Home' Destinations : Destinations 25Aug2011 Contents THE HERALD
laughed at the kangaroo joke. Some just went silent).
''Basically it's early days yet,'' Marjenberg says of the guide's
acceptance. ''But the feedback's been fantastic. This spring we
are really expecting people to get into it.''
The guide is not an all-inclusive commentary. More an edited
highlights reel of wine country's attractions.
We pick up our GPS at Pepper Tree Wines - I'm accompanied
by two mates, my versions of Toto although not as cute or
intelligent - and we set off on Mt View Vistas, past the Tuscan-
style Tower Lodge, Hunter Valley Cheese Shop, Tempus Two
and, Chatto informs us, the cabins where he used to live.
Then there's Brokenwood, ''James Halliday is the a founder",
Tamberlaine, ''organic wines . . . I did my first vintage there'', a
turnoff to Audrey Wilkinson, ''one of the prettiest wineries in
the valley with a stunning view'', and Lindeman's, ''where it all
began in 1843'', all on the way to Mt View, ''a lovely place to
On the way Chatto speaks of the Hunter's semillon, ''the
best in the world'' and ''the reason I'm here in the Hunter''.
Olives rate a mention as we pass the Spanish-looking Iron Gate
Estate, and he points out Cessnock
Gaol and Kelman Estate and brings
up the difference in soils - what wine
aficionados call ''terroir'', a French term
denoting the characteristics soil and
climate bestow on grape varieties - as
we pass from Pokolbin into Mt View.
Chatto rates Tallavera Grove, home of
Bistro Molines, the restaurant of NSW
hall-of-fame chef Robert Molines, as one
of the most stunning vineyards in the
valley, and it is the last vineyard we pass
before pulling in to Bimbadeen Lookout
and casting our eyes back over all we
have passed through and much more,
with the township Cessnock nestled in
The trip along Mt View Rd, usually
known as the ''back road'' to the
vineyards from Cessnock, turning off
after Bellbird, is undoubtedly the most
scenically spectacular in the area and is
a must for first-time or veteran visitors.
I have never been to Europe's vineyards
but this is how I imagine they must be,
rows of vines cascading down steep
hillsides with wineries and cellar doors
silhouetted against the sky on ridge
tops that weave into the distance. If the
Rhone Valley doesn't look like this, it
should. It's a lovely sight.
After the lookout it's back down the
valley, regaled by an old-timer's story
that before a big storm the turtles leave
the nearby dams and head uphill ''and
they're all over the road'', past Briar
Ridge and its great cafe, Peterson's
Wines, Mt View Estate and Mt Pleasant Winery, and alongside
the famous, award-winning Tyrrell's Stevens planting.
Elfin Hill, says Chatto, was the first accommodation in
Pokolbin, Mt Pleasant displays Max Dupain photographs from
the 1950s and is the home of the great wines of Maurice
O'Shea, and then there's Drayton's
Corner, where the adjacent vineyards are
all owned by family members.
Our sweep through Mt View Vistas
completed, we take a quick swing
through the Lovedale Loop, which Dan
''Buckets'' Binet tells us is the more
relaxed part of the valley. ''The locals
call it the dark side,'' he says. ''It's good
for white wines because of its micro-
As well as vineyards there's Majors
Lane Restaurant, Leaves and Fishes, glass
blowing, art galleries, a cemetery, Hunter
Valley Chocolate, the cricket ground
and pavilion at the ''very French and
rustic'' Wandin Valley - the owner's son
is the guitarist with Grinspoon, mentions
Binet - while his favourite restaurant in
the valley is Mojo's, ''the best food in the
Vineyards roll past - Swish Wines,
Peacock Hill and Calais Estate with its
tapis-style Verandah Restaurant, and
we pull in on the opposite side of the
road to Ian Burgess and Debra Moore's
Moorebank Estate, where ducks and
sheep wander and the elucidative
Burgess explains his wines and tempts us
with not only his vintages but tastings of
home-made lemonade and spicy grape
sauce. Good stuff.
We finish the Lovedale Loop and
squeeze in a little of the Heart of
Pokolbin before our day is done, and as
we turn our headlights towards home I
give Toto One and Toto Two the chance
to have some input. It's thumbs up all round. Following the
Yellow Brick Road is, unanimously, a great idea, adding depth
and enjoyment to the wine country experience. And the road
gets you back where you started, whether you have ruby
slippers or not.
IF YOU GO
The GPS guide hires out for $39 for
any length of stay in the area.
It is available from tourism contact
points including Chateau Elan,
Grand Mecure The Vintage, Crowne
Plaza, Cypress Lakes Resort, Peppers
Guest House, Sebel Kirkton Park,
Harrigan's, Tonic Hotel, Hunter Valley
Visitors Centre, Ballabourneen,
Pepper Tree Wines, Poole's Rock
Wines and the Australia Hotel.
OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD: From left, Tallavera Grove, the GPS unit, Moorebank Estate and Hunter Valley Chocolate.
Motel features include:
• Non-smoking environment • Parking outside room
• Ground Floor Units • Flat Screen TV • Split System Air Con
• Salt Water Pool • Guest Laundry • 3 & 3.5 Stars
The Isis Motel is a Member of the Budget Motel Chain
Phone: 6545 1100 - 250 Paci c Highway, Scone 2337
www.isismotelscone.com.au - firstname.lastname@example.org c8986786-25Aug
Lake Glenbawn Holiday Cottages
Huge 3 Bedroom Family Size Cottages
Air conditioned, three bedroom, self-contained cottages only 10 minutes from Scone.
Renowned for some of the best Bass and Golden Perch fishing in NSW or
water-ski on the pristine water in this most scenic lake.
Set on 22 private acres with barbecues located centrally to all cottages.
Explore all the Upper Hunter has to offer from the amazing native animals to the many
different scenic drives including the beautiful Barrington Tops.
Address: Glenbawn Rd. Scone (Directly opposite entrance to Glenbawn Dam)
Phone: 02 6543 7752
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