Tag Archives: Australia

10 top wineries to go to in the Mornington Peninsula

I went to the Mornington Peninsula for the Winter Wine Festival with a group of friends and it was great fun. On the first day, we went to the main festival area where all of the wineries in the region were available in one place to taste. It was great to try so many different wines in one location, but a little overwhelming. So for the next two days, we toured around by ourselves visiting vineyards one at a time.

The Mornington Peninsula itself is a beautiful part of the world with beautiful beaches, long piers, great lookouts and even a huge hedge maze. I would love to return in the summer months when I am sure the area sparkles even more.

My top 10 wineries in the Mornington Peninsula are:

  1. Box Stallion

Box Stallion was my favourite winery in the Mornington Peninsula as I pretty much liked every wine I tasted here- both red and white. It is now, unfortunately closed.

  1. Foxey’s Hangout

This winery was a highlight as the owner makes and bottles your own personalised bottle of sparkling wine.

  1. Red Hill

Red Hill has the best views over the water. They also have award winning pinot noir’s and chardonnays.

  1. Ten Minutes by Tractor

A cute story about three vineyards that are all ten minutes from each other by tractor gave this winery its name. It is kitschy, but fun, with old style tractors to pose on.

  1. Port Phillip Estate

Port Phillip Estate is well established and well known. All the wines are handpicked and aged in French Oak.

  1. Paringa Estate

This winery has a beautiful dining room overlooking vineyards, with good food. They produce good classic Mornington Peninsula pinot noir.

  1. Vidoni Estate Vineyard

Vidoni Estate Vineyard is surrounded by olive groves producing tasty olives, olive oil and olive-related products.

  1. Willow Creek

This winery makes cool climate single vineyard wines. It is now attached to the Rare Hare restaurant.

  1. Stonier Wines

Stonier Wines is rated five stars by James Halliday. It produces pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling wines.

  1. Moorooduc Estate

With an unusual and imposing building making this estate memorable, they use Burgundian techniques and focus on matching food with wine.

Happy trails!

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10 top wineries to go to in the Barossa

I have been lucky enough to go to the Barossa in South Australia three times and I think it is my favourite wine region in Australia. Being one of the older regions it is well established with pretty heritage buildings and the food is also fantastic.

There’s the fancy fermentAsia in Tanunda, Maggie’s Beer’s farm shop for a casual lunch and Red Door Espresso for a great breakfast. The 1918 bistro and grill and the Tanunda bakery also have good food and seem to be favourites with the locals.

Tanunda is the best area to stay to be near all the action. I’ve stayed at Barossa Valley Apartments each time and can recommend their conveniently located self-contained two bedroom apartments with a swimming pool on the grounds.

My top 10 wineries in the Barossa are:

  1. Rockford Wines.

Rockford is my favourite winery in the Barossa. It has a small, cute cellar door, excellent service from the staff and interesting grounds with winemaking equipment.

  1. Charles Melton

Charles Melton serves a great lunch with affordable wines and excellent service. The rose is good and the reds are great. They also have a super cute border collie.

  1. Henschke

A little bit of a drive away from the main winery area, past a couple of Lutheran churches, you’ll find the beautiful hedged grounds of Henschke and an old cellar door.

  1. Pindarie

With a lovely veranda where you can enjoy a fine lunch with affordable wines, Pindarie makes a good pit stop for lunch.

  1. Wolf Blass

Wolf Blass has affordable wines.

  1. Chateau Tanunda

The iconic Chateau Tanunda is a great castle-like building which even has a croquet ground.

  1. Chateau Yaldara/Barossa

Chateau Yaldara- now called Chateau Barossa- is another lovely old mansion with a fountain. It houses many wines from different wineries to try.

  1. Langmeil

Langmeil has consistently good red wines. With its cellar door conveniently located in town at Tanunda, it’s a great place to make up your case of 12 before sending it back home.

  1. Greenock Creek Vineyard and Cellars

With a very small, old underground cellar door, Greenock serves red wines only. They are a little on the expensive side, but worth it.

  1. Burge Family Winemakers

The Burge family are old established winemakers with new infamous wine dogs.

Happy hunting!

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Canada, 2011

In the Canadian summer of 2011, I travelled to White Rock, Canada to attend my cousin Kate’s wedding. It was important to me to be there as despite the distance of where we both lived, we were the only girls on the side of the family, so were close.

The wedding was held at my aunt and uncles place with a view of the water. Many friends and family had come from all over the world to attend. I had arrived a few days before the wedding, so had time to catch up with Kate- we even fitted in dancing and a movie.

I also met my cousin Glen’s girlfriend at the time, Tara. We got along well and had pre wedding manicures together. My cousin Jay and his family had flown in from Australia too, so it was a full house buzzing with preparations including marquee and stage building.

I caught up with Celina on my first night there over too many red wines at the local pub. She had a toddler now, so it was lovely to meet him and go for ice cream on the seafront on another day.

One night, Jeanette picked me up and we went over to Celina’s place for dinner. I was impressed to learn that Jeanette had started a successful business of her own.

The garden wedding itself was held on a bright sunny day. It started in a beautiful Apex shaped church and ended in dancing, party crashers and a bit too much wine.

It was great to see Geoff and Genevieve there, who now had two boys, and catch up with the groom, Ben, and meet his family. My personal favourite touch were the table centres that were formerly grandmother’s teacups.

I left the day after the wedding to catch the bus to Seattle and an internal flight to visit my bestie in her hometown of Nebraska for 4th July. I had never been to an Independence Day celebration and was very much looking forward to the experience.

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Australia vs New Zealand

There is a long-standing rivalry between Australia and New Zealand that I am sure goes deeper than if you play AFL or Rugby.

The first time I visited Auckland, I couldn’t help but see similarities between Viaduct Harbour and Sydney Harbour. Both cities also have tall viewing towers and a park called the Domain. I thought Auckland was basically Sydney, about 20 years ago.

Many New Zealanders actually come to Sydney to work for a while, and it was through these people that I learnt what Pinky bars were and discovered the differences in our accents.

Of course, you should never compare countries, but it’s human nature to do so.

They have kiwi’s and we have kangaroos. We have the better beaches, but they have the better snow. Historically, the New Zealander relationship with their native culture- the Maori’s- has been much more progressive than our relationship with the Aboriginals. Part of the New Zealand national anthem is sung in Maori and the haka is performed before rugby games.

They have Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and we have Hunter Valley Semillon. We have desert and they have glaciers. Australia was a well-known filming destination for movies such as The Matrix, but it seems like New Zealand has now cornered the market with productions like The Hobbit.

Australians are often accused for taking credit for New Zealand talent, such as Crowded House and Russell Crowe; but can we help it if global perception naturally attributes these to Australia?

After recently exploring more of New Zealand, I have fallen in love with the city of windy Wellington and the small town of Akaroa. Driving around the South Island, I was struck by the natural beauty of the country, and of the west coast in particular which reminded me so much of the west coast of Canada.

I would love to go back and explore Milford Sound and Mt Cook.

I hope that the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is just skin deep. Personally, I like both countries and can see the advantages of each culture. Isn’t it time we all just got along?

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It’s an English Thing

Whenever somebody asks me where I am from, I always pause to answer.

I was born in Weymouth, England to an English father and a Sri Lankan mother. We lived in and out of England for the first few years of my life, I went to pre-school there, and then we moved to Australia where I grew up in Berry, NSW and was brought up as an Australian.

However, my father never really lost his accent (I still pronounce garage differently to everyone I know), I received a UK passport at birth and have spent a few trips, including a gap year, back in England.

My grandmother never left Weymouth and I always loved going back to visit her. The green rolling hillsides, the little wishing well behind her house and the thatched rooved cottages. The typical English seafront, the rocky beach and the harbour filled with fishing boats. The gorgeous Dorset countryside of quirky towns, white cliffs plunging into the blue Channel and walks through fields picking blackberries along the way.

I also love the city of London. Red telephone boxes, double decker buses, Big Ben, the tube and my favourite Tower of London. I love the parks, the palaces, the plays and the feeling of being at the centre of the world when you walk down Oxford St. I like mixing with the hip crowd at Covent Garden, standing on the edge of Greenwich Mean Time and imagining what it would be like to live inside the houses of Notting Hill. I enjoy seeing the gold encrusted Buckingham Palace gates, Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square and the bustling Piccadilly Circus. It’s also fun meeting all your Australian mates in a London pub as they are living there temporarily too.

So of course, I am Australia, but I also identify with all things English.

I was brought up on Sooty and Sweep, Noddy and Blue Peter on the TV, Punch and Judy shows at the sands and reading Beatrix Potter and Rupert at bedtime. I enjoyed eating treats from grandma like Hula Hoops, Hob Nobs and Quality Streets.

It’s always fun to go shopping at Boots, Marks and Spencers, H&M and window shopping at Harrods. I love drinking at one of the many great traditional English pubs with the same names in different places like The Golden Lion, The Red Lion, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms; and running to get into a nightclub before lock out. I have seen people being out on the pull for a snog, have worn a thong on my bottom instead of my feet and flitted off to Europe for a long weekend to escape the long dark winters.

The English culture is not so different to ours which makes it easy to relate to and it’s those little details that help strike up a conversation with a visiting Brit come to Australia to escape the bad weather for a time.

So, I guess I’m not English, as you are from where you grow up. But it is nice to know that I have the experience and knowledge to morph into an English person if needs be.

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It’s all in the attitude

Recent happenings have made me think about the great Aussie attitude of making a positive out of a negative.

We are generally known as a friendly, easy going bunch. No worries, she’ll be right, throw another shrimp on the barbie and all that.

When the elements, the world and people conspire against us, we keep battling and promote the good that comes out of these events.

Bush fires are raging away, but the fire fighters rescued a koala.

Terror attack resulting in racial fear on public transport, it’s all good, #illlridewithyou.

One-punch attacks after too many drinks, don’t worry, we have lock-out laws now.

Perhaps it’s all that sunshine and Vitamin D that makes us a positive nation that just gets on with it. We are known worldwide for our beautiful beaches after all.

Australia is also a multicultural country with us all having been immigrants at some point (unless you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander of course). We may not all be culturally integrated, but we are all from somewhere else.

Aussies themselves are slated as hard drinkers. Most public holidays are centred on public drinking, like we needed an excuse to have a beer at the pub anyway?! Melbourne even has a public holiday dedicated to gambling and drinking.

This year I plan to try to live the Aussie attitude to the fullest and turn all negatives into positives, but is that realistic? Maybe sometimes things are just bad?

The fact that we are affected by global warming is a reality.

Racial tensions in our society do exist.

Public violence due to drinking happens.

But what are you going to do about it?

I pledge to reduce, reuse and recycle more, never judge a person by their ethnicity as always and keep my drinking to a manageable level as much as possible; which is about as close to new year’s resolutions as I have ever gotten!

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The NEW Amazing Race Australia

The new Amazing Race Australia premiered last month and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this season.

As you know, I am a fan of the American Amazing Race. I love the travel around different countries in the world- seeing places I have been to and places I would like to go. I also like watching the silly contestants not even knowing how to pronounce the name of a country, let alone where it is.

I actually wanted to enter in the Amazing Race Australia myself, but was told by my peers that they would never let me in as I had travelled too much. It’s true that naïve travellers make the show.

This season on Amazing Race Australia, they are pitting Australian teams against New Zealand teams in an age old grudge match between us and them. The series even opened with a tug of war between the two countries. I wonder if the rest of the world is aware of this country rivalry?

I thought it was good that they went to Christchurch in New Zealand as the city has been devastated by earthquakes and is going through recovery and revitalisation. Thay are also going to really cool places like Africa and Russia.

But I thought that the sheep challenge in New Zealand, the Thai massage in Thailand and the Russian dancing in Russia were all a bit cliché. And making a fire as one of the challenges is very Survivor.

I like the funny Australian colloquialisms like “shot at the title”, “aura faffery” and “team Lorna Jane”. I wonder if watchers around the rest of the world will get them?

We are half way through, and the teams are continuing to make several rookie mistakes:

  • Checking in luggage
  • Not reading the whole clue
  • Giving up too early
  • Not buying a map
  • Helping other teams
  • Not waking up on time
  • Using an express pass too early and before giving away your second express pass
  • Being at the wrong bus terminal
  • Running past the clue box
  • Fighting with your team mate
  • Not finding the clue, not reading the clue, missing something really simple and then not back tracking straight away to fix it.

Tiredness also seemed to be getting to the contestants in the very early days by episode two.

My wish pick  just for pure niceness alone are the Foster Parents- Cat and Jesse. I don’t think anyone deserves to win more.

However, I suspect the winners will be Team Jesus- Dan and Ryan- they may not be the physically strongest team like Best Mates- John and Murray- but they are definitely smarter. Team Jesus are also cool under pressure making them the team to beat, but it could be a close battle towards the end as Best Mates are very competitive.

A final thought- you can never pick your cab drivers and sometimes, that’s all the difference between winning and losing in the final leg.

Stay tuned…

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The NEW Bachelor Australia

The new Bachelor Australia aired this month and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the franchise.

As you know, I am a fan of the American Bachelor and I also enjoy watching The Bachelorette. The show itself has a shocking success rate for long term relationships- after a combined 28 seasons of the two shows, the result has been three marriages and a five year relationship which is now over.

The Bachelors tend to go for the easy girl over the challenging one, so perhaps that’s why these matches don’t last. The Bachelorettes are easily fooled and distracted by the players. The Bachelor Pad spin off was also short lived, only lasting three seasons, when shock horror- people chose money over love and were quite happy to lie about it in the process.

Sometimes it seems that the women don’t care who they marry, they just want to get hitched and have children. Just once, I would like to see one of them say, “Actually I won’t accept your rose because I’m just not attracted to you.” Inevitably, in a house of 25 women, not everyone’s personalities are going to mesh and they become masters of confrontation and isolation of the threatener.

Most of the contestants seem to have more luck finding love with other jilted potentials outside of the show at social events connected to the show.

The Bachelor Australia franchise is not nearly as entertaining as the American version. Perhaps because America has a larger population of desperate women whose one mission in life appears to be married with children by the age of 22? Or maybe Australian women are just not as competitive with each other and therefore not as entertaining to watch?

So why do I keep watching this show? It is pure cringe-worthy entertainment. Coming from a place of someone who is married, it is easy to criticise what the girls and guys do. But if truth be told, I have a dating past as well, so can also relate to what the contestants go through.

For what, it’s worth, here are my notes on the new Bachelor Australia:

  • A white rose- good on ya Channel Ten- so not at interesting as you think
  • “I don’t need a man”- so why are you on the show?
  • I have never seen so many high splits on dresses in one room
  • Most overused expressions by the women- “Game on” and by Blake- “Likewise”
  • Talk about manufactured dates. Anyone can fall in lust when you have a dream date with the dream dress and they ply you with so much alcohol that you are absolutely hammered before desert. P.S Being a front runner at the start means you usually lose
  • A wedding photo shoot as the first group date- how original and not obvious at all (insert sarcasm here)
  • At least the losers had enough self-respect not to cry
  • Laurina is playing it perfectly- high maintenance and hard to get and the other girls are so clueless that they don’t even get that is what she is doing. She was obviously picked to create controversy and how good is calling yourself an entrepreneur when you’re actually a model? (Yes I am jealous that she is in the one profession where women earn more than men and get paid to look beautiful)
  • I like Chantal, closely followed by Lisa- they seem nice and normal. Will Blake see the light and chose one of them? Will one of them fall in love with him? And more importantly, will their love last in the real world? Only time will tell.

And that’s a wrap!

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Travel rememberings

My parents had been married and travelling for 10 years before they had me. They travelled to Afghanistan before there was a Lonely Planet guide for the country, went to the Black Forest in Germany when the Berlin Wall was still up and got my mother’s engagement ring in Turkey. Or was it that I was conceived in Turkey? Or maybe that was the second time they went back?

Either way, they travelled A LOT. So much so that even they have trouble remembering where they have been in what year, let alone wether I was there or not. This was also before the time of digital cameras with locality devices recording every time, date, place and memory.

Therefore, it can be hard to piece together where I have travelled before my own memory kicks in, but I will endeavour to give it a go. A lot of the stories are snippets of memories that have been retold to me over the years or photo’s that have been unearthed and referenced.

When I was three weeks old, my parents left me with my grandparents in England and travelled to Corsica. Apparently it was a pre-arranged trip- not child abandonment as it would be labelled today. Perhaps due to this trip, or maybe because of it, I was henceforth deemed old enough and dragged on every trip that came after.

There were trips to England where my father lived, Australia where my mother lived, Canada where my uncle lived and Sri Lanka where a lot of mum’s family lived. It was a time when maybe they were trying to decide where to live or maybe they were making the most of the flexibility they had until I started primary school at age five.

My parents remember me riding a red scooter down the driveway at my grandparents’ house in Weymouth.

My mum remembers that all I ate on the European combi van tour when I was six months old was Boots powdered baby food.

We went to Yugoslavia before it was renamed.

There are pictures of me holding natural cotton flowers on a hill in Scotland.

My dad remembers going on the Matterhorn roller coaster with me as a toddler in Disneyland.

There is a picture of me sitting on Chacmool at Chichen Itza with a nappy on.

There is a photo of me as a baby with my face full of chocolate in high chair in Maui.

The two places that I am sure we never went to are China and Japan as they have never held any interest for my parents.

Calling any friends or family who can fill in the blanks to please comment below!

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