Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Shiraz and two wheels – there is a god!!!

Sunday June 14 dawned a little grey, perhaps a chance of showers and a cool breeze was blowing the Ettalong Beach palms about. Undeterred Al and Judy cranked up the Triumph and headed north with great friends, Virginia and Tim. Muffled like burglars, with more layers than ‘Black Forest Cake’, we rode up the F3 and veered off to Freemans Waterhole. Once upon a time, when the world was simpler, and I was still

Nice bikes!

Nice bikes!

young, we used to stop a the giant Oak milk bar for the best milkshakes in New South Wales here. It is a little run down now but still good for a quick coffee and chat.

From Freemans the road wanders lazily over the mountain and into the beautiful Hunter Valley (http://www.winecountry.com.au/). Motorcycles buzz by in both directions, this is the last hurrah for the ‘fair weather’ riders, winter is well on the way. We ride through Cessnock and on to Pokolbin. I am looking for a winery described to me by a mate. I had a great Shiraz from there and was eager to find more. After all, the big bold Hunter Shiraz is legendary and I love em! Also, Judy and I have orders to fulfill from friends in Canada next month.

After some very friendly assistance from the guys at a petrol station in Cessnock, we venture to the back of the valley. The road turns to an unsealed number, dusting up the Triumph and Tim’s beautiful Harley Road King. After a small search – eureka! Audrey Wilkinson’s Vineyard (http://www.audreywilkinson.com.au/), resplendent with Shiraz vines planted in 1866.

The vineyard is gorgeous and, as we are now high on the hill, the view across the┬áHunter is stunning. A couple of wine tour buses are in so we don’t expect to get much attention. Happily, we were wrong. Ross was very helpful and even got our the private bin tasting stock. As it happens, I was hooked on an first class Shiraz at $20 a bottle. It was not long before a dozen had been organized for shipment home for the princely sum of $6 – BARGAIN!!! Shame I will have to share it with my buddy Marty (I promised him good Shiraz and he is putting us up after all). Curiously, Ross from the winery shares my birthday which had just passed. He was very helpful and lots of fun.

The ride home was a little cool to say the least. When we arrived home the road was wet and it turns out we had unwittingly been dodging rain all day! A great ride with great friends and a dozen very bold, peppery reds into the bargain!!! Life is good!

Chook Poo! Only in Australia!

Morpeth Bridge

Morpeth Bridge

Saturday morning, with an ominous threat of rain, Al and I set out on the Truimph. Our destination was a town called Seaham near Raymond Terrace. This is where Al’s sister Lynne and her family live. Raymond Terrace is located very near Newcastle in the Hunter Valley. The nice thing about this trip is that the lower Hunter Valley is full of spectacular scenery while giving you the feeling you are stepping back in time.

We ride on the highway for a while and then turn onto a country road, which then turns into a meandering country road through farms and acreages. The nice thing I have found about being on a bike is that you experience all the smells and sounds. Some of the smells are not so wonderful such as fertilized fields, but then you go past huge flowering bushes and get a whiff of the sweet scent.

The sounds include the thunder of 3 horses galloping across a field (paddock to you Aussies). They were a breathtaking sight. We rode through one small town with houses lined up on both sides of the street. One house had ponys everywhere in the yard. There was even one standing on the front porch. Where is the camera when one most needs it? It would have made a great picture.

Actually that though crossed my mind many times on the trip. Oh, for a small pocket camera that is easy to access. We only have a large camera/camcorder that is bulky and hard to handle!

We passed a sign that read “chook poo”. Only in Australia would one see this sign, I am sure of that! Chook being a chicken, it was obvious that they had chicken manure for sale! Chook poo!!! I vow to get a picture of that sign. It will be worth the trip back to that very spot just for the picture.

We stopped in Morpeth. What a quaint little town. I could have spent all day there. In fact we did spend the afternoon wondering around the little shops where upon entering you found yourself in a long conversation with each shop owner. I figured if this kept up we would never get out of there. What wonderful, friendly people! Morpeth had a few “firsts” for me. They have a shop where you can taste ginger beer. I have consumed ginger beer many times, usually in the form of a dark and stormy (involves rum), but never have I gone for a ginger beer tasting. The same store had honey tasting. Yummy! We moved on to another store that has “Morpeth Moonshine” tasting. If for no other reason, this is worth the trip to Morpeth.

The town of Morpeth is located on the Hunter River, which means one has to cross a bridge if you need to get to the other side of the river. Morpeth Bridge was completed in 1898 and is the oldest surviving example of an overhead braced Allan truss bridge and is one of only 3 truss road bridges in NSW.

The bridge is magnificent to look at and really add’s to the charm of Morpeth. That said, it is downright scary (this is my point of view) to cross when on a motorcycle. In fact, I have crossed the bridge once before in a car and I found it scary, let alone on a motorbike!

The deck of the bridge consists of timbers with large metal bolts and nuts to (I assume) hold it all together. When on the bike, one has to try to avoid the nuts and bolts sticking out of the timbers, as well as the edges of the timbers which can be quite deep. Of course, Al is a very experienced rider so this was not an issue for him at all. I on the other hand was shaking by the time we got to the other side of the bridge! That said, Morpeth and the bridge are a must see in NSW.

After our lovely lazy afternoon in Morpeth is was only about a 20 minute ride to Lynne’s house. We did not get rained on once during the entire trip. Upon our arrival it started to rain. Impeccable timing!

We met Al’s cousin (Brenda & husband Terry) for dinner. Brenda and Terry own a very chic restaurant right on the water in Newcastle. During dinner, it rained. I mean absolute buckets full of rain. The nice thing about NSW is that you can often sit undercover (which we were), outside and experience the great smells and sounds of the rain, but still be warm!

To cap off the night, a big coal tanker arrived at port during our dinner. This tanker comes so close to the row of restaurants that you feel you could reach out and touch it. It gives one a greater appreciation of the sheer size of these tankers. A splendid day and evening of beautiful scenery, a sensational ride and outstanding company. A great adventure. Days like this satisfy me for a short time and then my mind wanders to the next trip. I have this insatiable need to know what’s around the next corner!