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Return to Oz

Our first time was for a wedding 3 years back; our latest had less pleasant origins. A family member had contacted Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2015, and it was a question of whether to go out and support him while he was in hospital or to wait for when/if he was up and about. His preference was for the latter so we visited him these last two weeks. His stamina's still under par, but he strides and jokes, works, swims, and plays with his baby son. It just turned into an amazing holiday.

We got there in time for storms in Sydney, a magnificent Australia Day barbie, and a trip to the Barossa wine region outside of Adelaide,introducing us to the concept of cellar door visits. Basically one turns up (or for exceptionally posh establishments, one makes an appointment) at a vineyard, and enjoys a wine tasting there. The grapes/tastes/methods/history are explained, a spittoon and water is provided... On average one achieves between 4 and 5 of these visits a day provided one uses the spittoon, otherwise things get a little hazy.

Of course, there are the big players:

But the smaller vineyards are more rewarding, more evocative...and often with most excellent wine:

The Barossa was settled by Lutherans, fleeing persecution in Europe - is there anyone we haven't persecuted? What a lively bunch we are! This isn't guilt per se, even understanding our dodginess I am proud to be of European stock, but there's no denying our continent probably deserves a special mention as the birthplace of drama. We saw a couple of Lutheran churches including one which appeared to be partially made of butter icing. I didn't manage to quite capture its cakey quality but at least I got a couple of shots that demonstrated the lay of the land:

The Barossa has a few good whites, though it's mainly a red wine region. Hunter Valley's the one to visit for a drop of the pale. The whole vine thing looks like serious hard work. Takes about 10,000 aussie dollars to set up an acre of vineyard, with no return for the first five years, plus the issue of a water license, plus plus plus...many places hire themselves out as wedding venues.Some family members would like to pursue the dream of a vineyard venue...personally I see lots of work and no guarantee of reward, not with expert rival viniculturalists on every hill,and big players like Jacobs Creek and Penfolds nearby.

But folk talk and dream, and it's very pleasant. Each night family and friends got together, ate, drank, talked, got bitten by mosquitos, and spotted possums on the garden fence. It was grand.

Sydney was as glorious as ever, Circular Quay always makes me smile. Down to the beaches too, at Cronulla and Maroubra, surfer dude land. Minuses? No fruitbats this time. Plusses? Kookaburras. Saw two, both staring at me as though trying to gauge just how much of an idiot I am. Had a dream in which someone gave me the keys to the Tower of London. Must remember there's plenty to enjoy here too, especially if the winter's pretty much done.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2016 10:33 am (UTC)
Wow. Looks amazing.
Feb. 10th, 2016 12:41 pm (UTC)
It's very easy to enjoy, and the whole thing has this slight semi-frontier feel to it. But for scenery I prefer Queensland...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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