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

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.

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 

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?

Buried History.

On our way back down the hill from the Sawpit camping area yesterday, we stopped at the Narrawong Cemetery, where there are some beautiful historic graves.

The rural setting is beautiful and tranquil, and I can’t help thinking it is a lovely spot to be laid to rest. 

It’s easy to see who were the founding and/or prominent families of the area, simply by observing the number of very old headstones bearing the same surname.

Separate from the other graves and marked by an obelisk rather than a headstone is the grave of William Dutton, who built the first house in Portland in 1828. Portland, now only about fifteen minutes’ drive away from Narrawong and the main city in the region, is the oldest European permanent settlement in Victoria.

Dutton died in Narrawong in 1878 at the age of 67, having made a name for himself as a master mariner, sealer, whaler and farmer. 

References:

William Dutton: Australian Dictionary of Biography
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dutton-william-2011

Portland: A Short History
http://www.visitportland.com.au/portland-a-short-history/

Oh, I Do Love To Be Beside The Seaside: Queenscliff, Victoria

Queenscliff is a town on the southern end of the Bellarine Peninsula, near where Port Phillip Bay enters Bass Strait. 

Queenscliff has a lovely small-town feel to it, even though it’s only a half hour’s drive from Geelong. There is a very real sense of leaving the rat-race behind and stepping into a friendlier, more relaxing existence.

It is a town with lovely old buildings and churches, and a wide main street lined with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants, including two ice-cream parlours, two old-fashioned candy stores and — best of all — two book shops!

On the cliff above the beach is a lighthouse built from local basalt in 1881, and a historic fort that is still in use as the base of the Air Force Cadets.

There are some great spots to sit and watch the boats, including the ferry to Sorrento at the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula, just across the bay.

It really is a delightful spot, and I am already keen to visit again.