Thursday, August 30, 2007

Corowa and Rutherglen weekend

At the end of August 07, my boyfriend Russell and I used our weekend voucher to spend two nights at Bindaree Motel and Caravan Park, Corowa. We bought the voucher several months ago from getaway travel and included a limo winery tour, two nights accomodation, a free main course for each of us and continental breakfast for each morning.
We arrived in Corowa at approximately 12, drove into town and picked up lunch from a place on the main street called Shorty's. We headed back out of town to find out motel. We pulled into the drive way and were greeted by a small dog, before we made our way into reception. The receptionist was friendly, telling us where and when our limo would be arriving for the tour.
We drove up the driveway to our room, admiring the landscaped gardens on the way. The room consisted of an open space dining, fully equipped kitchen that included a stove, and lounge. The bath room was a comfortable size, the main bedroom had a double bed, while the second bedroom had enough room for three people to sleep.
I don't exactly recall every winery we went to, but I'll list the ones I remember, and add others as I go.
After lunch, the limousine arrived, and along with two other couples, we began our tour of the local wineries.
First stop was St Leonard's, where the first vine was planted in 1860, we tried several different types, including the Muscadello. The next winery was All Saints, the sister winery of St Leonard's, was established in 1864 and it's design is based on the Castle of May, complete with turrets and tower. Here we tried the Duriff, a heavy red wine with tannins in it, which gives a furry feeling on the tongue. After that plus a couple of other tastes, we wondered over to the Indigo Cheese Factory, where we tried some delicious cheeses, including a brie, blue vein, marinated and cheddar. While we didn't experience them, I would think it would also be worth while seeing the keg factory, Chinese dormitory and The Terrace.
Next stop was Chambers Rosewood, which had a few friendly cattle dogs lazing about. Here we tried a couple of the Tokays, which had an interesting taste, but weren't really for me. I tried the Muscadello as well, but still preferred St Leonard's.
After that the limo took us to Pfeifer's, the cattle dogs following us out, barking.
At Pfeifer's, I tried another Muscadello, and a Rose. Neither were really to my tastes, however, and Russell and I decided that since the first Muscadello from St Leonard's was still our favourite, we would go back the next morning to buy a bottle.
The limo dropped us off at the motel, and we went inside and had a sleep, before having a dinner of Chinese that we had picked up from Shorty's diner that afternoon. Then we settled in to watch a movie on TV.
The next morning, we woke late, and went for a drive around the motel park down to the river, before driving to Rutherglen, Yarrawonga and exploring some of the Murray River. We hung around Yarrawonga for a bit, and had lunch from a small take away. I decided to try a battered mussel, being I'd never had one before, and found it quite delicious.
That night, we dined at the restaurant that was part of the voucher. While the food was nice enough, and I recommend the prawns with avocado and chilli sauce, it wasn't quite filling enough, so when we finished we went across the road to a small Chinese shop. The prices here were incredibly cheap, and the food delicious. For those on a budget, I would recommend the Chinese restaurant next door to the Globe pub, you could feed the whole family for very little.
The next day we drove to Saint Leonard's winery to pick up two bottles of the 2006 Muscadello, for around $14 a bottle members price. This wine is a sweet white, with a tangy, grapey, fruitful flavour that can be enjoyed alone or with a fruit salad or Pavlova.
Next we drove to Rutherglen, where I requested we stop at Rutherglen Estates for more tasting. I tasted the Sangipop, which is berry flavoured, with a fizzy twist and a hint of sweetness. I bought a 375ml bottle of this to add to the other two bottles. While at the Estates, I also tried a Rose and a Muscadello, but declined to buy them.
Following this, we explored the small township of Rutherglen, which is a charming country town.
For lunch we went to a small takeaway in Wangaratta, and explored a little around there. There's a lovely park where we enjoyed lunch.
We then drove to Glenrowan, famous for being Ned Kelly's last stand off. The shops were interesting, and due to time constraints and fact we didn't arrive there until mid-afternoon, we didn't get to experience all that Glenrowan had to offer - but hopefully a trip there will inspire a future post!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Broome Holiday

This is the blog of my 21st birthday trip to Broome.

We chose to stay at Vibe on Goulburn Street, Sydney, before setting off to Broome the next day. While the motel was lovely, getting breakfast served took a bit longer than we anticipated.

Our shuttle bus arrived promptly at 8.30am, although we feared we had missed it after watching another shuttle bus pause in front of our motel before disappearing up the street. When our shuttle bus came, we loaded out suitcases and scored the front seat. The driver and his bus, unlike several other shuttle buses that could be more aptly named death traps, got us to the airport in under the anticipated half an hour.

We checked in quickly and made our way to the gate, and it wasn’t long before we boarded the plane. Finding our seats, a kind gentleman helped me to stow my beloved laptop, and before we knew it the safety talk had started.

The flight was delightfully smooth, and allowed me to read without upsetting my stomach. After a lovely lunch of chicken stir fry (though the braised lamb and veggies also smelt yummy), bread roll and mint chocolate, we experienced a touch of turbulence. Not long after, the air hostesses handed out delicious chocolate ice creams, along with tea and coffee.


Weds 1st

The plane began to descend, and we could see the dry red earth, with large white salt lakes here and there. After a fairly smooth landing in Broome, we walked off the plane into a blast of Kimberley heat. Our luggage took a while to come off the carousel, and then we ventured back out into the stifling heat. Excited, we made our way to the taxi, talking of what we would do once we got to the resort. After half an hour, one large Maxi Taxi arrived and took half a dozen, leaving a dozen including us. Another half an hour followed, and we rang the resort to enquire about our booked taxi. Not long after, a taxi arrived calling out our name. Finally, we’d be getting in out of the heat! We agreed with one other couple to share a taxi, but when the driver mentioned this to dispatch, we were informed the idea of all of us sharing was “ridiculous!” The two that had agreed to come with us, along with another couple going to the same place as the other couple, got to take our taxi. We had already placed our luggage in his car but were told we were getting offloaded. We removed our heavy luggage, by this time tired and hot and very annoyed. Out of twelve people, four remained, reminding me of reality TV shows where people are voted off, however in this case, it would’ve been a blessing to get voted off.

We rang the resort again, and after another half an hour, another Maxi Taxi arrived. The two girls asked if the four of us could share, but the driver declined, saying it was too confusing. Mum and I climbed into the bus, feeling sorry for the girls left waiting, but so pleased to get out of there.

We arrived at the Habitat Resort, which is located on Port Drive, near the Golf course. While waiting for Mum to check in, I checked out our surrounds. Cabins were surrounded by tree filled gardens, and I smiled at the sight of a butterfly fluttering about, before being frightened by what I thought was a black and orange wasp. I figured out later it was probably a sand fly, which is nearly as unpleasant as a wasp.

We made our way along the paths, looking for our unit. We opened the door to a room cooled by fans, large and airy, with the lounge, dining and kitchenette. A small hallway with a large wardrobe was on one side, and the door to the bathroom on the other, and the bedroom in the back. The bedroom had it’s own exit and verandah, which looked out onto bush land.

Once we had settled in and had a break, we took a walk to the Golf Club, debating as to whether we should go see the Staircase to the Moon from there. The view was amazing, but we decided since dinner there would require us cooking it ourselves, going to Town Beach might be a better option to see the Staircase to the Moon.

Staircase to the Moon is a phenomenon that occurs a few days each month, where the full moon reflects across the water, giving the illusion of a sparkling stair case.

We called a taxi, a different company this time, and the friendly driver took us to Town Beach, where market stalls had already been set up.

Walking around the stalls, we admired pretty soaps and candles, hand made jewellery and clothing, Mango wine, art and photography. A wide range of food was also to be had, including Thai and Indonesian delicacies, however we chose to settle for a spicy Croc Dog, a sausage made of spices and Crocodile meat with Mango Salsa. While delicious at first, it did prove a little too spicy by the time I finished it.

After this, we bought hand made ice cream, which were yummy and cooling on the tongue after the spicy Croc dogs.

After wandering a bit, we sat down to await the moon. Eventually it rose, and like everyone else, we rushed down the beach to take a photo, but soon realized the tide had gone out and it wasn’t the spectacular image we had expected. I realized not far away was a jetty, and we headed over there, hoping we’d be able to see it from there.

From the jetty, we saw what all the fuss was about, as the moon climbed higher into the sky.

The night air was much colder than we had expected, and we had not dressed warmly for the sudden temperature to drop. After several minutes watching the moon, we decided to go find the taxi we had booked, and head home.

Still in New South Wales time, we were exhausted by 10pm Western Australian time, and went straight to bed.

Thursday 2nd

The following morning, we both awoke at 6.30am, however I chose to go back to sleep until 8.30. After a breakfast in the room, we checked out the pools and some of the resort grounds, before spending a leisurely afternoon reading, and adjusting to Broome time.

That afternoon, we caught the bus into Broome. While waiting for the bus, we had the pleasure of seeing a small goanna in the driveway. We spent some time wondering around the Boulevard shops, before getting some fish and chips, then heading home in a taxi, we went to bed early after some tv watching.

Friday 3rd

We had lunch at the adeptly named Shady Lane cafe. As always in Broome, lunch took a while to be served, but was enjoyable once we received it.

We went back to the Habitat early, having a quick dip in the pool, which was a little too cold for my tastes. That night, we went on the Astro Tour – which was worth every cent! Thoroughly enjoyed learning about the planets, how the earth moves through the stars, and locating stars. I bought the book and a cardboard guide of the stars – now to get out of Melbourne’s fog for stargazing!

Arriving home from the Astro Tour, imagine our surprise and excitement at seeing we had a friendly visitor on our porch, a tree frog, dining on insects attracted by our porch light.

Saturday 4th

The next day, we went on the bus to Cable Beach and walked along it for a couple of hours. The water was quite warm, and we relished the view so much, it wasn’t until we looked back we realized how far we had walked. Lunch was thoroughly enjoyable at Zander’s, the view was stunning over Cable Beach and the food delectable. After this, we caught the bus back to the main part of the town, and went shopping again.

Sunday 5th

The fifth consisted of moving out of the Habitat, and relocating to the Mangrove motel. At first, I wasn’t keen on the idea of moving, but am glad now we did since we got to experience both the bush and ocean views. Once we settled into our room on the second floor, enjoyed the view of the pool and ocean, we headed out on the town once again.

We had a counter lunch at a pub near Roebuck Bay, before looking in Willie Creek Pearl Farm shop, and booked a tour of the farm for Tuesday.

This was followed by more shopping and going to the Simpsons movie, before stopping at Matso’s Brewery

We bought a Monsoonal Blonde beer – which I can highly recommend.

Monday 6th

Today was an especially big day, being it was my 21st birthday! We started out with a continental breakfast at Charters at the Mangrove. We were then picked up to begin our tour of the town, which was fascinating. Beginning in Chinatown, we learnt some of the history of the town, visiting Linney’s Pearl shop, saw a short film at Sun Pictures which is the world’s oldest working open air cinema. This was followed by a drive through Old Broome to take in the sights of the old pearling masters’ homes, the site of Broome’s One Day War at Town Beach, Roebuck Bay. A stopover at Matso’s Brewery, where we tested out Ginger beer and the Hit the Toad Premim Lager (complimentary), and checked out the art gallery next door, which is well worth a look. We then visited the Japanese cemetery, Broome port which is the base of today’s pearling vessels, before driving past Riddell beach and the Broome racecourse. This was followed by a leisurely walk down the path to Gantheaume Point, climbing down over a rocky path to admire Anastasia’s Pool, the red cliffs and plaster casts of the dinosaur footprints. Anastasia’s Pool is an interesting story of the devotion Anastasia’s husband had for her, as he used to carry his beloved down over the rocks to soak in the pool to sooth her painful Arthritis.

After walking back up the path, we drove to Cable Beach, world famous for it’s camel rides, where the group split up for the camel riders and those who had declined a camel ride, who would instead watch the sunset while enjoying a drink or two.

Mum and I had decided to ride a camel, and waited patiently in line to get on. We were given the first camel, meaning we would be the last to climb aboard.

As we watched the others get on, and watched them lean back to allow the camel to stand, our nerves started to grow. One of the camels was rather vocal, and as a young girl climbed into the saddle, he started to get up, frightening her. This concerned Mum, and me especially as I’d be the one to climb onto the saddle second so if our camel did the same, I’d be likely to fall off.

The owner of the camels said the camel had arthritis, and that was why he was vocal and had gotten up so quickly, as it was painful for him.

This didn’t make us feel much better, but I’m pleased to say our camel was very well behaved. His name was Banjo, and he was about 35 years old. The ride, once we had gotten up, was incredible, and the sunset was worth every penny we’d spent. Before we knew it, the camel was sitting down and the bus driver was picking us up to take up back to town.

We dressed up to the nines and went downstairs to the Tides for dinner. Having chosen very summery clothes, we soon realized our mistake as the restaurant is outside, and we were seated at a plastic table overlooking the Mangroves. Once the sun drops in Broome, the nights get quite chilly. We ordered drinks and the Barramundi, and settled into wait. Sadly, the alcoholic drink I had was not as enjoyable as I hoped, however the Barramundi was delicious. A chocolate tart for dessert and a cocktail each finished off the night. Again, I wasn’t overly impressed with how the drinks were made, but I enjoyed the chocolate tart.


We awoke early in the morning to go on the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, where we learnt about how oysters are bred and raised and how pearls are made. Coffee and biccies were followed by a cruise on Willie creek was filled with more information about oysters, and we saw their resident crocodile.

In the afternoon, we waded ankle deep into the ocean at Cable Beach to get into a small dinghy, which took us out to the Pearl Lugger ( Usually, we would have had a town tour but due to unforeseen circumstances, we were offered a free drink and extra time on the boat. Here I discovered I really enjoy lime and lemon vodka twists – and it was utter bliss laying back in the sun, a cool drink in one hand and the camera in the other.

We took photos of the sun as it set, and then climbed back into the dinghy to get back to shore. I was a little concerned the water would be cold, but to my great surprise, it was an enjoyable temperature.

We were dropped back at the Mangrove, then we took what we hoped would be a short stroll to the Black Pearl Restaurant. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong direction and we ended up walking a km or two. When we finally got there, I enjoyed garlic prawns and another Vodka Twist, before we caught the Broome Nightrider bus home. Because of the route the bus was on, we ended up with a tour of the town at night, before getting dropped off home to pack.

The next day, we wondered around the town and I got a lovely hair cut by a forth year apprentice at Shaggazs - before we boarded the plane for Sydney. We stayed at the Vibe again, which was nice apart from the rather snaky girl on the front desk. After a 5 hour plane trip, nastiness was the last thing we needed, and we were glad to go to bed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My name is Stef, I'm a student by correspondence, an avid user of the web and an aspiring writer. I'm keen on learning all kinds of writing, including travel writing, which is why I've started this blog.

Please check out my other blog:
- on writing

Copyright Stefanie Flowers 2007