30 m away. You could pay $37 and get on the beach within 10 m of seals and be bored by a 45 min talk as well . It’s a great beach mind you and well worth a look if you had never seen a seal in your life. You know if u had been living under even an unremarkable rock. Just my luck too, I actually came face to face with a bloody tourist 🤓

Enough Icons for one day. Time for some lunch so dropped into American River to check out Oyster Farm shop and a quick lunch at Deck Cafe. As with everything in KI they all seem like Mum and Pop run stores with no ability to deal with a rush of visitors. Then it was time to head home but decided to stop off at Prospect Hill on this glorious day and climb 3000 steps

The sun may come up slowly in morning but takes a lot longer to go down at night trust me. With at least 4 hrs of daylight left I suspect there could be a late afternoon stroll along the beach and then have that Honey Wheat Ale beer and hope to get a buzz.

Actually its a long drive and a Ferry but where is the romance in that? The Frenchies were fine. It was the Aussie Asshole next door that was the problem. Council worker parked his work Ute outside , went in and took off his High Vis Vest and appears to have fallen asleep in front of TV . At least that was scene when I finally hammered on his front door at 1230 am to turn off the bloody TV! Shocking nights sleep in the end . A bright start to morning though. Yay. And a full breakfast for the long day ahead

We left just after 730 am with a casual approach to the 4.5 hr road trip for a 3 pm ferry but with half an eye on idea that if we had a good run we could make the 1 pm Ferry. Again, excellent roads as we travelled adjacent to Great Australian Bight. We stopped for some lobster and a coffee along the way but short stops and so did arrive in Cape Jervis before 12:30 pm

Quickly presented to Check In expecting to have to provide our Seniors Card for discount claimed but waved through easy . Should we be happy or insulted that clearly we were “Seniors”?
The car loading of course was very efficient and we left on time for the 50 min trip on calm seas on a simply glorious day. We had a sandwich for lunch and of course some alcohol

Disembarkation was equally smooth and we were at Adagio B&B within 20 mins. Looks a great place and VERY QUIET . Yay.

As we did arrive earlier than expected we were able to visit a few quirky places today and leave the iconic sites for tomorrow. Not many people would know that KI is over 150k long. I didnt. Tomorrow will involve 150k each way to see the good stuff so this arvo we settled for the bad stuff. The Emu Lavender Farm was a snooze feast for me but CLP enjoyed. The KI Brewery was closed until weekend. The KI Distillery was open so we sampled some Gins which were fine. Then onto the Drunken Drone Brewery/ Clifford Honey Farm complex. We rushed along a dirt CORRUGATED road which took 15 mins for 2 k but still arrived 15 mins before closing time of 5 pm. We should not have bothered. They had one beer. Honey Wheat Ale. Shock Horror

Then it was time to head back to B&B for some free wine and paid for nuts . It was a very passable local Dudley Wines Shiraz blend and we shall visit and buy some more as we finished this one tout suite. As the sun was almost setting some wildlife appeared and here I am without my gun. Oh well

It all seems very quiet and peaceful so looking forward to good nights sleep after last nights debacle. In hindsight , maybe I should have shared that bottle of red with CLP but she was rolling in lavender somewhere.