Thursday, December 27, 2012

Travelog: Hunter Valley

Tandem bike bells ring, are you listening,

In the lane, grapes are growing,

A beautiful sight, We're happy in the Valley.

Walking in a vineyard wonderland.

Cheesy, I know.  This about sums up our spontaneous trip to The Hunter Valley this weekend.  We have learned that little planning and no expectations is the way to go when traveling…we always end up having the best time! This mini vacay was no exception.  Equivalent to Napa Valley (or close there to), this gem is only a two hour drive north from Sydney.  Once we arrived, we forgot where we were.  It was easy to get swept up in the quaint town with many local cheese, chocolate, and specialty shops among the picturesque roads lined with vineyards.
Our last minute hotel accommodation deal was a success.  Prime location, free breakfast, perfect patio, and pet friendly!
Our first day was full of adventures…on a tandem bike!!  Good deal for me, not so much for R.  This ain't flat land Texas, y'all.  Although I would like to think we worked as a team conquering the hills and bumpy terrain, I know in reality I was just extra weight for R to pull along.  
We rented the bikes from a local winery who also does bike rentals, called Grapemobile.  Super cute. A trail took us along the main road and through the vines to different boutique wineries.  
Boy, were we in for a special treat at the end of the day.  After a few sips of wine and many miles pedaled on this hot summers day, we were tempted by a sign for "fresh lemonade and preservatives" near our returning point.  As we were cruising down a few hills towards this mysterious place, I saw something out of the ordinary in my peripheral vision.  "Stooppppp!' I yelled, as we parked our bike in the middle of a dirt road to find nothing but us, the sun, a path to nowhere, and….a family of wild kangaroos! Pinch me moment.  Probably not that exciting for Aussies, as it's like seeing a Longhorn on a drive through Texas.  But, it was definitely a first for us.  They were so frightened by us so we proceeded with caution and decided not to get too close, as they are wild you know.  One of them even had a little joey in it's pouch!!  
Our organized wine tasting tour the next day was nice to let a knowledgable guide pick the wineries and drive us around!  Hassle free.
Yummy dinner at Restaurant Botanica.  I had the Heirloom Beetroots and Sticky Pork Belly.  Fresh produce from their kitchen garden and this charming location made for the perfect evening.  
Christmas Lights Spectacular at the Hunter Valley Gardens.  Pretty sure we picked the busiest night to go, but it was worth it!  
It was about an hours worth of trails of lights and such to get us in the Christmas spirit. My favorite was the Twelve Days of Christmas song playing, with each day lighting up as the song went on.  I took a picture of each "day" but I thought I would spare you the whole song.  Here are the eight Geese-a-Laying and the seven Swans-a-Swimming.
Our favorite vineyard spot for it's rustic and down home feel, Blueberry Hill. 
Helicopters and tractors, oh my!
Here is the dirt road to nowhere and the kangaroo sighting spot. Magical.  Teddy loved his time in the Valley, too!  He especially loved (and misses) hanging out the car window and catching the cool breeze.  

Another "To Do In Australia" checked off our list.  I enjoyed it so much that I might have to take my sis back next week!  Three days until her arrival!!!  Before then, I will make sure to share our first Aussie Christmas experience.  I hope everyone appreciated their day with loved ones and has safe travels back home.  

1 comment:

  1. The vineyards are so beautiful! I never wanted to go to Australia until reading your blog! There's so many wonderful things to do there! So happy that you guys get to experience all of it!