A Travellerspoint blog

Summer Christmas

Christmas in Melbourne, Drinking wine in the Yarra Valley and the Great Ocean Road

With Christmas finally upon us we headed to the Victorian state to spend Christmas with some friends in Melbourne. Christmas day was spent with the traditional bucks fizz for breakfast, followed by a day at St Kilda beach. In traditional Aussie style we cooked up some snags and shrimps on the Barbie and had a game of cricket.
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Boxing day for some of us was pretty relaxed, spent watching Christmas movies and visiting Brighton Beach, a beach just like Brighton, with the colourful huts, only there is sand, while others went down the MCG for the Boxing Day test cricket.
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Once the Christmas excitement was over we headed out to the Yarra Valley, where our friends took us round some of the wineries, a dairy and a chocolatier. After a day of drinking wine, eating too much cheese and chocolate we headed back for a quiet night in.
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Up early the next day we hit the road again, this time to take on the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic ocean drives, or so we were told. They’re not wrong, it was 150 miles of stunning views. Here are just some of the snaps we took of the scenery.
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Belles Beach
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The Remembrance Arch
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In the Rainforest
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The 12 Apostles.
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Loch Ard Gorge
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London Bridge
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Along the way we stopped at Belles beach, a famous surfing beach with some angry looking waves; the remembrance arch to remember all the returned soldiers that died building the road; Apollo bay, where we stopped for pies; the rainforest; Loch Ard gorge, the 12 apostles; and London Bridge, a natural rock formation that used to look like London bridge until half of it collapsed in the seventies. We also made a stop along the way where the Koalas hang out, so we finally got to see them in the wild along with some Kangaroos! We finished up in Port Campbell for some dinner before making the three hour inland drive back to the city.

Our final day in Melbourne, before we all headed back to Sydney for New Year’s was spent exploring some of the city, having another game of cricket on St Kilda beach and watching the sunset. All in all, it was an awesome Christmas.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 14:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Spit to Manly walk

The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is a 10km, only slightly undulating walk. We set off on the bus to the bridge and after a rather hairy road crossing taking nearly ten minutes (it was a four lane road, with no lights and constant traffic. Seriously, who puts the start of a popular walk in such a perilous place) we were off.
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We lucked out with the weather and the scenery was stunning. Jimmy had printed the walk notes so kept us all informed about the landmarks, including some questionable Aboriginal engravings. I'm pretty sure it was weather erosion. Supposedly the area has a penguin colony, which is how we'd convinced Jimmy to go, but it seems they didn't fancy hanging around for the day as we didn't encounter a single one.
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After arriving in Manly and looking in awe at some of the houses, complete with harbour views and swimming pools, we headed to the Four Pines brewery and bar for a well deserved lunch and a beer.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 16:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne

Not so sunny Melbs

After nearly ten months we finally made it to Melbourne(!), which was originally going to be where we decided to live, but for some reason landed in Sydney and never left. But nevertheless we made it to Melbourne eventually.
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As far as cities go it's a good one. It's not as picturesque as Sydney but it does make up for this with heaps of decent bars and good food. We arrived on Friday evening so naturally the first place we visited was a bar. Melbourne is pretty hipster and there is a joke that all their bars are left at the bins, down an alleyway and into the basement. Melbourne did not disappoint. The first bar we were taken to (Fall from Grace) was through another bar, out the back and through a bookshelf. Behind the bookshelf was an amazing speakeasy bar. After a swift one there we went into china town and filled up on dumplings before going left at the bins down the road to the next bar, Sister Bella.
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The next day we were taken along the sea front (they do also have beaches there!), which we were surprised to see. Not as good as Sydney's beaches but hey, we're from England, so any beach that gets some sun is a winner. We were headed to St Kilda where we met up with some of our friends for brunch before heading back to theirs for a game of ping pong. After a quick walk through South Melbourne markets we headed over to the river and pitched up in a lovely cafe/bar called the Boat Builders where we spent the afternoon and met some more of our friends living in Melbourne. After a few drinks at the next bar, which was under a bridge, we made our way to the casino.
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We spent a few hours watching the Aussie Rules Football game. Despite having a proper Australian explain it to us we are only slightly more clued in and still not remotely interested. Luckily the rugby was also on another screen. After an Elvis impersonator, more drinks and losing $20 on the roulette we decided to call it quits at the casino and head home.
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On our final day we went our for another delicious and well needed brunch before meeting up with our friends again and taking a look around the Queen Victoria market. It's the biggest market in Melbourne and you can get some useful things there along with the usual tourist toot; fake Ugg boots, cuddly toy koalas and Australia hats. We just bought donuts. They were freshly made, warm and tasty.
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Before we left to catch the plane back to Sydney I had to check out the H&M. It only opened in Melbourne a few months ago and the queues were around the block. It is the only one in Australia and I felt it would be rude not to have a look (and the queues have now subsided - thank goodness). It's in an amazing building but you won't be surprised to know, it's just like H&M in the UK and not all that exciting. By the time we got back we were well and truly exhausted, but we had an awesome weekend and will definitely be going back again soon.

Posted by Time Well Spent 01:42 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Some Coastal Walks

Coogee - Bondi and a walk in the Royal National Park

This weekend we got up early and took the train an hour south of the center of Sydney to Otford, where we headed into the Royal National Park for a walk along the coast and the palm jungle. From the coast you're able to watch for whales, but the weather was incredibly windy so we headed straight for the track for the shelter of the palms and eucalyptus trees.
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The walk we chose was a 13km loop that went along the coast, mostly in the shelter of the trees, but part was exposed to the elements along the aptly named Burning Palms beach - perhaps named to discourage people from heading down there, as you'll see from this sign - it's a treacherous place.
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We also lost the track on part of the walk for a short time and were wading through long grass, as you can see here. What you can't tell is that I am stamping as loudly as possible to hopefully scare away any snakes!
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Fortunately we didn't come across any snakes, we did see a parrot and this little guy. It's an echidna (kind of like an Australian Porcupine).
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We also took the time the other weekend to finally walk the Coogee to Bondi walk. A fairly short walk from Coogee beach to Bondi beach along the coast and through the beach suburbs of Bronte and Clovelly. The beaches are beautiful and the summer here in Australia is going to be awesome!
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Posted by Time Well Spent 22:47 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Taronga Zoo

Last weekend we headed over on the ferry to Taronga to visit the zoo! Despite not planning well enough to avoid the school holidays (it was packed with kids and we were outnumbered) it was a brilliant way to spend the morning. Our highlights were: the giraffes, as their enclosure has the backdrop of the city, which is stunning and such a strange back drop for giraffes; the penguins (obviously), seeing a fully grown gorilla poop in its hand and eat it; a duck-bill platypus; an elephant who was determined to turn over a log, despite it being pinned down; kangaroos, that you can go into the enclosure and just walk around with; and the koala enclosure - we were able to get right up next to a Koala named Darwin - all he did was sleep, but as you can see from the picture he was super cute.

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Posted by Time Well Spent 22:36 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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