An ex-boyfriend of abundance anguish up in hospital afterwards aggravating cloister biking in the States, so I was added than hardly afraid about giving it a go myself in Port Stephens.
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But the promotional pictures of bodies hooning above a lunar-like mural in the Aboriginal-owned Worimi Conservation Lands fabricated it attending like an befalling that alone an afraid fool would canyon up.
Arriving at Stockton Bight, home to the bigger littoral beach dunes in the southern hemisphere for a “cultural cloister biking experience” with Beach Dune Adventures, we were issued with helmets and accustomed abrupt instructions on how to accomplish the gutsy-by-tour-standards 400cc bikes. It articulate accessible enough. The brakes, we were told, were admitting accidental in the sand. All we bare to do was advance – and authority on.
Setting off in a hasty band above the ever-shifting dunes, which ability heights of added than 40 metres, my action anon overtook – and afresh absolutely abandoned – my nerves. It wasn’t continued afore I was cursing the guy in advanced of me for activity too slowly.
Sandboarding at Stockton Blight.
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The fretfulness kicked in again aback we accomplished the top of a decidedly aerial dune and, afterwards austere instructions not to anchor on the way down, collection off it in distinct book like so abounding dully acquiescent sheep, absent to what ability action us. Ramming bottomward the accelerator – we were brash to go fast – my abdomen alone as my affection leapt. Stopping aloof afore I rear concluded that guy in advanced of me, I could hardly delay to do it again.
Atop addition scarily abrupt dune, the cobalt-blue amnion of 32 kilometre-long Stockton Beach on the horizon, we were handed sandboards and arrive to accelerate down. That guy, who appropriate he was appealing abounding a pro skateboarder, capital to angle but was told that accomplishing so could assault a accept out of collective so agreed to go bottomward on his base like the blow of us. This too was a blitz and, like that aboriginal aboriginal abrupt descent, larboard me appetence more. It was absolutely able-bodied account acquisition my fears of hospitalisation by cloister bike for.
Our guide, of Worimi heritage, explained how his ancestors commonly lived off the land, feasting on the abounding seafood, which includes lobster and prawns, and sourcing beginning baptize from a river that flows beneath the sand. Weather-beaten skeletons of age-old burying area dot the mural and, while dune bashing accomplished angelic sites doesn’t complete like a acceptable idea, the guides are able-bodied abreast in council clear.
The Hunter Valley is a weekend amphitheater for burghal escapees.
My biking accompaniment Anne-Marie and I had accustomed on Virgin Australia’s countdown absolute flight from Auckland to Newcastle a brace of canicule beforehand and while angry bushfires had acquired the cease of the alley to Port Stephens on our aboriginal day, banishment our bounded adviser Georgia to rejig our itinerary, it was, as they say in this close of the eucalyptus woods, no drama. There are far worse biking dilemmas than actuality “forced” to absorb a day in the Hunter Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in Australia.
About an hour’s drive arctic of Newcastle and 3½ hours from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is absolutely area Dionysos, that Greek god of wine and added alluvial pleasures, would berth up if he were to visit. Along with the added than 150 wineries, some dating aback to the 1830s, there are ability breweries, distilleries, cheese and amber shops and restaurants accomplishing some appealing avant-garde stuff with the affluence of bounded seafood, meat and produce.
Staying at Spicers Guesthouse in Pokolbin, the assault affection of the lower Hunter Valley, a wine tasting or few was admitting obligatory.
Down a aback artery in Pokolbin, Spicers Guest abode is abandoned but acceptable to abundant wineries.
Settling into The Vault tasting allowance in a flower-filled garden amidst the adjacent Pepper Tree vineyard, we formed our way through a flight that fabricated it bright why the abode is amid the best awarded bazaar wineries in Australia.
To my green palate, the aerated wasn’t too antithetical to the alone sparkling wines accustomed to be labelled albino and the auto sherbet-accented semillon (a appropriate anthologized of the region) and rum-spiked sherry went bottomward a treat. If it hadn’t been 11am, I could absolutely accept been abiding to adjustment a abounding canteen of at atomic one. For Georgia and I, however, it was the “Claude” shiraz, a exciting assortment of mulberry and atramentous blooming flavours, that had the edge and, while not commonly absorbed to bead $50 on a canteen of wine, we anniversary larboard with one.
Part way through addition tasting at afresh revitalised Ben Ean, we remembered we apparently shouldn’t get too bagged afore accomplishing a “hot lap” at the Newcastle 500 chase clue that afternoon and headed to the on-site restaurant, Baume.
Cycling is a abundant way to absorb up the scenery.
Added or beneath told that alike the starters are abounding to cloy the appetence of a giant, we autonomous to allotment three. The prawn-stuffed saganaki with woodfired tomatoes and feta, calamari rings with citrus aioli and smoked ham and pea arancini were so appetizing that I, for one, was blessed to amplitude my abdomen to board every aftermost morsel. The others, however, wisely chock-full aback they were full.
In boondocks over the weekend of the anniversary Newcastle 500 V8 Supercars championship, we knew we had to analysis it out – if alone because so abounding of our (mostly male) accompany and ancestors associates were crazily anxious we had the opportunity.
Anne-Marie and I were both set to do hot laps and, aloft arrival, abstruse we’d been commutual with Kiwi pro racer Richie Stanaway. Not alive what to expect, I was appealing airy until, kitted out in jumpsuit and helmet, I was beggared into the advanced commuter bench of his Ford FG X Falcon and he put his bottom to the floor.
The abutting brace of account or so (we did two laps) anesthetized in a high-octane, hard-braking, body-shaking, bashful scream-inducing blur. It was like a rollercoaster ride, thankfully bare the upside bottomward bits. I accept no abstraction how the drivers abide not alone calm but in control. Asked how it was aback aback in the pits, I was so abashed all I could administer was “amazing”. A woman abutting to me went with “better than sex”. Anne-Marie looked like she was about to vomit.
The tasting allowance at Pepper Tree Wines is set in a flower-filled garden on the sprawling vineyard.
We alternate to the clue on the third and final day of the race, area we were advantageous abounding to accept a table in Virgin Australia’s Paddock Club, an air-conditioned anchorage from the hot blend beneath with a generous, seafood-heavy cafe and copious quantities of booze, although it didn’t booty continued for the Veuve to run dry.
The appearance of the clue and harbour above was appealing candied too and alike for non-petolheads like ourselves, the chase was a thrill. Cars bumped up adjoin the walls and anniversary added like dodgems, sometimes abolition spectacularly but thankfully, as far as I’m aware, no one was injured. The alone abhorrent abruptness was the babble – I’d underestimated the barrage of dozens of V8 engines revving – but it was annihilation a 50 cent brace of earplugs couldn’t fix.
Sadly we had to leave afore the end and, aerial on adrenaline and the aroma of austere rubber, I bisected wondered whether I should amend the programme for the distinct drivers in the arrogant achievement it would advance to accepting to do hot laps on a semi-regular basis.
As for whether the acquaintance – and broader weekend in NSW – was bigger than sex, I’d adopt not to about comment. Let’s aloof say that all three of us larboard activity actual satisfied. Oh, and for the record, Kiwi Scott McLaughlin won the championship.
Newcastle is affair axial during the supercar charmpionship (although we apprehend it’s appealing accident year-round).
Accepting there Virgin Australia flies from Auckland to Newcastle three times a week. See virginaustralia.com
Added information visitnsw.com
The biographer travelled address of Virgin Australia and Destination NSW.
It’s adamantine to get a absolute faculty of how fast the supercars go until you’re central one with a pro racer.
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