Tuesday, September 23rd – Sydney – Day 2
The trip started bright and early with a pick-up at our doorstep at 7:40 a.m. That meant an early rising (not hard for us with all the time changes we’d made on the ship) and a visit to Pie Face, a local patisserie. A really neat concept, fresh baked goods made daily from local products and delivered to several franchised locations throughout the city. Most of the street-level shops along George Street are “open air.” We each chose a mini quiche and coffee. Delicious, but what a surprise! Food in Australia is expennnnnsive! Our little breakfast cost AUD 21. Ouch! We started drinking water after that.
Our ride to Hunter Valley (in a Caravan type minivan) with 12 other passengers took approximately 2 hours. Once we arrived at the Ernest Hill Winery (a small family-owned winery that sells only at the cellar door; no exports; no commercial sales in country), we were treated to a taste testing. One of the family members explained each of the wines we tasted which were named after deceased ancestors – (Cracklin’ Rosie Rose’). We bought two bottles there.
The next stop was at the Iron Gate Winery. This grower/distiller is fairly new to the region, but with several awards under his belt. A retired industrial chemist, he uses science to create his product. Considered a “little bit off center,” he’s made a reputation for himself of producing creative combinations of the highest quality. They still continue the tradition of planting a rose bush at the head of each row — an ‘early warning’ system to alert them early of any potential blight problems that might affect the grapes. We bought a case of wine there and shipped it home since we’re restricted to 2 liters duty free to carry with us.
The next stop – lunch at a local café, followed by souvenir shopping at a small shopping area. We visited a third winery on our own and bought a loaf of fresh baked French bread and a lovely round of brie. That, plus the wine we bought early made up our supper. On the return drive, we saw kangaroos by the roadside. They prefer shade over open sun, so they’re usually found hiding in the trees and shadows.
After a long 10-hour day of touring, we were more than ready for bed. After all, we just spent the last three weeks lazing and grazing, hardly having to do more than take the elevator up or down to the feeding troughs!