We’ve had such a newsy week!  Leon got an offer on his house about the middle of the week.  Of course, we had just decided the week before that we would investigate putting the house up for rent when we return to Canada.  Isn’t that always the way?  Once he sent the counter offer for the house, he received the news that his daughter is expecting her second child.  We buzzed along for 2 days while the negotiations continued and the news settled in and then he received a second offer on his house.  By the time we left for Healesville on Friday, we needed to put all this flurry of what ifs behind.  So off we went, right after school…

We arrived as planned at 8pm and were met by our hostesses Sheryl and Deb.  Sheryl has designed the most serene house, with large Danish double-paned windows and doors and thick walls, heated by a passive solar heating system.  The floors are concrete and glass, the rooms are large and airy.  The grounds are secluded with large trees swaying in the wind.  The views of the valley and the town below are lovely.  One Friday, when I woke up at some point in the night, I could see the twinkle of the town lights mingle with the soft shining stars.  I slept so well and woke up half expecting a yogi to arrive for my yoga session and the spa staff to follow soon thereafter.  Of couse, it’s not a spa, just a really lovely home.

On Saturday, we met the bulk of the ITA group after breakfast.  Some of us were cycling, some were taking in a marathon of wine tasting.  Leon and I were part of the latter group.  So off we went at 10:30am, Leon driving, to meet our first vinter at Wild Cattle Creek winery.  We got a lot of wine facts and tried about 6 wines. Our vote was the sparkling chardonnay/pinot.  We left to meet the cyclists at the Wild Thyme cafe where we enjoyed a lovely outdoor lunch in the warm spring sunshine.  We parted ways again and continued our quest for the perfect wine – well not really, but we had to have some reason to visit all those wineries.  Off we went to 3 more wineries in about 2 hours.  We finally joined the cycling group at our last stop, Chandon wineries.  This is the same company that makes the Moet and Chandon champagne in France, so you can believe that I was going to try their sparkling wines.  I paid $5 and was told I could try any of 18 wines as long as I was finished by closing time which was 25 minutes later.  OK, I really, really love wine, especially sparkling wine, but I can’t drink that fast, not after visiting 4 other wineries.  So I managed to try all 6 of their sparkling wines and 2 of their regular wines.  Now to be fair, I didn’t drink all the samples I was poured.  Some of the sweet sparkling wines are just not to my taste.  So I tasted and then poured.  What a waste!

After that, it was back to our hostess’ house for a bonfire and a pizza dinner.  We stopped briefly at the Dam on the way (can’t think of the name) but it was near to closing time.  Back at the house, the fire was lit and people started to arrive for the evening.  You’d better believe that Leon had a few glasses of wine at that point, having sipped no more than H2O and a nice cup of tea all day.  A man gets thirsty watching others drink!  Dinner was filled with good conversation, lots of smoke from the fire, more wine and lots more conversation.  Most of us said good night well before midnite as we were to meet at the Healesville Sanctuary early the next morning.

Leon and I enjoyed another peaceful night, a great breakfast the next morning and were off to the Animal Sanctuary for a half-day visit.  This particular zoo is rather nice as it only has local Australian wildlife, not the usual tigers, elephants and bears.  We saw Wombat babies, a Tasmanian Devil and some Platapi in their recreated habitats, lots of terrific Australian birds who put on a show for us and a few dingos, which look an awful lot like our sled dogs but in a different colour.

The day continued at Badger Weir Park with a sausage fry and hamburgers for all.  After lunch, most of us left to return home.  But we are hoping to get together here in Bendigo for another weekend since so many of the group missed our Bendigo weekend 2 weeks ago.

Chandon Estates - Sparkling wine!
wild thyme lunch - Catherine, Jocelyn and Mike
coldstream estate
view from Killara winery - Leon, Sheryl and Matt
wild cattle creek