On Saturday (aka Boxing Day) I went for a swim, we went for lunch, and then we loaded the car up and hit the road for the Hunter Valley. It is about a 2 or 2.5 hour drive from Sydney, and is another one of Australia’s great wine producing regions. We rolled into our accommodations in the Hunter at Parrot Stump Farm just around 5 pm. Just like the Barossa this place was a self contained cottage in amongst a vineyard. The owner met us at the cottage just as we arrived. He was quite concerned that with it being Boxing Day, and everything being closed, that we would be somewhat out of luck for dinner. He was planning on having a few folks over for ham and he wanted to invite us over. It wound up being a really fun evening full of good food, good wine and good times as we met a few of the locals from around the area. Everyone was so nice and friendly that they wound up feeling like old friends by the time the night was over. It was a great way to start our trip to the Hunter.
Rain, rain…and a bit of running
Sunday I had decided to take as a rest day, and I was definitely happy with that decision when I woke up in the morning. It was pouring down rain. It continued to rain all day and well into Monday as well. Somehow or other I just wasn’t in the mood to slog through the rain. I had thoughts of heading to the outdoor pool in Cessnock for a swim, but unfortunately I wound up missing the lap swim times in the morning so…another rest day it was. By Tuesday morning there was a break in the rain so I figured I’d better hit the road! Much like the Barossa the Hunter is quite hilly although the scenery is very different. Rolling green fields for as far as the eye can see as opposed to the more dessert like scenery in the Barossa. Vineyards still dot the landscape though.
I headed out the driveway away from Parrot Stump and just ran along the road. There was very little traffic, but there was plenty to see. This little colt came running up to the fence as I ran past to check things out.Along the way there were also lots of other horses, and some cows, including one very amorous bull. The area was mostly a few vineyards, olive trees, some houses and the odd bed and breakfast/cottage type of place. I was hoping to spy some kangaroos as I know they sometimes are nearby. But no luck… I ran up the driveway to the cottage and just as I crested a hill I saw some brown lumps way off in the distance. Could it be? Might they be kangaroos?? I couldn’t tell directly, so instead I had to get the camera out so I could check it out via zoom and picture.Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have some kangaroos off in the distance!! Just as I was taking another picture on of the air guns in the vineyard to scare off birds went off and the guy on the left gave a big ol’ leap.Success! 3.1 miles and a kangaroo sighting.
I was wavering on going for another run on Wednesday morning before leaving the Hunter, but as it felt quite a bit cooler and less humid out I figured I’d better take advantage. I left the camera at home, which was somewhat too bad as I spied a few goats and alpacas out today. No kangaroos, although I did meet a very boisterous and friendly (thank goodness, although maybe too friendly) sheep dog who was determined to keep jumping up on me and had me wondering if I was going to be able to make it home without him. Luckily his owner was out checking his olive trees and he was able to grab his dog for me. Then it was time to pack up and hit the road back to Sydney shortly thereafter.
And what about the wine??
Ah yes, we did do a wee bit of wine tasting in the Hunter. This region produces some really great Semillons that age nicely in the bottle, along with some good reds too. We had some fantastic tastings in the area, but the highlight was probably at Keith Tulloch’s. When you walk into his winery you head upstairs, are given a tasting glass and told to find a spot to sit down. There are comfy couches inside along with tables on the veranda overlooking the vineyards below.Some of the other places felt a bit like a zoo as you tried to find a spot by the tasting bar to stand, but at Keith Tulloch’s it was so quiet and relaxed. Every few minutes someone would come by to pour a tasting sip in your glass. It just so happened that the owner Keith was outside on the veranda that day. He came by to say hello and we chatted about Canada (like the differences between importing to Alberta versus British Columbia) along with some of the spots that he and his family have skied at in Canada. And all of his wines were absolutely fantastic. Lucky for me that he imports to Alberta!
With that the trip to the Hunter is over (along with all of the wine touring) and we are about 20 minutes away from Sydney at the moment. It is so hard to believe that the final day of 2009 is TOMORROW!! How did that happen? Where did the year go? I am looking forward to spending a few days around here playing tourist and going for some great runs. Thanks to the lovely Mel I have a few ideas for some great pools to check out too. I hope everyone is enjoying their final days of 2009 and have a safe and happy New Year!!