Great Ocean Road-It Never Gets Old!

Today was Great Ocean Road (GOR) day and we were on the road by 8:15 AM.

This is my fourth time on the GOR and there is something new or different each time I come which keeps it interesting for me. But the best part is sharing all the experiences with first time visitors and Jeannie and Britni were enthusiastic about all aspects of the GOR!

We have to drive about an hour and a half until we get to the GOR and we drove in sunshine but watched as we drove under a large mass of clouds. The good news was that we saw the far edge of cloud bank and were encouraged. We enjoyed Split Rock Lighthouse and then moved on to Mait’s Rest rainforest walk. Huge eucalyptus trees and fern trees are the highlights here!

From there it was a short drive to Cape Otway National Park and the hope of seeing koalas in the wild. I hate to promise that we will see koalas here, in case they have moved on, but the Cape Otway literature guarantees the sightings so I guess I should be more confident that they will be there. And they were! There were lots of these cute critters up high in the trees, but there were also some down low, which is good for photos. Instead of sleeping, there were a few who were munching away on leaves or moving to a new spot of a tree for a better food supply. I once again took way too many koala photos!

We continued on down the road to the lighthouse, but for the first time had to contend with cows in the road! Let me tell you, they did not look both ways before stepping into the road! We almost had beef for dinner!

Because it was getting late, we ate lunch at the cafe on the lighthouse property before starting our tour of the lighthouse. It was a good day to walk around the top balcony of the lighthouse because there was virtually no wind. We looked for whales, but saw none.

As we drove out the lighthouse road to the GOR, Britni spotted a sleeping koala in a small tree right next to the road, so I slammed on the brakes and we all jumped out of the car with our cameras! More koala photos!

Another hour of driving brought us to the Gibson Steps, a set of 84 stairs down to the beach by the first of the Twelve Apostles. A large tour bus had just disgorged its passengers and I’ve never seen so many people on this beach. We had fun watching them as they took group photos by the crashing surf and then had to run like crazy up the beach as the waves lapped at their shoes! We walked far enough down the beach to get a view of the second apostle that is hiding behind the first.

We then drove to the official Twelve Apostles car park and walked to the viewing board walk. I have not yet gotten bored being here. It is a powerful place and quite captivating. The sun was low in the sky and there were some clouds around which made for dramatic lighting on the rocks, the sand and the ocean.

We called it a day after a quick walk around at Loch Ard Gorge-the sun had set. We will return to Loch Ard tomorrow. Our travel plan is different from previous trips out here because instead of heading back to Melbourne tomorrow we are going to go a bit farther west, spend the night in Warrnambool. Then on Friday morning we will drive to the town of Ararat where we will meet Jim, who is taking the train there.

So here are some photos from today. Because I am doing this on the iPad, there will be no captions, so use your imagination. Maybe someday I will figure out how to add captions, but not tonight! Cheers!

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Phillip Island Part 3

It is late and I need to pack for our 4 day trip to the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians. So here is a photo essay of our day, which was wonderful!

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Britni waiting in line at a Melbourne CBD laneway for her morning coffee fix.

Window display of the Hopetoun Tea Room in the Block Arcade of the CBD.

Window display of the Hopetoun Tea Room in the Block Arcade of the CBD.

View from the fifth floor of Myer Department Store in the CBD.

View from the fifth floor of Myer Department Store in the CBD.

Koala at the Koala Conservation Center, Phillip Island.

Koala at the Koala Conservation Center, Phillip Island.

Koala at the Koala Conservation Center, Phillip Island.

Koala at the Koala Conservation Center, Phillip Island.

The Big Koala, Phillip Island.

The Big Koala, Phillip Island.

The first wallaby spotted, on Phillip Island.

The first wallaby spotted, on Phillip Island.

Pyramid Rock, Phillip Island.

Pyramid Rock, Phillip Island.

Shadow fun,  Phillip Island.

Shadow fun, Phillip Island.

Crashing waves,  Phillip Island.

Crashing waves, Phillip Island.

Cape Barren Goose,  Phillip Island.

Cape Barren Goose, Phillip Island.

Up close and personal with a wallaby,  Phillip Island.

Up close and personal with a wallaby, Phillip Island.

Hopping away!

Hopping away!

Britni checking under our car for Little Penguins after the Penguin Parade,  Phillip Island.

Britni checking under our car for Little Penguins after the Penguin Parade, Phillip Island.

G’Day Mates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sunny Day for a Lap Around the Bay

After a brief thunder and lightening storm last night, J&B and I headed out this sunny, clear morning for a lap around Port Phillip Bay. Some of you may remember that Jim and I did this trip a week or so ago. Today some things were the same, but there were a few different things.

First different thing was that I did not have Sheila on my windshield as my navigator. Jeannie assumed those duties but she refused to adhere herself to my dashboard! She did a great job, especially since I wanted to stay off the freeway and take the roads that were closest to the bay.

Our first stop of the morning was for gas and coffee to fill up the car and Britni. We drove south and east along the bay to the town of Frankston where we took a break to walk the pier. It was a lovely morning, with minimal wind. But we had miles to go before we could sleep so it was back in the car to Point Nepean National Park at the tip of Port Phillip.

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Frankston Pier

We did a quick walk around the buildings that once served as a quarantine station for immigrants and later as army barracks. From there we took the bus to the very tip of the peninsula where we got great views of the ocean and the bay. We walked around to see the various tunnels and gun emplacements that were integral in WWI and WWII.

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Buildings at Point Nepean.

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Decontamination chamber for immigrant’s belongings at Point Nepean.

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Gentle waves lapping at the exposed rocks at Point Nepean.

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Love the Caribbean blue of the bay water!

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Looking back on the Mornington Peninsula with the bay on the left and the ocean on the right.

We needed to get ourselves across the mouth of the bay and the only way to do that with the car was to buy a ticket on the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry. It was a great day to cross the bay as the water was calm and the wind inconsequential. Once back on land in Queenscliff we headed for the Rolling Pin, the lunch place that Jim and I found on our lap that serves up the best meat pies in Australia! And we once again were not disappointed.

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Almost a private ferry!

Point Lonsdale was next in our sights and our stop there included a walk on the pier, a hike up to the lighthouse and a stroll on the beach. Again, it was a perfect day to be by the water.

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Point Lonsdale pier.

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From the pier back towards the lighthouse at Point Lonsdale.

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Fun in the rock art.

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From the beach back towards the other side of the lighthouse.

 One thing I love to see when I am down by the bay is the HUGE ships that come and go out of the port of Melbourne. I was hoping that today I would get to see a ship or two a bit closer as we were on the 2 points of land that form the opening to the bay or while crossing the bay on the ferry. But no, once again there were no ships! And I was told that this is the busiest port in all of Australia with about 20 ships coming and going per day! Where are the ships???? There were no ships on the Sunday I was here with Jim and no ships today! What’s up??

Geelong was our last stop and we walked the pier and along the waterfront so J&B could see the bollards.

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A sea bird at Geelong.

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The Beach Beauties!

We arrived at 604 at 6:05PM and a pork chop dinner was on the table at 7:07 PM. Not too bad.

 We had a first tonight as the smoke detector went off in our apartment (and it had nothing to do with me cooking dinner!). We think the combination of running the dryer and 3 of the 4 burners on the stove must have been too much for the sensors. It is good to know the detectors work!

Tomorrow J&B and I are taking a quick morning trip to the CBD and then going to Philip Island to see the penguins. 

One more artsy photo:

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Rocks and waves.

Cheers!

You Are Exactly Where You Are Supposed to Be!

Today’s blog title is the saying that Jeannie found in the wrapper of her Dove chocolate piece. We thought it was perfect! J&B are exactly where they are supposed to be and we are so glad to have them here.

Our A.I.S time (an Everybody Loves Raymond TV show reference) was 8:30 AM and we beat that by pulling out of the parking garage at 8:26 AM. We were off to a good start. Our destination was to the Cape Schanck light station (lighthouse) and then do some exploring of that eastern part of the Mornington Peninsula. Today was a cloudy, windy day, but we never got rained on and the temps were about 13 degrees C. (55 degrees F.). 

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Cape Schanck light station.

A big surprise was in order when we started hiking at Cape Schanck and that was that the tide was at its lowest point and the beaches looked so different from when we were there with Bob and Sally. What fun we had exploring all the rock shelves and tide pools that were hidden from us during our earlier visit! Even though the wind was howling, the ocean was fairly calm so I don’t have any crashing wave pictures. Sorry! Here are “before and after” photos of looking down on Pebble Beach from the boardwalk.

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In June. . .

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In July.

The tide pools were fun to explore and we found some star fish and anemones. The rocks were not slippery to walk upon which was a pleasant surprise.  

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A beautiful tide pool.

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Starfish.

Here is another set of “before and after” photos from when we were at Pulpit Rock beach with Bob and Sally and then today with J&B. 

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In June with Sally and Bob. . .

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In July with Jeannie and Britni.

We spent a lot of time walking these beaches before climbing up the stairs and ramps of the boardwalk to get back to the car to continue our tour of the peninsula. Jeannie had read some of the tour books that we left for her in the guest room and she saw something about a maze and garden that sounded interesting. Mazes seem to be a popular attraction here in Australia  because we have seen a variety of them advertised in our travels around this country. So today was the day to check one out. but, before we got to the maze we discovered the pier in the town of Flinders so we had to stop and walk out into the ocean.

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Upper and lower decks of the Flinder’s Pier.

Finally we went to the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden, oldest and largest hedge maze in Aussie-land. We paid our $17.50 entry fee and headed for the first of 2 hedge mazes.

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A photo of the aerial view of the mazes.

The challenge in the hedge mazes, in addition to finding your way through it, was to locate 4 ceramic tiles that were placed near each of the corners of the maze. We were successful on both challenges and documented the each tile we found. The hedges were about 9-10 feet high and so dense that you couldn’t see through them. If you lost someone in your group, you could call out their name and follow voices to re-connect. The paths through the hedges were about 24 inches wide and there were some blind turns and lots of dead ends. We had great fun!

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One of the tiles we had to find.

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Wrong way, Jim!

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There you are!

After completing the 2 hedge mazes, we moved on to the rose garden maze (only a couple of blooms on the bushes) and then onto the lavender maze, which was still a light shade of purple. The surrounding gardens were full of interesting trees and shrubs. 

By now it was approaching 2 PM and you may have noticed that there was no mention of lunch. That’s because we were too busy, and there was always one more thing to see and do! But our next stop was a winery that had a cafe.

Our guide book outlined the services of the many wineries in this area so we picked one that served food.

We picked the right place because in addition to being a winery with a cafe and a restaurant, there was a walking track that went through the vineyards to a bunch of different sculptures. We ate our lunch at an outside table, overlooking the gardens and vineyards~a lovely setting. After pizza and wine for lunch we went on a  sculpture tour and enjoyed the walk as well as the art. 

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Grounds of the Montalto Winery.

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Not the Big Bird we know!

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Binary language sculpture.

Our final stop at the winery was the Cellar Door (the Aussie term for a tasting room). Jim, J&B tasted while I took some photos. I was the designated driver.

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A sip of this and a sip of that!

So I drove everyone home, where we had a salmon dinner with snake beans and salad. We discovered snake beans at the market yesterday and decided to give them a try. Here is a photo of the beans.

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Snake beans.

They tasted like green beans!

Tomorrow Jim returns to work and J&B and I will do the lap around the bay. 

Cheers!

 

The Market, the Beach, the Footy!

We had a full day here with our newest arrivals. Jeannie and Britni (from here on out, known as J&B) had a good night’s sleep and were raring to go this morning.

 We went downtown to the Queen Victoria Market. The “Queen Vic” has been in operation for over 100 years and takes up a couple of city blocks. We started our tour by walking through the clothing and souvenir section of the market. J&B were impressed with the wide variety of everyday items as well as unusual and unique things. We stopped to admire the sheep and kangaroo hides as well as the wig display, which included a rainbow of color choices!

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Britni admiring all the wig choices. We couldn’t convince her to buy one!

 We continued past the live chickens into the meat and seafood building. This is always an impressive place to first time visitors as vendors are standing in the aisles shouting out their specials for the day and every part of cows, lambs, pigs and goats is for sale! It is actually quite educational if you can get past the “yuck” factor! We bought some pork chops ($6.99/kg) and some salmon fillets ($26.99/kg).

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What’s your favorite?

 We proceeded into my favorite area the cheese, deli and bakery section. And we bought some cheese, sliced ham for sandwiches and a couple of bagels. We bought a Spicy Lamb Borek, which is a lamb mixture with spices and veggies wrapped inside a pastry crust and served hot. I believe it is a Turkish pastry and we all sampled the one we bought and declared it, “delicious!”

Because we bought some meat items we needed to make a stop at home to get our cold stuff into the refrigerator. This also provided me an opportunity to provide lunch to out guests. Apparently I have a reputation of getting so caught up in my tour guide responsibilities that I forget to give our visitors some lunch. So let it be known that J&B have now had lunch 2 days in a row!

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Lunch!

Our afternoon destination was the St. Kilda area and Middle Brighton Beach. I wanted to show J&B the Brighton Beach Boxes and we realized that Jim had never been there either. They were as lovely as usual, and we took lots of photos and had some fun with them! We walked around the whole shoreline of Middle Brighton Beach enjoying the tide pools that were revealed by the low tide.

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Middle Brighton Beach Boxes

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Wow! Britni is good!

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Having some fun!

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Britni loves the black swans!

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Tide pools are always interesting.

 We drove to another car park so we could walk along the boardwalk and out the St. Kilda Pier. This is such a beautiful area and makes it enjoyable to explore for bikers, walkers, runners, and skateboarders, young and old. We stopped to look at the skateboard park, which was seeing lots of use. So many towns make skateboarding a crime when they should be building facilities for kids to safely skateboard and develop their skills. St. Kilda has a first-class facility for kids and it was fun to watch the kids zip up, down and all around the park’s features.

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St. Kilda’s skatepark

Our afternoon was fading away and we needed to head to the MCG for a footy game. We knew we could buy tickets just before the game started because one of the better teams (Collingwood) was playing the last place teams, who hadn’t won yet this season (Great Western Sydney). We were pleasantly surprised when the game was competitive up until the fourth quarter when Collingwood pulled away for a convincing win. There were also lots more people at the game than we thought there’d be with an attendance of over 32,000 people. J&B seem to be new footy fans and really got into the game! Please note that I did not provide dinner at the game but everyone made their own choice to drink a beer and eat almost a pound of pretzels (that J&B brought to AU).

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Love the footy!

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Bundled up at the game. About 50 degrees F., with a breeze and we were sitting on cold seats!

 Tomorrow we are planning to go to Cape Schank, where we went with Bob and Sally, and then do some winery tours on the Mornington Peninsula.

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A good AU photo! Thanks Jeannie!

 

G’Day Mates!

The Guest Room is Occupied!

They made it! After a short delay in Sydney, Jeannie and Britni arrived here just before noon! I was at the airport to pick them up and we drove to where Jim is working and all went to lunch together! It is great to see them both!

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Jeannie and Britni looking so happy to be Down Under!

They brought the sun with them and after a quick stop at the apartment we went for a walk to the Botanical Gardens. The late afternoon shadows provided some lovely views across the gardens. I haven’t been to the Botanical Gardens in a few weeks and it was interesting to see what is now in bloom. The trees and birds were of interest to Jeannie and Britni, especially the Moreton Fig Trees and the black swans and kookaburras.

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Britni hiding behind a huge Moreton Fig Tree.

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Checking out the black swan at the Botanical Gardens.

Jeannie and Britni brought us some treats~pretzels, dark chocolate and a Tennessee specialty: Moonshine! And not just any old moonshine, apple-pie flavored moonshine! When Jim got home we toasted their arrival with shots of moonshine in our champagne glasses! We have no shot glasses, but we do have 6 champagne flutes and 6 wine glasses!

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Treats!

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Cheers!

Tonight there is a big, important footy game on TV so Jeannie and Britni are getting an idea of how the game is played. We may try to get tickets to a game at the MCG tomorrow afternoon.  

I’m sure our guests will be turning in early tonight, but Jim and I will be up until the last whistle blows in the footy game!

G’Day Mates!

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I finally saw the Geelong Bollard that welcome visitors to the Melbourne airport.

Touche’ Hombre

It’s a good thing that we tried a new restaurant for dinner tonight, because up until 6:30 PM there wasn’t much to write about! I had  a great morning at yoga and then went out to do some errands and the traffic was heavy every where I went. I went to the Queen Vic Market, which I can do without Sheila and then wanted to go to Phillippa’s Bakery for some of their yummy granola. I’ve gotten to Phillippa’s from my apartment  without Sheila, but to from the Market to the bakery, I needed Sheila and she took me on a route that I never drove before. There was lots of traffic (not Sheila’s fault), but it was interesting to see some intersections from a new direction.

My errands took me so long that I didn’t have time to get to my knitting group which made me a bit sad because I know we would have discussed the Sheep and Wool Show. Oh well, I did get some knitting time in before we went to dinner.

So, this new restaurant, Touche’ Hombre, opened a couple of weeks ago and is just up the street from our apartment. For most of our time here this space was another restaurant. That place closed up one day and shortly afterwards, we could see that workers were making changes to the interior and then this Mexican cantina opened. It has been busy every evening that we’ve walked by, which was a good enough endorsement for us.

I started with the margarita special, a peach blend that was quite tasty. Jim had a Pacifico beer. My margarita was served in a small white, old-fashioned milk container, which kept it nice and cold all through dinner!

My peach margarita in a ceramic milk bottle.

My peach margarita in a ceramic milk bottle.

 

The menu featured tapas-like items so we ordered the following items: chips with a variety (6) salsas, a hot (thermally) cheese dip with a soft-cooked egg in the middle ( our server suggested that we stir up the egg yolk before eating the dip!), 2 small fish tacos, 2 small chicken tacos and a platter for 2 of tender roasted pork, pineapple, onions, pork belly and 2 sauces to make our own soft tacos. It was all delicious and more food than we could eat.

2 Starters to go with our drinks.

2 Starters to go with our drinks.

 

2 mini chicken tacos and 2 mini fish tacos.

2 mini chicken tacos and 2 mini fish tacos.

Pork platter as our main course. The grilled pineapple was a nice addition.

Pork platter as our main course. The grilled pineapple was a nice addition.

The place was a bit loud for our liking, but we were the oldest people there by far, so the noise level was probably OK for all those youngsters!!

Tomorrow Jeannie and Britni arrive and it is going to be great having them here! They should be on that long flight across the pond as I write this. Hopefully tomorrow I can include a photo of them in the blog!

G’Day Mates!