Dan and Justy Down Under


January 20, 2005

Dan or Justy

Hmm. Wine-tour, eh?

Oh alright.

Justine did the legwork and arranged a fun time touring the Mt Tamborine region, both wineries and some natural stuff.

I'm not much of an oenophore, but I know what I like. And that's not much. But, I was pleasantly surprised by just how yummy some of the stuff was. Especially the honey-based wines at our first stop. I bought 2 bottles of the liquers, which will undoubtedly get taken home.

Our guide was a crusty old sheep rancher from the (real) outback. Trevor grew up 32 miles from his nearest neighbors. As was the custom back then, he was sent away to boarding school (nowadays they homeschool what with the internet and all :)

Trevor was an inexhausible source of information about all things Australian. From real-estate to the evolutionary specialization of kangaroos vs wallabys. I quizzed him ceaselessly and never found him lacking.

The rainforest walk he guided us on was just a baby suburban nature walk, but it was just our speed. Things are very different down here.

Shit is dangerous if you don't have a clue.

Just by looking around a little bit, he found lairs for both a funnel-web spider and it's (no relation) "cousin" the trap-door funnel-web spider. The former can kill a 10-yr old child. The latter can kill almost anyone.

They were right on the trail.

The trap-door was a real revelation. The lair was BIG. More than an inch in diameter. I shudder. Justine took a picture on max magnification, holding onto me.

Or how about the aptly named Gympie-Gympie tree? It seemed unique in that its leaves were obviously being eaten, but no other tree suffered the same. As usual, there is a good reason for this. Just brush against or touch the leaves and you will have thousands of toxin-laden glockids (or nettle, or some other word meaning tiny natural needle) rudely inserted into your skin. To quote Trevor: "and the pain!"

Gympie-Gympie is an aboriginal name. There is another plant growing in the same zones that is the antidote. It is called the Ganjy-boy. A broad palm leaf that is usually plastic in doctor's offices. Break it and spread the sap around on the affected area. Let it set, then simply peel the agglutenated mass off and the stingers come with. Brilliant!

Speaking of vines, there are several species of vine that grow to many inches thick. They climb the adjacent trees using limbs grown specially for the job. Once tied in a knot on the top of the tree (literally: one was a bowline), the climbing limbs fall off, leaving passerbys to wonder "how did they get up there?" They do not adversely affect the tree, and thus are commensal.

Of special mention are the strangler vines. You can probably guess they aren't as benign. They get their start from a tiny seed deposited into a water-holding niche in a big tree. The vine grows and sends roots down the length of the tree to gather moisture. This process continues until the original tree is strangled and indeed lost to the eye. We saw several stunning and HUGE examples of this on our walk.

We've booked a tour with Coast to Bush Tours for a wine tasting ride along the Mount Tamborine region in Queensland. This is the main wine producing region in QSL, the other more popular destination is Hunter Valley, too far south for this detour. After the initial "where d'you say you want me to pick you up? A parking lot? You can't drive after the tour!" exchange with other operators, we stuck to Trevor of Coast to Bush. We were the only ones on the tour, and his Land Cruiser was a complete treat for us both to ride in the back seat together.

We visited 3 wineries and did a great rainforest walk. Trevor was full of great information about the wines as well as the rainforest. he even found a trapdoor spider's trapdoor for us! The wine tasting was tons of fun as well, knowing we didn't have to drive afterwards, we swallowed! Mostly, anyway.

The first was a wine made from honey. Top shelf! We even tasted a variety of honey liquors (95 proof, each), honey ports, and bubbly red wine (a real popular thing down here for the holidays because it's served cold!). Both our palates stretched, and slurring just a bit, we headed onto the next stop. The Albert Vineyard. This more classic, hill-top mansion, ballroom estate was transported and rebuilt to replicate the governors mansion on a 5:1 scale. Grand views, rows of grapes, hectares of land and grazing horses certainly stunned me. The wines were excellent, whites clear and crisp and reds full-bodied and exciting. (Also tasted a bubbly shiraz! Wow!)

After a great lunch (thanks to Trevors wife for the grand spread, we truly feasted!) and a walk through the gallery street atop Mt Tamborine we visited Witches Falls, the third winery. There we tasted immature merlot and cabernet straight out of the barrels!

Needless to say we are now traveling with a liquor cabinet in the van. Cheers!

Next, we're off to our first diving holiday aboard the Big Cat Reality of Brisbane. A weekend-long trip with showers, cooked food, beds and pillows! Oh yeah, and diving.

Contact Trevor at Coast to Bush Tours on the Gold Coast at 07 5572 3171

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

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