TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

A ROLL IN THE HAY

Pete and I had very different awakenings while living in India. I went there to get mystical, to meditate my head off, and to follow my bliss from Kerala to Ladakh and everywhere in between.

But for Pete, whose work art directing GQ India took us there in the first place, well his bliss didn’t lead him to the meditation cushion (apart from that one weekend at the Osho ashram in Pune). Instead of reading books like Sadhus, Going Beyond the Dreadlocks and The Book of Ayurveda that were changing my life, Pete was being transformed by Grasp the Nettle, a book about biodynamic farming. Krishna Das chants were filling my dreams, grapes were filling his.

You see Pete had been completely immersed in the graphic design world for almost two decades, and his love for his craft had fizzled because something else had stolen his heart. Like his dad before him, whose passion for winemaking had snuck up while he was running his Windrim Building business over 30 years ago and led him to start Krinklewood, Pete was ready to make his tree change.

Fast forward 12 months. Through a move away from the delicious chaos of India and back to sunny Sydney. Through me going back to work full-time as the Sydney Morning Herald’s travel writer, then moving into the freelance world and travelling everywhere from Papua New Guinea to Zambia. Through Pete spending a year studying winemaking at Tafe. Through us travelling to Burgundy in France to spend a vintage at Chateau de Puligny Montrachet, to learn the secrets of chardonnay making the French way.

Then stop the tape and find us right here, in the midst of this strange yet magical life we have created. A life that sees us spiltting our time between our little apartment in Sydney’s Coogee, and Château Tracteur at the vineyard (the ex-manager’s house, tacked onto the end of the tractor shed).

It was a complete bomb site when we moved in a month ago. But with the help of our beautiful friends we’ve been transforming the place. Cleaning it from top to bottom, filling it with treasures from Wollombi Markets, stocking the kitchen with food from our veggie gardens, and cleansing the space with a big dollop of music, sage, good friends and family, and LOVE.

It’s the beginning of a completely new stage of our lives. And while Pete refines his skills with his beloved grapes and veggies, works on his natural cider-making, and learns about everything from soil and crop nutrition to dowsing to find energy lines in the earth, I’m vowing to acquire a whole new set of skills of my own. To learn to look after my new chickens, to tend our veggie patch, to create my own teas. To learn to crochet (why is it so hard?), to make a fire, to rise with the sun. To ride Sunny our horse, to play gypsy fiddle, to learn to love the solitude. And maybe, just maybe, help out with a bit of the winemaking.

It’s an ambitious list, I know. And that’s not even half of it. But I’m ready for the adventure.

I can’t wait to share the journey with you.

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