Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day Tour In The Wineries

I was recently doing my research at the Newcastle Historical Society when I came across an old Cessnock Council tourist map, originally issued in 1969 and it details 3 day tours that tourists can follow around the Cessnock area. So being an adventurous soul, I decided that I would try to follow one of the tourist drives and attempted  Tour 3 - Mount View Range and the Vineyards. It should be noted however that a lot of the wineries have changed owners and some landmarks are no longer visible , which I'll point out and I have left the distances in the original format, being miles, instead of kilometres.

0m. RIGHT - Mount View Road, Millfield (turn off Wollombi Rd, around 15.4 klms from Wine Country Drive Cessnock):
  • Follow Mount View Road. To the north we see Mount View, though to be one of a north-south line of extinct volcanoes.
0.9m. LEFT - Entrance to old Millfield Racecourse: 
  • Most of the rails and even the winning post on this racecourse still stand (now gone, it is now the entrance to a private property) 
1.3m. Bridge Across Creek:
  • To the west at the foot of Mount Baker is William Lewis's diary farm, which stands on the Baker's grant of 1825-31. Some of the Baker family became pioneer farmers on the Orara River, west of Coffs Harbour
2.5m. RIGHT - Cedar Brush Valley:
  • Red cedar trees still grow in this valley. In a paddock on its southern side Prof, T.W. Edgeworth David and his students at the turn of the century sank bores in the course of a survey of local coal seams ("and blew a blessed bugle all night at their camp")
3.3m. RIGHT (on the horizon) - Myall Range:
  • A Jewish bushranger and his gang used Jew Boy Mountain in the Congewai Valley, which begins in the Myall Range, as a base for making raids on local settlers. He was Edward Davis, hanged in Sydney in 1841.
4.3m. RIGHT - "Jerusalem Rock":
  • These greyish extrusions, known locally as "Jerusalem Rock", are characteristic of this area, which greatly interests geologists (although there are plenty of these formations to be seen in the area, I was unable to pinpoint this feature to its exact position & none of the local vignerons I spoke to were able assist ... more investigation needed)
5.4m. Mount View (Bimbadeen) Lookout:
  •   From this look out you may see much of the valley of Black Creek. From the north to south you may see in the background the Barringtons, hils at Nelson Bay, Mount Sugar Loaf, and the Myall Range; in the middle-ground Molly Morgan's Range, the town of Weston and Kurri Kurri, and Mount Tomalpin (600ft), an isolated flat-topped feature; and in the foreground Black Creek farmlands, Allandale Geriatric Centre, Cessnock District Hospital, inner Cessnock, Aberdare, and Bellbird. In the immediate foreground a gravel road winds down past a dairy farm (and continues on to the vineyards). This is the road we shall follow (this road is now sealed).
Resume journey, first proceeding south, then north, and avoiding the turn-off right to Bellbird. Continue through undulating grazing lands to the foot of the range.

9.0m. RIGHT - Turn Off For Cessnock:
  • Avoiding this turn off, continue north along tar-sealed road (Oakey Creek Road).
9.5m. LEFT - Turn Off To Vineyards And Vineyards Lookout:
  • Follow this turn off (still on Oakey Creek Road)
11.1m. Right - Happy Valley Wine Cellars (now Wynwood Estate):
  • Happy Valley vineyards are managed by Barrie Drayton, member of a branch of the wine making family, whose founder, Charles Drayton, planted a 40 acre vineyard at Pokolbin in 1870. 
LEFT  - Bellevue Wine Cellars (now Drayton Family Wines)
  • Bellevue, whose cellars stand on the 40 acres planted by Charles Drayton in 1870, is managed by Len Drayton. From the beginning the Draytons combined mixed farming with wine making. Fortunately for wine lovers, the Draytons resisted the temptation, during the Great Depression, to abandon wine making altogether.
LEFT - (beyond Bellevue) - Mount Pleasant Vineyards (Marrowbone Road):

  • Mount Pleasant was acquired from Maurice O'Shea (who acquired it from Charles King) by the company whose founder was a London surgeon, Henry John Lindeman (1811 -71), who settled at Gresford in 1840, purchased Carwarra in 1843 and, later, Dr. Carmichael's Porphyry Estate. The Lindemans retained O'Shea as manager until his death in 1956. He was one of our greatest winemakers.
13.0m. RIGHT - Turn Off To Lindemans Ben Ean (McDonalds Road) :
  • Avoiding this turn off, continue west along a gravel road the which leads to to the Vineyards Lookout (this road is Pokolbin Mountain Road) 
RIGHT - Cote d'Or :
  • Note grove of trees surrounding an old house, Cote d'Or. Cote d'Or was built by Lieutenant Frederick A. Wilkinson who came to Pokolbin in the 1860's and set about clearing thick scrub and planting a vineyard. After living in tents for six months the Wilkinsons, a cultured family, set about building Cote d'Or: they used hand made bricks and nails, pit sawn slabs and shingles.* Cote d'Or is nearly collapsed & it is a real tragedy that it historical building hasn't been preserved. The ruins can now only be glimpsed from the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard on De Beyers Road.
When turning right to begin the ascent to the Vineyards Lookout note the old road, lined  with trees and fenced on either side, which runs straight up the ridge. This road, abandoned 60 years ago, leads directly to the Pokolbin Vineyards Lookout, which we now approach by  means of a relatively easy deviation. Towards the end of the climb note to the right the farms of the pioneer Mathews Family.

15.5m. Sharp Turn Left Off Road To Vineyards Lookout:
  • Proceed on foot in a southerly direction along a ridge (following portion of the abandoned road already noted). This old road follows the general line of a road noted in 1832 which ran from Millfield across Mount View and the eastern side of the Broken Back (Range)and on to the Hunter River. From this ridge you have an uninterrupted view of the vineyards, the Liverpool Range and Mount Royal Range  * the Vineyards Lookout that is mentioned isn't the current Pokolbin Picnic Area (cnr McDonald & De Beyers Road); but it is an older point of interest & is no longer in shown on contemporary maps or signposted. The Vineyards Lookout is 4.2 kilometres from the intersection of McDonald & Pokolbin Mountain Road .  
Rejoin vehicle and retrace journey as far as the intersection of the Vineyards Lookout road and the tar sealed road leading north (McDonalds Road). There continue north.

19.9m. LEFT -   St. Mark's Church of England:
  • Students should not confuse this building with the one referred to as the church of the 1860's at Pokolbin: the church of the 1860's at Pokolbin was St. Luke's, the church near the cemetery at Nulkaba. George Frederick McDonald, a Presbyterian, donated the land on which Church of England vignerons erected St. Mark's. 
LEFT - Pokolbin School of Arts:
  • Here there have been social and official gathering of our own great winegrowers and internationally known wine lovers.
RIGHT - Pokolbin War Memorial:
  • Inscriptions on the tablets at the gates read like a roll call of our vignerons. They include the names of Pokolbin men who fought in the Great War of 1914 - 18 and the 1939 - 45 War.
LEFT - Lindeman's Ben Ean Wine Cellars and Vineyards
  • Frederick, son of Dr Lindeman, purchased Bean Ean from J.F. McDonald, son of John McDonald, who obtained the grants in 1825 - 31 here and at Rothbury Creek. 
20.5m. Intersection With De Beyers Road:
  • Turn right along De Beyers Road. Harry De Beyer, a German migrant, who worked in a Newcastle district coal mine, acquired and developed a vineyard property near Broken Back. At the same time there came to Pokolbin another coalminer. This coalminer's son, Bob Elliot, took over Oakvale vineyard on the Broke Road; developed Belford on the mainstream of the Hunter; acquired land at Fordwitch; and shortly after the 1939 - 45 War acquired Tallawanta east of Oakvale.
21.5m. LEFT - Entrance To Glen Elgin:
  • John Younie Tulloch, a prosperous businessman at Branxton, acquired Glen Elgin around 1894 from J.Hungerford. After the 1914 - 18 War he acquired 50 acre blocks abandoned at Fordwitch by soldier settlers and there planted vines. J.Y. Tulloch died in 1940. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Hector. (the entrance to Glen Elgin is approximately now the entrance to McLeish Wines)
22.5m. Entrance To Cessnock Airport:
  • Avoid entrance to airport. Turn sharp left. (this is now an olive tree plantation, the entrance to Cessnock Airport is now off Wine Country Drive)
23.5m. Lake's Folly:
  • Lake's Folly is the young vineyard of Max Lake, surgeon, and author of two charming books; Hunter Wine (1964); Classic Wines of Australia (1966). Max Lake is a member of the Confrerie de Chevaliers du Tastevin. Max Lake deeply appreciates the historical background ot our Pokolbin and Rothbury families and the tenacity and skill of our vignerons.
  • To the left on the Broke Road beyond Tallawanta (Hunter Valley Gardens & Harrigan's Cellars) is the Ashman's property (known by the family as 'the marriage settlement' of Tyrells Vineyards Pty. Ltd. (this vineyard is just now known as Tyrrells Estate, 1838 Broke Road Pokolbin)  This company is managed by Murray Tyrrell. great-gradson of Edward Tyrrell, brother of Rt. Rev. William Tyrrell, first Bishop of Newcastle Church of England Diocese.
23.8m. Intersection With Road To Branxton (Wine Country Drive):
  • Follow this road north * although it is only about 600 mtrs to Wine Country Drive from Lakes Folly, if you take the trip to Tyrrells as described in this tour it actually adds nearly another 11.5 kilomtetres to the trip!  
25.7m. RIGHT  - Turn Off Along Widerness Road To Allandale and Lochinvar:
  • Follow this turn off
RIGHT - Daisy Hill (Old Vineyard & Wine Cellar):
  • For details see Tour 2
LEFT - Wilderness Cemetery:
  • For details see Tour 2. The Wilderness Church and cemetery (named after the home built on this road in the 1840's by Joseph Broadbent Holmes, a native of Exeter, on the east bank of Black Creek) is the resting place of members of the families of almost all of our pioneer vignerons * the cemetery is located behind Emma's Cottage  438 Wilderness Rd Rothbury.


Trying to follow that map was a difficult assignment, not just because of the changing names of the properties, but the compiler added diversions (Mt Pleasant and Tyrrell Wineries) without adjusting the milages. Also, there was no road names indicated (especially when I was trying work out where the Vineyards Lookout was situated!) and to further complicate things, the speedo that they used in the vehicle was out by over 10%, making the trip even more confusing than it needed to be.

Overall, it was a fun way to spend a day out, driving around one of Australia's best wine producing regions and living the history of Australia's pioneer vignerons ... a great day out. 

I'd like to thank the invaluable help given to me by Stephen Drayton & Robyn Drayton in identifying historical landmarks around Pokolbin. Also the Newcastle Family History & Historical Society for use of the extensive pam files & the Cessnock City Council who originally produced the Cessnock Day Tours  guide 


Ruth Cotton said...

John, I really enjoyed this and love the way you have identified what has disappeared. Definitely will attempt to follow your trail! I have a blog about Hamilton - its past, present and little known stories see Will search your blog to see if you have a post on the Hamilton Post Office. Ruth Cotton.

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