Day 65 - Rum-mmmmmmmmApril 13, 2017 in Australia
We said goodbye to the beautiful Town of 1770 today. I definitely could have stayed a couple of days longer here. I loved the forests and the beach. The wildlife was amazing. Yesterday we saw the biggest lizard I've seen (a good few feet long) the wild just strolling across the beach and big groups of soldier crabs all together on the sand. And everyone has been so friendly here - even in the weird pub everyone was nice.
To break up our long drive to Rainbow Beach we stopped in at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Bundy Rum wasn't something I'd heard of before coming to Oz this time around but it's apparently kind of a big deal. The distillery started in 1880 when a group of sugar cane growers got together in the pub for crisis talks on what to do with all the molasses that was the waste product of refining their sugar. There's not really an easy way to dispose of tons of sticky sugar syrup. They came up with distilling if into booze and the distillery was born. This meets two of my big personal values in life - not wasting things and alcohol. We walked around the museum which is housed in old maturation casks. I love Aussie museums, the exhibitions are always really informal in tone. Lots of 'whatever that means' and stories of major disasters like the distillery burning down in the 1930s having an angle of the locals eating rum marinated fish for dinner rather than losing everything and having to start again. The museum was followed by a tour of the distillery with Angus and Paula AKA Macca. They has their patter down to a fine art, bouncing off each other and encouraging cries of 'Huzzah' when they told us something good and 'Poppycock' when their jokes were lame. The non-English native speakers, and some of the native speakers, looked a bit confused by these odd terms.
We started looking at the huge molasses storage tanks. Each is the size of two Olympic swimming pools and smelt amazing. Sadly due to the spark risk of batteries and that not being a good idea with alcohol fumes around we couldn't take any photos so you'll have to take my word for them being something to behold. Next up we walked through fermentation and learnt about how they picked the single strain of yeast they still use. It's so important to them that they keep a back up sample in Norfolk in case of disaster. Then we headed distillation and got a whiff of the less appealing 78% alcohol stage - it smelt like Tesco Value Vodka. Finally we saw the storage casks. They're all made from a particular American oak and each costs 100000AUD to make. They hold between 6-7million AUD worth of rum each which explains why the site has an electric fence around it.
The final part of the tour was tasting. As Matt was driving I had to step up and take the lion's share of the samples. If you want to know how quickly someone can get drunk it's pretty much after 4 generous measures of rum in 15 minutes. One of the samples was their 2015 special blend which was crowned World's Best Rum. To be honest, I couldn't really tell the difference between that and most other rums I've sampled in my time. And I had to add ginger beer to help it go down. But what do I know?
Luckily we had a couple of hours drive to go so I could sleep the rum off. We did make our Macca's wi-fry stop and I had a hot cross bun which had no fruit in it. WTF?! I recovered from the shock by the time we made it to Rainbow Beach. We have a camping spot with views of the sea which is nice. We walked down there but the tide was coming in - don't worry, there's a road between the sea and the campsite so no worries of the Sweat Box floating away at high tide.
We grabbed a couple of drinks at the local hotel and some average food at a backpacker's place (I miss the 1770 roast dinner) before retiring to the Box to listen to the sea and pack.
We head to Fraser Island tomorrow for a 3 day trip. I'm not sure we'll have any wifi access so if we've gone quiet don't worry. We'll be back with the blog in a few days.Read more