Home' Destinations : Destinations 25Aug2011 Contents THE HERALD
I, like Dorothy in the land of Oz, have followed the Yellow Brick
Road. But unlike Dorothy and her faithful companion Toto, I
neither reached the wizard nor found my way back to Kansas.
Instead I tasted some excellent Hunter wines - and a fine
home-made lemonade and a spicy grape sauce - and had my
eyes opened to some hidden gems of the Pokolbin vineyards,
even though I am a local who has been making various
vineyard treks for 40 years.
The road I was on was provided by The Yellow Brick Guide,
a clever little GPS audio unit - think your normal TomTom
aimed at a specific purpose, visiting wine country - that weaves
together music, stories and directions from affable local
winemakers who take you to the places they take friends and
family when they visit.
The guide gets you under the skin of the destination,
immersing you in its character without having your head
buried in a map, giving you an insider's view on everything
from where the winemakers used to live and work to where to
find cheese, chocolates, majestic views, champagne, art, craft,
coffee, snacks and fine-dining. There's even pothole warnings.
And they manage to fit in some information on wine.
But one warning. Experts in wine and technology these
people may be, but humour might not be their strong point:
''The kangaroos in that paddock have glocks and tasers - in
fact all of them have small arms.'' Groan.
The guide, easy to install and power via a plug in your car
cigarette lighter, made its world debut in Pokolbin earlier this
year and at present has three half-day tours in its satellite
circuits: Mt View Vistas (with comments from Jim Chatto, chief
winemaker at Pepper Tree Wines), Heart of Pokolbin (Usher
Tinkler, chief winemaker at Poole's Rock Wines) and Lovedale
Loop (Dan Binet, chief winemaker at Ballabourneen).
''We've all been travelling and tried to discover what's at
the heart of a place,'' says Rob Marjenberg, co-founder and
creative director of the guide, explaining the idea behind the
product. ''The Holy Grail is to get the story from the locals, but
most of the time it's really difficult.
''We were thinking about GPS and how it was being used
and thought about making it a tool to bring in that kind of
feeling of locals showing you around.''
Marjenberg says the technology was developed first with
''the Hunter Valley stuff'' taking six to nine months to fit
Pokolbin was selected because they had read about the up-
and-coming young winemakers of the valley and thought it
was an interesting dynamic with a new generation taking over.
''Our plan was always to be in places with interesting people
with interesting stories to tell ,'' Marjenberg says, describing
himself as the Rain Man of the valley as he drove the routes - ''I
don't know how many times - 50'' - to get the commentary
Once it was ready to trial the in-car conversations of people
using it were taped to further refine the product (Some
This road may not take you to the Wizard of Oz, but
CHRIS WATSON discovers plenty of other fine stops
along its route.
HUNTER WINE COUNTRY
No traffic lights, no parking meters and a fantastic shopping centre.
Basecamp for the World Heritage Barrington Tops.
The Gloucester Visitor Information Centre has a wide range of information on bushwalks,
scenic drives, horse riding, kayaking, farm tours, eating places, accommodation and lots more.
For those wishing to continue the experience, we have relocation packs!
Supporting our community through partnerships
Gloucester Visitor Information Centre
27 Denison Street, Gloucester, NSW 2422
Telephone: 6558 1408 • Fax: 6558 9808
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.visitgloucester.com.au
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