In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

A girl will go a long way for a decent cuppa.

And today – I found a great cuppa! I read about Old Malcom’s Inn in the Age. Okay -so they sent me down a pretty dodgy rough road on their mud map – but they are forgiven – if only due to the big pot of strong tea – made with tank water and the scones.

But I’m ahead of myself – today was shaping up to be not much in the big smoke, so I pulled out the pile of paper clippings I’ve kept on interesting drives and places to visit in country Vic. Ahh – Avoca .. St Arnaud – wineries and the promise of a decent cuppa half way through – that’ll do me. I loaded the iPod up with all the podcasts I had downloaded over the last week, grabbed some walking boots and a parker, and apple and a bottle of water and headed off. Past Ballarat and turn right, well actually – I missed the turnoff due to a fascinating article on BBC 4 “Go Digital” show about an arts student and her teacher who have made a podcasts of themselves talking about the art at MOMA – the alternative tour…what a brilliant use of the technology.

Nice roads, not much traffic, country towns. Off the Sunraysia highway to Moonambel and Pyrenees Winemaking district. I didn’t really feel like wine tasting so I drove on Barkly. The dirt road out of Barkly to Redbank (famously known for it’s Sally’s Paddock Wine) looked graded and fine – which it was – until we hit the ranges more properly. The St Arnaud Range National Park is pretty darn nice – in that Eucalypt forest type of way. Mainly Grey Box and Ironbark.

I stopped for a walk (and to rest my addled brains) at Dead Man’s Track (who could resist) and trundled up the ridge. Plenty of Rosellas but no Wedge Tailed Eagles – I think it was a bit too cold and drizzly for them! Back into the car just as the rain came down in earnest and headed but to some smooth roads near Redbank. Left towards St Arnaud and a few kilometers up the road I saw the “do not miss” ivy covered Old Malcolm’s B&B in Stuart Mill. There were a few folk out the front, a dog in a truck and I needed a cup of tea. And thanks to Aileen and Ray I got one. And, if you can believe it, Aileen knocked up a batch of scones for me while I waited .. how’s that? I won’t promise that kind of service to everyone – but if you time it right you may just been in luck. I had a quick tour of the two rooms on offer for accommodation, Aileen and I chatted about food, Ray and I about Jet Fighter pilots and fishing (??!!). I brought home with me some local honey, some more wonderful scones, and some local bread.

I bit off a bit more than I could chew by driving up to St Arnaud before heading home via Maldon and Castlemaine, but it was fun!


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