Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Grampian Trip (part 2)

For every bit of relaxation that comes from falling asleep to the sound of rain there is an equal amount of stress and dread that comes from waking up to the sound of it on your tent. Eight hours and counting of solid, continuous downpour meant that the ground was mud, the tent was dirty, and taking it down was going to be a slapdash process to be fixed in a drier place.

After packing up everything in the tent, making breakfast, and waiting as long as we could, finding no consistent gap in the storm we broke down the tent in the rain. Then we ambled over to the café for coffees in the window seat looking across to the range now intermittently obscured by lifting fog and passing clouds. Joined by Penny and Richard, Leanne’s sister and her partner, we discussed plans for the day and beyond. The beyond consisted of a Christmas invitation and a cricket game. Specifically, for those of you who know cricket, the Boxing Day Test Match at Melbourne Cricket Grounds against India. For those of you that don’t know, this is one of the most crowded, energetic, raucous days for watching cricket. If I’m going to see a match, this be the one. And so, tickets acquired, we loaded into the car and headed for a scenic day of making the most of our inability to do more hikes or rock climbing (thanks to the rain).

We drove to a waterfall overlook and got to see the remains of a bridge taken out by last year’s floods. From there it was through the range and out the other side, flinging the car around turn after turn. It was Skyline Drive, minus the traffic and some of the safety. It was brilliant.

On the other side we headed down to see my first bit of Australiana. Just as Americana incorporates the Corn Palace and Carhenge, so does Australiana incorporate large and seemingly pointless things. While I’m here, there shall be many tourist trap sightings. And that started here with the Giant Koala – a 14 meter tall plaster and metal koala. The artist’s inconsistent attention to detail resulted in vacant, demonic eyes (complete with red lights inside) and excessive ear hair. Seriously, copious amounts of plaster ear hair.

After a road side stop for sandwiches, chips (actually chips, not french fries, which are also called chips) and sodas we headed on to a winery. The region is rich in wineries, with a climate that is very friendly to grapes due to being cool and dry (or is it warm, or rainy… I’m not sure what the right climate is, but they have it). The two establishments we stopped to see had been started by brothers back in the day (the nineteenth century). The first was a small and fantastically historic building, strong timber beams clearly hand carved and laid together with care, often without nails or screws. The floor creaked and bowed. Walking through the building you felt the history, aided by a pamphlet that told you the history at signposted points throughout. The second was a much larger operation and I was instantly put off by the Giant Koala-sized fermentation tanks in rows and aisles outside the main building in the complex.

That raises a whole host of questions and issues and assumptions that I’m sure has been the subject of many a dissertation in fields that only open doors to jobs teaching said fields. Why do we root for the underdog? Why do I assume that the smaller and less corporate winery makes better wine or that they know more about it? Why do I assume that a small production line means they are less corporate? Why do I view success as selling out, and progress as making sacrifices?

Both tasting rooms had their charm, quaint and friendly or beautifully designed and well laid out. And both gave – and make sure you are listening to this point Virginia wineries – Free Tastings. Yes, free. What a novel concept. We drove out here to see you in the middle of the countryside. We clearly like you, or are at least invested in it. We are already primed to want to like you. And with free tastings, we are much more likely to find the wine we like. And if not like, we are certainly more likely to get drunk and spend money more easily on wines we think we like. And all you have to do is give us small tastings. You lose out on about $2 of wine per person, and you gain the likelihood that we will purchase a couple bottles. I know I did (a present). I also know I got pretty drunk. Fortunately the car ride back to the city was long and I racked out for a couple hours to wake up sober and hungry. Some Thai curry remedied that situation. And after packing up and another few hours of hanging out, I went to crash out. And after a few minutes of doing important things on the internet and a couple hours of falling into the internet time vortex, I actually did crash out.

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This entry was posted on December 22, 2011 by in Australia, Victoria (Melbourne).

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