After our amazing Uluru trip, we had one day to catch up with the family again before our son Peter had to go spend a week in Wangaratta with the mobile bottling plant of Casella’s Family Brands, the mother company.
We decided to pack daughter-in-law Jacinta and grand child nr 5 Louis in the car and make it in yet another road trip – be it a shorter one…about 280 km one way.
Day 1: Griffith to Wangaratta.
Louis (6 months old at the time) behaved really well, but baby’s need to be fed at regular intervals and we made multiple sightseeing stops to allow for just that.
We had a coffee break at Tocumwal – on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, which twists and coils through the landscape and acts as the border between NSW and Victoria. We followed the Tocumwal Road, North of the river to Lake Mulwala. Looking at the Google satelite images you can see how green and fertile the land is on both sides of the river.
About half an hour later we arrived Mulwala and stopped at one of the public parks on the edge of the lake, close to an old train loco, for a Louis feeding session.
The lake looked eerie with all the dead, ghostly gumtrees in the water. The smoke from the bush fires a few 100 km’s away hung low and made the lake even more eerie. Even though we had been aware of the Australian fires since our arrival at end of November, we hadn’t been visibly confronted with it. To see now how the smoke had drifted 100’s of km’s, made us realise how intense the fires must be. I think from that moment too, we started watching the news regularly to keep updated on the disastrous developments and impact of the fires.
Louis fed and happy, we drove to the Yarrawonga side for some chill time at the water playground. Mulwala and its twin towns Yarrawonga are located on either side of the Murray River and the lake is the perfect place for water activities all-sorts such as fishing, waterskiing and boating in general. There’s also a paddle-steamer and water playgrounds, and a whole host of other recreational facilities on the lake’s foreshore.
After an open-air bum change and a new set of (dry) clothes, we continued towards Wangaratta, where we booked in at the Best Western Warby Lodge motel. While waiting for daddy Peter to get home, we had some fun in the pool.
Day 2: Wining and dining.
The next day, while Peter had to go bottling at Baileys Wines, we planned a little country trip on our own – on recommendation of Jacinta – with Baileys as end destination.
We started out to the south east side of Wangaratta with a visit to the Milawa cheese company and tasted some really nice brie, blue and goat cheeses As it was midmorning, it was a very good excuse to enjoy a cheese platter for almost-lunch. We quickly had a browse in the gift shop and popped in at the Woodlands Wines, for a nice post-lunch wine tasting. Of course we had to take some home to share with Peter after a hard day’s work at the winery!
Our next stop was Brown Brothers for (yet another) wine tasting. Their cellar is a beautiful combination of traditional and modern and their grounds are just so inviting for lunch. Unfortunately we just had our cheese brunch, so we stuck to drinking wine. We kinda liked it so we bought another bottle or two to enjoy at night.
From there we drove west to meet Peter at Bailey’s of Glenrowan Wines, part of the Casella Family Brands. We drove through the Taminick Gap Road and from the higher vantage points of the road you could see how hazy the landscape was of the smoke. Once again, it hit home, how intense the fires must be raging.
We arrived at Bailey’s of Glenrowan to see the mobile bottling plant in operation and visit the winery.
Cellar master Nick took us on a tour of the winery itself, including the cellar with the old barrels and fortified wines (where we got a taste straight from the barrel) and a look into their amazing wine cellar / conference room! We tasted a few more wines in their shop and eventually walked out with a bit of stock of really nice wines to enjoy during the coming Christmas season.
A very good finale to a lovely trip into Wangaratta wine country.
Before, during and after our 2019-2020 family holiday, bush fires have been raging in Australia. Thank you to all firefighters and volunteers who worked relentlessly to combat the raging fires.
Read more about our other trips and destinations during our 2019 – 2020 family visit in Australia.