Monthly Archives: September, 2012

It’s the sea, stupid

Go on, now, argue over the view. Will it be the Brighton beach boxes, south of Melbourne (above) or the view from the Watson’s Bay Hotel, to the east of Sydney CBD (below)?

Oh right … did I give it away?


Spanish flash in the pan

One night in 2010: The recipe was Paella, calling for seafood (esp mussels and squid), special Calasparra rice, lots of peas and secret spices, an enormous pan and … friends to share. The itinerary started at Brisbane’s Black Pearl Epicure in Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley; then it was off to Samies Girl seafood on the river at Hamilton, and finally to the West End chalk & cheese bottle-o for the liquid refreshments and a few (extra) nibblies.

And the results … thanks to head chef Pip!

Way up north (and a bit to the left)

The town of Longreach, in the Australian Outback 2000km north by north-west from Melbourne, is home to the Cattlemen’s Bar & Grill (below, left) at the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. As you can see (below, right) it’s also home to the Qantas Founders Museum (note the aircraft with the Flying Kangaroo in the background.)

They installed a 7.3 metre Kentucky-made Big Ass ceiling fan in 2008. Sitting under the huge 10-bladed fan, which spins ponderously in its “high volume, low speed” way , is certainly memorable and seems to attract attention. The restaurant food and beverage manager at the time, Iona Nicol (below), told me “we have so many people come in to take photos”. People even come to get married under the blades: there were 12 weddings in the bar in 2009 and by Easter 2010 when we visited, there had already been 14.

OK, let’s branch out

Our wine-tasting + shopping expedition to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales in 2011 took us to this cute little village named Wollombi … and the General Store … a mixed business with a post office inside to boot (below right). Wollombi also turns out to be the home of the boutique Australian publisher Exisle. I met the sales and marketing manager, Benny Thomas, later that year and discovered some of the titles they produce … feel free to visit and link.


Soup and gum trees

Lovely lunch and wine tasting + attentive service at Merricks General Store on the Mornington Peninsular, served by Maria in the restaurant and Joyce at the tasting bar. We matched the Baillieu 2009 shiraz with the Merricks platter of terrine, meats, cheese and olives and wasn’t it a pleasure!

But what’s this outside on the porch (right) … the weirdest barrow load of pumpkins we’ve ever seen? They’d be wasted in a soup … more at home as a table decoration.

After lunch we wandered over the road to the Stonier Wines cellar door and selected a 2010 pinot noir for $28 and a 2009 Halcyon chardonnay ($45) while we admired the glorious flowering eucalyptus in the garden (below) … now if only someone can tell me the name of the variety of eucalyptus. Apparently others have asked. Love to know.

Here’s the “top shelf” offerings back at the General Store … talk about vintage!

Better cold than freezing

Here I am (left) in my new Icebreaker Legacy Trench Pureplus coat (purchased from Paddy Pallin in Brisbane) … at the pier at Flinders on Western Port, where it was bloody cold (just as well I had the coat). It’s Merino fleece made into a very solid, weather-resistant jacket which keeps out any wind Melbourne and the Mornington have thrown at me. And here I am (below) a few minutes later, at Shoreham, just north of Flinders. Cool and warm at the same time … crazy travellers who pull up to enjoy the breeze.

Now we know …

I’ve looked at a lot of wine labels in my time but this is the first time I have seen “picking dates” recorded on the bottle. Fruit for this chardonnay, from the Mornington Peninsular, was picked on the 4th, 6th, 8th and 9th of April, 2009. Adds a nice extra touch to the buying and drinking experience, don’t you think? If you have found something similar, please send it along and I can add it to this post …

Carbs at St Kilda

What’s this shop selling … do you reckon?

And now the cool hunting starts … (and some weird hunting)

It’s vintage heaven at the Red Till cafe and bar in the tiny ocean-side hamlet of Anglesea, south-west of Melbourne, Victoria. Everything seems to have been scrounged from someone’s aunty 🙂 There’s a good chance cool hunters would get lost and never escape this place!

Favourite thing about this place … 3

Nice bath at Captain’s on the Bay … but after the sights of the day, Apollo Bay was a bit of an anti-climax. The perils of being “next village on” from stunning geography! Perhaps we’re getting road weary, perhaps anxious to be arriving in the Big Smoke, Melbourne … that would be tomorrow. The end of an epic journey, the start of a new life. How many times do we get to do this in a life?

Happy note: the Dragon Bay Inn was a very pleasant surprise at the end of our long day’s drive … not crowded, not noisy, not slow, attentive wait-staff. We ate the dim sims, the duck pancake, crispy-skinned chicken, crispy roast pork and sipped Heineken and Stonyfell Verdelho. And off to bed.

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