Australia – The Last Post

I finished up my week in Australia with a visit to Adelaide.  I have always had a theory that the great wine regions of the world make good travel destinations.  This led Melinda and I to places like the Russian River Valley, Walla, and Paso Robles in the US, as well as Mendoza in Argentina, Stellenbosch in South Africa, and the Rioja in Spain.

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The Great Ocean Road

On Australia Day (sort of like the 4th of July), I took a tour of the Great Ocean Road.  The Great Ocean Road runs along the Southern tip of Australia.  It was built by Australian soldiers returning from WW1 to open road access to an area previously served by ships that had to navigate an area known as the Shipwreck Coast.  Continue reading

St. Kilda Pier

I am at St. Kilda Pier on Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, Australia.  It’s warm and sunny, the first day of the trip that I can comfortably wear shorts.  The view back toward Melbourne is filled with brightly colored kite surfers, soaring through the air.  At the end of the pier, I have just discovered two penguins hiding in the rocks.  It is great to be alive.

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Grand Slam

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be at a Grand Slam tennis tournament, but here I was watching Roger Federer playing in the quarter finals of the Australian Open.  The previous night, I was searching around the tournament website, when somehow, a single ticket to the sold out event popped up for sale.  There are some benefits to traveling alone. Continue reading

The Northern Explorer

I finished up the New Zealand part of my trip with an eleven-hour train ride on KiwiRail’s Northern Explorer, which travels from Wellington through the heart of the North Island to Auckland.  It was a pleasant ride through farms, small towns, and impressive national parks, punctuated with a few stops along the way to remove sheep from the tracks.   The train is a bit creaky, with lots of rocking and rolling.  It’s no TGV, but it has its charms and a good share of outstanding views.  Unfortunately, not too many photos because the weather was not cooperative and my camera was not very adept with pictures from a speeding train.

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Wellington is a place with some serious attitude, an attitude I think I like.  Wellington is a state of mind.  While it is not big, it is the capital of New Zealand and its cultural heart.  It is known as Windy Welly, because it sets on the Cook Strait, the wide body of water that separates New Zealand’s North and South Islands, which operates like nature’s wind tunnel.  There is no backpacker grunge vibe here; this is real modern New Zealand, people going about their lives in a pretty fine way. Continue reading

The Heart of Darkness

I am in Te Anau, literally at the end of the earth, the most southern part of the South Island of New Zealand.  I rode a bus for three hours to get here.  We drove among valleys sparkling with rainbow hues of green, all filled with fluffy white sheep.  New Zealand has a lot more sheep (30 million) than people (4.5 million).  At one time, the country had seventy million sheep, but many farmers switched to more lucrative cattle and red deer.  It was a great drive, little did I know what I was in for. Continue reading

Central Otago Pinot

We’re off today for a wine tour in Central Otago, a region increasingly known for artisianally made Pinot Noir.  Many producers are small, and their wines are rarely seen outside the local area.  However, Central Otago wines are increasingly being exported to the US.  Central Otago provides an intriguing comparison to Oregon Pinot Noir because the latitude is 45 degrees south, comparable to Salem, Oregon at 45 degrees north, and of course Burgundy in France at a similar north latitude.  Continue reading

After the Gold Rush

Gold rushes occupy an outsize place in both the history and myth of developing nations.  The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in the Sierra Nevada in 1848 started a mass migration that shaped the future of California.  Likewise, in 1862, gold was found in the Arrow River in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand, which sparked a gold rush that led to a large migration to the area of gold miners from other parts of New Zealand, Australia, the UK, the US and China.  Continue reading