You don't know fear until you've set out on a road trip with a two-month-old. It's the great unknown: what will he do? Will he melt down on the highway? Will he scream and yell in a public place? Will he soil himself and everything around him?
It turns out that our son, Angus, to begin with at least, will do none of those things. He'll sleep the entire way from Sydney up to the Hunter Valley, two-and-a-half hours away. He'll arrive happy and rested. He's a miracle baby. We'll keep him.
This, as you can probably tell, is my partner Jess' and my first holiday with our son. We have no clue what we're doing. We're learning on the fly, making mistakes and trying not to make them again. We barely understand how to keep this kid happy at home, let alone on the road.
And, of course, we've chosen the most wildly inappropriate holiday with which to make our family travel debut. We're going wine tasting. We're doing one of the things we've always loved and seeing if we can enjoy it with a child in tow.
To attempt to achieve this we're also driving around in a wildly inappropriate car, an absolute demon of a sporty machine called a Type R, which the good people at Honda have lent me for the weekend, a midlife-crisis-on-wheels that rounds out the general feeling of denial that has clearly taken hold of us.
It begins well: almost three hours of solid sleep in the car. Amazing. Surely parenting isn't this easy? The Type R gets a lot of looks cruising through Cessnock; it also feels more like the car you buy after your kids have left home, rather than when they've just arrived. But it's fun – it's all sorts of fun.
When we arrive at Bimbadgen, an Italian-style winery with very Australian-style views of gum trees and vines, we grab a picnic lunch and head out to the nearby lawn where Angus' screams can only be heard by his socially cautious parents. We eat antipasti and sip local wine. Angus gurgles and then needs to be changed.
Later, we call past Hart & Hunter, another winery, for a tasting, and it's here I get a little jolt, a feeling of surprise as I realise that Angus is here, with us, in this incongruous setting, the little guy I've only just got to know who seems to turn up everywhere we go now. He only cries out a few times as a barman takes us through the varietals and we settle on a purchase.
We're spending tonight at IronBark Villas, a modern spot that still has that new-car smell, where we unload Angus' considerable luggage and get settled in.
First potential problem: we've got our little friend in the bath, ready to get him to bed, when there's a knock on the door and someone informs us they're about to set off a whole lot of fireworks outside our villa for a wedding nearby. Great. Angus, miraculously, sleeps through the whole thing. Kid can snooze.
The next day he'll keep up the good work, too, lolling about in the stroller while we eat breakfast at the Red Apron cafe, smiling and gurgling during our wine tasting at Lake's Folly, yelling for his own lunch while we dine at Dalwood Estate. He'll sleep in the car as we zoom from place to place. It will be wonderful.
Can you travel with a two-month-old? Can you drive around in a sports car going wine-tasting in the Hunter and avoid having your child cramp your style? Turns out you can. It's barely even scary.
Ben Groundwater travelled with assistance from Destination NSW and Honda.
The Hunter Valley wine region is a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Sydney. For information on the Type R, go to honda.com.au
IronBark Villas has one- and two-bedroom villas with beautiful rural outlooks near Pokolbin, starting from $360 per night. See pdwines.com.au