Have wine will travel

One doesn’t go to Yarra Valley and not have a sip of nectar.

So we paid Balgownie Estate a visit and had an enjoyable and very educational wine tasting session at Rae’s Restaurant, which draws the beautiful surroundings and daylight inside with the help of full panel glass windows.

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Gordon, a very amiable gentleman, took us through an extensive range of wines and I learned – finally – that NV means non vintage and that sparkling shiraz is so very enjoyable to drink!

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I also found time on my own to visit the charming Yering Station – Victoria’s first vineyard, so says its website – to check out its collection of wines and produce.

Yering Station is an exquisite piece of architecture, built in 1859 using handmade bricks.

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The afternoon’s overcast skies and chilly winds made sitting outdoors with wine for company a somewhat romantic experience.

The inside is wonderland for food lovers, selling all sorts of goodies from homemade nougat and assorted chocolate bars to lovely jams and spiced salt. I was so tempted to buy them all!

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The wine tasting area was unusual too, doubling up as an art gallery.

But instead of wines, I loaded up on homemade nougat, jams and chocolate fudge bars. They looked far more lovely that bottles of wine, I guess! Moreover, imagine the amount of duty I would have to pay when I return to Singapore if I had purchased wines here.

It took me a while to tear myself from the lovely Yering Station, and then I headed back to my hotel which was mere steps away – the stunning Chateau Yering.

The property, with a history as old as Yering Station, was a grand homestead which got converted into a hotel in 1997. It now has 32 suites, all individually designed. I love it for its grand Victorian era interior decor which is put together using old European art, rich fabrics and oversized furniture.

The Drawing Room, especially, took my breath away.

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My suite, which came with a generous sized verandah that looked out to rolling hills in the distance, was a real delight too. Largely because it was in shades of my favourite colour – pink!

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I thought it was most adorable that the ‘Do not disturb’ sign was a fluffy stuffed toy cat that guests would leave at the door should they desire privacy.

The bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in. In fact, it felt so much like my own bed back home. And my own bed is truly the best place to rest my weary body at the end of every day. :)

And with that, I bid you good night.

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First taste of Yarra

Does this view of Yarra Valley, the renowned wine and gourmet region in Victoria, Australia, look desolate to you?

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Well, perhaps. The region is coming out of a dry spell after all. But it is also a view of such freedom. Freedom of space, to be exact. Sweet, glorious, wide open space.

Space that is lacking in tiny Singapore.

Perhaps that is why I enjoy visiting the sub-urban regions of any country to take in the slower, more scenic sights that are lacking in key commercial cities.

Anyway, even if it does look desolate, I quite enjoy this vision. I have a thing for bare trees and dry fields. Perhaps I find it fascinating that soon, in the next season, life will thrive again and all will be lush and green.

My trip to Melbourne this year gave me a chance to explore Yarra Valley, and my first stop to this area was Healesville Sanctuary, one of the best places in Australia – as I was told by many locals – to see the local wildlife in captivity.

Healesville Sanctuary is such a sprawling place and the animal compounds so spacious and hardly enclosed, that I did not feel like I was in a zoo.

Say hello to this ‘roo which is a vision of absolute bliss, as he lay so serenely in his open compound, enjoying the early morning sun. Somehow, he reminded me of a Sports Illustrated model striking a sexy pose on the beach.

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The koala compound had just a simple fence, allowing visitors to enjoy clear views of these gentle creatures going about lazily on their tree. Our guide told us that koalas do two things all day – eat and sleep. “Just like teenagers,” he quipped, drawing chuckles from knowing parents in our group.

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As we roamed around, we came upon a lovely girl with a dingo on a leash. What a handsome animal!

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There are several featured shows and opportunities for visitors to get up close and personal with some of the resident wildlife. We did not stay long enough to do everything, but we did catch Tales from Platypus Creek (I finally realised that platypus are so tiny!) and Spirits of the Sky, a showcase of regal birds of prey and playful parrots. Fun stuff, although the heat made me quite sleepy half-way through Tales from Platypus Creek.

Alright. Bye for now. But first, I’ll leave you with a lusher view of Yarra Valley, taken from the beautiful RACV Healesville Country Club.

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Yarra Valley is so beautiful, eh?