Posts Tagged ‘weekend escape’

Barossa Valley, South Australia

13/01/2013

A wine weekend escape is fabulous – and intensely hot in the summer! Recently when my fella and I travelled to the Barossa Valley in South Australia,  my romantic idea of cycling through the vineyards faded quickly after our one (and only) trip down the road from our hotel! Suddenly biking and drinking in temperatures reaching around 40 degrees (Celsius – so roughly 100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit) didn’t seem wise much less romantic. An air conditioned vehicle became our chariot. Apart from the scorching sun, the area is stunning – which is hopefully evidenced by some of the photos below. Everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful and seemed passionate about what they do. I loved hearing about each winery’s history, the stories and its people. One of my favourite tidbits came out of Yalumba, who honour an individual who has made a significant contribution by acknowledging them on the label of each release of their renowned Cabernet Sauvigon / Shiraz blend, The Signature. That wouldn’t be a bad little mantelpiece.

The beautiful backdrop and pleasant people enhanced the experience but it was mainly about discovering divine wine and food. Some of our favourite spots included Villa Tinto, Langmeil, Charles Melton and Artisans of the Barossa (collective of seven small wineries under one roof). For dinner, I highly recommend 1918 for the atmosphere, lovely service and fresh food, prepared with care and thoughtfulness. Lunch at Maggie Beer is a treat – look out for the turtles in the pond out back. If you need to have a short break from wine, Barossa Valley Brewing makes for a decent retreat.

Another amazing Australian experience – here’s a short highlight reel:

Vineyard

IMG_20121222_153838

Everything in the Barossa seems to be made with love.

Yalumba

Beautiful setting at Yalumba

View from Novotel

View from private balcony at Novotel

Cellar door at Charles Melton

View from Charles Melton cellar door

Turtles at Maggie Beer

Lunch with the turtles at Maggie Beer

 

Advertisements

A lake, a cave and a world away

01/07/2012

The beauty of the Blue Mountains never gets old, even after several visits. Seeking a peaceful weekend escape that wasn’t too hard on the budget and close enough to Sydney, Matt and I booked a secluded studio that overlooked Lake Lyell, near Rydal (past the main hubs of Katoomba and Leura). We arrived in the evening – perfect timing for spotting nocturnal wildlife, which we were fortunate enough to pick out a wombat who stood still long enough for us to take a picture. Alas, I did not get the night setting on my camera on before the little fella wandered off into the darkness. Not a rare sighting perhaps but exciting nonetheless as neither of us had seen one in the wild – especially significant for Matt who was born and raised in Australia. Showing up in the dark also meant being able to take in one of my favourite parts of travelling to the countryside – the promise of an unpolluted sky that’s packed with stars. I am easily transfixed by the sight.

The following day was dreary but even under the blanket of grey, the scenery was refreshing. However, when it’s raining in the Blue Mountains it can be a bit tough to enjoy outdoor activities, which is one of the draws of visiting the area. One popular indoor attraction around those parts are the Jenolan Caves, which I never made a point of visiting simply because I didn’t think it would be very interesting. The rainy Saturday finally made me ‘cave’ in (terrible pun which was definitely intended) and I’m glad I did. Much to my surprise the caves were quite beautiful and fascinating. The mere history of the caves is enough to wrap your head around. In one of the photos below (third from bottom) is the Angel’s Wing and while the picture might not do this wonder much justice, consider that the wing grew at a rate of 1cm in 100 years. At least this is what the tour guide claimed. It’s not an exact science or formula but does illustrate that it took this formation a really, really long time to grow. A bit mind-boggling actually.

As the rain limited our excursion options, the rest of the weekend was filled with indulging in food, wine, beer and a cosy studio warmed by a log fire. Not entirely a bad way to spend a chilly winter weekend in the Blue Mountains. Before we knew it, the weekend was coming to a close and we were already on the road back to Sydney. A short escape but thanks to a lake, a cave, and a wombat, we felt like we were a world away. Here are some of my favourite shots, which kind of make me wish I could be transported right back.

Lake Lyelle - view from studio

Alpacas strolling by

(Above) Our neighbours out for a stroll

Lake Lyell
Temple of Baal - Jenolan Caves
Angel's Wing in Temple of Baal

Temple of Baal - Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves