The Retirees Home in Brisbane – North by North West to Gayndah

About 5 hrs north by north west of Brisbane is the rural town of Gayndah. Renowned for its citrus, Gayndah is on the Burnett River and the Burnett Highway passes through the town. Apart from the citrus, the land is used for cropping and grazing. The Gayndah Orange Festival is held every two years to celebrate the citrus industry.

Exploration of the Gayndah area began in 1847 by explorer Thomas Archer and Surveyor James Charles Burnett. The first European settlers arrived in 1848, and the town was established in the following year. A post office was established at Gayndah in 1850. This suggests that Gayndah may be the oldest officially Gazetted town in Queensland though, a convict colony of 47 people existed on the Brisbane River, CBD site in 1825.

We left Brisbane at 2.00pm for an overnight stay with David and Veronica at David’s family home. Arriving at 6.30pm we were made warmly welcome by June, David’s Mum who sat us down to savoury mince on toast. A few wines and a good chat then off to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.

Kerry had an early morning appointment, so David and Veronica gave me had the grand tour of the town. Starting with the Big Orange and “Gay Dan” the mascot of Gayndah, we then moved onto the Duchess. Duchess Mountain is immediately to the south-west of the town and at 190 metres (620 ft) provides excellent views over the town (100 metres (330 ft) above sea level).

We then visited David’s old primary school St Joseph’s, and the former St Joseph’s convent next door now the Arts and Cultural Centre.

Then we picked up Kerry and off to Mt Debatable, a tabletop hill on the south western side of the town. The views of the countryside were remarkable. Leaving the top of the hill we circumnavigated the town to enter Gayndah from the north and then cross the Burnett River on our way home.

This is only a small snap shot of Gayndah as we had to leave to return home promising to return again.

The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Day 6

Overnight between rubbers of 500, we roughly planned the trip for the following day. We wanted to get to one of the boutique breweries and finish the search for the best chardonnay. The next morning the weather again promised a lovely day. Any fears of rainy weather were long forgotten. First port of call was Cheeky Monkey Brewery. It shares premises with Killerby Wine and is very family friendly with children’s play area and cellar door. The tasting platter of 7 beers cost $15 and ample for two guys to share. The beer was different and yet very enjoyable but not readily available outside of the brewery. Kerry found a Sauvignon Blanc that she enjoyed at the Cellar door. Kerry H was still looking for the perfect Chardonnay and wanted to visit Woodlands to try their current vintage. Located in a woodland on a hill overlooking the vineyards the Cellar door was very appealing but the Chardonnay was $90 per bottle and Woody Nook still out shone it. Now satisfied that Woody Nook presented the best wine for the best value we returned to Woody Nook Winery.

We were now again in the northern end of the region and we thought we would go to Yallingup for lunch. Yallingup is a beach side village with excellent views over the cliffs and out to sea. The houses sink back into the undergrowth with the commercial area set well back from the beach. Cliff top walks allow visitors to take in all aspects but there is nowhere for lunch. Kerry H quickly refers to Google and soon we are on our way to Bushshack Brewery and the best Nachos on the coast. The brewery not only brews beer but alcoholic soft drinks – Sarsaparilla being my favourite. The Brewery was host to some vintage cars and the brewery was jammed so Nachos was about the only thing left on the menu. Sitting under the gum trees, the dining area is subject to aerial attack form Magpies. So dinner comes with a water pistol to chase off the birds which will rob from your plate as you eat.

In our search for the best chardonnay we had been advised to visit Credaro Wines. So after lunch we thought we would search them out before going to Prevelly Beach with a bottle of sparkling wine to watch the sunset over the ocean. Credaro has a magnificent vista from it deck and lovely surroundings. I was tasted out so I left Rod and Kerry to their tastings and checked out the gardens. Rod and Kerry H were not able to taste the premium chardonnay and purchased a bottle on trust. They were not disappointed.

We then moved onto Prevelly and were surprised to see surfers (in full wet suits because it is bloody cold) fighting out to the breaks right up to sunset. I trekked the beach until a rogue wave caught me out and then I joined the others to dry of and to watch the sunset.

Our last night at Margaret River finished as we started – a few hands of cards a nice bottle of wine and things to nibble on. Although Margaret River is only 3 hours south of Perth, we had plans to visit Island Brook and collect some wine as after all our tastings we felt they were still some of the best. With the cellar door opening at 10.00 we had to time our trip back for a 3.00 o’clock departure. Until next year when we will do it all again.

The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Day 5

The sun gets up a bit later here. We are much further south than Brisbane on the east coast and it is hard to pull yourself out of bed. Kerry and I make it up to go for a bush walk before breakfast. Definitely need a jacket and long trousers but the walk is enjoyable. Breakfast is a mad affair with the four of us trying to get things prepared in a kitchen designed for one person. Nevertheless, no one starved and there were no murders. Excitement is high because today we focus on the vineyards particularly the House of Cards. Now we have been playing cards once per month for over twenty years. To find a vineyard named “the House of Cards” seemed prophetic and we could not miss visiting the cellar door.

Our first port of call is the House of Cards where our hostess Keri (Yes another Kerry) doesn’t disappoint. We get the last two packs of cards and we get behind the tasting bar for an intimate photo. Not sure if it was the mood or the wine but we bought a case of wine between us. Alongside the cellar door is Gabriel’s chocolate shop and after tasting wine a mouthful of chocolate is hard to pass up.

Next we went to Laurence Wines. A marked difference to House of Cards. This is an opulent winery, grand in its style and elaborate with statuary, rose gardens and manicured lawns. Evan referred to it as the place with the “chick on the stick” referring to the soaring statue that greets all visitors. This was un-ashamed commercial winery with every sort of nick knack and wine on sale. Of course we sampled the wines but Kerry was more interested in the T shirts and the empty bottles. We thought about lunch but with a hamburger costing $26 we decided to try the place across the road.

Across the road we found Sampson and Bowen Winery and a brewery. Mistakenly we thought there would be a lunch available at the brewery but we were out of season and the restaurant at the winery was clearly not what we were looking for or wanted to pay for. Now driven by hunger we went to Metricup Road and scanned the road sign for a café. Woody Nook Winery jumped out and soon we were turning into the Nookery Café. Just the opposite of Laurances, the Nookery is rustic and located in the woodland around the vineyard. A shared tasting plate followed by tastings at the cellar door made for a nice lunch. Kerry found a nice Chardonnay but we left it as we were uncertain about the other chardonnays available. No one had suggested that Woody Nook would have Margaret River’s best Chardonnay at half the price of the more notable. Whilst there I noticed some of the relics of yesteryear and a most unusual skirted Xantherea.

Next we visited Hayshed Hill Wines and Pierro Wines looking for that perfect chardonnay. Still Woody Nook seemed a better wine and a better price. Well that just about finished us for the day but there was one more place we had to visit – Margaret River Venison. We selected a venison pie for dinner tonight. A night of cards, venison pie, and the cabernet merlot from Redgate made a good end to the day.

The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Day 4

Next morning the weather looked as though it would be overcast but not rain so we decided that a trip to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse would be our destination for the day with a few wineries for good measure. We started off the morning with coffee at Koffee Works alongside of Temper chocolate factory. The chocolate factory made some brave statements about being the best in the world (which we doubted) but it was worth a visit particularly for their chocolate dipped ginger and figs.

Koffee works not only sold you coffee whilst seated in your car (Yes a drive through) but roasted the beans, had bus tours visiting, a souvenir shop of all things to do with coffee and did a pretty good coffee as well. At $4 per cup it would want to be good but we found that coffee anywhere in Margaret River was $4 per cup (a bit of price fixing?). We then made a quick stop at Watershed Winery. Very modern premises and magnificent vineyards encircling the cellar door. Unfortunately, the wines did not impress so we pressed on.

We stopped in Augusta to get our bearings and make certain the lighthouse was open. Even on this fair day the place felt a bit wind swept being close to the south western most point of Australia – where the Great Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. We are on the right track so we carry on along the coast road through rough scrubby dunes and exposed rock faces to Cape Leeuwin. Opened in 1895, the tower, built from local limestone, stands 39 metres high from ground level and 56 metres above sea level. The tower has seven floors and 186 steps that keepers had to go up at least four times a day before the lighthouse was automated in September 1992.

The light was one of the last manually operated in the world, until 1982 when it was converted to electricity, replacing the clockwork mechanism and kerosene burner. Its piercing beam is as intense as one million candles and can be seen for 26 nautical miles or 48 kilometres. Apart from the tower there are the lighthouse keeper’s house and other buildings used throughout its 121-year history. Cape Leeuwin was first charted in 1801 by the great English explorer Captain Matthew Flinders RN when commanding the HMS Investigator circumnavigating and charting Australia’s coastline.

Fabulous adventure ending in sheltering outside the toilets as a sudden rain squall rushed across the Cape. We had parked amongst the Camper Vans and were confronted by the problem of too big a van in too small a space when it came time to travel on to see the stingrays at Hamelin Bay. Unfortunately, we did not research this on the internet. We stood on the beach (I had come prepared to wade into the water) looking at the rolling surf and wondering how the hell we were supposed to see the stingrays while 300 metres up the beach stood Hamelin Bay Jetty or what is left of it and apparently that is where you go to see the little Stevie killers. You can see the jetty in the distance in one of my photos.

Evan had told us that Café Borunup was worth a visit for lunch. We told us it was in the midst of the Kauri forest but we did not expect that it was just that – in the midst of the forest well off the main road. We were late for lunch but they squeezed us in following which we went to the adjacent wood crafts and antiques centre. There were some fabulous pieces of furniture there (dining table for 18 with the table top made of a solid slab cut from a tree- who has a house that will fit that table?) and some crazy steel sculptures made out of concrete re-enforcing steel. It is now getting late and we want to get back to our chalet with a bottle of wine or two visit the local supermarket for supplies and get ready for a night of cards. So we stop at Redgate Wines sample a few and decide that the cabernet merlot would do for tonight.

After unpacking the car, we walk to the village passing over the Margaret River. It looks very dormant and chocked with fallen trees and shopping trolleys. Apparently just the environment for big Marron (a fresh water crayfish that is considered a delicacy). A quick stop at the IGA, and the ice cream shop before the sun sets and we make our way home through the gloom of the evening with a chilling breeze. After dinner a few hands of cards and a bottle or two from Island Brook and Redgate.

The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Days 3

After two days in Perth’s suburbs we were ready for some adventure. It started when we had to find our wine drinking partners Kerry and Rod in a new suburb north of Perth. With great ingenuity I guided Kerry Y (because there are now two Kerrys) to the front door and we collected them for the trip to Margaret River. Out past the new hospital and on through Mandurup we cruised south for three hours with a short stop at Mandurup and Busselton. We knew we had arrived in wine drinking country when we were hailed to stop at Island Brook Winery on the northern outskirts of the Margaret River Region. The host at the cellar door was Evan – jovial and a fountain of local knowledge. We also found his wines to be enjoyable drinking particularly his Merlot which was quite alive rather than flat and boring like most Merlots. He basically set the itinerary for us for our few days in Margaret River.

Evan recommended our first stop at Margaret Riveria, a deli with local produce located in the quaint village of Cowaramup or Cow Town as it is locally known – presumably because of the herd of cows inhabiting the main street. After loading up on cheeses etc, we finished our journey to our accommodation at Forest Glen Chalets in Carters Road less than 5 minutes’ walk from the Margaret River township. Comfortable self-contained two bedroom chalets – this was to be our base and sanctuary for the next few days. Our bedroom was in the loft – loads of space but a bit of a walk for the bathroom.




The Retirees Return to Brisbane – Binna Burra

After arranging to meet with Carly and her family at Binna Burra we arrived and were enjoying a cup of hot chocolate to find out Carly is on another mountain at O’Reilly’s – one and a half hours down and up another mountain. We decided that with the weather turned cool with a gusting wind that we would enjoy our cup of hot chocolate and read Sunday’s newspaper in the warm of Binna Burra Tea Rooms.

After finishing our chocolate and the newspapers, we ventured outside and the weather was decidedly improved. After checking the trails that were open we decided to take the Forest circuit and divert onto the Loop track – 2.1 klms in all.

Binna Burra is a parcel of private land and mountain lodge surrounded by Lamington National Park. It is also the name of a locality in the same area hemce the confusion about where we were to meet Carly. The lodge lies in the north-eastern corner of the Lamington Plateau, 75 km south of Brisbane. According to Wikipedia, Binna Burra means “where the Antarctic Beech trees grow” in a local Aboriginal language. You can visit the remaining Antartic Beech Forest on the way to Natural Arch.

Our walk commeced by passing through the gate to the Park where we encounter one of the locals – a small black snake sunning itself on the path. At only 1 foot long it did not present any danger.

The walk through the forest was cool due to the cloud and the light rain but the incline meant that we would work up a sweat.

The forest is filled with Satinash trees which seem to be very vulnerable to the Strangler Fig which grows up and around the trees eventually crushing it but creating this spectacular twisted natural sculpture. The wind had brought down some of the dead tress that are scattered through the forest.

High up in the trees are the crows nest ferns but thanks to high winds the ferns find their way to the forest floor .

Also on the floor of the forest are some amazing fungi.

The rain eventually built up to the point where we decided to return to the car and make our way home. Travelling down the mountain we stopped at one of the well known jumping off points for the para-gliders. It was far too windy today but you can still experience some fabulous views.

Travelling down the mountain we tried to get a view of the Hinze Dam which flooded Advancetown and the Upper Coomera Valley to provide water to the Gold Coast. We were unable to get a picture showing the whole of the dam but some parts of it and the views to the Gold Coast.



The Retirees Home in Brisbane – Travels to the Wild West – Days 1 and 2

Each year over the Labour Day weekend we have travelled to a different wine region in Australia or the World. This year we chose Margaret River Western Australia for a few reasons not the least of which was to catch up with Uncle Barry, Ken, Peter, Lesley and the twins in Perth.
We had lost Aunty Dottie whilst we were overseas and this trip was to catch up with Barry and pay our respect to Dot – a wonderful Aunt and friend for Kerry. Our first day was spent getting over our midnight trip – with Perth 5 ½ hrs away by plane we were weary on arriving and through the next day. We visited Trigg Beach and two of Kerry’s nieces Zenith and Summer who have re-located to Perth.

Trigg Beach

We also visited Dottie’s last resting place. Dot wanted her ashes spread in the forest so Barry and the twins selected a tree in the Fred Jacoby Heritage Trail marked it with Dot’s favourite name pin and returned her to nature. Here we were surprised to find a giant oak tree a remnant of the English settler 150 years ago. It is a beautiful place and most suitable for the beautiful person she was.