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Published: January 21st 2006
On tour up East Coast
About twenty on the bus
Wine & Cheese tasting.
I was thinking what luck it was for me and Nicola to have met at the hostel the night before heading out on tour on good ol' Oz Experience. I had a few reservations about using Oz Ex as opposed to using Greyhound but decided to go the super easy route and the little "extras" that you get. I was just worried about everyone being really, really young! But it is nice to have accommodations and buses and a bit of sightseeing all sorted out beforehand and it is awesome that Oz Exp is now being run by Australian Adventure tours. This all means they have been revamped. In my opinion all of the new brochures seem reminiscent of the Stray Bus tours of New Zealand. So this is looking really promising! Well, I'll make the most of it whatever happens otherwise it is going to be a very long nine weeks in Australia. lol
Nicola and I got up bright and early as did most of our dorm it seemed because most people were taking off for various places around the country and World for that matter. So it was nice to not have to be super, super quiet. I swear zippers are 1000 times louder in the dead silence of the morning and don't even think about opening/closing a velcro fastener! Oh and plastic bags...
We made it to our meeting point with a bit of time to spare. We were lucky once we boarded the bus because we scored the front set of seats with the extra leg room. I felt bad for the folks in the very, very back because the seats were really cramped barely any leg room plus they were lower and you couldn't see out of the windows.
Our morning stop was at the Gaugin Winery in the Hunter Valley where we tried four white wines, three red wines and a port. Hmm, wine at half nine in the morning. this should be interesting especially for those on the bus that were already a bit hung over. 😊 I have discovered that I like white wine much more than red wine and definitely didn't like the port that we tried. It was all quite fancy considering we were a tour bus of youngish folk and I'd hazard to guess not wine connoisseurs...hence not big wine buyers. As predicted, my face turned a bright red...did some one turn the heater on in here?
We were way ahead of schedule and had time for a short cheese tour and tasting as well. The brie and cheddar were awesome but the goat cheese was something else.
We continued our drive northward for another small stretch until we got to Dungog and stopped for some lunch. Now this is a really small town. Well, not so small that we doubled the population when we arrived. haha For such a small town (main drag only seemed to be 3 or 4 blocks) I was surprised to see two supermarkets and more than a handful of cafes. I guess they get a lot of people passing through. I wasn't all that hungry for lunch because I'd been snacking all morning. Lots of breadsticks, crackers, cheese and a couple of Tim Tams too. I did indulge in a vanilla milkshake though while Nicola had an overpriced sandwich. Mind you it did look delish.
Then it was more sitting on the bus to our accommodations in Barrington and the Barrington Tops National Park. It was on a massive piece of land. Nicola and I wandered around and saw at least a dozen kangaroo jumping about the hills. We walked towards the Koala Sanctuary in hopes of sighting a koala but it wasn't meant to be. But it could be because they're nocturnal creatures. I was reading the koala having really small brains and therefore being really inactive and can be quite aggressive as well.
For dinner we had a BBQ planned for us. Always nice to get a bit of red meat to eat and of course lots of various salads, bread and a "free" beer. So of course I easily exchanged my beer ticket for two cokes with one of the guys. Boy are some of these kids heavy drinkers. I'm not exaggerating when I say there were well over a hundred empty beer cans piled up into a tower.
As predicted, the bus is composed of mainly a younger crowd. I'd say about half are about 19 to 21, a third in their mid-twenties and the remaining around my age. Of course as we were going round the table finding out everyone's age everyone was once again astonished by my age. I jokingly said that I'm dyslexic and am 23. haha I think I should really shock people one time and say that I'm 39 or something outrageous like that. lol
One guy was so hung over and out of it on the bus in the morning because he had a late night of drinking and not much sleep. At the wine tasting he got off the bus to go to the toilet and I swear he was going to fall down the stairs. He did a pretty good Mr. Bean impersonation though. He's really lucky his girlfriend was around to help him out. Oh, young, not so smart kids these days.
There was also an optional tour to go kayaking on the river at night. Hmm, there are all these warning signs that the river is rocky and has fast moving waters. Now why would I want to go on this fast moving river in the dark? Plus it was really cold out and even with a wetsuit on I would have been freezing.
All in all it was a full day but a fun day as well. Since most people didn't know one another it was nice to slowly get to know some of them...hard to get to know all 22 of them though! On tour on this bus there are lots of people from England and Wales and a few Canadians. I don't know if I can take anymore talk of “Neighbours”...
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