Newcastle, Australia

 In Honeymoon Planning

G’ Day mates!  Cassandra and I lived in Sydney, Australia for four months in 2003.  We acquired work visas and got jobs in trendy restaurants on the harbour.  We loved living

 The Rox enjoy the morning at Stockton Beach

The Rox enjoy the morning at Stockton Beach

in the city, but we never missed an opportunity for a good road trip.  For Cass’s b-day, I planned a suprise trip three hours up the coast to Newcastle.  The plan was to have a picnic at the beach, take  a swim with the dolphins, enjoy a wine and cheese tasting at the Hunter Valley Vineyards  and finish the day with a sunset hot air balloon ride over the estate.
Our first stop was Stockton Beach.  Stockton is a pretty remote area of the coast and we had the beach pretty much to ourselves that day.  After lunch, we drove a few miles to Stockton Bay and boarded a boat for our Dolphin Swim.  Once we were a few miles out to sea, we hopped over the side of the boat and into a boom net.  The crew lowered  the net to the water’s surface and towed us along for the ride.  The dolphins are plentiful in Stockton.  They swam right up under the boomnet and gave us a nuzzle.  The net gave us the opportunity to reach out and pet them in their natural habitat.
After we disembarked, we drove through the outback to the Hunter Valley Vineyards.  Hunter is one of the most recognized wines in Australia.  The winery rests on a luxurious estate of rolling fields and valleys.  There are a plethora of restaurants and spas nestled among the endless sea of grape vines.  First cultivated in the early 1800’s, Hunter Valley is the premier vineyard in the southern hemisphere.  We tried endless samples of wine and cheese that afternoon.  They also had delicious complimentary chocolates and sorbets to cleanse the palate.  Hunter Valley’s popularity has allowed wine to surpass beer as the social drink of choice down under.  The fertile climate and vast amounts of fertile land keep prices low.  Australian wine exports can now be found all over the world.

As we were shopping for champagne for our sunset hot air balloon ride, we received some unfortunate news.  High winds had forced the cancellation of all balloon flights that evening and our driver wasn’t scheduled to pick us up for another two hours.  No worries – they allowed us to stay at the winery and sample as much wine,  cheese and chocolate as we could fit in our bellies before our driver came back to pick us up.  We slept the entire three-hour ride back to Sydney.
Newcastle is a good 20-hour flight from B.W.I.   They are 14 hours ahead of Ocean City time.  Today, our U.S. Dollar buys 1.41 Aussie Dollars.  Everything is reasonably priced once you get there.  We had a blast in Newcastle.  It was a birthday I know Cass will never forget.  Cheers!
The Rox

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