It is easy to see why it is called “nest in the hills”. Some 3 and a half hours from Sydney, in mid-central New South Wales, Mudgee (from Moothi, which literally means nest in the hills) is a world away from the bright city lights of Sydney. And with over 43 wineries to explore, it is an oenophilia’s paradise. On the couple of weekends we have stayed, we are steadily working our way through the best of them.
Taking the Old Bells Line of Road, up through the Blue Mountains, we stopped briefly in the apple capital, Bilpin, for a piece of the world’s best apple pie. Pushing on, arriving mid afternoon at Riverlea Cottage, south of Mudgee, we were greeted by Toto and Guinness, the family dogs, like we had never been away.
In the 12 months since we were last here, not much had changed, just the addition of guinea fowl it seems. And why guinea fowl you may ask? Just as I did. Well, the brown snake I almost stepped on whilst walking in the paddock answers that one. Depending on what you read, the brown snake is reputed to be the second most venomous snake in the world. I’ll say that again. The second most venomous snake in the WORLD. And I almost just stood on one. A recent blog had me celebrating making it past 44. Making 45 was looking decidedly at risk.
|The welcoming committee|
Enter the guinea fowl. As our saviours from snakes. Apparently. Somebody had told Helena that they were a good deterrent for snakes. And now Ned had more mouths to feed along with the dogs, the alpacas, and the chooks. I assumed the many kangaroos we saw managed to feed themselves. What I hadn’t accounted for was dealing with the infamous Huntsman spiders. Quite possibly harmless, everybody tells me, but just the sight of the bloody things are enough to give you a cardiac arrest. THAT little critter was something I wasn’t going to deal with. Cue shouting for Ned!
Australia Day finished with us stargazing, with a chilled bottle of locally produced wine. And with zero light pollution, the effect was amazing. But the day started with me meeting Tony Abbott (ex prime minister, originally hailing all the way from London) at my Australian citizenship ceremony in Mosman. A journey that started on a bitterly cold December morning in Halifax, 2010, posting my permanent residency application off, which was granted on 26th January 2012, culminated on 26th January 2017, with the grant of my citizenship. I am thankful to call home a country that welcomes immigrants, and builds its strength from the diversity that we can bring to a country and it’s culture.
My struggles at times, settling into a new culture, thousands of miles from family, friends, and my beloved football club, have been well documented here. I have to be honest and admit that on many occasions I didn’t think I would reach this milestone, becoming Australian. But if you just focus on the days, the years have a way of looking after themselves, and here I am, a dual national, with opportunities now opening up in front of me.
Regardless of what happens now, from trying another country, a new culture, immersed in a new language, doing a doing a stint closer to home, or just taking an extended break travelling, having the passport allows us to return to Oz at any point. Remaining in Oz, or returning later to downsize our life and live the quintessential laid back Aussie lifestyle. There are many little towns that are perfect for such a life. And what a life.
|Reading here about something called “stress”!|
Which is one of the reasons we love Mudgee. A typical conversation goes something like this;
“Where are you from?”
“Sydney. We are just up in Mudgee for the weekend.”
“Ah, Sydney. I went there once. Never again. Too busy, too many people.”
And returning on the Sunday, to Mosman, brought this starkly into life. Crossing the road, on a pedestrian crossing, the lady driving the car was revving her engine, actually edging onto the zebra crossing, and shouted out of her window for us to hurry up. City life, for all it’s upsides, leaves a lot to be desired.
Tree change anyone?