"There's just something about road trips."
There's just something about road trips. Through literature and the classic road trip movie, of course, we've been conditioned to think that taking to the asphalt is spontaneous, whimsical and passionate - passionate though I may be right now, the road trip I've embarked on is anything but spontaneous, pit stops and detours planned to a tee, with military times to match.
In two and a half hours, we're in Bathurst, the iconic home of the Bathurst 1000 and a crop of old, historic homes and buildings. Driving the Mt Panorama track itself is not as exciting as I'd hoped or imagined, as it's essentially a normal 60 km/h road while not in operation for the race, but the myriad of banners along the track from Supercheap Auto, Pirtek and Castrol definitely do put the track into context and bolster the atmosphere of adrenaline and thoughts of "OMG I'm living life in the fast lane!!!1!" that you'd want. Our hire car is a brand new Holden SV6, but you know, we're doing 60 km/h, so.
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We check into our motel in Orange, Templers Mill, a quaint little establishment which makes me wish all motels were of this standard, and after a severely underwhelming lunch at Soho Coffee served by a couple of punk kids who literally could not give a fuck, we head on through to Philip Shaw Vineyard.
We're given a private tour with Nadja through Philip Shaw's fermentation and storage room, a corrugated iron warehouse with barrels and barrels of wine waiting to be bottled, still fermenting or being vintaged. We get to sample a selection of Chardonnays, Savignon Blancs, Shiraz and Pinot noir, tapped straight from the barrels and vats, and while the process of fermentation for each variety of wine is explained to us, it goes over my head because what am I, a scientist? The smell of oak and wine is overpowering (and so damn good) and afterwards we try even more wine in the cellar (there's a spit bucket but suffice to say we're not using it much). The vineyard is currently in a state of renovation - the family have recently converted the stunning bluestone barn, built circa 1860s, into the cellar and dining room we sit in now, and a few metres away men are at work converting another barn brought over from a neighbouring farm into a little cafe and outdoor dining area. The barn is so old it's still papered with old newspapers and I could still make out a Sydney Morning Herald from the 19th century. We pick up a coupling of bottles to bring home (our favourite is a Viognier called The Dreamer with the cutest label I've ever seen, drawn by Melbourne art collective Ghostpastrol).
Housed in an old bank building with five metre tall ceilings and a gorgeous earthy decor, perfectly characterising Orange itself, we grab tapas at Union Bank Wine Bar. It's a stone's throw from our motel and has a cosy fairy-lit courtyard, but the night is not yet balmy enough to take advantage of this, so we sit amidst wild flowers, driftwood, old vases and copper fittings in the main dining hall. The food is delicious and the wine list expansive - definitely try the chilli garlic prawns and charred chorizo, and the Borenore Brewhouse Union Porter if you're into the dark beers.