Today we woke up in the mighty fine Motel Marengo. As normal there were a line of cockatoos on the garden fence eating the seeds the Manager put out for them. We ate our breakfast and hit the road. The first stop was Kennett River where we spotted a few more Koalas in the trees. We then headed to Erskine Falls near Lorne to check out the Waterfall. It did involve a less than leisurely walk down and then up, but it was worth a look. After the falls we headed into Lorne for some fish and chips. As time was drawing on we skipped out Torquay and headed straight for Geelong. We wanted to show my mum and dad the Geelong Mill Market before it closed. The mill market is a huge warehouse full of all sorts of stuff and really cheap prices. There are antiques, furniture, records, clothes - anything you could possibly imagine. Despite being the least interested in the shopping side, I was the only one to make a purchase of a pair of vans shoes - $5! A steal - despite being clearly fake - although very good fakes! As we left Geelong we all felt rather tired and headed home. We arrived to St Kilda just as the sun was setting so we parked up by the beach and had an ice cream and stroll along the pier.
Despite our good intentions of getting up and out early, we left at 11am. We spent the morning getting a packed lunch prepared, getting my Dad and I insured as drivers on the car, and packing for the overnight.
As the weather was a looking a bit dodgy, we decided to do the Great Ocean Road trip in reverse, so we headed past Geelong and inland to Lake Colac where we had our lunch overlooking the lake. We continued our drive to the end of the Great Ocean Road through the rolling hills and valleys which made for nice scenery, and then ended up at the 12 Apostles.
The 12 Apostles are rock stacks that have broken away from the cliffs and they are pretty damn nice to look at. Before we headed to the actual 12 Apostles view point we stopped off at Loch Ard Gorge for a few nice photo opportunities and a quick dip in the water. My mum and Kirstie in their infinite wisdom had a slightly more substantial dip than they had planned for and got caught by a wave. Nothing too drastic, just wet trousers. Needless to say my Dad and I found it rather hilarious! We got back in the car and headed to the 12 Apostles.
We headed along the tracks and looked out across the coast. The weather had brightened up and the views were rather stunning. On the way back to the car my Dad spotted a snake in the grass having a good old chomp on something, but we weren’t really sure what!
After the 12 Apostles, we headed to Cape Otway National Park which is famous for it’s Koalas. We drove the entire length of the park without seeing anything (except for a brief sighting of one in a tree), but on the return journey we saw absolutely loads. It was amazing. Most of them were asleep, but there was one pretty active one having a good old meal on the Eucalyptus! Just as I was saying it would be nice to see some Kangaroos, I looked out across a field and saw about 10! They were quite distant, but it was still amazing to see them in the wild! We got back in the car feeling pretty satisfied, saw a Kookaburra in the trees, and then had to stop as we got stared down by a monster of a Kangaroo on the side of the road. It hopped off into the field, and we then spotted another family of kangaroos right in front of us. It was amazing to be so close to them!
Feeling pretty happy that we had seen quite so many, we headed off to our accommodation for the evening in Apollo Bay. We dumped our stuff and then headed into the village for a spot of dinner in a Thai restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was absolutely amazing and we all had a really nice meal. After the meal we intended to pop to the shop to grab some supplies and realised that the entire town closes down by 9pm, and so we just headed back to the room for a game of pictionary. Boys vs Girls. All the misogynists amongst you will be pleased to know the boys won. By a mile.
After a pretty substantial (and much needed) Sunday lie in, we headed to St. Kilda beach for brunch. We made it just in time to catch the last of the breakfast service. The place was rather nice and right on the seafront, however it was a bit cold and windy to sit outside. We polished off our breakfasts, and the parents a couple of cups of coffee, and headed into St. Kilda. We had a little mooch around Luna Park and Acland Street and then jumped on the tram into the city centre.
We got off the tram in the bustling shopping bit of the city centre (Bourke Street), and then strolled down to Hosier Lane to have a look at the street art. It was looking pretty awesome! We then headed past Federation Square and Flinders Street station and strolled along the river towards the Crown where we had our afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is a bit of a Melbourne institution and is a very popular way to socialise. This time we went to the Crown afternoon tea and it was probably the best one we had been to. It was a buffet and the selection was spectacular. There were sandwiches, chinese dumplings, mini hot pies and then the dessert table did not disappoint. There were four chocolate fountains running concurrently (Milk, white, dark and orange chocolate). There were delicate cakes, ice cream, fruit, marshmallows and a big cheese board. My particular favourite was the Lemon Meringue tart. Delicious!!
Once we had finished at the afternoon tea we headed through the casino and then on home. My Dad crashed out, and we headed to the supermarket for some supplies. We all got a reasonably early night as we were getting up the next day to start our trip down the Great Ocean Road!!
Saturday 22nd March, the day that has felt so far in the future was now upon us. It was the beginning of the end of our travels. Today was the day the parents arrive to start our three week Australia Holiday before we head off to Hong Kong and Beijing.
My mum and dad were due to arrive at 2.30pm, and so in the hours prior to their arrival we squeezed in a quick clean and tidy, collected the hire car, popped to the shops, and had brunch meet up/farewell with Alan and Elisa.
We headed to the airport and arrived just in time to see them arrive at the domestic gate. They looked pretty well considering they had been travelling for over 24 hours… good work!
We grabbed the bags and headed out. My mother, desperate for a cigarette, stealthily evaded the authorities and sparked up on the way to the smoking area. Nice work. We got in the car and drove back home. The drive from the airport is pretty nice as you can see some of the weird architecture that Melbourne is famous for, the whole of the city, and docklands. When we were nearly home we ducked into Albert park to drive around the Grand Prix track which is still being disassembled. It was difficult for them to get their heads around the track as much of it had gone, and we were going the wrong way round it.
We got home and got the tea on the go, they freshened up and we popped out for some dinner. After dinner we headed in to the city to watch an AFL game. It was St Kilda (our local suburb) versus Melbourne at the Etihad stadium. It was much busier than the last time we went and we saw how passionate people are about the game. My mum and dad were trying to get into it, but were so tired they kept nodding off!! ha ha!
After the match we all headed home for some much needed sleep!
My first week of no work! WOO YEAH!
I spent much of the week doing boring stuff like tidying the house, doing grocery shopping, applying for our Chinese visas, looking at job opportunities back home, and applying for a CELTA course for when I return. Pretty productive! On one of the evenings we met up with an old Swinburne colleague and his wife for dumplings at the famous Hutong dumpling house. They were spectacular. YUM.
On Friday night, as per mine and Kirstie’s new tradition of doing stuff every Friday night to make the weekend feel longer, we headed to the cinema to watch ‘Tracks’ which was an Aussie movie about a woman who walked through the desert in Western Australia with a small group of camels. A pretty good film!
On Saturday we had booked to go on a Winery tour. Seemed a bit odd considering neither of us really like wine, but being on the doorstep of some pretty famous vineyards in the Yarra family, we felt it had to be done before we went home. We were collected from the city centre and joined a group of only about 10 people, and toured around the different vineyards sampling their different wines. It was quite an education, learning the differences between the wines and confirming I am not really a fan of any, really! I did get a bit tipsy throughout the day, and so it ended at just the right time! We had a pretty decent lunch at one of the vineyard restaurants and had a glass of their wine with it! Delicious!
When the tour had finished, we headed to Alan and Elisa’s place for a pizza night. Elisa, being the awesome cook she is, made all of the pizza bases and toppings from scratch and made me a selection of non-cheese ones which were delightful! A day of wine and pizza turned out to be pretty decent!
On Sunday we got up relatively early and headed into the city for the Birdman rally as part of the Moomba festival. The event is basically people raising money for charity, getting dressed up, and ‘flying’ over/into the river. There were hundreds/thousands of people there but the event itself was pretty slow, the sun was absolutely roasting us, and we didn’t last particularly long so we headed for a stroll along the river and then headed home for a much needed afternoon nap (Saturday was full of alcohol, full of food, and a late night!). It was a pretty nice weekend overall!
One of the Vineyards…
A wine connoisseur. Clearly.
Some of the many wines!!
People lining the river for the bird man rally!
That’s it. I am officially back on holiday, unemployed and slowly dwindling down the last of my savings. The next time I go to work, I shall be walking into a new workplace. How very strange, and also very cool. The last 11 weeks of work have been very stressful, very busy, VERY LONG HOURS, but all in all actually quite fun.
On Friday evening we went to the Channel 10 studios to watch the The Project get filmed. The Project is similar to the One Show, but actually quite funny. Their guest panelist was Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi (which we weren’t actually that bothered by), and a lot of people were quite excited by it. Afterwards we headed along Chapel Street and had some dinner in a quirky little Caribbean bar.
On Saturday we headed into town to return to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and had a little walk around. I had a little go on Mario on the NES. It was quite weird seeing something I remember being really modern, in a museum display. Made me feel a bit old!
Afterwards we headed to the Casino. Kirstie is getting a little addicted, but it is ok if you’re making money. She put in $20 and got out $70. I put in $20 and got out $15. Not bad really. For Kirstie she has now made about $100 profit from the casino. I am not quite sure how she does it. Thankfully it hasn’t reached the point where she is gambling with her life savings. Yet.
On Sunday we spent much of the morning booking various bits and pieces for my mum and dad’s trip. They arrive in a couple of weeks, and so we have just about pieced together a plan for their 10 days in Melbourne! In the afternoon we walked into St. Kilda and sort of carried on going along the coast and walked past St. Kilda Marina to Point Ormond. It was a really nice day and a stretch of beach we had not yet ventured to - silly really, as it was far less busy and much cleaner than the main St. Kilda beach!
After stopping for a drink, we headed back into St. Kilda and headed to a bar we often visit for lunch, and arrived just as a reggae band was setting up. They were awesome and really made for a nice chilled out afternoon eating a ridiculously large meal. Once we had finished up we waddled home and hung out for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow is the first day of not having to get up for work, and so I am looking forward to having the freedom to do whatever the hell I want! Although, rather boringly, I think I first need to attend to the housework!
Channel 10 studios… where The Project is filmed.
A museum artefact.
Me riding a bronze rhino. Of course.
Kirstie’s winnings in the casino. The disapproving look on the ladies face says it all.
St. Kilda Marina…rather nice.
I have no idea what this sign means. Ministry of silly walks?
The view from Point Ormond. The city in all it’s splendour.
…White night. One night when the whole city centre is closed down between 7pm - 7am and art and culture comes out on show. Live music stages in the middle of normally bustling streets. Art installations, light shows, street performances all down the hidden laneways and passages. Short films being projected onto walls and random screens. The main square turned into a party. The famous buildings and bridges being morphed into something completely different through light projections. Chaos, craziness and crowds… One of the best nights in Melbourne…
White Night sign on Prince’s bridge. Graffiti artists were spray painting it throughout the course of the evening.
Live music stage on La Trobe street
'Purple Rain' - In the Melbourne Gaol courtyard, water spray illuminated with purple light, while the chords of 'Purple Rain' were being played. Everyone was given an umbrella for the occasion.
A burlesque style street performer…
Flinders Street illuminations…
Live music stage on Bourke Street
Inflatable light cones next to Hosier Lane.
Flinders Lane spotlights.
Part of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Flinders Street Train Station disguised as Luna Park…
The Yarra River…
'Crepuscular Beam' - With the moon joining the party.
A magenta Prince’s Bridge…