New Bike Adventure

After a very casual start to our Sunday, and after Face-timing with both boys, we headed out on our bikes for another tour of the city and surrounding suburbs. Armed with a bike map and a familiarity with some parts of our planned route, we set off in the sunshine hoping to explore some new parts of greater Melbourne.

The first leg of our journey followed the route that Jim takes to work everyday so there were no surprises there except for the large number of people out walking, running, biking, and generally playing in the sunshine! We followed the Main Yarra River Trail to the Gardner Creek Trail and then turned onto a new trail (new to us) called the Anniversary Trail. This particular trail follows along part of the old Outer Circle train line which opened in 1891. Parts of this walking/biking trail opened 100 years later, 1991, thus the name Anniversary Trail. The trail now goes through the old rail line, but also through some lovely parks and small side streets. The trail was upgraded in 2006 and is in very good shape making it an enjoyable ride. 


The Gardner Creek bike trail, parts of which are suspended under the expressway.



Gardner Creek bike trail.



Start of the Anniversary Trail

We took the Anniversary Trail to another section of the Main Yarra Trail, which took us to a high point where we had a clear view of Melbourne rising in the distance.


A sign on the Anniversary Trail so that walkers and bikers can co-exist!


View of Melbourne from the Main Yarra River Trail


Bike gutters along the couple of places where we had to take our bikes up stairs.

We followed the Main Yarra Trail back to our neighborhood, but not before we stopped at a restaurant right along the trail for some lunch. We were hungry  by then and got one of the last tables, outside at the Kanteen restaurant. We were glad that the restaurant provided some nice fleece blankets for the outside patrons because as we sat there waiting for our meals, our sweaty bodies cooled off. The blankets were the perfect solution. Melbournites eat outside year-round. They love to heat the great outdoors by placing heaters around the outside tables. We’ve seen blankets at a couple of different places. Most places also have an indoor options, but outdoors seems very popular!


Kanteen Restaurant, with outdoor seating, right along the bike trail.


My tasty breakfast, poached eggs and feta cheese on top of homemade baked beans, on top of fresh baby spinach, on top of grilled bread slices. Yummy!

We arrived back at our apartment with 25 miles on our cyclometers and were very pleased with our outing. We store our bikes in our apartment and the elevator to the 6th floor fits 2 bikes and us quite nicely. 

We did a bit of shopping on Chapel Street this afternoon and then caught up on some chores around here. We have purchased plane tickets to go to Sydney next weekend so we are doing some planning around that long weekend. 

We met up with Beannie and Dave for dinner at a place that makes delicious lamb gyros and they filled us up! Dave and Beannie spent their Sunday going to church at a historic church downtown, visiting the Monet exhibit and shopping at an opal store. We all had a super Sunday and took turns telling about our day. 


Dave and Beannie and lamb gyros~life is good!

Tomorrow it is back to work for Jim and back to yoga for me (hope I remember how to do yoga!) and then Beannie, Dave and I will tour the impressive Botanical Gardens. 



Something New in Melbourne

Jean (Beannie) arrived yesterday, unfortunately her luggage stayed in Los Angeles! It was good to see her and she made the best of not having clean clothes, etc. for a day and a half, but the suitcase was delivered to the apartment building while we were out this morning. Dave and Jean are staying in the same building as we are, which is very convenient. 

The four of us headed to the CBD on the tram this morning with the intent of taking a boat tour on the Yarra River. Jim and I tried to do this a month ago, but the tide came in too high and the tour had to be cancelled.  This particular tour heads towards the docks area near Phillip Bay and there are 3 very low bridge under which the tour boat travels. If the tide is too high, the boat gets stuck! So we were glad to have timed our tour right today and we boarded the  boat at 10:30 AM, after purchasing tickets from a young man who could have been Josh Groban’s brother! He didn’t know who Josh Groban was, so we educated him on that topic!

The boat tour gave us another perspective on the city and took us to an area that can only been seen from the water, the docks area. Today there were 3 huge container ships in the docks and we saw enormous cranes lifting the containers off one of these ocean-going vessels. It was a cloudy day, but we enjoyed the sights from the deck of the boat. 


Dave, Beannie, Jim and I on the Yarra River boat tour.


City view off the back of the boat.


We had to duck down as we went under 3 very low bridges. There was only about 15 inches of clearance between the top of the boat and the underside of the lowest bridge!


Container ships in the docks area of the Yarra River.

After the one-hour boat tour, we walked to Flinder’s Station where we picked up the free City Circle tram, to ride it around to the Queen Victoria Market. It was in full swing by the time we arrived around noon and we had fun listening to the vendors hawk their wares and seeing the wide variety of produce, meat and cheese that was available. We ate lunch at the food court for the market and bought some fruit and cheese to take home. We then did a walking tour of downtown Melbourne including some of the lane-ways. 

By mid-afternoon we knew that Beannie was starting to feel the jet lag, so she and Dave rode the tram home and Jim and I walked back along the Yarra River with a stop to watch the footy game being played on the high school field near our building. 

Our day started out with heavy fog around (no hot air balloons this morning!), but cleared to a beautiful day with temps in the low 60’s. 


There is not always beautiful sunrises and sunsets off of our balcony.

We re-grouped with Dave and Beannie for dinner tonight and tried a restaurant in the Little Italy precinct (Aussies use the word “precinct” like we would use “area” or “section”) and had a nice dinner at a small Italian restaurant. 

Last night Jim and I stayed home and I finished knitting one sock and a jumper (sweater) for a stuffed penguin I bought on Phillip Island. You may be wondering why I might be knitting for a stuffed animal so here is the story. When I was at Phillip Island for the Penguin Parade, I bought a stuffed penguin to join the koala and kangaroo that currently welcomes guests to our guest bedroom. Also for sale were penguins with jumpers on. This was to recognize the harm that comes to the little penguins when there is an oil spill  and to recognize all the knitters who went wild when a call went out to make penguin sweaters to cover the penguins who had been affected by the oil spill. When a penguin gets cleaned up from an oil spill, the natural oils in a penguins feathers gets washed off and the penguins need something to help them keep warm. Hence the knitted jumpers. The knitters saved the day for the little penguins, so some penguins are sold at the Penguin Parade with jumpers. I purchased some yarn a while back from a local farm and I used that yarn to make my penguin jumper! And no, I do not have too much time on my hands! 


Philip Footy with his new jumper!

Tomorrow is supposed to be another good weather day so Jim and I may try to go on a bike ride. Dave and Beannie plan to go to church downtown and then go to the Monet exhilbit. We’ll meet up for dinner and compare notes from our day.

G’day Mates!

Bye Bye to Friends and Hair

We were up early this morning to get Bob and Sally to the airport for their flights home. Amazingly enough, the round trip only took me just over and hour! I was sad to say goodbye to Bob and Sally, but sure enjoyed our time together. We have lots of good memories of our time together in Aussie-land.


Bob and Sally at Kings Canyon, NT.

I reached my level of tolerance for my hair in my eyes and decided today was the day I got my haircut. The same person has cut my hair at home for lots of years and I was a bit apprehensive about just walking into a new salon and asking for a cut, but the time had come to do just that. Once the shops on Toorak Street opened I walked up and down the street looking into a bunch of hair salons and even stopping in couple to get price info. One salon on a side street off of Toorak quoted an acceptable price and could take me right then so I took the plunge and sat in the chair. The women who cut my hair spoke limited English and her hands flew. She would comb, comb, comb a section of hair and then snip, snip snip with amazing control and speed! Then she would stop and ask me if I wanted it shorter or if that particular length was OK. An hour later I walked out pleased with my new ‘do! The real test though will be when I see what I can do with it tomorrow morning! So here is what my new cut looks like, it is a bit different than I usually wear.


The new cut.

The rest of my day was spent on domestic duties, knitting group and doing research for future trips away. 

Dave came up to our apartment for a visit tonight and we planned our trip to the airport to pick up Jean tomorrow morning. Yippee! Another familiar face! Tomorrow’s trip to the airport should be easier than today’s for 3 reasons: 1. not going during the airport’s busiest time, 2. not returning to the city during the start of rush hour and, 3. it will not be dark!

After a cloudy start to the day, the sun broke through and it was a lovely day, reaching 16 degrees ( 61 F.) Shortly after arriving here, I printed out a conversion chart of Celsius to Fahrenheit and taped it up on the wall. It has come in very handy!

I’ll leave you with a photo of the sunset from our balcony tonight.

G’Day Mates!


From Gardens to Good-byes

Today was a bitter-sweet day, as I did lots of fun things with Bob and Sally, but it is also their last full day here. I tried to fill their day with Melbourne experiences and I think we did pretty good because we are getting home at 10:00 PM! 

Our day started with a walk to the Botanical Gardens, a huge park with great diversity of plants and trees. I continue to be amazed at the number of plants that are blooming here in the winter. It was a lovely, sunny day with temps starting out around 5 degrees Celsius (41 F.) but climbing to 17 or 18 (low 60’s) by mid-day. Perfect walking weather. After a good tour of the botanical gardens, we crossed the street and visited the Shrine of Remembrance. There were no tour buses there by 10 AM so we had the place to ourselves. Our walk around the Shrine included a stroll around the balcony level, affording us clear views of the downtown area.


Botanical Gardens, Melbourne.


Spring-time daffodils here in the winter!



City view from the Balcony of the Shrine of Remembrance.

Bob wanted to use a bike from the Bike Share project in Melbourne and I thought Sally would enjoy a visit to a yarn and fabric store in the CBD so we continued our walk from the Shrine to the CBD. Bob was able to rent a bike and helmet and we sent him on his way to explore Melbourne and Sally and I set off for the textile shop. This particular shop has some yarn, but their real draw is the gorgeous fabrics they sell. Fine suit-weight wools, merino wool knits, silks of all colors and weights, feathery cotton lawns and chiffons that would make lovely scarves. I was tempted, but ended up not buying anything. Sally found an interesting skein of yarn to take home.

Sally and I walked home via the Yarra River trail and Bob soon followed. We then got the car from the car park (parking garage) and drove to South Melbourne for an outside lunch and a visit to the yarn store where I go for my knitting group on Thursdays (when I’m in town!). Bob checked out the streets while Sally and I checked out yarn. Sally was successful here too, coming away with a jumper (sweater) pattern and yarn.


Sally at Wool Baa, trying to decide which yarn to buy!

The Middle Brighton Beach Boxes were the next stop. These Beach Boxes are a Melbourne icon and most any photo book you might see about Melbourne will have a photo of these boxes. Today I was most interested in watching 3 young children try to play footy on the beach in front of the boxes! They certainly knew how to play!


Future footy players with the Beach Boxes in the background.

We hurried home to shower before catching the #8 tram downtown. Our first stop was a trip to the 88th floor of the Eureka Skydeck. The 38-second elevator ride took us to the skydeck where we enjoyed watching the sun set over the city. Once we had our feet back on solid ground, we walked some more, crossing several of the pedestrian bridges and making one more trip to Federation Square. 


Sunset over the Yarra River and Melbourne from the Eureka Skydeck.

Jim met us downtown, in the Southgate area, where we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Pure South, which featured food sourced from Tasmania. We had a delicious dinner and had fun reminiscing about the fun we’ve had with Bob and Sally while they have been here with us. It has been a great time! To Bob and Sally, we say thanks for coming Down Under for a visit!


Celebration dinner!

Tomorrow I will take them to the airport about 6:30 AM!

It’s late, time to call it a day.


Waves, Walks and Wool

We were the first people up and out of Port Campbell this morning, heading west on the GOR. We hiked to see The Arch, London Bridge and the Grotto, all unique rock formations that were definitely photo-worthy. We then turned east on the GOR, retraced our route a bit to stop again at the Loch Ard Gorge area.


The Arch, Great Ocean Road


Bob and Sally at the London Bridge Overlook.

The cemetery was our first stop, where we took a minute to remember the human aspect along this rocky coast. The Loch Ard was a ship that went down in this part of the ocean in 1878 and there were only 2 survivors and only 4 bodies were recovered. These four folks are buried in the cemetery at the gorge. 

Our walk here was to the Sherbrooke Estuary, a place I have walked with Jim and Tucker and Alison. A short hike takes you to a lonely beach where the waves roll in, crashing on the sand. We walked out on some large rock formations which allowed us to look into another gorge. For a long time we watched the waves roll in, waiting for the biggest ones to wash up over a rock formation just off shore. It is a spectacular place!


Crashing waves at the Sherbrooke Estuary, Great Ocean Road

Some day I hope to take a helicopter tour of the Twelve Apostles, but I want it to be a sunny day with blue skies. Today was close, weather-wise, but I know that I have 2 more chances to get that day. 

Lunch was at the Blackwood Gully restaurant in Laver’s Hill where we were entertained by the rosellas. 



We left the GOR and headed inland to get to the expressway that would take us the fast way to Geelong, home of the National Wool Museum, a place that Sally wanted to visit. You may remember that I toured this museum shortly after arriving here in Melbourne, but I was very willing to go back for a second visit. While Sally and I got into the world of sheep and wool, Bob explored the waterfront of Geelong. After an hour, we had to send him back out for another 30 minutes because Sally and I were still enjoying the museum.

So we had a great GOR trip and I will gladly go back another time. 

Dinner tonight was at a local pizza place with thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas. Nice!


My favorite artsy photo from the Great Ocean Road.


Great Ocean Road-Part Three

This morning Bob, Sally and I headed west to do the Great Ocean Road. A first for them, # 3 for me! So,if you are bored with my Great Ocean Road (GOR)reports, stop reading now and I will see you tomorrow.

We had all kinds of weather today, cloudy, foggy, rainy and sunny! Fortunately most of the rain fell when we were in the rainforest!

I was under a bit of pressure because I promised Bob and Sally that they would see at least one koala in its natural habitat ( not in a zoo). As we drove along the road into the Cape Otway Park, I had my fingers crossed (yes, while driving!) that those cute koalas would not let me down! And they did not! We stopped 3 different times to look up into the eucalyptus trees to see these furry balls of cuteness. Most were sleeping in the trees, but some were moving around as they looked for more leaves to munch upon. We got two up close views of koalas, again, one was sleeping and the other was feeding. I was off the hook!

Once we dragged ourselves away from the koalas, we continued on down the road to tour the lighthouse and surrounding out-buildings. The weather was clearing and I was excited about moving on down the road to see some of the huge rock formations that the GOR is known for.

We hiked down the Gibson Steps to get a beach level view of the first two of the Twelve Apostles. Then we drove to the Twelve Apostles area and walked the viewing boardwalks and took lots of photos. Our sightseeing concluded at the Loch Ard Gorge area. The sun was setting at this time and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset as the sky turned pink and orange.

We are spending the night in Port Campbell and tomorrow will do some more sightseeing on the GOR before heading back to Melbourne. I will try to add some photos to this blog, but this app on my iPad doesn’t always work the way I want it to.






G’Day Mates!

Yarra Ranges National Park

Another beautiful day dawned here in Melbourne and we awoke to a half dozen hot air balloons floating over the city.


Balloons over Melbourne at dawn.

We headed up the Yarra River valley with thoughts of doing some walks and visiting some wineries. We had some literature about some places to hike in the Yarra Ranges National Park, a place that Jim and I had never visited, so we headed there with two hikes in mind. After almost an hour and a half of driving northeast of the city, we arrived at hike #1, the Rainforest Gallery. This hike started with a short walk on an elevated metal path, up in the canopy of the rainforest, an excellent way to start a hike. We were up 15 meters from the forest floor and enjoyed seeing the tops of the fern trees and the low branches of the tall mountain ash trees.


Looking down on the fern trees from the elevated walk.

The hike continued down a metal boardwalk to the forest floor where we hiked past a fast flowing creek with lush greenery all around. We nearly fell over as we bent backwards trying to look up to the tops of some of the very tall trees in this rainforest!


Super tall mountain ash trees.

Our second hike was supposed to start very near the Rainforest Gallery hike, and take us to the summit of Mt. Donna Buong, for what was billed as spectacular views all around. There was a sign at the trail head indicating that the trail was closed because of hazards on the trail. We were only a little disappointed because there was also a road that went to the top of the mountain, so we loaded back into the car and headed up the narrow, twisting road to the summit. Mt. Donna Buong is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet and on top of that was a 21 meter high tower. We eagerly climbed the tower and were in awe of the views all around on this clear day. We could even see the tall buildings of Melbourne rising in the distance and we were 70k’s away! After taking lots of photos we had to check out the toboggan runs on this summit. Apparently when it snows, this is a popular tobogganing spot so we walked around until we discovered 3 nice looking hills cut into the rainforest! Very cool! Jim and I may have to listen to the snow report and when we hear that this mountain has snow, make the trip to try tobogganing in Australia! We then went on  a 6k round-trip hike to Mt. Victoria, which was not a mountain at all, but a trail leading to a huge radio tower (which was not for climbing!) and a small view down into a lovely, lush, green valley. The surprise on this trail was the frost covering the ground and ferns in one spot. We knew it was cold, but didn’t realize it was frosty! It was beautiful!


Tower on top of the Mt. Donna Buong.


One view from the tower.


Tower shadow.


Frosty fern!


Radio tower at the end of the Mt. Victoria hike.

By now it was after 2 PM and we still hadn’t had any lunch so we headed down the mountain and chose to take a different route down, one that included a long stretch of gravel road. It was an interesting drive as it was on a road that was essentially a one lane road and when a car came from the other direction, we had to pull over onto the forest floor, but not so much that the car rolled down the steep cliff! Pressure driving! I loved it!

We decided to find a winery that also had a cafe so we could do some wine tasting and eat lunch. Unfortunately the place we tried was having a special function and could not accommodate us. Plan B was to stop at the Punt Road Winery and Ciderery to do some tasting and then move onto the Yarra Valley Dairy for a cheese lunch.


Punt Road Winery, tasting wine and cider.

Things went as planned at the winery, but when we got to the dairy, the place was so busy they had no tables available for us to eat at. I was starving and had to draw on all of my adult strength to not throw a tantrum right in the dairy! So on we went, headed home, where I knew I had some nice cheese from the market visit yesterday. We arrived home around 5:15 PM, when I promptly served cheese and crackers, followed by dinner an hour or so later. I am much happier now!

Our day of exploration was exciting and rewarding. And it was a perfect weather day to do all that exploring.

Tomorrow I take Sally and Bob on the Great Ocean Road so prepare yourself for more crashing waves photos!


Shadow photo on top of the tower.