My trip to Australia seems ages ago but my memories run deep.? The land down under is indeed full of beauty and spectacle and amazingly friendly people.
- First there’s the delicious lamington! (Ha! Did you think I would start with the Sydney Opera House? Not focused on the uber-tourist trail with this little blog post. Besides food always comes first!) If you’ve never had a lamington, you must try one (or two) immediately…if you can find a place that makes them…or you’ll have to make your own. Lamingtons are sponge cake cut in cubes and dipped in a light chocolate frosting and sprinkled with coconut. They are divine!
- The spectacular Great Ocean Road! (Yes I know this is on everyone’s list but there is good reason!) The highlight of my very long but incredible day was a helicopter ride to see the Twelve Apostles and Shipwreck coast from an unforgettable vantage point!
- Lots of great wine! From the three wine regions (of which there are plenty!) that I visited across Australia and the few wineries that I was able to experience in each area, here are the standouts…
There are the bigger, more well known estates like Voyager and Vasse Felix that are consistently good so I will focus on the houses that offered me the most memorable experiences and wines that were fantastic in my opinion (not to mention some interesting names!)
+ Wills Domain – excellent whites especially their Semillon
+ Knee Deep – fantastic, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc
+ Swings and Roundabouts – great reds and a beautiful Chardonnay
+ Yering Station – this is a popular and quite commercial estate but they had a Shiraz Viognier (2008) that was amazing
+ Rochford – lovely, elegant wines especially their Chardonnay (2001)
+ Schild Estate – very nice, smooth whites like the Semillon, Frontignac and Chardonnay and there was a fabulous blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (GSM as the Aussies love their acronyms!)
+ Hentley Farm – fantastic Zinfandel and a Shiraz called The Beast (2010)! It was to-die-for…much more complex and interesting than The Beauty!
- If you find yourself in Melbourne and you’re a huge fan of sushi, then you must try Jamon (www.jamonsushi.com) which is a little sushi place in the charming suburb of?South Yarra. The owner and master sushi chef (be prepared to meet Charles, a long-silver-haired Harley Davidson type dressed in black) prepares everything for you fresh that day – the menu is omakase so the chef will make whatever he chooses from the fresh fish, mushrooms and vegetables that he had gotten from the markets that day (you can just tell him what you may not prefer). It was like an opera watching him prepare the whole fishes and creating delicate pieces of sashimi from various parts of the fish, slicing the beautiful shiitake and enoki while grounding fresh wasabi root and sprinkling some of his homemade mustard. Oh, and in that tiny space of sushi bar for 7 and 2 tables for 2, they project Japanese animation on the large white wall in front of the
bar. It was a lovely, spontaneous and unforgettable experience!
- Kangaroo Island is a spectacular place where you feel like you’re at the edge of the world…and you are! It’s on the Southern Ocean and there’s nothing between you and Antarctica! The island was bigger than I expected with so much nature to see…of all the beautiful natural surroundings, I would have to say that the Remarkable Rocks were a highlight and of the few man-made places, there is nothing more amazing than the Southern Ocean Lodge (www.southernoceanlodge.com.au) which is an eco-friendly resort that caters to your every whim! The rooms, food, guided tours, spa and hospitality are all absolutely second-to-none! If only we could have stayed longer…
- Finally, after seeing so much natural beauty, I was ready for a big dose of urban culture when I reached Sydney. And the Art Gallery of New South Wales didn’t disappoint. The gallery is at one end of the beautiful Botanic Gardens and surprisingly had on view the works of some of my favourite modern and contemporary artists. It was the perfect closing to a fabulous holiday.