Mornington Peninsula, VIC

Hey all! We’ve hoped a quick flight to Melbourne to ring in the New Year with some friends.  We spent our first day in touring around wine country on the Mornington Peninsula. The drive out there took us through some small little beach towns, like St. Kilda (which we hit on our last trip here) and Frankston.

Our first stop of the day was the Mornington Peninsula Brewery.  It’s a tiny little brewery that produces some amazing beers.  We had a flight that ranged from a tasty witbier to rich stout.  The brewery also made some really good pizza to go with their beers.  We finished off the stop with a Sorachi made with Japanese hops. It had some wonderful floral notes and tasted amazing. We’re hoping to get some shipped to Alice.

From there we climbed into the  hills to take in some beautiful scenery and some wonderful wines.  The scenery is an interesting mix of rolling hills and over-hanging trees. Nestled amongst the wineries were berry farms that were offering to let you pick your own. Our first stop was Ten Minutes by Tractor.  Of all the wineries, this was the one we liked the least. All of the wines were good, but nothing really jumped out at us.

In fact, the most interesting part of the visit was the awesome herb planter out front.

From there we shuttled up the road to Port Phillip Estate. It was a very modern building – quite different from most of the other relaxed wineries (and breweries/distilleries) we visited during the trip. The rolling scenery was beautiful though, and it was a lovely break.

From there, we made our way to the best stop of the day: Bass & Flinders Distillery.  This tiny business makes several of varieties of gin using wine as the initial base before triple distilling.  Rather than stick just to the standard juniper berry mix, they work with other botanicals like ginger, lemon, coriander, cardamom, and lemon grass.  One of the owners was on hand to show around the small operation and let us taste his wares. We grabbed a couple of bottles and headed down the road for to the last winery of the day – Crittenden Estate was a nice vineyard with some good reds, but none memorable enough to bring home.

On the way home, we stopped to grab a quick snack and then look at some epic sand sculptures.  The theme was children’s books, so most of the characters were instantly familiar. By then, we were all exhausted and decided to have a relaxing dinner and call it an early night.  Pictures are here and we’ll post about the Yarra Valley wineries in a day or so.

Chairman’s XI v. England

The Poms take the field

It’s summer here in Australia, which means the boys of summer have come out to play. The smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of the bats make Drew and Ashley feel right at home. There’s only one small problem: there’s no baseball. Instead, we’ve both fallen hard for Cricket.

We’ve posted here before about watching Cricket but this is the first time we’ve gotten to see it live.  The English national team is in Australia for their annual series (known as “The Ashes”). In between matches, the English team is touring Australia.  It was our good fortune that they decided to stop in Alice and play a two day match against a squad of hand picked Aussies not already on the national team.

Both days (Friday and Saturday) were lovely. The weather was hot but not unbearably so and there was a pleasant breeze blowing across the oval. The town council put up a bunch of sunshades all over the place. There was some talk that the heat would impact the English team’s performance and that certainly seemed to be the case on Friday. By the lunch break (2hrs. of playing), England had put up just 71 runs. For those of you not familiar with cricket, that’s slow. As a comparison, the Aussies put up 56  in their first hour of batting on Saturday.  The Brits bounced back at bit in the afternoon but declared for 212 after 6 hours.  The crowd was pretty small since it was a work day but everyone was excited to see the the start of the match.

A side note here. As one might expect, British cricket fans travel as well as English soccer fans. The traveling fans are known as the Barmy Army. No idea why.  They are following the team around Australia during the Ashes.  They were pretty quiet on Friday but livened up Saturday.  They start every match by singing “Jerusalem” and then follow it up with “Love Will Tear Us Apart” after every out.   While I wanted to see some cricket hooligans, none showed up which was for the best.

Watching cricket is a lot like watching baseball.  You sit in the sun/shade, drink overpriced cheap beer, and eat fried food.  Going to the games is great because there’s no talking heads.  Cricket announcers are much worse than ones in America since there’s so much dead air.  It’s the opposite of baseball in that if teams are hitting, the game feels fast. Even if the game is going quickly, players still have time to sign autographs and stretch. All in all, it is definitely a nice way to spend a Saturday.  We’ve got lots of pictures of bowlers, batsman, and other crickety things here.