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Sculpture park, wine tasting, a picnic with the kookaburras and soaking in an onsen

Today’s trip took around 16 of us on a minibus to three wineries on the Mornington Peninsula, with some other assorted stops along the way.  Well done Glen for organising and being tour-guide/announcer.  Keeping with the Japanese theme, we finished at the Peninsula Hot Springs, a Japanese-style onsen next to the Moonah Links golf course at the back of Rye.  More on that below.

I joined the JET Alumni Association’s annual Mornington Peninsula winery and onsen day.  The JET-AA is an association of returnees from the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, and is an organisation that I’ve had a bit to do with through my involvement with the Australia-Japan Society of Victoria.  I’m not a JET and don’t qualify to join JET-AA, but we have held some good joint funtions in the past.

Today’s trip took around 16 of us on a minibus to three wineries on the Mornington Peninsula, with some other assorted stops along the way.  Well done Glen for organising and being tour-guide/announcer.  Keeping with the Japanese theme, we finished at the Peninsula Hot Springs, a Japanese-style onsen next to the Moonah Links golf course at the back of Rye.  More on that below.

Our first stop was at the McClelland Gallery in Langwarren, billed as being Australia’s premiere sculpture park.  It features a diversity of mostly modern sculptures around its grounds, including some in a bush setting.  There is also a gallery building, which housed some art that reminded me of some of the pieces that were in the Guggenheim exhibition at the NGV last year.

Here are some pictures of some of the sculptures in the McClelland Sculpture Survey 2007.

After our first winery stop, it was then off to Seawinds, a park next to Arthur’s Seat.  We took off our shoes Japanese style on the tarp, and picnicked under the watchful eyes of several hungry young kookaburras, and a few magpies.  Our bottle of newly acquired pinot from Karina Winery was the perfect match for our lunch.

The view from Seawinds down the peninsula was a bit hazy today, but we could see the Queen of the Netherlands dredging away right in front of Arthur’s Seat.

It was then off to Manton Creek winery in Main Ridge, down a dirt road and in a tranquil setting.  More tastings, and the purchase of one bottle of rose later, we headed to Cape Schank to see the boardwalk.  With only half an hour up our sleeves, I managed to get to the bottom of the boardwalk and back up the hill, although there wasn’t enough time for me to also tour the Cape Schank Lighthouse.  I hadn’t been to Cape Schank for many years, but it was just as windy as I remembered it, exposed into Bass Strait.

Here’s Craig and I on the bottom of the boardwalk at the Cape.

One more winery to go, The Cups Estate, which overlooked Moonah Links.  Cool climate shiraz proved the popular choice here.

It was then just down the road to the Peninsula Hot Springs.  For a group of Japanophiles and Japanese, soaking in an onsen was just the ticket to end the day after all our hard work wine tasting.  However, we had to manage with a few changes to the standard Japanese hot springs.  Firstly, it’s mixed, so keep your togs on.  Lots of warning signs tell unwitting non-experienced bathers what to do.  The deck chairs out by the pools were perhaps not keeping in with the usual onsen experience.  However, all up, it’s not a bad reproduction of the real thing.  And the water certainly has some minerals in it – it smelled a bit like water from a rusty pipe!

Here’s the JET-AA’s gallery of photos from the day on Flickr.

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