Hunter Valley January 2010
Posted by Lisa Hill on January 17, 2010
I’ve been a bit remiss in blogging our travels to the Hunter Valley. It’s partly because the two-day journey to reach our destination was rather dull – the Hume Highway bypasses almost everything and we had no reason to stop anywhere except for lunch in the Strathbogie Ranges at Howlett-Plunkett Wines, and then overnight at the historic Globe Inn B&B in Yass. At the risk of making it too popular, we recommend the Globe as an alternative to motels – the rooms are very comfortable, the home-cooked breakfast is excellent and the tariff is very reasonable. (Options for dinner are not much good in Yass, but that’s no different to Goulburn or Gundagai. There is nowhere really nice for a meal half-way between Melbourne and Sydney. )
We came off the Newcastle Hwy at the Tourist Drive exit, taking the Peat Ridge Rd – which was a delight after the dry and dusty landscapes we’d seen so far. The road twists and turns a bit but the scenery is lovely: lush green pastures, patches of dense woodland, palm trees and the occasional vineyard. We stopped at the Corrugated Cafe at Peat Ridge for a tasty foccaccia and good coffee, and then onward to Wollembi where we called in at the Noyce Winery for a bottle of wine to have with dinner.
We reached Millfield in the late afternoon, stopped in at the general store for some supplies and arrived at Bellbird Cottage in time to enjoy the scenery before the sun went down. We dined in, on scrumptious pasta and Noyce’s Director’s Cut cabernet sauvignon, and fell asleep to a frog chorus.
Bellbirds woke us in the morning, but getting up seemed like a bad idea. Bellbird Cottage is a quiet spot which invites loafing on the sofa and reading. Breakfast was well after noon, and lunch at about 4.30pm. I finished one book, and started another. Tim went out for the papers at some stage, and read them cover-to-cover, until finally it was time to set off for Molines Restaurant where we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.
It was a splendid dinner. We chose an aged Brokenwood ILR Semillon to go with our entrees: quail with green and white asparagus and seasonal peaches for me, and scallops anchored on their shells with carrot puree for Tim. For mains I had venison while Tim had duck – with a witty little pastry duck as a garnish. The dessert menu made it very hard to choose but we finally settled on passion-fruit pavlova for Tim and cherry crepes for me.
Sunday found us at the Nightingale Winery for lunch with dear friend Chele and her husband Nigel. Over good conversation and lots of laughter we shared a delicious antipasto platter, and succumbed to luscious desserts. Some prosaic shopping in Cessnock on the way home, and then back to the peace and stillness of our little hideaway…