Monday, March 2nd, 2009 - Friday, March 6th, 2009
Singleton/Hunter Valley, New South Wales
When people think of Australia, Singleton is not often the town that comes to mind, but it was actually a nice place to visit. We never would have seen it otherwise, but my good friends from Edinburgh, Renee and Kempy have settled down there and had a free bedroom for us to crash in. Who could say no to that? It was so nice after the camping in Katoomba and the unpleasant hostel experience in Sydney to go and stay in an actual house with fresh, real, non-travel towels, a tv, a Wii nintendo and all the other luxuries we had at home.
For those of you who don't know, the Hunter Valley is one of the big wine regions in Australia. Many people cruise around the area and go visiting/sampling at all the wineries. They have notices in all of the wineries warning about not being able to serve you if you are intoxicated. I think it must happen a lot. But they were happy to give you a sample of whatever you wanted, it was amazing! And we even had some cheese and bread sampling too. We learned the difference between dry, sweet and fruity wines (just because it's sweet does not necessarily mean that it's fruity). And dessert wines are terrible - that's what I learned, too sweet for me anyway. We tried some sparkling red wine and it was pretty delicious, you can even serve some red wines cold.... as crazy as that may sound to you, it's true. So we're becoming quite the connoisseurs. :)
Aside from being great hosts, Renee and Kempy chauffeured us around town and took us to see Newcastle, a great coastal town in New South Wales. Beautiful beach and waterfront. It would be a great city to live in, not too big and lots of beautiful scenery. And they also took us to Kempy's parents house in a town called Tea Gardens. It's mostly full or retired people who wanted to get away from Sydney in their later years, a nice quiet community on the river/waterfront. The river connects to the ocean so it's saltwater. And I saw my first real life dolphin there, just swimming into the harbour. Amazing!
Renee and Kempy also introduced us to some crazy Australian movies and tv shows and the local cuisine. We went 'yabbying', which involves setting nets to catch yabbies (crayfish-like creatures). We boiled them up and ate them for dinner along with lots of barbecued meat. Before you boil the yabbies you have to rip their bums out so that was kinda gross, but it's better that we don't eat that part of them. We learned that what we in Canada would call 'cocktail weiners' are referred to in Australia as 'little boys'.... but not when you order them over the
counter or you might get some funny looks. Also, fried eggs are delicious on pizza and burgers, Australians try to add eggs to whatever they can. Breakfast pizza is a must! And tim-tam slams are delcious (tim-tams are the popular chocolate cookie here and you eat opposite corners of the cookie then dunk it in your coffee and sip the coffee through the cookie. So bad for you, but delicious.
We came from Singleton/Tea Gardens well fed, better educated on things Australian and extremely comfortable. And we may even be going back if Kempy gets us a job pruning grape vines for his friend. We'll let you know. :)
On to Melbourne!
-Jenny and Tyler-