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Posted by on Aug 9, 2013

Random Thoughts – A Round Up of Final Reader Questions from Australia


I was all set to bag the fake e-mail blog posts when lo and behold some actual real reader questions came in!!! We’ll get to those first, then some others.

Having just listened to the vinyl of Men at Work, I have a few questions. 1) Do women glow and men plunder? 2) Can’t you hear the thunder? 3) Have you been given a vegemite sandwich? 4) Is it really the land of plenty? Also, do they play “Land Down Under” in every bar like we play “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Sweet Home Chicago”?
Gretchen — Syracuse
Hello Gretchen. I can’t really answer your question since I don’t know much about Men at Work and Jill said it didn’t matter and I should just respond otherwise I was being rude (we also can’t afford to hang out in bars too much). However, I can relate an interesting story about another Australian band, Midnight Oil, famous for the song “Beds are Burning” among others if you remember. Midnight Oil dissolved in 2002 and lead singer, Peter Garrett, decided to go into politics and was elected to a position in the Australia House of Representatives. Anyway, while we were here, there was a government coup of sorts and Prime Minister Julia Gillard was tossed from office and replaced by Kevin Rudd. Garrett was an ally of Guillard so he resigned from his post and has said he won’t run again. His resignation has boosted hopes among Midnight Oil fans that the band could get back together.

Not a single question about beer from anyone? My question: why so much wine talk and so little beer talk?
Brad — San Francisco
Braaaad!!! Great to hear from you. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned about the price of beer in any of my previous posts — oh, that’s right, I’ve mentioned it IN EVERY SINGLE POST!!! Nothing has changed on that front, the cost of craft beer in Australia and New Zealand is just outrageous — we paid $13 for a pint of beer just the other day. But my suspicions about there being more to the story than just high alcohol taxes was proven right. We befriended a brewer at a pub in Perth who was just as upset about the cost of beer as we were. He said the beer we were drinking probably cost the brewpub 80 cents to make, yet they were charging $16 for a large beer. When we asked why, he said that the price of craft beer has always been high and even as they’ve become more popular bars continue to charge the same amount. Australia, I am still available to lobby on behalf of beer drinkers to provide some relief to this madness.

I saw that you did a lot of wine tasting. Were there any issues you had while tasting?
Michael — Vallejo
Hello Michael!!! Please say hi to everyone at the Hess tasting room for me. I miss you all, even Christopher. Back to your question. Yes, there was something that bothered me a lot. A majority of the wineries we visited in New Zealand and Australia served the wine in these small, thick-lipped glasses. It was utterly ridiculous. Here is a winery, trying to showcase its wines to the public, serving wine out of inferior glasses. I understand that these glasses are cheaper than something nice from Riedel and easier to clean (apparently no buffing is involved), but it made no sense to me. Also, after carting a box filled with wine from New Zealand and Australia to London, I’m reminded that wine bottles from both countries are quite heavy and that lighter-weight bottles many U.S. wineries now use have not made it down under. I did see plastic wine bottles in one New Zealand winery, however.

Most all of your posts mention something that they are doing in Australia that we should be doing in the States. Anything else you’d want to bring over here?
Jennifer — San Francisco
Yes, there is, I’m glad you asked. We didn’t visit any fancy restaurants, but at the mid-range ones we did visit, the practice seemed to be that when you were done with your meal and ready to leave, you would go up to the counter to get your bill. So no more sitting around waiting for your server to bring your bill. I loved it. And I can’t be sure, but much like Europe, it doesn’t seem like there’s pressure to give up your table at a restaurant here. Oh, and we would bring back your best friend and her family!

Anything else?
Erich — Chicago
Yes, twist-off wine bottles. It was a rare instance when we came across a bottle with a cork in it, mostly on some of the nicer Cabernet Sauvignons. But more than 90% of the wine we were served came with a twist off cap. What we were told was that the corks being sent to Australia were rubbish, and one or two bottles per case of 12 were corked so they switched to Stelvin Capsules. Yes, I realize there are many wines in the U.S. that are twist-off, but the perception among consumers is that wine from twist-off bottles is cheap, or inferior. Australian winemakers have been bottling their wines this way for long enough that they are also happy with how well the wines age, so the only issue is acceptance from the consumer and whether they want to hear the pop of a cork when opening a bottle.

You mentioned seeing one of the old Hess winemakers on your travels. Have you run into anyone else?
Michele — Napa
No, we haven’t. Though we were in a brewpub the other day and one of the brewers came up to us and asked if we had visited a different brewpub the day before. We sheepishly said yes, that was us (my Ninkansi Beer sweatshirt that I wear everywhere was kind of a giveaway) and had a nice chat. Oh, he eventually drove us to where we were staying that day.

How I get recognized (and my outfit of choice throughout Australia).

How I get recognized (and my outfit of choice throughout Australia).

Have you figured out how to make Jill happy yet?
Jody — Glen Ellyn
I’m not sure I understand the tone of this question or what you’re getting at. However, the answer is yes. It starts by staying close to an ocean as we were during our two weeks in Margaret River and also for a few days in Japan. Both of those places shared one other thing in common, open floor spaces where the kitchen is also a part of the living room. She loves this as well. Chocolate and ice cream are two other things to always have on hand.

An Indian Ocean sunset in Western Australia.

An Indian Ocean sunset in Western Australia.

People seem to always be giving you things. Do you look that pathetic or are people you meet just that nice?
Doug — Glenview
A little of both. We’ve been fortunate on a couple of occasions to be tasting wine and instead of tossing a bottle or two out they give it to us. After talking with Mary Heydon at Heydon Estate in Margaret River the other day and telling her our story, she gave us a bottle of dessert wine. We’ve been given wine, pancakes, firewood, rides, free admission to a couple of museums and also stayed with friends for a week. On this type of trip you sometimes have to rely on the generosity of others and we’ve found it in abundance in Australia.

Have any burning questions you need me to answer? You can submit them here.

1 Comment

  1. Thankyou for asking your question Jennifer from San Francisco and thankyou for your response, Cousin Dave. My (our) bags can be packed in 24 hours 😉