On the Sydney Opera House tour, we went from a sort of cool place into an elegant warm, darker interior. Just then I heard, “It feels like a milk barn.” Yes, Rupiper Tours does attract the farming set. These guys want to know about irrigation, pipes, crops, weather, and more. So, today, the mood on the bus was happy. We were headed out of the big city, Sydney into the country.
It took us about two hours or so to drive through the suburbs of Sydney into the Hunter Valley. Lesley, our Australian tour guide, told us along the way that in order to buy a home in Sydney, a person would need $1.2 million dollars for something not even very nice. As the Aussies would remark, “If they paid that much, they wouldn’t have a brass razzu left.”
We drove through one of the five national forests around Sydney for quite some time. It was filled with Eucalyptus trees. Lesley talked about the danger of fires in this area. Apparently Australia shares Canada’s big fire-fighting helicopters because the two countries have opposite fire seasons. Then we stopped for a chew (rest stop) shortly before arriving at Mt. Pleasant Wines in the Hunter Valley for wine tasting.
Mt. Pleasant Wines at Polkobin, New South Wales was established in the 1880s, and we saw the paddock (field) where those grapes were growing. The wines we tasted were very sophisticated and not to everyone’s taste. Judy and Gary bought new Semillion to drink later.
We ate lunch a short distance away where we found an alpaca shop. Then we boarded the bus for another two-hour ride to the Godolphin Horsebreeding and Thoroughbred Racing Stable owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai. We learned about the intricacies of horse breeding from one of the employees, and then we met a famous horse, a Lohron. He no longer races, but he is an excellent sire. If you want to use him, it would cost $66,000. However, his true worth is in the horses that he sires; one of his offspring is valued at $44 million. Fair Dinkum! (Honestly.)
The guide at the horse stables said that the horses all have distinct personalities. For example, Lohron thinks he’s a big deal. He is unhappy if he is not the first to go into his stable or the first to leave. When we met him, he also came right over. However, he likes to bite, so we had to be a bit cautious.
The Sheikh has never been here. Interesting. We also talked about how the horses are shipped by air on the Sheikh’s private plane to different points in the world to race. It’s a good thing that the Sheikh has enough money to support his very expensive passion.
At our “chew” stop near the horse stables, we encountered a tree filled with White Corellas. Pretty messy. Later we saw the Galah Bird. It hangs upside down on fences and looks silly. So maybe you can figure out what it means when someone says to you, “Don’t be a Galah.”
We are staying in Tamworth tonight, the country music capital of Australia, but I’m in my room, writing all of you and listening to some good jazz.
Mosquito update: Lohron was wearing a blanket on this rather warm day because of flies. That seems to be the big thing around here.
This was a nice day for the farmers. Fair dinkum! Love the Aussie lingo.