Up the Yarra Valley…

So here we go with the next episode!

Following a few minor staffing issues at my job with Peterpans Adventure Travel, I have been working some pretty manic shifts over the past few weeks. With only 1 day off out of the past 16 – or something daft like that… I was granted 4 days off work this week for some relaxation and recuperation time.

Although I am generally pretty happy doing fuck all and just pottering around on days off, I asked if I could get involved with one of the many, many tours that run daily in and around Melbourne. Unfortunately the mountain biking trip in the Otway forests was not available this week (probably because its pretty fucking chilly and I can imagine people don’t fancy biking about in the cold – well, I was keen!), so I booked myself on (for free obviously – perks of a travel job) to hop on the “Café Bus” and cruise out into Melbourne’s famous wine region – The Yarra Valley.

Although technically a winery tour, the morning chucked a few curve balls on that front, and led by our driver Mat, we descended on our first stop which was an overpriced farm shop, where we were given a platter of all sorts of loveliness to nibble on, including cheeses, chutneys, and local fruit. The main shop was a bit of a jip on the pricing front so I kept my dollars in my pocket. Back on the bus suitable nibbled out, the next stop was in fact a beer and cider brewery called Napoleones – 10am beer and cider, thank you very much… After sampling some exquisite ciders and brilliant beers, and against my better interests sinking a morning pint of IPA for good measure, we continued through the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley to our next stop – a chocolate factory…YUM! I ate far too much of the free chocolate (one spoonful each my ass – I could’ve filled my pockets if I didn’t feel a bit sick, haha) and got my fair share of rocky road tasters in and then waddled back to the bus for the next stop…

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Farm nibbles…
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Good morning beer selection!

The next stop was the first of the 3 wineries that we were to visit before making tracks back to Melbourne. What a marvellously pretentious experience winery tours are. Hmmm, oh yes, I’m getting hints of white flowers, cashew nuts, pomegranate and dried bullshit in this one… How about you? Ummm, yeh… Well the wines were nice to be fair, but I have not got a fucking clue what these wine connoisseurs are on about most of the time. They could probably find essence of orange zest, peach and honey in their own farts if they tried.

After a gourmet lunch – which was actually fucking great, and a game of Petanque (French Boules to me and you) in which I was pipped in the final by a dastardly manoeuvre from a Japanese girl, losing out on a bottle of bubbly as the prize – I got sharked, haha – we set out to the next, equally as pretentious (possibly even more so…) winery called Rochford Estate. We received a schooling in the different types of wines available and sampled quite a few, while a super enthusiastic guy told us what to look out for in a “good” wine. To be very honest from what he had available for $30 a bottle, I am pretty sure I have had better from Aldi for $10 – maybe that is just my very uncultured palate, or maybe I am just not that fussy. Anyway, all fun and games, and quite an amusing experience.

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A nice spot for a game of Petanque!
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In the vineyards at Rochford Estate

Finally we went to the 3rd winery of the tour, Killara Estate. Our driver Mat assured us that this was his favourite, and to be fair to him, the wine was actually very nice indeed. Plus, the burly farmer who led our tasting session was completely no bullshit – my kind of guy. “Where does that nutty flavour in this wine come from”, asks one of the portly women from Darwin who where on the tour with me. “I dunno, from the grapes” replies the bloke, “just drink it!”… Good lad.

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Wine with a view!

Following some pizza and general mingling, we boarded the bus and returned back to Melbourne. Good stuff and a great day out in a beautiful place. Driving through the Yarra Valley is fantastic, with amazing views of the rolling hills along the way, reminding me of the Devon hills of home.

Anywhooo, that’s another little update from my time in Melbourne so far. More fun to be had I am sure. Soph and I are currently now trying to save up again, aiming to travel around Australia when our work contracts end in October, but still hugely enjoying Melbourne’s vast selection of food options and cracking beer selection.

So, here are some more photos:

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Flinders Station in Melbourne
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A view from one of the wineries…
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The free chcolate!
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A nice view from outside the chocolate factory…
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Here’s me at the Killara Estate
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