Posts tagged australia
Trucks that are over-sized for tunnels in Australia have a unique way to receive warnings that they are over-sized.
Wearing metallic makeup and monochromatic colors and posing as statues seems to be the modern version of the mime. But I’ve never seen a mime lay out a guy who was messing with him!
This stark radio tower atop of a mountain in Canberra is Telstra Tower, built in 1980. It is ringed with radio and microwave repeaters, and until yesterday, I thought it was just a garish piece of critical infrastructure. Then I heard from friends here that there was a rotating restaurant atop this thing. So of course I went.
Each of the three courses were paired with a regional wine. I had scallops, fresh bread and some great lamb shank. Below is a shot of what the place looks like at night.
Rather than write about individual wineries, I thought I’d switch this up just a bit and talk about the entire region of Canberra- Well, mostly the Murrumbateman village region, where I spent most of Sunday Morning. Many wine aficionados like to preach that its not about the wine, but the winemakers who give character to their wine that makes a good wine truly good. So in a region of great wines, how do you pick a winner among four wineries? Simply, the four winemakers who best help you experience their wine.
I visited several wineries, but four stand out in quality. Yass Valley Winery, McKellar Ridge Winery, Dionysus Winery and Clonakilla Winery.
Clonakilla winery is hailed by experts as one of the best wineries in the region. In fact, it was based on this recommendation that I went to the Murrembateman village to begin my winery tour. But the first winery I encountered was the Dionysus Winery. Like many wineries in the region, they specialized in Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs, but to me what really stood out was their fantastic Shiraz, a bright purple wine with smells of smoke, harvest berries and spice. It was aged in oak, helping to provide a complex, smooth, yet bold flavor to a familiar grape. I took a bottle of their Shiraz back to the hotel to enjoy it during the upcoming week.
Clonakilla, was sadly, lacking in any kind of personal touch, and upon tasting their wines, I honestly had to ask what all the hubbub was about. It was staffed by a young, indifferent man who offered tastings of overpriced wines. His best wine was a Shiraz made from another estate’s grape. While that is not anything to hold against any vineyard, considering some of the local competition who grew local varietals, and grew them better, this caused me to bypass his offering for other regional bottles.
Next on my visit trail was the fantastic Yass Valley Winery, up the street from Clonakilla. This winery was spectacular, mostly because of the winemaker who ran the place. I was welcomed into their bright roomy tasting room, where I helped to remove the reds that were warming(!) over the floor heater because they were too chilly. The winemaker was Mick Withers, a retiree who sank his last years of his life into a beautiful winery making fantastic wines. He playfully guided me through their varieties. Most of their whites were to die for. The Traminer was great, as was the Verdelho, but I ended up settling on the Barbera, a red wine originally from Italy that has a fantastic flavor. I enjoyed a glass of the wine while Withers’ retiree wife made me a beautiful plate of bruscetta with local tomatos and fresh feta cheese. Maybe it was seeing this older couple run their business with pride that made this wine taste so well, but it is most likely the fact that the opposite is true: good wine comes from good, hardworking folk, and this is the clear winner of the wines I enjoyed today.
Last but not least, I stopped by McKellar Ridge Winery, run by Brian Johnston and his talented artist wife, Janet. Janet’s great watercolors, what were left after last week’s wine festival, adorn the tasting room’s walls. The Johnstons are trying to corner the local market on Bordeaux style wines by combining local varieties of Cab Franc, Merlot and Cab Sav together. The wines I tasted that they had to offer were exquisite. And they have won many local awards too. I think they will be successful with their blends. But the Bordeaux style wines were nothing fantastically new to me, coming from Northern Virginia where so many similar blends also tried to capture that French essence. Their whites, however, were what stood out to me. A crisp Sav Blanc and an equally tasty Riesling made for a great sipping wine on a warm rainy Sunday morning as I enjoyed the Johnston’s company.
It really is true. The best wines are not about the chemical makeup of the vintage. Its about the winemakers and their passions- and in my case, their ability to suffer a visiting Yank touring a wet region of outstanding wines.
Oh an that last photo of Kangaroo Prosciutto? I had to try Roo meat while I was here. It goes great with the Barbera!
I always thought that Cockatoos were exotic rare equatorial birds. I didn’t know that they are almost the equivalent of pigeons down here in Australia. And though the scale size doesn’t translate well, these animals are much bigger than anything I see in pet stores back home. They tend to flock at sunset, and according to some of the folks I’ve worked with this week, they are kinda destructive too, and will gnaw off antennas from your car to sharpen their beaks.
I had to drive between Sydney and Canberra, but I was scheduled to arrive too early so I popped into a vineyard on the way. Luckily, they were having their harvest celebration and the tastings were free. Lerida Vineyards is about 15 minutes north of Canberra nestled against the Cullerin Mountain. In the photo below what looks like huge cotton fields is actually their vineyard draped with netting to prevent birds from picking at the fruit.
Their tasting room is very nice with a full service bakery and coffee shop and it overlooks the awesome expanse of the great Canberra Plains.
The Chardonnays they offered were okay, if a bit on the sweet side. For their whites, their Viognier was actually the best- crisp and lightly sweet and best flavor.
The reds were unfortunately, unremarkable. They may be good for the Canberra region, or maybe I’ve been spoiled by Virginia wines, but the only one I really liked was the 2008 Cullerin Pinot Noir.
Aside from the spectacular view of the valley, the vineyard was going all out for their harvest celebration, and it was a wonderful event for their community. Pictured above is also a pumpkin patch with gigantic 5 foot pumpkins and a warning sign to watch out for poisonous snakes.
Landed in Sydney at 6 AM and just got checked into the hotel after a drive to Canberra. The whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing actually gets to be pretty easy after about 30 minutes. But trying to climb into the wrong side of the car seems to be a perpetual problem I just can’t shake.
On the way southwest from Sydney I encountered several of these types of signs- I think it is warning motorists of giant mutant groundhogs, but I can’t be sure.
One thing I’ve noticed about driving around in different countries- the roadkill varies wildly. In my region there are loads of dead deer littering the roads. In the UK, pheasant seems to be the top roadkill. Here in the 3 hours it took to get to Canberra, I think I saw at least one dead wombat, (Crikey they are large!) what I think may have been a dead dingo and upon entering the capitol of Australia, I saw my first kangaroo- splattered on the side of the road.
I am in San Francisco airport between flights at a cafe watching skinny people struggle to pick between bottles of organic cranapple juice or green tea.
I am also reflecting on the remaining trip I have before me tonight- I’m going to Australia. Today is the 1st, and I am soon to be airborne. The 2nd is supposed to be my birthday, just like every year, but this year I have decided to skip it since the date of April 2nd will cease to be.
I will cross the International Date line overnight and will land in Sydney on the 3rd, obliterating my birthday from the calendar. I think I’m down with that.
I am also planning to drive once I get there. Since Australians are stubborn and choose to drive on the wrong side of the road, I jumped at the chance to include third party insurance when I booked my car.
I’ll post pics of my adventures down under.
Im back on an airplane. This time it’s a long flight and it may be a while before there are regular updates. Feel free to check out the archives.
Nerdiness has assimilated the world better than Borg nanoprobes. In Australia there are caves that were once featured in a Star Trek TNG episode about Klingons. They have a tour there in several languages, and now, they are the first official tour on the planet for speakers of the Klingon Language.
From Reuters here:
Staff at the Jenolan Caves west of Sydney have added a new out-of-this-world attraction — a tour in the Star Trek language Klingon.
Currently a self-guided audio tour at the caves in the Blue Mountains is offered in eight languages, but staff came up with the idea of adding the fictional language Klingon as the caves did once feature in the popular TV series.
“In the Star Trek universe, Jenolan Caves was first immortalized in the Next Generation episode ‘Relics,’ through the naming of a ‘Sydney Class’ Starship – the USS Jenolan,” the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust said in a statement.
“We wanted to do something a bit obscure and we will now be the first tourist attraction on this planet at least to have a Klingon tour.”
Encyclopedia Dramatica is a hilarious website that pokes fun at drama that is stirred up on the Internet. Often their humor is so coarse and simple it damn near reaches the status of truth. They are in hot water right now because a bunch of Aborigines were butthurt over their article on ED.
On the ED blog, site owner Joseph Evers says:
This is an initial investigation into charging me, personally, with the violation of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act. While I act in complete compliance with both the civil and criminal codes of the United States of America, and am assured the right of free speech according to our Constitution (which, if not the greatest political document in the entire history of law, is certainly on the top five) I can personally be jailed and fined for the violation of this law.
This isn’t a far-fetched legal theory, they have used it before. Welcome to the one world government, folks. Is this what you wanted? Is this what you had in mind? Cause this is what you’re gettin’.
Encyclopedia Dramatica will never be censored in any way. We will keep publishing this content and our Australian users will be able to view it up until the point that your God-forsaken government blocks it with their soon-to-be-implemented secret list of banned material.
The article in question is here. Yeah, its racist, but parts of it are sadly truthful. For instance, it talks about all of the wonderful technology invented by the Aborigines over the past 50,000 years up to the point the white man arrived and showed them how to use the wheel:
A long stick. (spear)
A curved stick. (boomerang)
A hollow stick. (digeridoo)
Hey, that’s one more type of stick than our own American Aboriginal people had. Ours had a long stick (spear) and a curved stick (bow).
Some women in Australia were complaining about this ad for Kotex U. Frankly, I don’t see what the bloody hell they are bitching about. Must have their panties in a twist or sand in their vaginas.
Aww, here is a video of a wet beaver. Boy those pads sure are absorbent!
And that Kotex website has some great advice. They say:
At U by Kotex®, we think it’s high time we all stopped being so damn shy about our vaginas. You don’t need to do a Paris or Britney, but being able to talk about it without going red is a good start. After all, we’ve all got one. In fact, we’ve only got one, so make sure you take good care of it with U by Kotex®.
Whether you call it Va-jayjay, Map of Tassie or even Hilary Muff, one thing’s for sure: we love naming them.
And of course, the website goes on to list names of the area down under for women who live down under.