Monday, 29 April 2013

Hunter Valley Wine Region... YES PLEASE!! And Newcastle too!

For Easter long weekend we took off to the Hunter Valley Area for some rest, relaxation and adventures!

On the first night we drove to Wollongong to see our friend Nic and had a great dinner and a few drinks catching up! The next morning we headed to Newcastle; it was +34 degrees and a beautiful day. 


We were really lucky to have made a friend to stay with while we there. Andrew and his wife Penny did an exchange a few years ago and opened their home to us for the weekend. On the way home from Andrew's school, he mentioned that we were going to go see a friend of his who had some snakes. Now if you know me at all, you know that I AM PETRIFIED OF SNAKES! I mean I was the girl who hid behind her Mom at the John Jansen Nature center when I was kid and they only passed around snake skins and salamanders. I am mostly sure there were tears and screaming as well. So off to the snake house we went!! 

Now, I can tell you about the snake house, I can tell you that is was actually a separate house for snakes, that there was 153 snakes in the house, that there was a room where rats and mice are bred for the snakes but you have NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS LIKE! (Excuse my huge run-on sentence but come on I basically walked into my worst nightmare and lived). 

Anyhow we get into the house, and then Adam and Andrew are asked to come outside and move the cars. So now I AM IN THE SNAKE HOUSE ALL ALONE with the snake breeder. Conversationally I say, "This actually isn't too bad with all the snakes behind the glass." (Keep in mind it took me about five minutes to even walk into the house.) I am sure you could smell my fear (or sweat?), and the snake breeder said "Oh they aren't too bad" and then took out THE BIGGEST SNAKE HE HAD THERE! It was MASSIVE and I was ALL ALONE. I almost died. I starting backing up to get away from the giant snake. I backed up right into the "kitchen" of the house. It seemed safe, until I noted all the plastic bins (they are more drawers than bins cause they don't really have lids) that housed all the brand new BABY SNAKES! Hilarious now, and yes even a bit hilarious then too! 

The snake breeder actually taught us a lot about the snakes and the different types he had etc. It was actually pretty interesting and helped me be a bit less afraid. It was amazing that he let us come see the snakes and he was really good about my lil (okay big) freak outs while we were there. 

Adam holding one part of a snake... I did pet it. Pretty impressed with myself, look at me being all brave and stuff! 

 Surprisingly enough, I felt a bit more comfortable around them as time went on. I wasn't ready to hold em but I managed to be a bit less jumpy and I learned a ton.
Some of the snakes in cages.

A cool lizard they also had there. Her skin looks like little shingles and she was really cool.
They also had around 200 birds that they breed on the property as well. I have never seen so many different sizes, colors or types of birds in my life! They were really cool. 

The next morning we headed out on a wine tour of Hunter Valley. It was an amazing day; we saw five wineries and our guide was also a wine maker and he did a great job touring us around and teaching us about the region.

Today we visited:
1. Ironbark Hill: They had a great Merlot and a Cab-Sauv we really liked.
2. Travertine: Formerly Centurion Wines, a very cool winery.

3. Blue Tongue Brewery: They brew beer here and we had a taster paddle and some great wood-fired pizzas for lunch.
4. Blueberry Hills
5. Macguariedale Hill
6. Smelly Cheese Shop: Tasted a few cheeses and looked around.
7. Chocolate Shop: Tasted a bunch of chocolates. YUM! Great end to a great day:) 


For Adam's birthday we planned a great day full of some of his favorite things! In the morning we went to a couple malls in Newcastle and then we spent the afternoon at the beach in the sun! When the sun went down we went to the Honeysuckle Hotel for appies and drinks. It was a great pub and the food was amazing! Afterwards we headed to Potter's Brewery in Cessnock and had dinner with a friend from work. 
The Honeysuckle Hotel
Back to the wine region!! 

On Sunday we decided to go back to Hunter Valley to visit a few wineries we wanted to see and a few recommended to us by friends and our tour guide from Friday. 

We visited: 

2. Tempus Two: A big winery on a beautiful piece of land.
3. McGuigan's

4. Brokenwood:
5. Tramburlaine
6. Tulloch

It was another great day! In total we ended up with 16 bottles of wine. The Hunter Valley was great! 

To finish off the weekend we went to our first NRL game in Newcastle. We watched the Newcastle Knights beat the Canberra Raiders from the Hillside. You pay for a spot on the grass and you can bring in blankets and food and just chill out. It was awesome!

We had a great weekend and made some great new friends in Andrew and Penny. They even helped the Easter bunny find us at their home :)

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