Once I had gotten over the excitement of horse riding, I decided that Valery Trails was going to be pretty hard to beat. We set off for Port Macquarie from our little campsite at Nambucca Heads. I had already picked up a map from the (somewhat creepy) honey place, so I had a few ideas for activities.
First on my list was a little place that was recommended to me by a friend, and it’s also in the Australia Lonely Planet guide. The Black Duck Brewery, sits on a little industrial estate just as we drove into Port Macquarie. We arrived a little early (keen as we were), because it was a Sunday. The book did not list their later Sunday hours, only the week day ones. It didn’t take long for the owners to arrive, and much to my excitement, with their big Great Dane boy alongside them!
We aren’t, wait no, past tense, we weren’t beer drinkers. I’m game for pretty much anything, so I’ll give most things a try; Ryan however, is a little more picky when it comes to food and drink. When the Dane jumped out the back of the car, I was already sold. “These people like good big dogs, they must be right”. We waited a little while for the owners to set up before we headed in, and while we were waiting Murphy (I later learnt his name) came over to greet us, sniff out the van, and drool on my knees. It was like having my pooch back!
Once we got inside we were greeted by a lovely lady, Kate. She gave us a little talk about the beer and asked what beers we would like to try. The tasting paddles were four beers each, and there were 11 available; so naturally we had a paddle each and shared them. Kate slipped us the other three for free so we could try all of the beers available! She set them up in order of lightest first and told us about them as we tasted.I thought I would end up preferring the lighter crisp beers, as I usually drink cider, but I ended up really enjoying the creamier pale ales and the dark ale. After trying the whole list, we picked two each and ordered our four pack J Then we sat down to an amazing pizza! Best to soak the beer 😉 We had an awesome time at Black Duck, Al and Kate were so lovely, they gave us lots of maps and tips on what to do in the area. So with all their advice in mind, and beer in our bellies, we headed to our campsite for the afternoon. The next day we got up bright and early for our coastal walk. We walked from Flynns beach, up to the lighthouse. The walk was difficult in places, with really uneven ground, however the views were so worth it! We found a gorgeous little spot just before the lighthouse, with some rock pools. We sat up on the rocks to eat our lunch, and while we were there we watched a pod of dolphins go by right beneath us. I’ve seen lots of dolphins and whales since I’ve been in Australia, but I still get excited every single time. It’s amazing for me to see them out in the wild.
The walk took us pretty much all day. We stopped at the beaches along the way and enjoyed the scenery, or else the walk probably wouldn’t take as long. That evening we cooked ourselves some proper dinner and even met a couple of nice girls, stayed up and played cards with them.The next morning, we set off from Port Macquarie, but not before visiting The Little Brewing Company, home of Wicked Elf beers. The brewery offered only a small tour, and not as many beers on offer, but with plenty of knowledge and information. It was interesting to learn about the different flavours in beer and how to appreciate the hops, and the slight bitterness. I don’t think I would be as keen to drink it if I didn’t know how to appreciate it. As we headed further out of Port Macquarie, we decided to visit our first vineyard (little did we know it would be the first of many!). Bago Vineyard was a little south west of Port Macquarie, but well worth the detour. The folks there were super friendly, we chatted as they poured; before I knew it I had tasted the entire wine list! This was my first ever experience at wine tasting, so they taught me the order in which to try them, which wines are crisp, which are fruity, and which go well with different types of food. It was really nice to learn how to appreciate a good wine. They make all their wine on the site which was interesting.
We ordered a cheese platter and sat out in the sun enjoying a wine of our choice, (well Ryan was on water as the designated driver). The grounds are gorgeous, and they even have a maze with a little treasure hunt in there. It was a really nice place to start off our wine tasting. I have to admit, I was worried that turning up in our bright green van to a vineyard, might turn some heads and cause a few comments, but the people there were just lovely.
With my belly full of beer, wine and cheese, we headed off to our campsite at Bonny Hills. It was our stop off for the night before our drive down to Hunter Valley, but this site was gorgeous. We pulled on to our pitch, overlooking the sea, and as the sun went down, I could see just why this was a popular site, even though we weren’t near much.
Bye for now