Australian Wine to Christmas Time

Thirty minutes from Melbourne is the Yarra Valley, the city’s own wine region which is chock-a-block with wineries, breweries, flash restaurants and eateries. We were impressed with Chris Jay’s jam packed itinerary to hit up six wineries, two breweries and one sparkling winery in just one afternoon. The wine, cider and beer were all delicious and we even tried something new – sparkling red wine from Chandon. What really stole the show was the beautiful landscape. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I may be convinced the Yarra Valley beats out Napa/Sonoma for the best scenery.    S S S After lunch and a few games of bocce ball, we retired back home for another amazing dinner cooked by Mr. Jay.S SThe next day, we planned and prepped for a three-day road trip. The plan was to drive along the southern coast of Victoria on Great Ocean Road, then head north to Grampians National Park before returning to Melbourne. We packed all of our camping gear and were off the next morning on our mini adventure…driving on the left side of the road in the Jay’s borrowed car. S
Driving Great Ocean Road is similar to driving the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The road hugs the coastline as you pass beautiful beaches, impressive cliffs and parks. It’s incredibly beautiful. S S S S SI am prone to falling asleep in the car, so when I was taking a quick doze Chris pulled into Cape Otway for a surprise detour. When I awoke, I looked out the window to see heaps of koala bears sitting in the gum trees! For those of you who don’t know, bears are my favorite animals and although koalas aren’t technically bears, they are close enough!S S They were so cute sitting on the tree branches! They would hold on to the limbs with their claws so they wouldn’t fall off while they slept. Adorable! SOne of the main attractions on Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. The apostles are limestone rock stacks formed by the erosion of the coastline. Despite the name, there are only nine apostles and they continue to shrink and crumble as the ocean tides erode them away.S S S In addition to the well known Twelve Apostles, there are several other natural limestone rock formations along the coast including Loch Ard Gorge and London Arch.S S SThere are so many nice lookouts, beaches, bays and towns to stop along the way. The drive itself takes approximately three hours but we spent nearly 12 hours so we could take it all in and enjoy the views. I should mention that this day was also my birthday. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with a road trip across a beautiful coastline! S SWe finally arrived at our holiday park (campground with the works) to pitch our tent for the night. Our campsite came with it’s own bathroom and shower…very fancy. Every year for my birthday, Chris takes me wherever I want for dinner. I usually choose White Castle because Chris hates Whities and so I rarely get to eat there. Given that there isn’t a White Castle in Australia, I chose the next best thing…a foot long turkey sub from Subway. Yumm-o! And that my friends is a happy camper!SThe next afternoon, we starting driving north to Grampians National Park. Once we reached the park, we had lunch and made our way to a few scenic overlooks. The overcast skies scared us into making camp for the evening. S S SThe next morning, we packed up camp and headed out to view some nearby waterfalls before driving back to Melbourne.S SONY DSCWe had one day to do laundry and rest before we were off again. This time, our destination was to the Jay’s beach house in Cape Schanck for the weekend. Cape Schanck is located just south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula and is a mecca for wineries, cheeseries, fruit orchards and beaches. We had delicious barbies, played on the beach and enjoyed the sunset each night. S S SOur last morning was spent fishing off the local pier. It was fun fishing with different types of bait (squid and clams) and trying to catch different species of fish found in Australia. We witnessed a fellow fisherman catch a huge squid that was blowing gallons of ink all over the place which was quite entertaining. We only caught two small wrasse that we had to throw back but we still had a great time. Chris loves to fish and he had fun just being outside on the ocean holding his fishing rod.SONY DSC S We arrived back in Melbourne on Christmas eve afternoon, which is when the Jays celebrates Xmas, just in time for a pool-side barbie. Lunch was followed by a huge game of tennis, a massive feast of tiger prawns, turkey, ham and of course, the opening of presents. We must have been good this year because Santa still found us all the way in Australia. I originally thought that we would be homesick this time of year because of the holidays. Surprisingly, we haven’t and I suspect it’s because of a few factors…(1) it’s summer here in Australia so it’s hard to believe its Christmas time. We’ve been having barbies and eating outside in shorts. This would never happen back home. Christmas in summer is definitely not a bad thing. (2) There are so many people around to keep us company and the Jays have been so gracious and welcoming, how can we feel lonely or sad? (3) We’ve been so incredibly busy with day trips and weekend trips, we haven’t had time to get homesick. Of course we still miss our friends and family back home immensely, but we find ourselves blessed to be on this journey. We’re lucky to have a family to stay with on the holidays and the opportunity to experience new traditions and a different side of Christmas!SONY DSCHappy holidays to all of our friends, family and fellow travelers. We hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours. Cheers!

6 thoughts on “Australian Wine to Christmas Time

  1. Merry Xmas dears! What beautiful pictures – California cliffs but with awesome sunshine! How much longer are y’all at the Jay’s?

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