The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Junee is located in the Riverina of New South Wales, about 350km southwest of Sydney. It is a nice looking town with some well-restored old buildings, surrounded by the sorts of landscapes that I grew up thinking were iconically Australian: low hills, brown grass paddocks dotted with sheep and trees, and fields of wheat and other crops.

Situated in a beautifully restored old building which used to be the town’s flour mill, The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory was the drawcard that brought us to town while we were visiting family in Griffith, about 2 hours’ drive further south.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the outdoor area under the shade of Virginia creeper supported by old wooden beams. The menu may not be extensive, but the food was absolutely delicious.

Visitors can stroll through the building and watch the different kinds of chocolates and sweet treats being made through large viewing windows.

The factory’s chocolate shop offers a multitude of organic sweet treats: plain chocolate, regular or raspberry licorices in plain or chocolate coated varieties, rocky road, freckles, chocolate coated pretzels, varieties of chocolate with different fruit or nuts in them, just to name a few. The hardest part is deciding what you want to take home, and how much work you’ll have to do to make up for it later on.

In addition to all the sweet things, there are all sorts of produce on offer: pickles, sauces, balsamic vinegar, jams and chutneys, honey and olive oil – all locally produced.

It honestly doesn’t get much more Aussie than this.

Out of responsibility to the folk who read my blog, we bought some chocolate to taste-test, and we are not sorry.

The chocolate is smooth, creamy and delicious. That freckle I just bit into for the sake of the photo is the perfect blend of crunchy and smooth. The rate at which my husband ate his chocolate covered raspberry licorice bullets was definitely indicative of superior quality and taste. The chocolate-coated pretzels I bought were as good as the ones I had in Amish country in Pennsylvania, and that’s really saying something! Consequently, they did not last long enough to have their photo taken. It was only a small packet, after all.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that the Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory is a ten hour drive from home.

The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
#chocolate #organic #travel

Jerilderie: A Little Town With Big History

Jerilderie is a small country town situated on Billabong Creek in the southern Riverina area of New South Wales. The Newell Highway runs right through the town, so it is very easy to find.

Jerilderie has a lovely lake and park on the banks of Billabong Creek. This park is also the site of the town’s war memorial to local soldiers  who fought in the Boer War both World Wars.

It’s a small town with a big history, courtesy of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang. It was an even smaller town then than it is now, but it had one thing that was most attractive to Ned Kelly: a printing press.

Although the Kelly gang usually operated in northern Victoria, it was in Jerilderie where Ned and his gang robbed the bank, took control of the local post and telegraph office, bailed up the postmaster and had telegraph wires cut and the poles cut down to prevent news of his visit to the town being communicated until after the fact.

The post and telegraph office held up by Ned Kelly.

It was in Jerilderie that Ned Kelly entrusted his 75 000 word manifesto known as The Jerilderie Letter to the postmaster, who promised to pass the papers on to the newspaper editor. This document explained and defended Kelly’s motives and actions, and also proposed a republic of north-eastern Victoria. The postmaster did not pass on the papers— in fact, the originals were lost for 90 years, and a copy of the letter was not printed until fifty years after Kelly’s death.

Visitors to Jerilderie can see the buildings visited by Kelly and his gang, and follow a trail of story boards that detail the events of the gang’s exploits in town. There is also a small museum attached to the Murrumbidgee Shire offices, which has displays of artefacts including Kelly’s Colt Carbine revolver and replicas of the iconic armour worn by the gang.

Jerilderie is a great place to visit. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and visitors can find excellent food at both the local bakery and the pub. The  old-fashioned candy store is also worth visiting for those with a sweet tooth.

Jerilderie.
#History #Australia #NewSouthWales

Altina Wildlife Park, Darlington Point, NSW.

Altina Wildlife Park is one of the hidden gems of New South Wales’ Riverina district. Situated just over 30km from Griffith and just under 100kn from Jerilderie, Altina is on the Sturt Highway near Darlington Point.

Altina has a great range of small and large animals, and offers a positive and enjoyable opportunities to see and learn about them.

Visitors are invited to walk through the small animal and reptile sections of the park at their leisure, and are then taken through the  large animal part of the park on a wagon behind one of the park’s beautiful Clydesdale horses.

There is a great range of animals from all over the world to see, and the tours are informative and interesting. The tours are presented by the zookeepers, who are knowledgeable about all the animals both in a general sense and in terms of being personally involved in the care, training and feeding of the animals.

The enclosures are large enough for the animals to have sufficient room to roam, and care is taken to provide, is keen to preserve and breed animals that may be endangered in the wild. The park has a philosophy of interfering with the animals as little as possible, so the animals are trained to do certain things so that the keepers can check their health without going into their enclosures or sedating the animals any more than is absolutely necessary.

I have visited Altina twice when visiting family in Griffith, and have thoroughly enjoyed both experiences.

Altina Wildlife Park
#zoo #photography

All images in this post are my own.

If you don't visit a bookshop, have you even been to Clunes?

Even older than its more famous neighbours Ballarat and Bendigo, Clunes was the first gold rush town in Victoria. 

Gold was discovered there in 1850 by William Campbell, but the discovery was not made public until the following year. This triggered the gold rush in Victoria, and Clunes became a thriving township. 

The heritage of the town is still visible in the lovely old buildings, homes and churches in the town. 

Clunes has more recently become known as “the Book Town of the Pyrenees” because of the annual book festival held there each year. Shop windows are decorated with a decal of books, giving the town a visual theme that promotes its new identity and adds a subtle but vivid touch to the traditional buildings and heritage colour schemes. 

In addition to a number of second-hand, vintage and collectable book shops, Clunes also offers some lovely gift stores, a traditional green grocer’s store, an old fashioned lolly shop, cafes and bakeries, and antique and collectible stores. 

Our visit was just a short one, as we tacked it onto a trip we were already making, so I only managed to visit one book store while looking around town.

Of course, it is a very rare occasion that I venture into a bookstore without buying anything. This visit was not one of those occasions.

The next visit to Clunes most likely won’t be one of those occasions, either. It’s clear that I’m definitely going to have to plan a ‘Going On A Book Hunt’ visit to Clunes, because I spied at least four other bookshops that I want to browse in.

This video highlights some of the lovely spots in and around this gorgeous, bookish little town. Enjoy!

The 12 Apostles Gourmet Food Trail

The area where I live is rich in food production. My home town of Cobden is a service centre for the dairy industry, and is home to the factory that gives you Western Star butter, Mainland cheese and Perfect Italiano cheeses among other excellent dairy brands. 

Completely separate from the big companies like Fonterra, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and Sungold Milk, there are a number of artisan food producers that offer excellent products in local settings. 

On Saturday, we headed out to visit a number of places on the 12 Apostles Gourmet Food Trail. To be honest, I don’t think you could do them all in a day and still do each one justice, but it would make an absolutely fantastic weekend trip from Geelong, Melbourne or Adelaide. 

We comfortably managed five of the stops in addition to lunch in beautiful Port Campbell. 

Our first visit was to Apostle Whey Cheese at Cooriemungle, where they make a delicious range of cheeses. My favourite is the marinated feta, while my dad loves their smoked cheddar.  The views are spectacular, and the garden is beautiful. 

The next stop was Gorge Chocolates at Princetown, Victoria, just a few kilometres from where we spent fifteen years dairy farming.  There are dozens of varieties of chocolates on offer, with a limited number available to taste. 

Also available here are a number of llama and alpaca wool products and themed gift ideas.

Next was the 12 Rocks Beach Bar in Port Cambpell for lunch. This place is a bit of a favourite – their steak sandwiches and burgers are excellent, and they do a delicious chicken parmigiana. 

After lunch we had a walk on the foreshore and checked out a few of the local shops before heading off to the nearby town of Timboon. 

The Timboon Cheesery is excellent, but because we had visited recently, we skipped that stop and went on to visit the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. We hadn’t been there before, but it’s really nicely set up. You can have coffee and cake or a meal there, enjoy a whiskey or liqueur tasting, and shop for a range of locally produced products – jams, sauces, oils, meat and smallgoods, and the list goes on. 

Almost next door is the Timboon Ice Creamery, where the ice cream is just divine. I usually have either honeycomb or their passionfruit meringue, but this time I was excited to find a new flavour – maple and cinnamon – which was so good it nearly blew my mind. It made my inner Canadian very happy indeed. 

To complete the homeward loop, we headed to Dairylicious Farm Fudge. With at least a dozen different varieties of fudge on offer for tasting, there’s something to please every palate. They also offer cake and coffee or tea, and a range of cold drinks. 

By the time we got home, we were all ready for an afternoon nap after a most enjoyable day. 

Further information: 
The 12 Apostles Food Trail Map
12 Apostles Food Artisans 

Bellcourt Books, Hamilton

Having visited the Byaduk Caves and found ourselves only 20 minutes drive from Hamilton, we decided to head into town for a late lunch and a bit of shopping. 

All of a sudden, a day of exploring the countryside turned into another episode of “I’m Going On A Book Hunt”. I had heard of a great bookstore in Hamilton, and this was my opportunity to visit. 

Bellcourt Books is an independently owned and operated store that offers a very good range of new, secondhand, and vintage books. 

The store is airy and clean, and really nicely laid out. The sections are clearly labelled, so it’s easy to find your favourite genre and see what’s available. 

And, at the end of a visit, how lovely it is to be able to take your books home in environmentally friendly packaging with a great message!

Bellcourt Books is at 63 Gray St, Hamilton. 
Website: bellcourtbooks.com.au

Fitzroy River Outlet

We had heard about a camping ground near the Fitzroy River outlet at Tyrendarra, so while camping nearby in Narrawong, we went for a drive to check it out. 

What a beautiful surprise awaited us. 

The camping area is large and well organised. The camping itself is basic – there is no power, and there are drop toilets very discreetly hidden among trees but no showers. That doesn’t worry us – we’re set up with solar panels and have a solar heated camping shower that we can rig up. 

That scenery, though. Who wouldn’t want to spend time here?