One of the most fun, exciting, and exhausting experiences of our recent trip to Australia, involved cycling the Yarra Valley Wine Region on a bicycle that was older than… well old! An experience I will never forget, it still brings a smile to my face every time I think of our “day trip” discovering the local wineries, and while we may have underestimated the distance we intended to cycle, the weather conditions, and our own personal fitness levels, it turned into one of the best days we have ever had!
Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine growing regions that boasts fantastic wineries (over 30), beautiful scenery, and a village-like atmosphere that makes you feel more like a friend than a tourist.
As we drove into the valley we were stopped by a roadside police unit doing on-the-spot breathalysing (at 10am!), and so we were left in no doubt that wine tasting and a rental car = disaster.
After checking in to our rather fantastic guesthouse, we asked our friendly Italian host Anthony what would be the best way to visit the surrounding vineyards, and after much consideration, he suggested that we borrow bikes from his dear neighbour and cycle the route.
The distance on the map looked considerably longer than the “about 9 kilometres” he suggested, but the sun was shining, we felt fit and enthusiastic, and so we decided to give it a go.
The bikes arrived complete with cobwebs, rust and a flat tyre, but after a quick clean, the removal of any potentially deadly spiders, and a blast from the bicycle pump, we set off with map in hand, a sense of humour, and a pocket full of Australian dollars on our mission to cycle the Yarra Valley.
They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but after 20 years, I have to admit I was almost as rusty as my bike, but we made it to our first winery, and after a rather generous tasting of Sauvignon Blanc my cycling skills improved significantly!
From one winery to the next, we made our way around the Yarra Valley, wine tasting, chatting to the owners, enjoying lunch, great cheese, olives and a range of other tasty treats that one only finds in a wine growing area.
By late afternoon the sunshine had been replaced with showers, we were soaked, dusty, dirty and admittedly a little bit tipsy, and as we made our way back to the guesthouse a good 15 kilometres later, we realised that we had seen the very best that the Yarra Valley had to offer.
The memories of that day will last a lifetime – and that for me is what travelling is all about, and if you want to visit the Yarra Valley anytime soon, I strongly suggest you get on your bike!