The final few humid days in Brisbane were enjoyable. We had a great dinner at "Urbane" in the city on the Friday night and welcomed home our friends from Canada on the Sunday morning. After catching up with all their news, we headed south down the inland New England Highway. It is certainly an easier drive than the coastal route. The temperature was a steamy 33C as we lunched at Warwick but, an hour later, we hit a huge storm with torrential rain, thunder and lightning. By the time we reached Stanthorpe, near the Queensland New South Wales border, the temperature had dropped to 17C. Break out the sweatshirts!!!!!
We stopped for the evening in the small country town of Glen Innes. The motel was OK but their "famous" steakhouse restuarant served stodge. What a pity! From all the advertising we expected a lot better. A locally produced Semillon was pretty ordinary too.
Next morning we headed off to the thriving rural centre of Armadale. Here we had a great breakfast and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this obviously wealthy university town.
Next was Tamworth but we didn't stop. We heard on the radio they were nursing hangovers from the two week Australian Country Music Festival, the biggest in the world, that had finished the night before.
Lunch in Scone was accompanied by another thunderstorm. Undaunted by the weather, we headed through the Hunter Valley coal mines and electricity generating plants to the wine district of the lower valley.
Here we stayed a the Hunter Valley Resort, a huge complex with great accommodation and facilities. For dinner that night we ate at the Cellar Restuarant in the Hunter Valley Gardens - previously known as the Pokolbin Village. We returned for breakfast at one of the cafes.
Then we did some serious wine buying at Tyrells, Brokenwood and Draytons before heading to a friend's home in Woy Woy for the night.
Next morning I dropped off my travel partner at Sydney airport for her long 22 hour trip back to the USA and headed home.
All was ok at the farm apart from the horse being a little lame. Why? Who knows. Her left back leg is definitely bothering her and there is slight swelling. If things don't improve over the next week will have to get the vet.
The new vineyard was looking good. The Tempranillo has had a new lease of life and growth over the three weeks was amazing. Likewise for the Semillon apart from the top row which is suffering from either lack of moisture or soil compaction difficulties. The tops of the Pinot Noir had all been eaten off by the wallabies. This was not unexpected but disappointing all the same. The Cabernet Sauvignon is in the veraison stage with the grapes slowly changing color. The early netting seems to have deterred the birds although there are some satin birds keeping watch at a distance. There is no sign of disease in any block despite some heavy rain. The new spray program (preventative + curative) seems to be working.
The new Milton vineyard, however, has been "attacked" by downy mildew so there has been some frantic spraying going on in that area. The planting out continues apace.
That weekend found me at a wedding in Gerringong followed by a reception at Addisons in Shellharbor. A great time was had by all. The venue is really nice, the staff very accommodating and the food for the 130 guests was excellent. They have a restaurant underneath which may be worth checking out.
My ex secretary came down for a few days with her husband. We had a lot of laughs, drank a few bottles of wine, played very competitive Scrabble and pigged out on German food for 3 days.
The day after they left, my daughter brought a friend from England down for a few days. Sadly the weather was not typical (storms, wind and overcast) but we did the tourist guide thing and I think she was pretty impressed with our beaches and scenery. We also found her some kangaroos to photograph up close.
My digital camera is still in hospital. Am waiting to find out whether the problem is terminal or not.