Road Trip to Wine Country

We were off!!  After a minor set back at the rental car place…they did not have any cars, they just had an 8 passenger van or a SUV…but luckily we waited in line for over 30 min right when we were deciding what we should do someone returned a small car. Good news we would not be driving a tank, bad news it was a TINY Kia.  We squeezed into the car and we were off on the “‘wrong” side of the road.

Over the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Which is a steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia itself. The bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design

Still cannot get over this left side of the road business.  I was terrified the entire time.  Derek seemed calm and collected

Something we have noticed in Australia is they really try to take care of their people.  Giving suggestions all along the roads.  Here it says to slow down when it is raining.  Later in our trip there will be suggestions to stop every 2 hours – revive to survive!

Turning hotter, more dry and the cicadas were so loud we could hear them over the radio!

wombat crossing!  They care so much about their people and their animals.  

They even give the animals smiles in the crossing signs to help personalize them and get everyone to slow down

Part of the reason I was so terrified was all these white poles RIGHT next to the road, I swear we were going to hit them.  The scary part for Derek is he tried to not hug the center line (for good reason) and be more to the left as you would in the states, however, it was really hard to do this with the narrow roads and these white poles.  Not the best design.

Looking up the best breakfast spot to stop along the way I settled on Jerrys’ Gourmet Kitchen & Cafe which was a blast from the past diner and a biker hangout and what seemed in the middle of no where.  They were known for their burgers and just being there…they also had the most and best TripAdvisor reviews.  It was the perfect place for a late breakfast, a break from the intense driving and a good place to sit and listen to the cicadas.

Something about these burgers which we realized were “a thing” in this area, were called everything burgers and it is because they seriously have everything on them!!  Beets, pineapple, BBQ sauce, eggs, lettuce, and a couple other things.  I tried it, it was INTENSE!  Too many flavors for me, but I am glad we got to experience this. My curry chicken meat pie was wonderful – I am LOVING the meat pies, wish it would catch on in the States.

We took the scenic way to The Hunter Valley as we wanted to stop at Wollombi Tavern which we saw on a Zane Lamprey show when he was in Australia.  They are known for their famous Jungle Juice which ORIGINALLY was all the left over drinks in the bar at the end of the night – just thrown into a jug to help reduce waste.  Overtime it became more a formal drink and it is even in bottles now.  Given we were driving, we just got one to go.

Something about this town and bar reminded me of a small Iowa town, Durango.  The temperatures were starting to feel more like Iowa in the dead of August!

Saw three very Australia birds when we were there. 

The small town was deserted, it was a Wednesday but it was also climbing FAST in temperatures.

FINALLY signs of Wine country

We have arrived in The Hunter Valley – which we found out is just called The Hunter

Just in time to cool off with a quick swim.

Then head out across the street for what turned out to be an amazing dinner. The place we ate was Oishii – a Japanese restaurant that disappointingly only had one sushi roll on the menu (been craving sushi since we arrived in Hawaii but haven’t had it yet)  however the restaurant was 5 stars!  Great view, atmosphere and location.  It was in a complex that was right across from our hotel.  It is funny that it is really the only thing in the area and very unique that it had a couple wineries and restaurants all in one place, like a fancy food court.  It might have been one of the best most romantic places I have eaten (or it might just have been the long car ride and lack of sushi)

Afterwards we ventured back to the hotel, which was right next to the restaurants and the “heart” of town and also sat right next to The Hunter Gardens (The largest display gardens in the world!!) I had selected this place due to the fact that it was one of the best priced but also was in what looked like the heart of time and everything was in walking distance.  It was definitely the best choice.  Great hotel!!  It was called The Mercure.  Something really cute we noticed when we went for a nightcap back at the hotel was a record player ….

This one is for you Hillary….

They had all the classics.  Something else we have been noticing in Australia is the love for 90’s soft jam music. The record selection confirmed this   🙂

After a great, LONG, HOT day we were ready to turn in – excited for another day in The Hunter tomorrow – WINE TOUR DAY!  (And it was suppose to be over 40 C degrees … around 100 F)

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