For Carol Anne: Bortoli Gardens in Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
My beloved has finally downloaded all his photographs from our recent trip to Dropbox, meaning I can finally choose my favourites! I confess this was a difficult task and it took me a while to whittle down the chosen few.
1. Agapanthus in the De Bortoli Gardens
We ate in the restaurant on our trip last year, when we were staying nearby in the Yarra Valley, and returned again this year with our friends. The countryside is heavenly and the vineyard’s gardens are lovely and you can picnic in the grounds, washed down with a bottle of their finest. However, the photo is about the flowers, not the location. Great clouds of Agapanthus are everywhere during the Australian summer, in gardens, growing wild on the side of the road. I was assured by some of our hosts that they’re easy to grow. I like the plants but my late mother loved them. It’s a great shame we didn’t have the opportunity to travel to Australia with my late parents. Mother would have known all the names of the flora and fauna. Of course, she’d have done a spot of research beforehand, but we’d have benefitted from her sharing her knowledge with us. This is not my area of expertiseI tool tand the Agapanthus is one of the few flowers I can readily identify.
2. Friends’ elder son
I took this photograph in the gardens of the Shadowfax Winery in Werribee, after we’d eaten with friends in the restaurant. This is their elder son who’s just turned eight. I have a huge soft spot for him, he’s a wonderfully energetic boy with a real aptitude for sport. He and his younger brother, who I also adore, pictured in 3. below had spent the morning at a wildlife sanctuary and, while we were enjoying lunch, the two played in sight in the restaurant’s gardens. Not all the vineyards have restaurants but those that do typically serve fantastic local produce, often grown alongside the vines.
3. Friends’ younger son
Here’s his younger brother getting strawberry – thank goodness it wasn’t chocolate – ice cream everywhere. Having lunched at De Bortoli in 1. above, we had promised the boys an ice cream at the nearby Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. You can’t tell it from his photo, but the younger one is fearless, he’ll have a go at anything. The boys also sampled some of the chocolate as there are plenty of freebies to tempt you to buy. According to my beloved, the dairy produce in Australia is superb. I have to take his word for it as I can no longer partake of dairy. He particularly commends the ice cream, milk and yoghurt.
4. Port Noalunga Beach
I took this photograph from the balcony of the hotel we stayed in for two days at Port Noalunga, in Onkaparinga, South Australia. It’s about 30km south of Adelaide CBD, formerly home to the Kaurna tribe, and is a popular holiday destination. I took this photo at the week-end which is why the beach is “busy.” I say that because so many of the beaches in Australia are deserted. This beach is a long expanse of golden sand with relative shallow water, ideal for kids to splash about in. We had a couple of strolls along the beach, just dipping our toes into the water. There were no shark sightings!
5. River Torrens Linear Park
This park was alongside our hotel and provided a shady spot for me regular jogs. It’s in the affluent north-east suburb of Walkerville, 4km from Adelaide CBD. We stayed here last year too and found it an ideal spot, surrounded by shops and plenty of dining options, within walking distance to downtown Adelaide. The park, one of a number of green spaces, is a popular haunt but particularly for joggers.
6. Hunting for Cherries
My beloved loves cherries and having found a map of cherry farms in the Adelaide Hills, he went looking for one down this very long track. We never found it despite following signs for the farm so he had to settle for some from the market rather than straight off the tree. I love how the trees grow over the road, providing shade and shelter. You can well imagine that if the road weren’t regularly maintained, it would quickly revert to bush.
This time we watched a number of Twenty20 matches live at the Oval, HCG and MCG, as well as plenty on the television. We supported the Melbourne Renegades who narrowly missed out on the semi-finals but who nonetheless played some scintillating cricket. The Adelaide Oval has a capacity of over 50,000 and also hosts Aussie Rules football and rugby matches. It is reckoned to be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds n the world and is just a short stroll from Adelaide CBD.
8. Apollo Bay
Last year we spent a couple of days in Apollo Bay but this year we just stopped for lunch on our way from Portland to Birregurra. This was deliberate as we both wanted to return to its Fish Shack on the beach where we both agreed we’d eaten our finest fish & chips. This time around I was tempted by the thought of lobster until I saw how large it was – enough to feed the 5,000 and more besides! Instead I ate squid and my beloved ate whiting under the watchful gaze of the gulls. You can now see what I mean about empty beached. Although overcast, it was warm enough to sit out but there were only a handful of people wandering along its seashore.
9. Seaford Beach
Many of the beaches in Australia are bordered by sand dunes and vegetation so that you don’t see the beach from the road unless you’re looking down on it as you descent a hill. This was my first view of Seaford Beach where we spent the last leg of our vacation. It was formerly the Karrum Karrum swamp, a source of food for the Bunurong tribe. It was drained in the early 20th century, initially for farming. It lies 36kms south-east of Melbourne CBD and en route to the Mornington Peninsula.
10. Montalto Vineyard Sculpture Park
I know what you’re thinking – another vineyard! In truth we visited only a handful and never partook in any of the tastings. This was recommended by our friends and we ate a fabulous meal in the café, rather than its fine dining restaurant, before strolling around its sculpture gardenThis is presumably what happens if you imbibe too freely, you end up in the flower beds.
11. Seaford Jetty at Sunset
I’m a sucker for sunsets (and sunrises). This is the only photograph taken by my beloved that made the cut. Yep, all the others were taken by me on my mini iPad. I love the reflection of the jetty in the sea and the apricot coloured sky. We both took a load of photos on the beach at sunset but I thought this was the best one.
12. Yet another deserted beach
This is lightening Beach on the Southern Ocean side of Mornington Peninsula. It’s a beautiful area but as you can see from the surf, the water’s full of rip tides which makes it unsuitable for bathing. I could have chosen photos from any number of beautiful beaches such as Safety, Shoreham, Flinders or Balnarring. There’s something very relaxing about watching water and I find the noise of crashing waves strangely soothing.
So, there you have them. My 12 favourite photographs from the trip which tend to be more about the memories from the day rather than the quality of the image.
(Header image: Sunset from balcony in Prahran)
As with my Australian diary from early last year, I’m running a week or so in arears largely because of the difficulties of downloading the accompanying photographs.
Christmas Eve was spent shopping for food, particularly once I found out the market in Prahran wouldn’t reopen until Wednesday! The queue for the fish stall snaked out of the market and was tightly controlled by security guards. Our purchases were modest compared to many who seemed to be buying enough fish to feed (literally) the five thousand. We purchased a dozen Tasmanian oysters for Christmas Eve. In addition, my beloved was seduced by a dozen plump pink prawns while I bought a fresh fat lobster tail for Christmas Day lunch. With a couple of sourdough loaves and plenty of green vegetables, we were good to go and the fridge was groaning with possibilities.
Later that day, jet lag caught up on my beloved, who retired for what we’ll call a very long power nap, while I went for a prowl round the neighbourhood to check out some of its more promising restaurants. Many wouldn’t reopen until 3 January but, thankfully, a number would be flinging open their doors on Boxing Day. After all, I didn’t want to spend the entire holiday cooking. Or did I?
Much later my beloved roused himself for a pre-dinner drink and I began the arduous task of preparing dinner. Some energetic shallot chopping was all that was required for the perfect Christmas Eve dinner. Six, small, plump, creamy, oysters apiece sprinkled with red wine vinegar and shallots, a slice of sourdough, a glass of champagne and a handful of ripe, ruby-red cherries – heaven.
Friends from home had arrived in Australia by way of Singapore on Christmas Eve, I joked on Facebook that I’d see them on the beach on Christmas Day. Christmas morning was glorious and we were out early, riding and runnng along the seashore. Afterwards, we stopped by a juice bar for a reviving shot and bumped into our friends. What were the odds of that happening? Our friends have two adorable boys who seemed totally unaffected by jeg lag, not so their parents.
Back at the flat I whipped up lobster spaghetti for lunch and we finished off the cherries. Despite the furnace-like heat, we went for a stroll to stretch our legs before retiring to the air-conditioned cooled flat, a night in front of the television and those plump prawns beckoned.
Our days settled into a rythmn of exercise in the morning, lunch out, sometimes with our friends, some work in the afternoon and then evenings spent locally or watching Twenty20 cricket, either live or on the television. The produce from the market was just too inviting to pass up and I probably threw together more meals than I intended. There are so many organic and healthfood shops in Australia, even in the smallest of towns, and all have a fantastic array of produce ideal for my regime, so cooking was a real pleasure.
Enough of food! Our time was spent exploring pastures new and visiting old favourites. We explored the Dandedong Hills perfect for a spot of hill climbing, as well as the gently undulating coastal route from St Kilda. As you know, I love a spot of pavement pounding and window shopping which took in South Yarra, Windsor, Melbourne CBD, Richmond and Prahran. No small lane or side street was left unexplored.
When I spoke to one of my brothers-in-law on Christmas Day he was astonished to discover we’d not been touring the wineries however we did visit a few, largely to eat in their excellent restaurants. We also had a trip back to the Yarra Valley to two of our favourite spots, Healesville, home of the best scones ever (according to my beloved) and some lovely deli shops, and Yarra Glen, home to the Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. See we’re back to food again.
The weather veered from one extreme to the other. We froze, or rather, my beloved froze at our first Twenty20 match – I’d had the foresight to take a fleece. The mercury then shot up to the furnace-like late 30sC. Then we had plenty of wind, which always seemed to be a strong headwind on the way back from a ride. Next up torrential rain and flash floods for the second cricket game on 29 December, held thankfully under a covered roof. The Renegades conceded victory to the Perth Scorchers on the last ball of the game, and lost Dwayne Bravo to a hamstring injury. How unlucky was that!
We had a great view of Melbourne’s magnificent firework display from our balcony on New Year’s Eve to accompany more oysters and champagne. On New Year’s Day, more lobster this time in a homemade yellow Thai curry sauce served with black rice that thankfully tasted much better than it looked.
It was still drizzling on New Year’s Day for the Stars v Renegades derby match at the MCG, a magnificent ground with 100,000 capacity. 70,000 turned up for the match which was an edge of the seat thriller where the Renegades turned the tables on their star studded neighbours. Monday was grey and overcast, so we spent it exorcising the weekend’s excesses!
On 3 January, my beloved flew up to Sydney for the day to meet with a customer while I indulged myself. There’s nothing quite like a spot of relaxed pampering. I also spent hours in the local bookshop and a few more cookery books may have made their way into my luggage.
Wednesday, we emptied the fridge for breakfast and lunch, and dined out in a nearby Mexican restaurant. The time had flown and sadly our stay in Melbourne had drawn to a close. We’d had a wonderfully relaxing time, seen much more of the area though there was still more besides to see which we’re saving for a future trip. Our friends had moved on to Tasmania but we’d be meeting up again in Adelaide. Next up, a three day drive to Adelaide, long enough to take the time to visit a few new (to us) places and enjoy the flora and fauna en route.
There’s nothing I love better than a good sunrise or sunset. Generally, the view from our apartment provides spectacular photographs at any time of the day but when I looked back over the ones we’d taken, this one from the Yarra Valley stood out.
We spent the last 10 days or so of our Australian adventure in the very relaxing wine-producing Yarra Valley from where we fully explored the area and watched the Herald Sun Tour. We’ll be doing the same again in 2017 but this time from the Mornington Peninsula where I’m sure the sunrises and sunsets will be equally spectacular.