Of course we arrived too late for lunch, and of course it was all my fault. I wanted to get closer to one of the Glass House mountains and ended up on dirt roads in the middle of the bush leading to nowhere.

Coming from Brisbane, D and I took the Bruce Highway up north to the Glass House Mountains, and after a visit to the lookout and the little foray into the bush (see above), we finally found the car park at the base of Mount Tibrogargan (one of the extinct volcanoes that was formed 27 million to 26 million years ago). After an easy but beautiful hike around the base of the volcano we decided to visit the Flame Hill winery for lunch and a bit of wine tasting. The drive to Montville along the ridge of the mountain chain took us through picturesque scenery and villages, the view to the east stretched far out to the coast, to the west we were overlooking the green rolling hills and pastures of the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

When we finally arrived at the Flame Hill winery it was 3 pm. Lunch was served until, well, 3 pm – sharp. Bad luck. Nevertheless we decided to stay and sit down at a table on the deck overlooking the vineyards where a clutch of guinea fowls was roaming for anything edible. We savoured a charcuterie platter, tea and a glass of pinot gris. It is winter in Australia now, but as long as the sun is out, it is still warm enough to sit outside. Despite the slightly chilly breeze it was good to soak up a few warm sun rays.

After all I thought it was a beautiful and very relaxing afternoon, and last but not least I also bought two bottles of their Summersault white.

A lovely day out!

http://www.flamehill.com.au/

Annotation:

Please be advised to take a packed lunch when setting out on Marcus Queensland Travel Tours.  Morning tea is scheduled for 12 noon, lunch is served at 3.30pm and dinner is fast forwarded to 7.00pm.  However, while the well-groomed tour guides are friendly, proud of their state and obviously enthusiastic, all eating schedules appear to be at the individual decision of the driver involved.  You get to eat when the driver wants to eat.  So, be warned and pack a vegemite sandwich to see you through the day!

A real discovery to me was the Italian restaurant ‘Carmen’s’, located in Muswellbrook in the beautiful Upper Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley itself is always worth a visit for its stunning scenery but primarily of course for its abundance of vineyards and wineries. On our way to the Hunter Valley we drove through the small town of Muswellbrook and decided to stop for dinner at Carmen’s. The restaurant is run by an Italian family and I was positively surprised at the quality of the food. This certainly is a hidden gem!

http://www.carmens.net.au/index.html

Floods and Friends

Februar 6th, 2011

Already in December the northern part of Queensland got inundated, and it was just a matter of time when the floods would reach Brisbane. After further torrential rainfalls the flood came on Tuesday, 11 January. Our company asked us to leave the offices at noon time because the management wanted to make sure that everybody would be able to make it home safely back to their families. The water level went up steadily, however they finally  remained under the levels of the big flood of 1974. The garage of our company building became flooded, and the energy supplier disconnected the entire area from power. If I remember correctly approx. 20,000 buildings became disconnected from power over the rest of the week, most properties became reconnected after a couple of days. Our company’s power generator did not engage, we stayed at home for two days until we were able to return back into the office on Friday.

The devastation in the areas near the river was shocking. All ferry terminals were destroyed, unmanned yachts, pontoons, a floating restaurant were washed down the river and crashed against bridges. Homes were flooded, cars went under, families lost their homes and thousands of people spent several nights in evacuation centres.

Christmas in Summer

November 11th, 2010

This is just the start of my lengthier Christmas post, but nevertheless I wanted to give it a start. My dear friends back at home in good old Germany, as fast as you are approaching winter with temperatures around or below zero, we are approaching summer here. This does not exactly put me into Christmas mood, so I was a bit surprised, that at the end of spring I see Christmas decoration popping up everywhere in the city now. The fassade of “my” supermarket was decorated with plastic pine tree banches, shiny balls and oversized bows, plastic Christmas trees in shops, in the mall, just everywhere. I will keep you posted, but for now I just had to let you know that this feels STRANGE!

It makes me aware again, that my “biological” clock is still a bit askew. After experiencing autumn and winter back in Germany, I traveled around the world just to arrive back in autumn again. So I had autum – winter – autum – winter, and now it is finally spring with summer looming at the horizon. Please do not expect me to have anything that might come near an emotional Christmas state. It’s just not happening. This is sun, t-shirts and shorts, beach weather, beer and barbies. No “dreaming of a white Christmas…”, “jingle bells, jingle bells…” and so forth, it’s just not happening here mates!

I happened to mention to our wonderful team assistant, that I am not in the  right Christmas mood because I need snow or at least temperatures around freezing. Well, the very next day I had snowflakes lying on my desk and my chair. Ellie, our assistant’s daughter, had so much sympathy for me that she decided to cut snowflakes out of white paper, just for me to help me feel that Christmas is here. “Your wish came true because Michelle and Ellie made it come true” this wonderful little girl wrote. This has been the most moving Christmas present I have ever received in my entire life.

My fabulous friends knew that the Germans have their most important Christmas celebration at Christmas eve. We can’t leave Marcus alone on Christmas Eve they decided, and so they organised a surprise Christmas dinner at the German Black Forest Restaurant in Dutton Park. It was fantastic, and I had a great Christmas dinner together with my wonderful friends. The roasted duck with red cabbage and potato dumplings was delicious, and in combination with a glass of genuine Schneider Weisse it couldn’t get any better.

On Christmas day Greg took me over to very good friends of his for Christmas lunch. Fabulous people who just said “Greg’s friends are our friends”, absolutely uncomplicated, relaxed, laid back. They lived in the wonderful suburb of The Gap, on Christmas day it rained a bit, but we had a wonderful time. Everybody contributed something to the Christmas lunch (I made Italian-style antipasti), it was such a relaxing afternoon.

Christmas in 2010 was different, very different, but I enjoyed every single bit of it, and I realized again what a wonderful circle of friends I was allowed to meet, and what great people the Australians are.

Kookaburra – update

Oktober 17th, 2010

My new friend, the kookaburra (I named him “Kooky” as a form of endearment), hasn’t given up yet. After he still continued to attack his own reflection in the big window pane downstairs (hence continued to crash against the window), Geoffrey covered the window with a cloth. However this just diverted the poor bird that took to attack his reflection in the car’s side window and the toilet window upstairs. Well, how can I put it, I was completely shocked when I was using the toilet and did what people with a functioning digestion system have to do every now and then, when something crashed against the window above me and I thought the window pane would be smashed to smithereens. I immediately knew that Kooky had found a new target.

Kooky, you are just the craziest bird I have ever seen in my entire life.