Thursday morning found us walking around Penola township
and along dirt roads amidst the vines as part of our early morning
constitutional. We did our own breakfast thing and headed along the
road to Coonawarra for a bit of a look. Paula drove because it was
red territory, and the visit to Redmans was something of a homage
to growing up at dinner beside Dad, and that first introduction to
red wine in the 1970s. I remember lots of Orlando reds from the
Barossa and Connawarra ‘clarets’. We were lucky enough to come
across one of the Redman brothers, who took me through a complete
range of 06 to 08 Shiraz, Cabs and a fabulous Cab Merlot. It was a
refresher course in red wine; and even though I still prefer the
Clare Shiraz, the Redman version was an elegant for wine. The Cabs,
on the other hand, were traditional reds with elegance and power —
in a sense, not a wine to drink yet, but good in five or ten years.
An interesting gesture in the longevity of both the wine and the
drinker… Balnaves gave us a nice white and a good range of reds,
and the conversation Paula so enjoys. Our host’s daughter was at
the MacKillop Memorial School and so we were able to get some
impressions of the canonisation from the local community’s
perspective. I wasn’t entirely taken with the wines, so we toddled
down to Hollick, which had been Mark’s recommendation. Like
Balnaves, it was a very swish operation with a wonderful cellar
door, and Hollick boasts a restaurant that would have been worth
staying for. However, we had to make do with the wine, which proved
to be a nice surprise: well-made, well-priced reds which were
characteristic of the region, and some out-of-the-box thinking — a
restrained Sav, a fun carbonated white, a sound Pinot sparkling and
a promising Pinot Noir. And a Tempranillo blend that was spot on. I
need to get home and cook a leg of lamb to accompany it! I had
agreed to stop at three wineries, and that’s about my limit for a
morning, to be honest. Mt Gambier was our first stop and we payed
out homage to the Blue Lake. We drove down the road to Port
McDonnell — another Mary MacKillop point of interest — and
picnicked by the Harbour, full of lobster boats. Pate and goats
milk cheese by Bass Strait was pretty memorable. The road took us
through some pretty isolated areas. Timber plantations predominated
with isolated dairy and beef and occasionally a glimpse of my
favourite indigenous building, the shearing shed. After two hours,
wind turbines sprang on the horizon and we knew we were close.
Victoria’s dramatic coastline took our fancy immediately. Few would
come the way we have and most would miss the 100 metre cliffs, seal
colony and expanse of white beach. We are comfortable in our bed
and breakfast, with a great view and the promise of walks and
swimming in the morning.