It’s been several years since we visited the village of Wollombi, so it was high time that we made a day trip up from Umina. The hour-long drive along the Central Coast hinterland back-roads is always a pretty one, and Bridie was up for it, keeping her nose out the window for most of the trip.
At the end of it was Wollombi Wines, a little winery selling some quaffable wines. The light shiraz was particularly tasty. The winery were also hosting the Sculpture in the Vineyards exhibition.
It’s an exhibition that’s exclusive to the wineries around Wollombi, and there were some interesting entries.
Bridie however, didn’t know quite what to think of it all.
Last winery stop in Broke at Glenguin Estate. This set up is a bit posher, but we still had the viticulturalist conduct our wine tasting.
They do produce a great drop of red, but no cows to mow down the grass here.
Wasn’t much at Milbrodale, only a couple of shacks. They’re picturesque in their own way.
Up the road from Broke in Milbrodale, we visited Baiame Cave. The cave is a rock overhang at the end of the valley, on a private farm.
Baiame is the creator in these parts.
Befitting a creator, his painting was a good four metres wide.
It was only the second time I’ve seen rock art in the Blue Mountains area. I remember seeing some hand stencils on the other side of the mountains near Newnes, but this was much grander.
A few weeks ago we spent a weekend in the Hunter Valley to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary (my, doesn’t three years fly). Instead of visiting the same old wineries, we decided to branch out and explore the wineries near the town of Broke. Even though these towns was only 20-odd kilometres, they were worlds apart.
Broke was a sleepy backwater compared to the tourist hub of Pokolbin with nary a car in sight – perhaps how Pokolbin was before it became a wine mecca. The wineries we visited in Broke were the kind that we liked – small places producing great drops, with the cellar door being manned by the winemakers themselves. They were always happy to explain away their wines and methods. Mount Broke Wines let cattle graze among the vines in the winter months to keep the weeds down.
As in all the previous times that we’d camped, the rain eventually caught up with us. It started raining on our last night at Riverwood Downs, and was still going when we woke up the next morning. That meant not much of a breakfast and another wet pack-up. Soon we were on the road back to Sydney. What a contrast from the hot and dry landscape of the previous few days!
One lady who was happy was Bridie. She relishes getting her nose out of the window no matter what the weather.
She really enjoyed having the wind in her
We took a drive to the nearby town of Dungog, about 25km away. To get there we had to navigate the gravel ‘main road’ over the forested Monkerai Nature Reserve.
And then across the pastured valley leading up to the town.
Dungog seemed to be the hub of the district, with the usual amenities, and the local high school too. We were there at 3pm when school ended for the day, and the line of school buses were endless. There was even one to Monkerai, near Riverwood Downs.
Back on the main street, there was the usual cross-road cairn and selection of quaint pubs. This pub was located, as you would expect, opposite the oldest bank in town. Unusually, in this age of bank conversions, it was still a bank.
The arts/crafts/antiques set had also arrived, but hadn’t totally dominated the main street like in other towns.
And there was an assortment of cute cottages about too.
Dungog was perhaps how the Hunter Valley used to be before viticulture took over; laid-back, quiet but still with a good supermarket and a few cosmopolitan cafes (the one we went to for lunch served a good vegetarian selection and was dog-friendly).
Cattle graze across much of the district, so it wasn’t long until we passed some cattle on the side of the road.
We had to stop and eyeball each other.
It’s fascinating the wide variety of these cows, despite the fact that they are probably all the same breed.
I took the photos from the safety of the car, as some of the cows looked rather mean.
When the sun went down, the temperature dropped to more comfortable levels, and the wildlife made an appearance. First up were the water birds who had their dinner on the lawn.
Then the almost-full moon appeared, and quickly rose up high.
At bed-time, the moon was very bright indeed.
It wasn’t until about 2 or 3am that the marsupial wildlife made an appearance. There were possums scouring the campsite, looking for food and mischief. One even had the gall to climb on to the fly! We were cleverer though. All our food was locked up tight in the car.
Let’s have a look at the spoils.
This boy found some sea plants (looks like a type of kelp) and what might be a small squid.
This boy found some scallop shells, sea lilies stems, and pipi like shellfish, all in one rock.
Hubby found three different types of shellfish, plus a stone that has been polished and moved by a glacier.
It is hard to imagine that the Hunter Valley had everything happen to it at one stage or other, but it has. It’s been under water, covered with glacial ice, and by ash and lava from nearby volcanoes.
Next, we will have a look at the remnants of an old volcano.