I woke up fairly early and headed out to get a flat white takeaway and rent a car.Â Unfortunately, the Europcar office conveniently located about a block away from the marina is closed on Sundays.Â I returned to the boat, jumped on the internet, and found a reasonably priced car available at the airport.Â
I failed to note the location of the airport, however, and after a taxi ride where I wondered if the driver was actually taking us out to a deserted pasture to rob us and kill us, we finally arrived to the tune of a $60 fare.Â We got the rental car, started driving, and while looking at the map and the road signs, we were overcome by suspicion of a taxi scam.Â Oh well, live and learn.Â At the very least, Europcar is letting us return at the local rental office so we don’t have to endure another cab ride to oblivion.
The road to Cessnock, the jumping off point for the Hunter Valley wine country, is rural.Â We got lost several times, and the signage is pretty bad … none of those huge and reflecting traffic signs with bunches of grapes to show you the way.Â Most importantly, we were really hungry having skipped breakfast and then stuck in the taxi.Â
After passing several Macca’s (the Australian nickname for McDonald’s) and Hungry Jack’s (the Australian Burger King), we came across a couple of small take-out cafes that were just too sketchy to venture into.Â I’m not being stuck up, but I just can’t eat a sausage roll from an establishment called Smelly’s, and the thought of out-station Australian Chinese food was just too much to bear.Â We finally happened upon a hotel pub and restaurant, and ordered soup and chicken fingers thinking it to be fairly safe.Â Unfortunately, the chicken wasn’t cooked all the way through – seriously, how can you screw up chicken fingers?Â We left still hungry but armed with plenty of jokes about our upcoming bout with salmonella.
We drove into, and promptly out of, the rather charm-free Cessnock within a few minutes and missed the tourist office all together.Â After a rough day so far, wine-tasting was exactly what we needed!Â So Andy directed us to the nearest cellar door…