Monday, November 17, 2014

16 Nov 14 – Day 10 (Yarra Valley)

Today got up about the same time as yesterday because today was a day trip to Yarra Valley. It rained during the night hence it was chilly in the morning. CT woke up about 7am to prepare breakfast while SY made coffee. When CT was preparing to heat up the pita bread, she saw some mould forming on the bread. So without hesitation, she threw the pita bread away and took out some eggs from the fridge to make omelette. She was pretty skilful in making omelette. While she was cooking, SY brought some biscuits out and we munched biscuits while waiting. Soon the omelette was done and we ate it quickly while it was still hot. I helped to clear the table after we were done and waited for the couple to get dressed.

We left the house about 8:30am and the first stop was to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. I was really excited when we reached the place because it was similar to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory in Perth. Took a photo of the open compound before heading into the retail shop. There were all sorts of chocolates and chocolate products available such as the chocolate pastilles, chocolate bars of different cocoa content, hand-made chocolate truffles and even chocolate tea. Beside the retail shop was a café and it was really crowded. Went to take a basket and started to browse the chocolate products on my own. I ended up with almost one basket full of chocolate and it was after much control on my part. Both CT and SY were very impressed with the amount of chocolate that I had bought.

We left close to 10am to Yarra Valley Farmers' Market. It was not very big but enough stalls to keep me occupied. It was drizzling so the couple brought along umbrellas, I simply pulled my hood over and walked on. We passed by a few stalls before coming to the big farm house where there were more stalls inside. Just outside the big farm house was a stall selling sausages. This was the stall that the couple mentioned to me while in the car. The banner said buffalo sausages and I just took it as the sausages were very big and hence called buffalo sausages. Continued into the farm house to browse the stalls and then CT came along to ask if I would like to eat sausages. I said ok and followed her out to that stall. The sausage looked really big and smelled really nice. There were three types of chutneys to choose from and I asked for the one with rosemary. SY paid for all the buffalo sausage sizzles (hotdog bun with sausage and dressing) and then CT said she and SY would go have a look at the surroundings and left me at the farm house to browse the stalls.

There were a lot of stalls selling things like homemade pastries, fruits, jams, Christmas pudding of different sizes, honey and so on. There were also some chairs on the side of the farm house for people to sit and so I sat down to finish up the buffalo sausage sizzle before walking around. The buffalo sausage sizzle was really yummy and filling. The pastries sold by the stalls were so tempting but I could not stuff in anymore food. Jams looked good too but I had to stop myself because I could not fit in anymore big items into my luggage. Saw a stall selling body lotion made from honey and got interested. The lotion smelled really nice, then the stall owner let me tried the lip balm and it really smooth on the lips. So I bought a bottle of the body lotion and a lip balm from her. Moved on to the next stall selling Christmas pudding and bought a small one. Half way through, CT and SY came back to look for me. Showed CT my loot and she followed me to check out the stall that sells the honey lip balm and body lotion. She was contemplating about getting the body lotion but in the end she didn’t. Then a few stalls away was one that sell pastries, CT placed her order and waited for the stall owner to prepare her food. The pastries were really freshly made on the spot. While waiting, we chatted and it was then I found out that the buffalo sausage sizzle was actually buffalo meat because SY was commenting that I was really lucky to be able to try buffalo meat. It turned out that the stall doesn’t always have buffalo sausages. Other times were just normal sausages.

Next stop was to the Warratina Lavender Farm. The lavender wasn’t in full glory yet but still there were some people busy taking selfies with the plant even though it was drizzling. We browsed the retail shop where I bought a bottle of lavender essential oil, a small bottle of lavender honey and a small pack of dried lavender angustifolia egerton blue for culinary use. Then we went out to the farm after it had stopped drizzling and CT commented that we didn’t have a photo together. And I was just wondering how I could ask for a group photo before I fly back home and CT presented the opportunity. So I quickly went to ask a young lady nearby to help us take a photo. I was really glad that this young lady has a flare for photo taking. The photo turned out very well.

The final stop for the day was to Rayner's Orchard. Initially I thought it would be just browsing the retail shop but turned out that CT and SY were checking with the staff about touring the orchard. So happened that there was a tour scheduled for another tour group and that we could just tag along for a price. It seems that the pricing for peach picking and nectarine picking differs and the couple asked for the special price that would include the picking of both peach and nectarine. We got onto the tractor and started the tour, it started to rain too. There were three jack russells on the farm and they were running along the tractor. There were not many fruits on the trees and bushes yet. When we got to the peach area, we were told that we could pick and eat as many as we want. However, the season of peach was not at its peak and hence the peach were not very ripe for picking. The same when we got to the nectarine area and most were not sweet. The tour ended back at the retail shop where I browsed the shop and bought some fruit leathers which I thought would make interesting gifts as well as a small bottle of chutney. There was a section where jams and chutneys were selling at very low prices and yet the expiry dates were still a long way to go. CT explained that those were the not-so-nice products where maybe the colours of the jams were off, the preserved fruits were not as nice and so on.

As it was near lunch time, CT asked if I would like to eat lunch there so looked through the menu and placed my order of salad sandwich with ham and cappuccino, thinking that perhaps the couple would also order theirs to eat there. Turned out that I was the only one eating and they were just having coffee. CT bought a lot of jams and chutney partly for herself and partly for her friend who also like the products from Rayner’s Orchard. Quickly finished my lunch and we made our way back. We targeted to get back to the couple’s place by 3pm and so since we still had a bit of spare time, CT suggested doing antiquing because there seemed to be a lot of places that offer antiquing experiences in Yarra Valley. So we randomly popped into a shop to browse. Very interesting experience and saw a lot of vintage stuff such as a wedding dress, vintage jewelleries, old cutleries and so on. I like vintage jewelleries because of their intrinsic designs yet I dare not buy. Firstly because of the price tag, secondly because of all the stories I heard about acquiring vintage stuff. After we finished browsing the shop, we continued our way back and got back slightly after 3pm. Still enough time for me to do some quick packing, to have some tea and eat some nuts before the couple sent me to the airport.

Left the house close to 3:30pm to the airport and the couple managed to squeeze in a short visit to the DFO before sending me to the airport terminal at 5pm. Said my goodbye to them and went into the terminal to do my check-in. After that, walked around to see if there was anything to buy and I ended up buying two packs of green lip abalones for my little big sis. Finally boarded the plane about 6+pm but the flight was delayed by one hour and only took off at 8pm. 

Thought: Yarra Valley was really nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the place. Today I got to try buffalo meat and surprise, surprise, it tasted really good. Overall, my hosts were very nice and tried to accommodate me as much as possible to the extent that I felt real bad about it. The day trips out of Melbourne City were really great and it would have been even better if I get to stay at each place longer so that I have more time to explore. Will I visit Melbourne again? I might but I probably won’t stay in Melbourne City since I think I have explored the place rather extensively.

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