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  • Christina Pickard

There’s a dinosaur in my garden

I’m jumping order a bit here, but this is the first post to appear on Harpers Wine & Spirit, a sort of intro for my Down Under Series, written in January 2013:

There’s a dinosaur in my garden

Really there is. It’s the size of a well-fed ferret only far less furry. Its tail is stumpy like a London pigeon’s stub foot after it’s been chewed off.  It has scales, and its head looks like a squashed peach. When I approach it it regards me lazily through its beady eyes on the side of its peachy head. When I move closer, a slimy blue tongue explodes out of the centre of the peach. And then the little dinosaur waddles away.

‘Aw yah. That’s a blue-tongued bobtail,’ says my neighbour/landlady when I tell her of my encounter.  ‘Feed ‘em strawberries, they love ‘em.’

I’ve been an official resident of Australia for 11 days. Along with the Jurassic Park-like meeting with a dino-lizard, my back garden has so far played host to two wild parrots (‘28s’), a laughing Kookaburra, dozens of geckos, and a smattering of houseflies.

Corella on the front gate

But playing David Attenborough is not why I came to Aus. Apart from the daily sunshine, the glorious beaches, and all around stellar quality of life, I came to explore another side to the wine industry; one with a younger, possibly fresher take on wine. Don’t get me wrong, after 11 years in London, it was mighty hard to leave one of the world’s great wine cities. And hard to stomach the idea of not being on the doorstep of Europe’s most famous wine regions. But there is something thrilling about getting stuck in Down Under, a land so famous for its wine yet still new enough to the game to be inventing rules as they go.

I plan to spend my few years here elbow deep in Aussie wine. I want to meet the people who make it great, both the traditionalists and those pushing the boundaries of what it means to make wine here. But most importantly I want to drink the stuff. Lots of it. Enough of it to give me even a vague idea of this enormous winemaking country in its many guises.

I hope use this space to document my wine adventures in Oz—observations on how the wine scene compares to the UK for better and for worse, notes on exciting wines and wine establishments, and general ramblings on the Aussie drinks culture.

Although I can’t promise there won’t be a few Attenborough creatures-in-my-back-garden moments too.

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