Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hervey Bay

One of the great things that we have noted here in Hervey Bay is that the town provides covered BBQ kiosks all along the beach. These are plumbed for gas, and are free for public use; complete with shade/rain cover and picnic benches; very nice!

Every once in a while there is a discovery that makes you go 'wow' and we found one right here in Hervey Bay. What Queensland has is a marvellous marketing tool called 'Clearskins”. A clearskin is a bottle of wine made from excess production. The wineries generally market and contract for what they expect to grow in a year; with a safety margin in case they have a shortfall. This ensures that they can meet their contractual obligations to supply wine at a fixed price to volume venders. The excess is then available for sale to other wholesalers, merchants and direct to consumers through the estate wineshop. However, in many good years there is often a sizable glut of wine on the market, (as there has been for several years now worldwide), and the excess is not easily sold. In such cases the winery will then contract with the private liquor stores in Queensland (there are no government liquor stores), to sell the bottled overproduction as 'Clearskins'.

A Clearskin wine can only be identified by varietal (Merlot, Shiraz, Savignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc.), Region, (eg. The Claire Valley), and the year of production. One can never know exactly what is in the bottle and who produced it, but the big draw is the price. A 26 oz bottle of quality Shiraz goes for $2.90!! We took three Clearskin wine bottles to an Italian Restaurant last night, (it's permissible to Bring Your Own Bottle to many restaurants in Australia), and the most expensive was $6. All were excellent; at least the quality of a wine running from $25 – 35 in Canada. Even the regular wines a
re cheap; a bottle of Wallace Shiraz from the Bourassa Valley, (which we know and enjoy very much), will cost $40 in Canada and only $17 dollars here (The Aussie and Canadian dollars are pretty much at par). Likewise for the exceptional New Zealand white wines. The catch is with the spirits; a bottle of Blue Sapphire London Bombay Gin is $27 in British Columbia but $45 -49 dollars here! So forget the spirits, and forget even the excellent value wines; we are totally taken with Clearskins! At $2.90 a bottle, the wine is even cheaper than a bottle of Coke at $3.29! And just to seal the deal; the vendor will even return the purchase price if you actually don't like the wine (we have yet to find one that we didn't like), as long as you have not consumed more than to the top of the label on the bottle. You simply can't lose with Clearskins!

April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand; their equivalent of our Remembrance Day. The day commemorates the first big battle of the Australian – New Zealand Army Corps [ANZAC] in World War I. This was the ill-fated Gallopoli Campaign in Turkey that took place in 1915, and it marked the coming-of-age of the two Nations. The day is very different from our service; it starts with a 5 am service at dawn; the very hour 95 years ago that the Aussies and New Zealanders stormed the beaches. From there the vets repair to the local RSL (Returned Servicemen's League) establishment – our Legion on steroids, for a breakfast and a pint or two. Then, at 9:30 am there is a parade of all vets, police, bands, girl guides, sea scouts and the air league, to the cenotaph for a more formal service. The whole thing is over by 11 am, and then it is back to the club! Quite unlike Canadian memorial services, it was a very hot and humid 30 degrees for the ceremony!

Aussie Oddities

The Aussie National Anthem is relatively new; it was introduced in 1984 – replacing God Save The Queen;

As mentioned, all Aussie bottle stores are privately owned. Oddly, a law in this State insists that they must be attached to a working pub! Now why this is deemed a necessity entirely mystifies us.

This is a curious device that sits in the middle of a kitchen counter. Can you guess what it is? We couldn't. A ring is hinged on top; rotate it and lift. Presto, a 2 – prong electrical outlet emerges from below and is now available for use on a busy counter top. Naturally, it stores away when not needed; we must have this in Canada!

Photo Right - The only way to check your e-mail outside on a sunny day!

The sign is quite clear on this - if you thought you could get away with launching your nuclear-tipped missiles from the pontoon – think again! Obviously a major problem in this part of the world.

Ever wonder why they called it Pelican Beach!


Post a Comment

<< Home