New Year in a Past Time

New Years Eve 2011 was spent at Wollombi, a small, historic village in the lower Hunter Valley. The area was established in the mid 1800’s with the road and most of the sandstone buildings built by convicts.

Only a few of the original buildings remain, such as the court house and the post office. Although no longer used as a post office, the building remains an important part of thetown.

The population of less than 300 swells on New Years Eve which is, surprisingly a big event! Many of the locals and their guests were at Panino Restaurant for a 7 course degustation menu.

The highlight of the meal for me was the Baked Glamour Black Fig Wrapped with Prosciutto and Filled with Gorgonzola! Divine!! I also loved the Raviolo Filled with Fresh Lobster served with a Lobster Bisque Reduction! Yum!

We were entertained by a local piper playing his bagpipes on the street outside.

Dinner was interrupted at 9pm when most of the guests left their tables to walk down to the local pub to watch fireworks. I really didn’t expect such a grand display. It was very impressive with lots of oohs and aahs, almost as good as Sydney Harbour!!! The fireworks were provided by the owners of the pub as a gift to the town. I’m sure the whole town population must have been there.

At the completion, we were able to return to finish our meal. At midnight, the piper and some friends, played Auld Lang Syne outside the pub. Many people joined in with linked arms and sang along  in the street.

The pub is the most important landmark in the village, although not impressive in looks. It has long been popular with touring motor cyclists who travel up from Sydney for the day. Some will remember it as the home of Doctor Jurd’s Jungle Juice!

Wollombi is rich in aboriginal history and rock carvings can be found in the nearby Yengo National Park. We saw great examples of native plants such as flannel flowers and this banksia.

This interesting plant needed expert consultation to identify it! It is called Lomatia silaifolia but I like its common names of crinkle bush or wild parsley.

Sculpture in the Vineyards is an annual event along the Wollombi Wine Trail. The sculptures are displayed at local vineyards and locations throughout the village.

The Greater Grater by Jimmy Rix, pays homage to the restaurant industry. He works as a chef to supplement his sculpting.

Al Phemister used found and recycled materials for his Dandelion. Notice the perfect weather that day!

Earthstars is the name of the sculpture by Mike Patton. It seems to be made using plastic scourer materials and other man made materials. Earthstars refers to a fungal species.

For such a small town, Wollombi certainly has a lot going for it. There are the wineries to explore along with the sculptures. When you have exhausted those, there is Broke with more wineries not far away, and of course the great wine region of the Hunter Valley!

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3 thoughts on “New Year in a Past Time

  1. What a neat place to spend New Year’s Eve. I was an exchange student in Hobart and my family took me to see Port Authur with all its convict buildings. And I love the photos of banksia. I brought back with me a tea towel with pictures of banksia all over it. I still use it. I love it. It has seen better days but until it is in complete tatters I will keep using it.

  2. Wow those are great photos – and everything so green and lush. I love outdoor sculpture – I wish all these wonderful things you show were just a bit nearer 🙂

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