Fellow Traveller eMag Number 8

Page 1


eMag Number 8

Contact Lucia today to plan your next adventure lc@nomadssecrets.com www.nomadssecrets.com 1300 670 000 (Australia) +61 (1) 400 741 930 (Worldwide) 1 888 408 2480 (USA and Canada) 2

contents Fellow Traveller is a periodic eMag published by Nomads Secrets and dedicated to the Art of Exploration. Lucia O’Connell Founder Tony Sernack Editor John Harber Design Tony Sernack Photography Fellow Travellers who contributed to this edition José Melero Sophie Howarth Alice M Ilich Brian Harrisberg


eMag Number 8

eMag Number 8





Welcome to Fellow Traveller

Cover: Sunset in paradise.


TONGA – An adventure in paradise


LOTS OF BULL – A stud auction in Northern NSW

SOARING – the Golden Eagle hunters of Mongolia


I Witness – Singular views from around the world

ONE MAN’S PASSION – The wildlife photography of a Sydney eye surgeon



FABULOUS FABERGÉ – Russia’s Master Jeweller

MOUTON ’82 – A tale about one of the world’s great wines 3

Travelling with Nomads Secrets


We create highly customised trips and meticulously planned itineraries that reveal the world through the eyes of our local and trusted experts. You will experience the true essence and very best of the places you visit. Great trips require an adequate budget and time to plan so that your desires are fulfilled. We will do everything we can to ensure your journey becomes an enduring memory. This is Nomads Secrets’ pledge to you.

Welcome to Nomads Secrets and

Fellow Traveller


hen I wrote the introduction to the last Fellow Traveller we were about to travel to Tonga to explore part of this Pacific Kingdom by sail boat and also have the chance to swim with the migrating humpback whales.

In this edition Tony Sernack writes about the experience and some of the people we met. Tonga is relatively underdeveloped in terms of modern day tourism and hospitality infrastructure but that is also one of its charms. From my point of view this island kingdom is best enjoyed by boat. We hired a local skipper and sailed around the islands without having to worry about reading maps and looking out for reefs. And from the boat we saw whales, manta rays and turtles. We enjoyed our time in this beautiful part of the South Pacific. Elsewhere in this edition of FT you will find the stunning wildlife photography of one of Sydney’s leading eye surgeons, the story of a stud bull auction in northern New South Wales and an account of the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia from photographer Sophie Howarth, whose real passion for the country is evident in her images and words. Alice Ilich, a world authority on Fabergé, gives us an insight into the life of this famous jeweller. Currently client trips to India, Morocco and Sri Lanka as well as Africa and Cuba are either in the detailed planning stage or about to start. Designing the best possible journeys that satisfy our clients’ interests and expose them to the finest and most interesting treasures a destination has to offer is always a challenge but a very satisfying one to meet. Every client has different aspirations and no two journeys can be the same. This is essentially the difference between what we do as travel designers as against pre-packaged tours. I hope you enjoy the magazine and look forward to helping craft your next adventure. Lucia O'Connell


The Friendly Isles Words and images by Tony Sernack


When Captain Cook visited Tonga in 1773 on his second voyage into the Pacific he was so impressed by the hospitality of the locals he named it The Friendly Isles. It is perhaps ironical the name has stuck because the relaxed reception by the chief of the village of Lifuka in the Ha’apai island group concealed a plan to take his boats and kill Cook and his crew. A local dispute delayed the attack and Cook sailed away quite oblivious.


The Kingdom of Tonga was formed in 1845 uniting three groups of scattered islands. In 1875 it became a constitutional monarchy and was a British Protectorate up until 1970. Tonga is the only monarchy in Polynesia and is the only Pacific nation never to be colonised. As such Tongan traditions and culture remain strong today and, compared to other destinations, Tonga is relatively (and I think happily for most visitors) underdeveloped. That does mean getting used to Tongan time and an overt laid-back attitude. Tonga is made up of 176 pristine islands stretching over 800 km’s of deep blue ocean. Of these only about 40 are inhabited. With a population of a little over 100,000 with 70% living on the main island of Tongatapu, the Kingdom is hardly overpopulated. The land here is of incredibly fertile volcanic soil. With temperatures in the mid to high 20’s C (high 70’s F) year round and a rainfall averaging 120mm (5 inches) a month things grow.


All of Tonga is dotted with small farms growing cassava, taro, sweet potato, bananas, mango and other staples. There are coconut palms everywhere, along with breadfruit trees and, in the sea, an abundance of fish. Add in the pigs and chickens that roam around every village and there is plenty to eat. As Moses, who drove us to and from the airport, said “No Tongan is truly poor. Every family is given an 'api 'uta (a plot of land) to farm. No one is hungry.”



However Tonga ‘s main export today is probably people. From a western viewpoint we work hard to take a holiday in a relaxed, warm and beautiful island paradise. Many Tongans have left to pursue professional careers or better their family circumstances through the higher wages available in Australia and New Zealand. Moses was one of them. He lived in Sydney for some years, worked in the construction industry and came home as often as he could to visit his young family. When he realised that his kids resented their father’s lengthy absences he decided to come back despite the financial disadvantages.


There is no doubt the best way to see this kingdom is on a boat and sailing across deep blue waters between remote islands. The photographs barely do justice to the stunning colours of the water and the lush green jungles. We either visited or sailed around most of the islands of northernmost Vava’u Archipelago. Some are uninhabited like the particularly striking Maninita with its rockeries of seabirds and coral gardens. On others we enjoyed meeting local villagers and visiting schools. Education is a high priority here.

denominations. On one small island, 5 separate churches cater for a total population of 150. At a midweek evening service at one, the small congregation sang with the gusto of many. Sundays are about dressing up, wearing ‘ta’ovala’ (woven waist mats) and going to church. It is a day of rest by law. We attended a Wesleyan church on Taunga. The female minister broke from her passionate sermon in Tongan to welcome and explain the text to us in English. The whole experience was moving and again the singing was wonderful.

Tongans are particularly religious, many attending their church 4 times a week. And there are plenty of churches of all

Sunday church service on Taunga

Pastor of one of the five churches on Matamaka


Top Left: Umu, earth oven. Left: Island Chef, Happy, prepares food for the Sunday Umu. Top Right: Fresh fish and coconut. Right: Peter, on his honeymoon, caught (and released) this good sized Trevally off the beach at dawn.

The other tradition on Sundays is the family gathering with food cooked in an Umu, an earth oven. We enjoyed two of these feasts and also a little ceremonial kava drinking! Family is paramount on these Friendly Isles and clearly there is a culture of communities helping each other and living in harmony. While we were there the King dissolved parliament and called for new elections, apparently unhappy with the behavior of some politicians. Everybody we spoke to seemed delighted and certainly unconcerned.


There are many things in Tonga that don’t work as we westerners might like. However there is so much that is beautiful, unaffected and joyful. ◆





Welcome to a traditional feast on Matamaka


in Paradise

Had Mark Belvedere been born 200 years ago he would have more than likely been a pirate. Sturdy, nut brown and with a bushy beard and ready smile, you can well imagine him as captain of a ship flying the skull and crossbones.


The fact is Mark’s life has revolved around the sea, from the time he left school at 14 until today as owner of a South Seas Treasure Island.

In between he operated a tall ship in the Caribbean, playing out pirate captain, invented a sail system that revolutionised sail technology especially for windsurfers and built all sorts of craft, some tilting at wind powered water speed records.

The visitor needs to quickly adjust to Tongan time and chill. Green jungled islands, volcanic rock shorelines, white coral sand beaches and crystal clear deep blue through turquoise waters of almost indescribable beauty.

Born in America and with no formal training but an innate understanding of sailing and the sea, Mark originally travelled to the Kingdom of Tonga to pursue his belief that ancient Tongans were truly extraordinary mariners whose innovations had application to improve the performance of today's most sophisticated racing boats.

Belvedere’s is a fascinating story and this gentle pirate is happily settled on his very own island paradise.

That led to a royal request from the King of Tonga to complete a replica of an ancient kalia, a sailing craft that carried up to 150 men and could sail close to the wind. As Mark told us “Who turns down a King?“ How this project led to his owning Euaiki and a small eco resort with his Mexican American wife is a story you are better to hear from him – as is his proposal of a Tongan challenge for the America’s Cup in 2014 with a boat based on a traditional craft. Euaiki is one of 42 larger islands in the Vava’u archipelago, at the north-eastern end of Tonga, close to the International Date Line. So this is the where the day starts for the world but there is seemingly no other time pressure here in the tropics.

The South Seas seem to have attracted many such adventurers who for a variety of reasons stopped their wanderings here. Some no doubt escaping exigencies of their former lives. These warm waters also attract humpback whales that come here between July and September to mate or returning, a year later, to have their calves and prepare for the migration back to the feeding grounds in Antarctica. The big attraction is to swim with these 20 tonne behemoths. Originally Lucia planned our trip to Tonga with the help of Allan Bowe, the New Zealand advertising man who came to Vava’u around 20 years ago and with his wife and family, set up a small resort on Mounu Island. We never got to meet him in person as sadly he died earlier this year. We did spent a little time with his daughters Kristy and Amber who run the resort. Their father was a modern day Robinson Crusoe with long unkempt grey beard and he first saw the potential for whale tourism in Tonga.

Lucia and Mark Belvedere 17

Billah, our skipper and Billah, chef at Paella

Like that of Mark Belverdere, Bowe’s was an intriguing life. And certainly he was very conscious of the wellbeing of and respect for the whales and their domain. To be in the water and peer into the blue and see these magnificent creatures up close is an extraordinary experience (see separate story). However, despite strict rules of engagement, there are now 27 licensed high powered boats operating for whale swimming and Tonga may need to reappraise how things are done so that the whales keep coming. Kristy and others strongly sounded these concerns. These islands also attract long-term sailors from around the globe. We spent our second week on a 33-foot sailboat along with our Tongan skipper Billah. Undoubtedly being on a boat is the best way to see the islands and having an experienced skipper allowed us to navigate the reefs and shoals with relative ease. Each night we found calm and beautiful anchorages along with a small flotilla of larger yachts under a number of flags. After going ashore for a longish walk across one island (Billah our barefooted guide) we returned to an invitation to an impromptu beach party and got to meet a number of these long-term yachties. 18

When we got over to the small island beach with a bunch

of beers, a driftwood fire was going and a few people had brought their guitars. The crowd was generally 50 plus and very friendly. First we met Cheryl and Mark from San Diego who had left their architecture and interior design practice 4 years ago. Mark had long been a competitive sailor and when they decided to live on a boat he opted for a relatively fast vessel in the form of a 48 foot Beneteau First. A delightfully laid back couple who are slowly making their way across the Pacific. No real hurry. “When we started” Mark said, “I had short brown hair, was clean shaven and had pale skin. Now I’ve brown skin, a beard and long sun bleached hair.” As we were talking Paul, another American, came over and introduced himself and named his boat, which I had noticed in the bay. “She’s been named in three divorces,” he said. Turns out he has lived aboard for 27 years. Paul reminded me a little of Alan Alda, similar age save with a grey pony tale. When a maybe 30-year-old Bonnie joined us, she said, “I’m his consort. First one to get past Hawaii!” and added that she had had her own boat. The two highlights of ownership, she said, were the day she bought it and the day she sold it (for a very slight profit). Paul’s boat had been two up from hers on the dock – “I really liked his boat” she said.



Eduardo, proprietor of Paella, entertained us

“It is really all about the boat.” Paul just smiled. Lucia had struck up a conversation with a couple from Norway. They had been sailing for 4 years and had been to Alaska, down the coast of the States and then onto the Pacific and Tahiti and then Tonga. Next destination was to be Fiji and then onto New Zealand where they were going to leave the boat and return to Norway to see their grandchildren, do some skiing and then return for another season on the water. Every story was different but also similar. For us land based occasional travellers, living full time on a sailboat is a different life but I certainly didn’t detect any hint of frustrations or anxieties. On our last night on the boat we dropped anchor below a renouned Spanish eatery, Paella, went ashore and made our way up to the well weathered wooden restaurant for dinner. Had Captain Jack Sparrow appeared he would have fitted in perfectly. It was a Sunday night and we were the only diners, although there was another couple staying with Eduardo and Maria, the owners. Eduardo washed up in Tonga over 30 years ago. Juan and his New Zealand wife Jane were revisiting Tonga. They too had been long time mariners having lived on their

boat for 14 years and gone around the world one and a half times. They have now settled on Great Barrier Island near Auckland. Jane told us “It is nice to have an address!” Juan added “We still have the boat but I had to decide. I love my boat but I love my wife a bit more.” We had an excellent meal and then were entertained by Eduardo’s passionate singing. And while talking about food and expats, there are the two Italian Marco’s, one in the port in Vava’u and the other in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa, on the main island of Tongatapu. Both men are long time residents, married to Tongan women and providing quality Italian fare with Italian panache to their patrons. We spent our last night in Nuku‘alofa to catch the early flight home. We were going to eat at The Black Pearl, which was well recommended, but the owners' flight back from New Zealand that day had been delayed and they apologised that they hadn’t had time to prepare. We had a beer there with a New Zealander we had met on the flight over from Vava’u and he suggested Lunarossa where Marco 2 made us welcome and fed us grandly and copiously with his seafood specialities. ◆ A good ending to our adventure in paradise.



Swimming with Whales O

N our first day we set off with Mark Belvedere and

his guide Tani at dawn. We had chosen his island because of its proximity to the channel and that gave us a head start on the operators coming from Vava’u. After covering a lot of water we spotted a mother and calf but she clearly wasn’t too interested in engaging and led us on a merry chase. The highlight of the morning was a visit to a small idyllic beach for a swim.


Beautiful images take by José Melero. José, a cardiac surgeon from Malaga and his wife Maria were staying on the Euaiki. A very experienced scuba diver, José 24

pursues his passion across the globe.


That afternoon we went out again and this time had some success and time in the water. I was last out of Mark’s outrigger and, with underwater camera in hand, headed towards Tani and the others. He was signaling with clenched fist held above the water that they were above the whales. As I got close I saw the others now coming toward me. I turned just as a mother and calf passed within a few feet of me. It is aweinspiring to see these giants gliding by out of the deep blue water. I managed a couple of shots but the whole thing was over in few seconds. Undoubtedly some whales and certainly juveniles like the interaction with humans, often performing underwater ballets for the wetsuited snorkelers above. Some mothers however seek to protect their calves and move away. Something hard to do with often a few boats in pursuit. Whales, being mammals, of course have to come to the surface to breath and their blows are spotted by the Tongan guides. The adults can dive deep and stay down for some time. When you see their tails, they are diving. However the calves can’t follow their mothers to the depths and remain near the surface. Despite the excitement of being in the water we had mixed feelings about pursuing the whales. While humpback populations have risen there is evidence that fewer whales are being seen in these Tongan waters.


Speculation is that given the number of operators (you often see three or more boats lined up for their turn to put their clients into the water with a particular whale) that whales that have had a bad experience or feel harassed are starting to avoid Tonga and searching out other breeding grounds. The whales do not feed in Tonga. Mothers having given birth are suckling their calves in preparation for the migration south and the colder krill rich waters. And while there are spectacular displays of breaching, flipper slapping and exhaustive heat runs by ardent males seeking a mate, one would presume that most don’t want to waste energy being pursued by humans. While there are many instances of mature whales (Mark tells the story of ‘Cuddles’ a particularly friendly male) and certainly curious youngsters interacting extensively with swimmers, that is not always the case. Perhaps the Tongans need to revisit the limits on whale swimming with a view to preserving the flow of humpbacks through these waters and hence the long term viability of this element of tourism. Whatever your feelings, seeing these huge creatures in their natural environment is certainly extraordinary. ◆

Heidy and Tani



GREECE Santorini Santorini is in many ways the archetype Greek Island. White washed houses, blue domed churches, azure waters and lots of tourists!. The towns of Fira and Oia cling to the rim of the caldera that once was a volcano whose eruptions, particularly the one during the Minoan period, literally changed history. While tourists flock to Santorini in the summer, it remains a must see destination and probably best planned on either side of the season.


The oldest town Oia, sits on the north west end of the caldera and watching the sunset in the company of someone you love will always be a memorable experience. Also enjoy a seafood lunch at one of the waterside restaurants at Amoudi. ◆




SRI LANKA Dambulla cave temple It is well worth the climb above the Golden Buddha statue to reach the five caves that make up the temple complex. There are 364 steps! Located in the centre of the country and around 70km’s north of Kandy, Dambulla is still a functioning monastery and is the best-preserved ancient site in Sri Lanka. It dates back to the first century B.C. The largest cave, the Cave of the Great Kings, is over a thousand square metres and soars to 7 metres high. It contains 56 statues of Buddha along with Hindu deities and two Sri Lankan kings, Vattagamani, who supported the monastery at its inception and Nissanka who, in the 12th century, gilded 50 of the temple statues. In the first cave there is a 14 metre reclining statue of Buddha. The site has UNESCO World Heritage listing. ◆



PAPUA NEW GUINEA Lae Markets Lae is the second largest city in PNG and the main cargo port. It sits on the delta of the Markham River to the north east of Port Moresby and boasts the best food markets in the country. With rich volcanic soils, nearly 250 days a year with rainfall and a constant temperature range between 22 and 31 degrees C, things simply grow.


High quality fruit and vegetables from the Morobe region find their way to the Lae City markets along with produce from the Highlands. ◆



FABERGÉ By Alice M Ilich

To many growing up in the 1970’s, the name Fabergé is synonymous with the company manufacturing the ubiquitous fragrance, Brut, championed by the likes of actress Farah Fawcett and boxer Henry Cooper. However the name has a long history. It started in 17th century France as Favri and over time transformed to the more appealing and stylized French sounding Fabergé as it entered the world of jewellery, fashion and elegance. And in doing so gained a noble and moneyed clientele.


The Twelve Monograms Egg (also known as the ‘Alexander III Portraits Egg’), Fabergé, 1896. Presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.


The unfinished Blue Constellation

The Danish Palaces Egg, Fabergé, 1890.

The Napoleonic Egg, Fabergé, 1912.

Egg, Fabergé, 1917. Commissioned by

Presented by Tsar Alexandra III to his

Presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his

Tsar Nicholas II for his wife, Tsaritsa

wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna,

mother, the Dowager Empress Maria

Alexandra, Easter 1917. Re-discovered

Easter 1890.

Feodorovna, Easter 1912.

the 19th Century, surpassing anything else at that time and becoming an international phenomenon. It still holds enchantment in the very pronunciation of its name. Carl Fabergé housed his creative teams, their independent companies and employees under one roof, producing the full gamut of jewellery, guilloche, enameling, gold and silversmithing with all the supporting staff amenities, including their own house doctor and dining facilities. This was the state of the art for Europe.

year old Carl Fabergé to make the first of the famed Easter Eggs for his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. The bestowing of important gifts in the form of an egg was conceived from the Orthodox tradition of greeting family and friends on Easter day with a decorated egg. The Imperial commissions continued with Alexander’s son, Nicholas II, who ordered a unique Easter Egg each year for his wife and his mother, the Dowager, until the fall of Imperial Russia.

The big break came when Fabergé won the patronage of the Imperial family. The rise and prominence of the name and the success of the business globally resulted from this patronage and its connections to all the noble houses of Europe and England. Fabergé was bestowed with the coveted title, ‘Goldsmith by Special Appointment to the Imperial Crown’.

However, above all, Fabergé’s achievements were due to the firm’s ability to create an extraordinary array of stunning but functional articles such as gold cigarette cases, bellpushes, thermometers, enameled photograph frames, jewellery and silver flatware for one end of their market and the famed, almost mythical, Imperial Eggs at the other.

1885 proved to be an auspicious year for the jeweller. Tsar Alexander III commissioned the thirty-eight

Fabergé dispensed with the fashionable style where the diamonds outweighed most articles of jewellery.

in a store-room at the Fersman Mineralogical Museum, Moscow, in 2001.


eter Carl Fabergé (18461920), descendent of a Huguenot family, propelled the little known jeweller of ‘small items and spectacles’ into a world renowned and iconic brand. It was through his brilliant business acumen that he turned the firm into one of the leading purveyors to the Russian Imperial Family.

The name Fabergé resonated across Europe and America as one of the greatest creative jewellers and goldsmiths. For over a decade Fabergé patiently restored early gold and enamel items in the Hermitage, in Saint Petersburg. This exposure to some of the great masterpieces underpinned his own creations and ultimately brought him to the attention of Russia’s Imperial family.


Carl Fabergé took over his father’s small business in 1882 and together with his brother, Agathon, developed it into one of the world’s most sophisticated business structures of

The Love Trophy (or ‘Cradle of Garlands’) Egg, 1907.


Detail of the Grisaille Egg, Fabergé, 1914.

He introduced designer-led artist jewellers who began using coloured stones and not necessarily the most expensive, as well as reviving the art of enameling. The firm’s creations, whether important or minor, became synonymous with superb craftsmanship and uniqueness.

The Winter Egg, Fabergé, 1913. Presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. Long-hidden from public view, the Winter Egg is revealed in the documentary film FABERGE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN. The Winter Egg is acknowledged to be Fabergé’s masterpiece, the most spectacular object ever produced by the company – and the most valuable Easter egg of all time.

The story continues, paralleling Fabergé’s trajectory and its ultimate collapse with glorious Imperial Russia, to its utter demise at the end of Word War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. Out of the ashes of its destruction the Fabergé name, as well as the items it created, ascended as various entrepreneurs recognised the talismanic attraction these pieces hold, evoking romance, tragedy and above all the magnetic draw of the plight of Russia’s beguiling Imperial family.


Even today the enduring lure of Fabergé is witnessed by passionate collectors traveling to international auctions and, for some, to hunt for lost Fabergé items. ◆

The Caucasus Egg, Fabergé, 1893.

Commemorative brooch in gold,

Presented by Tsar Alexandra III to his

aquamarines, diamonds and ruby, for

wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna,

300th anniversary of Romanov rule,

Easter 1893.

Fabergé, 1913.

Where to see the works of Fabergé The Imperial eggs have found their way into a number of museums, in Russia and especially in America. Fortunately three of the best collections in the USA are relatively close together on the East Coast. ❧ The Fabergé Museum, Saint Petersburg. Opened in 2013, this museum celebrates the work of the master craftsman and the collection includes a number of the famous Imperial eggs, including the very first Hen Easter Egg. You can see how these evolved over the years into more and more complex forms. The genesis of this private museum was the acquisition by Viktor Vekselberg of a one-of-a-kind collection of Fabergé works amassed by Malcolm Forbes (of Forbes Magazine fame) and his desire to repatriate Russian works of art;

❧ And not far away is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In 1947 Lillian Thomas Pratt bequeathed her remarkable collection of more than 400 Russian objects, including five Imperial Easter Eggs and approximately 170 additional works from the House of Fabergé. The collection is now displayed in a new suite of galleries at VMFA. ◆

❧ The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg also holds a wide variety of exquisite ‘everyday’ objects. In 2015 it acquired the ‘Rothschild egg’, a rose coloured egg shaped clock that was owned by the Baron Edward de Rothschild, being a gift from Vladimir Putin. Currently however it is not yet on display; ❧ The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has over 130 items, including a number of Imperial Eggs; ❧ Hillwood Estate and Museum in Washington DC which is the former home of Marjorie Post, philanthropist and owner of General Foods. When she died her fortune was $5 billion (in 2008 dollars!). She built a fabulous collection of jewellry and art and wanted the world to see it. She particularly collected pre-revolutionary Russian art and hence her fascination with Fabergé;

About the writer Alice M Ilich is internationally

developing the international Russian

recognised as one of the world’s

art market. Alice regularly lectures and

leading authorities on Fabergé and

has published widely

Russian art. In 2015 she co-produced

As an independent consultant, Alice

the award winning documentary,

collaborates with collectors and

Fabergé: A Life of Its Own, which

institutions internationally on the

illustrates the journey of this

acquisition and disposal of major

iconic name.

paintings and objects. Amongst her

A former director of Christie’s and

achievements was negotiating the private

Sotheby’s in New York, London and

sale of the Fabergé ‘Winter Egg’ of 1913

Geneva she played a significant role in

when it first appeared on the market. ◆ 39

LOTS OF BULL Every year cattle farmers from around Australia gather outside the northern New South Wales town of Nundle to buy premium bulls for breeding and to enhance their herds. The annual Wombramurra stud bull auction is a fascinating event, especially for a city slicker not familiar with the intricacies and sophistication of cattle breeding that go towards ensuring a great steak ends up on your plate.




Peel River, Nundle

Nundle township


ombramurra is a 5000-acre property specialising in breeding Black Simmental bulls.

This breed has proved a boon for the cattle industry. Originating in the USA, where Simmental ranchers sought to improve their breed essentially by adding the eating quality, polledness (lack of horns), early maturity, calving ease and freedom from eye cancers of Angus to the excellent maternal traits and growth and yield qualities of their Simmentals. So emerged the Black Simmental (pure Simmentals are known as solid Reds). Nundle Woolen Mill, dyeing room

This year some 85 lots were offered for sale, the biggest sale to date, with bulls basically at three stages of development ranging from 12 to 24 months old. We arrived in the town of Nundle the night before the sale. It was early August and the nights are very cold. We enjoyed a wonderful meal (Black Simmental steaks of course) and a few drinks around a very necessary raging fire with the stud’s owners, potential buyers and friends. Nundle is a small village in the New England area of New South Wales

Buyers gather for the bull sale

about 400kms north of Sydney and 56km south of Tamworth (the home of country music in Australia). Today it is home to around 300 people. The countryside is particularly beautiful with rolling hills and good pastures. Originally the town was established when gold was discovered at The Hanging Rock in 1852 and 300 diggers from all over the world were soon working the fields at Oakenville Creek. By 1865 Nundle had a population of 500 and 50 businesses. There are a number of colonial buildings that reflect the town’s heyday.


The sale catalogue provided detailed information on every bull.



ore recently Nundle has seen a revival through tourism. The annual Go for Gold Festival over the Easter long weekend attracts 15,000 hopeful visitors and other events through the year include a working dog race and Le Tour de Rocque cycle race.

The revival of the town’s fortunes was substantially kick started by Peter and Judy Howarth, who are partners in the stud operations. Today the town boasts some interesting shops and the Nundle Woollen Mill spins and dyes fine merino wools selling a range of high quality knits and yarns. A pair of Nundle socks is a must buy (especially so in August!). The next day was clear and fine and thankfully mild. At the sale complex the bulls, all ear-tagged with their lot numbers, were being closely inspected by prospective bidders and sale catalogues consulted and marked up. There is a vast amount of information on each animal. Metrics that allow the buyers to assess the value of each bull in respect to their own herd’s characteristics and breeding objectives. Stock and Station Agents are there to help run the sale and organise the transactions for their clients. And beyond the numbers, the buyers are assessing temperament, ‘softness’ of muscle (and hence ultimate meat quality in progeny) and, given that these bulls are all about breeding success, their ‘operating equipment’. At 1pm after a complimentary lunch, everyone moved to the sale ring and took their positions on the tiered benches backed by displays of Show Ribbons won by the property. After some preliminary explanations the guest auctioneer, Paul Dooley, got proceedings underway. The first bull was released into the ring under the watchful eye of Andy Chapman, Howarth’s partner in the Wombramurra stud.



good auctioneer is a pleasure to watch and listen to and Dooley moves things along quickly, dispensing vital information mixed with playful banter. While there are a couple of hundred in the stands, the auctioneer and the agents know all the bidders and direct their attention accordingly.

Spotters scan the crowd and scream out as bids are made, often by subtle gesture until the auctioneer bangs down his gavel and declares the successful bidder.


the young preadolescent bulls (not yet ready for service) at $4000 while the 2 years olds bring the highest bids, the best being $29,000. Overall the sale averages close to $9000 a lot. Afterwards everyone gathers and analyses the day over a beer or two. Most seem very satisfied that they got the animals they wanted.

The Wombramurra class of 2017 are headed to stations across Australia to do their work, improving yields and returns for the cattlemen and further lifting the already high quality and Aside from a couple of late withdrawals, reputation of Australian beef. all lots sell. The lowest prices are for And it will be on again next year. ◆


Contact Lucia today to plan your next adventure lc@nomadssecrets.com www.nomadssecrets.com 1300 670 000 (Australia) +61 (1) 400 741 930 (Worldwide) 1 888 408 2480 (USA and Canada) 48


TREASURE YOUR EXPERIENCE Our aim is to help create indelible memories. There is nothing

more powerful and uplifting than sharing unique and special moments with those we love and care about.




THE LAND OF THE ETERNAL BLUE SKY Words and images by Sophie Howarth

Mongolia has taken a place inside me and lives there bringing me so much happiness in my everyday life – whether I am physically in Mongolia or there in my thoughts.



he land of the ‘Eternal Blue Sky’ has drawn me back four times so far and I’ve even had thoughts of living there permanently. In all my many travels no place has sung to me in such a way, not even my home of birth, Australia. Each journey to Mongolia has been different yet the same feeling of being ‘at home’ prevails for me there.


I arrived by train from Russia on the Trans Mongolian the second time I went to Mongolia. On the fifth morning of travel I woke to the day beginning over the steppe. I was curious about this feeling I had on my first visit of being ‘taken’. My initial trip was only going to be for 2 weeks and I stayed on for 2 months. I was returning to know what that feeling was – was it just that trip? The excitement of a new mysterious, magical place? Opening my eyes that morning and seeing that scene the feeling was there - home again!

On this second trip I was thinking about travelling to the most western corner to The Golden Eagle Festival in the Bayan Uljii province. Here lives the largest ethnic minority - the Kazakh’s. The tradition of Eagle falconry came to Mongolia with the Kazakh people when they fled Kazakhstan during the Soviet invasion in the 1920’s. Eagle falconry has been kept alive and preserved here and has recently taken a modern turn. The documentary 'The Eagle Huntress' released this year focuses on a young girl who is following her dream to be an Eagle Huntress. It shows much about the Kazakh culture and the spectacular landscape. In Kazakh tradition eagle falconry is men’s only business. However Aisholpan,

with a mother and father who believe in what matters most for their children – to be happy, have allowed her love for the eagle to develop. They have nurtured her interest despite tradition and done so in the most peaceful way. Aisholpan Nurgaiv, The Eagle Huntress, was the first female to compete at The Golden Eagle Festival. It was history in the making and I was there! As a 13 year girl she won the competition with a record breaking score of 5 seconds – the next closest score was 30 seconds.

Sophie Howarth with Aisholpan at The Golden Eagle Festival after her win.



he game is about speed, agility, time and skill. The hunter’s team mate releases the eagle from the top of the mountain that overlooks the festival site. The eagle then makes her way to the hunter who is mounted on their horse on the competition ground below. It is a game of training but also of chance. The eagle with her own will plays the game - maybe straight to the hunter or maybe a detour soaring in the eternal blue sky. The festival site is patch of dirt and when the games begin, the day unfolds. There are craft sellers, vehicles, camels and the hunters on horseback with their eagle on their arm. They are dressed in their best pelts or fine embroidery and seem to just appear from the nothingness of the horizon and a blank landscape. The ghers (yurts) pump out smoke, inside its toasty warm, with tea and khuushuur (mutton pancakes) to eat. I can smell, taste, feel it all now as I write. The air is crisp, dry, cold. One is rugged up and warm, prepared, a barrier of clothing for the worst of this climate so one is able to appreciate the best of it the Eternal Blue Sky and sunshine.


It is my love of festival photography that first had taken me to capture the soaring eagles in competition. Since then I have returned experiencing three other festivals in different locations in the Bayan Uljii province. The Kazakh’s love a competition and coming together for some festival fun. What I feel at all festivals is a feeling of other worldliness, created by audience and performer as they leave their everyday life behind. I felt this also in my photographic work with music festivals where people enter a festival site and as they focus on what is around them, open themselves up to a lightness of being, a spiritual experience that exists in the ‘present’ moment.

The two humped Bactrian Camel, native to the steppes of Central Asia, are included in the festival with a camel race.


It was strangely familiar the first time I went to The Golden Eagle Festival though visually it was nothing like anything I’d ever seen or experienced – men in pelts, women in fine embroidery, smoking yurts, racing camels and the eagles in competition. However there was that sense of familiarity that felt good and the divine element of the festival atmosphere just filled me with joy. There were only a few tourists so no roped off areas for safety, everyone just looking out for each other as everything was coming in all different directions-galloping horses, eagles hanging onto their rider’s arm, faces in fierce competition for speed, dust and more dust, surrounded and at one with the crowd and the sound of excited voices over the loud speaker giving the run down. It resonated with me. Just like the blast of summer heat, the Big Day Out, Sydney Olympic stadium, main stage act blasting it out, merged with the crowd but transported and morphed in a far off land. Lonely Planet actually describe this part of Mongolia as the Wild West’ – ‘Uljii city is a windblown frontier town that will appeal to anyone who dreams of the Wild West.’ Horses, people, pulsing together as one as crowds do. I can still feel the touch of someone pulling me back from the racing horses as the crowd had surged beyond the game line out onto the track to get a better look - galloping horses coming straight for us as an unstoppable speed. At the end of the festival and as the day was coming to an end, a busload of Kazakhs arrived. They were Chinese Kazakhs from the border, a week’s drive away, musicians that no one had ever met. They were late as they had broken down along the way. Nonetheless they started up their concert and there were soon there were tears of joy. 56

Looking out over The Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia. The audience are moving towards the finishing line for the camel race.


Left: Baquibek children. Below left: Chinese Kazakh musician from across the southern boarder of Mongolia. She plays the dombra. Dressed in traditional Kazakh costume. Below: Baquibek, when talking about the relationship between hunter and eagle he said 'our souls are connected'. Opposite: One of the oldest eagle Hunters.




y friend Janarbek explained no one could believe they were singing all the songs that they knew - the Kazakh songs. In my experience Mongolia is a place to expect the unexpected. It’s akin to the nomadic thinking, a living in the moment with life naturally unfolding. As most of Mongolia operates like this you are forced to join in - fighting it only makes for a stressful travel experience! It suites my nature perfectly, my artist’s way. I feel so good here because of this flow and also to be in a climate that I find so invigorating. This nomad way is matched by space. A big open space under the simplicity of a vast uninterrupted sky. In it I feel myself, boundless and free. The writer Haruki Murakami described my experience so well: “Sometimes when one is moving silently through such utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can cause one to feel that oneself, as an individual

human being, is slowly unravelling. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes more and more difficult to keep a balanced grip on one’s own being. I wonder if I am making myself clear? The mind expands to fill the entire landscape, becoming so diffuse in the process that one loses the ability to keep it fastened to the physical self. That is what I experienced in the midst of the Mongolian steppe. How vast it was! It felt more like an ocean than a desert landscape. The sun would rise from the eastern horizon, cut its way across the empty sky, and sink below the western horizon. This was the only perceptible change in our surroundings. and in the movement of the sun, I felt something I hardly know how to name: some huge, cosmic love.” I was so glad to find someone known and credible like Murakami had referred to this experience as cosmic love. I had written in my own travel journal that it was love that was the

Hunters at The Golden Eagle Festival - traditional hunters clothing, on their hip they wear embroided Kazakh bag carrying meat for their eagle.


unseen element that held the whole of this fabric of life together. The feeling was so strong and I couldn’t name it at first then it was so simple. At my host family’s home in the countryside everything I’d experienced was communicated through every means except spoken language. Sign language, drawing and the clincher was laughter. I observed the feeling in conversations between my host husband and wife. They had seven children so had already had a bit of life together. They were still laughing together, enjoying each other. It felt like a life of simplicity with such depth. By comparison I reflected on my culture and life as so complicated and too often so emotionally shallow. On my last visit I had the chance to ask my friend, nomad, eagle hunter Baquibek about what it is that lies between his eagle and him. Through the interpreter he said ‘Our souls are connected’ and further to that he said

Hunters from the Altai Mountains come together for an Eagle Festival at 'Ice Mountain' in February 2017

‘our souls are connected to all our animals and our land’. It is something I feel too. While in our culture it’s not a given, it was a wonderful to hear this. So simply said, a matter of fact statement from a man - a big, strong hunter, head of a family. In my search for meaning and understanding I have seen those with a close relationship to nature are complete. They seek nothing. They accept what is. The nomads worry about nothing. They respond to what

arrives with nature’s cycles. This is more that just my observation. Yet another inspiring aspect of Mongolia for me is the people I meet along the way, often travellers with a purpose. A researcher who was working with nomads told me that when asked if they worry because the weather is always so unknown and they rely on it for their survival, the nomads almost could not understand the question.

To worry about something they could not do anything about. These people display a great reverence for nature, stemming from traditional Shamanic and Tengrist beliefs. At the pinnacle is ‘The Eternal Blue Sky’ which covers Mongolia. The relationship with nature is two way, both nature and man have a role in taking care of each other. Maybe this is the reason for this ‘big love’ I feel there and the ‘cosmic love’ of which Murakami writes. ◆

Sophie Howarth has been a professional photographer for over 20 years. She has previously documented music festivals and her book ‘Peace Love and Brown Rice – A Photographic History of the Big Day Out’ was published to popular and critical acclaim. Sophie’s photographic exhibition ‘Soaring - The Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia’ is being held in Sydney at The Concourse Art Space, 409 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood from Wednesday 1st November until Sunday 19th November 2017.

Or visit sophiehowarthphotography.com


This beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller was visiting a potential nesting site underneath the branch being very vocal


and looking backwards whilst in flight.

One man’s passion DR BRIAN HARRISBERG is a leading Sydney eye surgeon with a passion for bird and wildlife photography. Fellow Traveller interviewed Brian recently about his annual photographic safaris to Africa and the connections between his professional and recreational life.


FT You grew up in South Africa. Is that where your interest for wildlife photography started? BH As a child my brothers and I had a passion for the bush and wildlife. We had aviaries at home and bred birds, mainly exotic species from all over the world. In my youth, photography was an interest and escape at the time of film and Kodak cameras, where I developed my own pictures in a dark room using chemical processing.

The view from the Sand River just before sunset with our feet in the water and resting the camera on the rocks. Not without danger as the river is full of crocodiles and hippos. Light was running out and we had to dash back to the vehicle supported by our ranger and tracker.


FT You studied medicine in South Africa? BH I graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg with a Bachelor Degree in Medicine in 1982. After coming to Australia I completed my training in ophthalmology in Sydney and was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists in 1991.

FT You have published a number of research papers and also are a clinical lecturer at Sydney University. What are your key areas of specialisation? BH Mainly in cataract and refractive surgery. I also have a deep interest in diabetic eye disease as my son is a diabetic. He works in the health field as well. In fact my wife and daughter are also doctors!



Female Leopard scouring her territory.



When Africa gets in your blood it tends to draw you back again FT Photography and the precision and patience required especially for photographing birds seem a natural fit. BH As a young eye doctor in Australia, I realised the synergies between ophthalmology and photography. It was only when digital cameras came into vogue that I revisited my interest and started, in earnest, pursuing wildlife and scenic photography. The eye and the camera share many similarities including lenses, apertures and light sensitive receptors. In the eye the receptors are known as photoreceptors and are equivalent to the pixels we find within a digital camera. Optics and light are equally important to cameras as they are to the human eye. Most of my work as an ophthalmologist involves digital imaging and the processing of these images. FT What cameras and lenses do you use? BH I have built up a kit of Canon equipment. To get top quality results I needed cameras that could deliver high resolution at a higher ISO to allow fast shutter speeds. My kit includes a 600mm prime lens. It’s a heavy and serious piece of glass but has let me to really pursue my photography on my visits to Africa. FT Talk about the African bush. BH The lure of the bush is a very rewarding experience. Humans are part of the food chain and we get to witness nature at its very best. The danger and the unexpected are forever present. Africa provides a humbling experience reaching deep into the soul. All the senses become overloaded providing a unique holiday and when Africa gets in your blood it tends to draw you back again. Safari trips allow me to embrace and engage as witness to the habits and behaviours of wildlife. Bird photography, in particular, is very rewarding as birds are colourful and ubiquitous. Even on a quiet safari trip birds are abundant.

FT Bird photography seems to have very special challenges. The subjects are skittish, smaller birds in particular have quick movements and of course they fly. Why do they fascinate you? BH You need all your senses to find the birds, listening for their calls, looking for their habitats and often times smelling their food sources. With the aid of guides and trackers I have been able to photograph a wide variety of species in Africa. Opportunities arise all the time and by carefully observing the environment this leads to identifying new species and studying their behaviour. Occasionally, I will chase a certain species of bird by identifying their habitat and food sources and then looking in those areas. This was the case for the shot of the Lilac Breasted Roller. Occasionally, weather does not permit the best of photography but one can always achieve good results with different colours of birds as is the case with the Violet Backed Starling photographed on a misty and cloudy day. Opportunities present themselves when least expected. On one occasion I was going back to camp for a rest to escape the midday heat and was completely surprised by the presence of an African Wood Owl at eye level, sharing my desire to cool off. It even gave me a wink. FT Your shot of the leopard is fabulous. How was that made? BH I was hoping to photograph a leopard on a log or outcrop in the open. A photographer’s trophy shot! The opportunity arose when we were in a vehicle following a female leopard who was scent marking her territory. We saw a hyena skulking behind her in the hope of scavenging on her potential prey. This irritated the leopard and she climbed the perfect log. It was late in the afternoon and cloudy. Fortuitously, some rays of light snuck out and struck her in the face allowing this photograph.



Burchell’s Starling in flight displaying all her feathers.

A Tawny Eagle miraculously showed up.

FT Back to birds, when is the best time to shoot? BH In ideal circumstances bird photography lends itself best to low light conditions, such as early mornings or late afternoons. The photographer is best positioned between the bird and the sun, with the sun and wind directly at the photographer’s back. Birds usually face into the wind and prefer taking off again into the wind. Best bird photos are achieved at eye level with the photographer and at a

perpendicular plane. Fast shutter speeds are critical for in-flight bird photography using continuous mode rapidfire settings. A photo of a bird in flight with sharp focus is particularly rewarding as illustrated by the shot of a Burchell’s Starling (opposite). On another trip I was hosting some friends from Australia and one said he would love to see an eagle up close. It was late in the afternoon and we were watching a pride of lions sleeping in a gully, when many alarm birdcalls brought us to the attention of two Tawny Eagles. They were settling down to roost and chose a bush next to us. My mate’s wish (and mine) came true (above).



Violet Backed Starling on a cloudy drizzly day.

FT Thank you Brian for sharing your images. Any last thoughts? BH Bird Photography and bird watching take me to new and wonderful places both literally and figuratively. Editing, posting on social media and printing the images allow me to re-visit those moments in the bush and share this with the public. I highly recommend a trip to Africa to anyone who enjoys observing wildlife (with or without a camera) and hopefully you’ll have a wonderful safari experience. ◆

Dr Brian Harrisberg MB BCh, FRACS FRANZCO Specialist in Cataract & Refractive Surgery, Diabetic Eye Disease and General Ophthalmology Brian has been a Fellow to the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists since 1991 and completed a fellowship in refractive surgery. He has published research papers in peerreviewed journals and has presented lectures in Australia and at international ophthalmology meetings and conferences. A clinical lecturer at Sydney University and Visiting Medical Officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Brian is also a fellow of The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists. His abiding passions are golf and bird photography.


RELISH YOUR FREEDOM Whether you crave to stand on the roof of the world or experience island life, gaze at the majesty

of the desert, seek elusive wildlife in green jungles or explore ancient civilisations,

Nomads Secrets will take you there.

Contact Lucia today to plan your next adventure lc@nomadssecrets.com www.nomadssecrets.com 1300 670 000 (Australia) +61 (1) 400 741 930 (Worldwide) 1 888 408 2480 (USA and Canada) 74


The Story of a Bottle Tony Sernack tells of his experience with one of the world’s most famous wines.

In 1983, working for Penfolds Wines, I went to Europe in search of premier wine and liquor agencies to add to our portfolio. This led me to visit Bordeaux and some of the great Chateaux and, in particular, Mouton Rothschild.

finally in 1973, Mouton became the only French vineyard to be upgraded to a First Growth. The Baron famously remarked, "First, I am. Second, I was. Mouton does not change". This became his company’s motto

The legendary Baron Philippe de Rothschild was part of the Rothschild banking dynasty. As a young man in the 1920’s, he lived the life of a playboy, racing his Bugatti in Grand Prix and escorting beautiful women around Parisian nightclubs.

When I visited Mouton, I was first taken through the magnificent museum of wine related artifacts and priceless artworks and then the general cellar, before being conducted to the Baron’s private cellar.

Second Growth. The Baron made it his life’s quest to change this and

Remember it is early 1983 (I think around mid April) and the 1982

There rested an extraordinary collection of great wines and He took over a rather run down vintages dating back to the mid Chateau that bore his family name 1800’s. I thought at the time one in 1922 and two years later was could have a party for 100’s without the first to bottle the entire vintage drinking anything younger than on the estate. Up till this time, wine 1900. Beyond Mouton in bottles, was sold in bulk to merchants. In magnums and jeroboams were the essence he took control of his brand. other First Growths, Lafite, Latour, After his car-racing career, Philippe Haut Brion, the great Sauternes turned his attention to expanding the Chateau Yquem but oddly no estates, developed the world best Chateau Margaux. When I asked selling Mouton Cadet as an accessibly my host why he replied succinctly, priced Bordeaux red and later, from “The Baron doesn’t like Margaux”. 1946, the distinctive art decorated labels for Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Afterwards we went to the winery and I met the legendary In 1855, the official Bordeaux Wine winemaker Raul Blondin. Classification rated Mouton as a 76

vintage was just in barrels. The winter and spring of 1982 in Bordeaux was mild, sunny and dry and with little frost. This provided ideal conditions for an excellent and early flowering that was followed by a dry and hot summer. A cooler August with some rain and then a warm September underpinned a harvest of highest quality. There was already plenty of excitement about the prospects of the 1982 vintage and when I asked Raul if I could taste the new wine, adding in my best schoolboy French that I understood the vintage was exceptional, he replied, “My father made the ’45 and I made the ‘82”. It was a great line. Wine was drawn from a barrel with great panache, put into a decanter adorned with a red kerchief as was the tradition at Mouton. In those days I had plenty of experience in tasting very young wine and there was little doubt what I tasted that day had all the elements of future greatness. Afterwards I met with Philippe Cottin, who ran the Baron’s wine business. We had lunch at a little family farm restaurant. He knew of Penfolds and our own legendary winemaker Max Schubert and I left having had a fascinating day but with no feeling as to the prospects of an association between our companies. Arriving back home I reported about the various companies I had visited. There were a few interested in developing a relationship for the sale of their products in Australia and while I wrote thanking Philippe for his hospitality there was nothing from Mouton. A few months later a short letter arrived on my desk. It was typed on thin high quality paper, under the crest of the Chateau and signed by Cottin. Penfolds was appointed agent for all the Barons wines (Mouton, Chateau Clerc Milon, Chateau Mouton Baronne Philippe and Mouton Cadet) for Australia. Nothing more. No price list, no allocation or budget, nothing.

This was before emails. The best we had was a thing called Telex (and if you are too young to remember I won’t bother you with an explanation). I followed up our almost royal appointment and eventually we got some information that included an allocation of 10 cases of the 1982 First Growth, en Primeur (ie early payment). I told my fellow executives that I had tasted the wine from the barrel and thought it was fantastic. Bear in mind I was a marketer. What would I know? Certainly our winemakers had got wind that the 1982 vintage in France was exceptional and were keen to sample the best but others, including my superiors, were skeptical of laying out around $500 a case in advance. After all this was far more than we were getting for Grange (wholesale) at the time. I felt we needed to show some faith with our appointment and so a group of us banded together and paid for an order for ourselves but through the company. I think we could only muster 6 cases! I bought one, our then senior winemaker John Duval did the same and the rest was shared between some of the marketing and winemaking teams. Now well over 30 years later, I had been safely storing a couple of boxes of old wines at my Dad’s and when he passed away earlier this year (at 100!) I collected these wines. Amongst them was my last bottle of the 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, in good condition and with film director John Huston’s label artwork of a dancing ram and dedication to his friend the Baron for the 60th vintage bottled at the Chateau. Under the Mouton label is another indicating that Penfolds Wines imported the wine with the company’s then Tempe address. In between that en primeur offer and today, of my original case, some have been drunk and some sold at auction to fund family life (a single bottle currently fetches over $1600!). And of this last bottle. Well I have

some friends who would probably like to be part of the occasion. For me just seeing it again brings back fond memories of a great experience. Postscript We went on to do our best in marketing the Baron’s wines in Australia with some success. He was certainly a man of great passion and style but also one who led a tempestuous life. It is worth trying to find a copy of Milady Vine, his memoir. I remember a press report around that time. A shipment of Mouton was stolen and a reporter asked the Baron his reaction to this tragedy. It would be more of tragedy if the thieves drunk the wine before 2015 was his reply. The Baron died in 1988, Raul Blondin in 1992 and Philippe Cottin in 2013.

Visiting Bordeaux For any wine lover a visit to Bordeaux, with its the curved quays along on the Garonne and the famous surrounding vineyards and chateaux, is a great experience. The prime season for visitors, June through August, is when the French and other Europeans go. Spring and Autumn have less crowds but in September the wineries are busy with the vintage and many close to visitors. It is cold in December but also a good time, especially with Christmas festivities. To get the normal tourist activities requires some careful planning. 77

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. Robert Louis Stevenson