The Pig Yard

Pig Yard @ Cessnock & The Hunter Valley - November 2005

After a week in Tasmania we took our Virgin Blue flight into Sydney airport where we met up with Dave & Lucie. We didn't realise that it was a two hour drive from their home in Cessnock to Sydney - somehow we'd gotten the impression that it was only an hour away. It seems that Dave & Lucie have got into the Australian habit of being prepared to travel vast distances.

It was great to see them again at the airport and I don't think we stopped talking during the whole two hour journey.

On our way to Cessnock from the airport we stopped off at The Entrance on the coast to see the daily feeding of the pelicans.

The woman on the microphone had been taking lessons from Hitler and was threatening anyone who dared to stand up or move whilst the birds were being fed. Whilst we were watching from the back she told two people to leave because they had stood up to take a photo.


Cessnock is a large town but it has no saving graces in terms of its architecture. Although there were a number of streets with Jacaranda trees in flower which transformed the rows of houses into something quite magical.

Dave & Lucie are standing in the foreground with their Toyota Corrola behind them.

Our first visit to a winery was the Rothbury estate where we stopped for a Sunday morning coffee and scrunptious cake.

These barrels are purely decorative as the real wine making takes place in a factory behind the visitor centre. Most vineyards cater for visitors as well as providing space for business conferences and other corporate facilities.


We were taken on a trip to the coast to witness the delights of Shoal Bay. As always we just had to stop for coffee and cake.

Shoal Bay can be seen in the background and after our break we drove a little further round the bay and climbed the steep hill you can just see in the background of this photo. This was one of the stops where the company and view were so good we could have completely relaxed and stayed there all day.

Lucie does voluntary work on Friday's for the local zoo so she managed to arrange a special visit for us before it was opened to the public. Jane found herself bottle feeding this baby Kangaroo. Baby is a bit of a misnomer because this animal was very large and heavy. It finished the bottle in no time at all. When Jane came to put him back in the area where he lived he was insistent that he was going to get down and find his own way into his enclosure and she wasn't going to argue.
Dave & Lucie are renting a lovely, two bedroom home that is in a quiet area of Cessnock. The small group of four houses are quite new. It is very easy to maintain with a modern open plan interior.

Strangely all of the houses we visited in Australia tend to have separate toilets from the bathrooms and therefore you have to always go to the bathroom to wash your hands afterwards.

The wide overhanging roof is commonplace because it keeps the sunlight out of the house thereby making it cooler inside.

The weather wasn't as good as we hoped - there was no flight on the Monday morning (gave us an excuse to stay in bed) but we were up at 04:00 on the Tuesday to have our first flight. We had to meet up at the Balloon Aloft site first before heading out to the chosen launch site. Dave is now an even better pilot, if that's possible, than when he was flying in the UK. They don't tend to fly in fast wind conditions but they do have to assess wind direction and select a launch site that will bring them in to one of their regular landing sites.
Our flight was slow but delightful as the sunrise started to burn off the few clouds that were still around. After floating serenely alongside two other balloons we eventually started our descent into the Rothbury estate. We approached over some vines before coming to rest in a grass field. Dave did manage to clip one of the posts holding up a row of vines but he did no damage and the punters loved it. We all helped to pack away before heading back to the Balloon Aloft offices where the passengers had Australian sparkling wine (they called it champagne but we all knew it wasn't).
The guided tour at the Tyrrells winery came highly recommended and it lived up to its reputation. The tour was informative and good humoured, the wine tasting afterwards was impressive and we all had plenty to drink. We even bought some very expensive wine but unfortunately never had the time to drink it but we're sure Dave & Lucie will be toasting us with it when they celebrate some worthy event.
Vineyards are so neat and tidy they hold a special attraction for Steve who loves to see things neatly set out in rows. This vineyard was particularly impressive as it was set out in segments on the hill surrounding the farmhouse. Long morning shadows added to the overall effect of light and pattern.

Melbourne & Tasmania

Hunter Valley

Port Douglas