8th October 2008, Wednesday
For the last package with AAT, we chose Yarra Valley wineries and Puffing Billy. I am not a wine connoisseur, I just drink wine like water. LOL!!! Ahem! Well, I just wanted to go there to see grapes on vineyards and take snapshots of the breathtaking view.
We got on the road along the Dandenong ranges and drove through Ferntree Gully. It was a feast of lush greens of forest for the eyes! There are many white trees called mountain ash tree which are the tallest broadleaf trees in the world! It is one of the many species of eucalyptus trees in Australia.
We made a stop at one of the spots along the Ferntree Gully to feed some crimson rosella birds and parrots while having breakfast of some Lamington Cakes and vegemite with biscuits and washed it all down with Billy Tea. The birds reminded me of the bird park in KL where I went sometime in September for some photo treat.
After the short break for breakfast, we made our way to the Puffing Billy. It was Australia oldest steam train from Belgrave to Gembrook, cutting through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. You would never believe that there are actually 600 volunteers working in this train station for free! Puffing Billy is open every day except Christmas and the service runs up to 6x a day.
Here’s a tip – I think sitting on the right side would have better views. You get to see the train turn to the right in front of you and some people along the way and scenic lush forest. On the left side, you get to see the hills and trees and not much of the train.
When we got down the train at Menzie’s Creek, there were hordes of people hording the train to take pictures. Some silly one put their hands on the engine and got scalded. Imagine how stupid can one be? No common sense one??? It’s blowing steam and this woman nicely put her hand on the train. I didn’t take pics of myself as I don’t want to join the maddening crowd.
After the train ride, we went to the Ferguson’s winery for lunch. Here, you can either have the spit roast beef on prepaid meals or you can opt for ala carte. We had the gnocchi. I don’t know what is it! Haha! It’s something like hakka dim sum if you ask me. Instead of using minced pork, this comes with a little bit of cheese and olives. But it was sourish in taste and quite unique.
After lunch, I quickly went out to take some pictures. I was rather disappointed that there was no grapes yet! It’s early spring and usually, the grapes would grow in the summer – all green and eventually turn red in autumn. So I guess if you would like to take really nice pictures of the beautiful amber colored vineyard in full splendor, try going there from January to March.
We took some photos of the place before moving on to the next winery. Rockford’s winery. We made a fool out of ourselves. People don’t gobble up the drinks when they go for wine tasting. They would sip a little, let it roll back and forth their mouth palate and then spit it out. Being Asian (and also some of the Mat Sallehs) and not wanting to waste one bit, we swallowed everything till the last droplet. Lol!
The last winery we visited is the Domaine Chandon where you get the world’s awesome sparkling champagne – Moët et Chandon.
Here, we were guided on a tour around the factory to learn how the wonderful sparkling wine is being made. It’s a rather tedious process and even the quality of the oak barrels used to store the wine has significant impact on the taste and quality of the wine! Christopher, the person in charge to take us around emphasize that Moët is pronounced as Mo-at.. and not Mo-ay… and he looked somewhat annoyed when people pronounced it as Mo-ay.
We were served with a full glass of champagne of our choice (if not mistaken, I think we had the sparkling Blanc de noirs) – sweet or dry with a cheese platter for free! Awesome! It tastes heavenly! No wonder celebrities ordered them in contennas when they have their weddings.
We could have second glass at AUD9 per glass but somehow we couldn’t because the bus is arriving anytime.
Since we were in a hurry, I drunk everything in less than 10 minutes and I was rather tipsy when I was trying to take pictures of the beautiful poppies in the garden!
Luckily, it was the last winery to visit so I could catch some sleep before reaching the city… or else, I guess someone has to cart me home. Haha!