Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day 10 – Melbourne

The kids were so tired from the day before that they slept till almost 10. I made soft boiled eggs for all of us based on 5 minutes of soaking the eggs in hot water twice. Z loved it so much that he reminded me to make the same eggs for him every morning for the rest of the trip.

We took a cab ($14 from Crown) to Queen Victoria’s market. There was an apparel and accessories’ section which I was not quite impressed with. It was huge but the selection got rather repetitive. The cab driver was funny because he warned us about the marked up prices for tourists.

Z was checking out a toy stall
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We moved on to the food section pretty quickly. We bought 2kg of macadamia nuts for $38. We also bought blueberries for X because he was really upset about the lack of snacks. The blueberries were big and sweet.

The meat stalls were very good and it was tempting to buy the steaks back to the apartment for dinner! However, it was still very early in the day and we planned for shopping till 9pm.
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We walked a tad more before we went to a party supplies store nearby and found the large black glossy wrapping papers that I’d been hunting for! We also picked up streamers and latex balloons.

We headed to the much recommended cafe called Hardware Societe for lunch. It was only about 10 minutes’ away.

At Hardware Societe

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I was very impressed with the iced mocha and hot chocolate. Both were so rich and thick. We ordered 3 dishes and they were all really good. We had baked eggs, the prawns and pork belly. There were so many eggs in all the dishes combined that we were too stuffed to have tea.

After a happy and satisfying lunch, we walked over to the shopping stretch at main Lonsdale street. We checked out Target, Big W and a few other malls before taking the free city tram to DFO.

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Surprisingly, DFO closed at 6pm on Thursday and only closed late on Fridays. We reached at 430pm and only had time for Nike. The shopping time was reduced by a fire alarm. We wrapped up shopping and had dinner at the Shipbuilders’ Yard. The food was a tad Thai-western fushion and was not bad actually.

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We popped over to Crown Promenade and checked out the swanky mall. I was impressed that there was 24hrs cafe which was cheaply priced. The food looked so good that we bought dessert back to the apartment.

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A Nike backpack which we picked up at DFO at $25 🙂

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Day 9 – Launceston/Melbourne

My relentless schedule meant that we checked out of the resort at 730am and spent the next 2 hours driving to Launceston. We took the route through Elephant Pass. It cut through the mountain range and was so narrow that I concluded no elephants could have passed through the road easily!

There were many sharp bends and we even saw a barn for pancakes. It was too early so it was not opened.

When the road got easier, I volunteered to drive but Mr H had everything under wraps. I could chill, snack and nap while he drove. I reckoned for the 9-day road trip, I only got to drive 20% of the time.

That was the perk of having a seasoned long distance driver for a spouse. I enjoyed driving but not so at limited speeds. We, of course, appreciated the GPS regular warnings on speed checks. The GPS was also handy in areas where Optus had zero 3G network which was pretty often.

We finally arrived at Cataract Gorge. It was a very accessible attraction and we even bumped into a Taiwanese travel documentary filming crew!

I shared the chair lift with Z. It was a pretty nice ride which gave a quick overview of the gorge. We were not into walking so we opted for a 2-way ticket.

Hi there, chair lift!
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Mr H might have felt the need to make up for the lack of exercise and decided to check out the peak of the gorge which would be a 30min round trip of steep slopes, no proper walking paths and extremely unrecommended to attempt with kids.

So he surprised us with the enthusiasm to climb up the peak.

I was very appropriately dressed in long skirt, varinas and cambon tote. NOT.

I did not want to be a party pooper but the back of my head was sounding alarm bells. There were quite a few times when I looked down to peek at the steepness and the lack of handrails and thought to myself, how deep the ravine was and how far down would I fall… And the weather looked like it was going to pour.

Thankfully it did not.

Though I was in a precarious position, I still took photos and videos.
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I was quite glad when it ended and we chucked ourselves at the picnic bench to finish up the apples and sandwiches. We popped up to the Duck walk and Alexander bridge before seeking out the famed scallops pies.

We headed to Tinnies’ Pies which was a 10min drive
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So many pies!
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Oozing with Tasmanian scallops
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We also got eggs and bacon
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There was a beef steak pie which was as delicious too.

We went to downtown to shop. The shopping streets were a tad better than I expected. We managed to score a few superheroes apparels too.

Along the street
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The parallel parking was pretty cheap at $1ish per hour but there was a limit that cars could only park for one hour there. I clarified with the parking attendant and she was very sweet to approve letting us extend the parking by another half an hour.

At 315pm, we left the shopping area, refilled the fuel tank and headed to Launceston airport for our 5pm flight to Melbourne.

I got rather worried when I did not see any Qantas planes at the airport or coming down the runway. Even at 445pm, there was no sight of a Qantas plane. I got pretty upset because I had paid more for Qantas which had a better track record than Jetstar in the area of delayed or cancelled flights.

Imagine my amusement when a tiny Qantas plane sauntered into the runway at 455pm!

The second tiniest plane I had sat in my life
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Z was very amused too. We sat near the wings and he actually got to see the plane retract its wheels! Despite the size of the plane and the lack of out-of-order inflight entertainment via wifi on laggard iPads, we were quite happy with the flight because of the stash of snacks provided. It was better than our Mel-Hobart flight.

Upon arrival, it took no time for the luggage to appear and domestic arrival was a breeze. Just step out of the door and that was it.

We took a station wagon cab. It cost about $60 with the toll charges. The sky bus would have been cheaper at $41 or $70 for round trips. With the luggage and the kids, cabbing made a lot more sense. Subsequently, we found out that the size of vehicle did not affect the meter fares and there was no surcharge for advanced booking.

No car seat!
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We went to Short Stay Melbourne Apartments’ office at City Road to collect our keys and instructions. We booked a 2-bedroom apartment for 3 nights at $300+ a night.

The apartment overlooking Crown Casino
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I was very happy with how new, clean and spacious it was.

It was 730pm when we put down our luggage and walked over to Meat & Wine company for dinner. We also picked up some groceries like kiwis, milk, water, snacks and eggs from the nearby Foodworks which actually closed at 11pm.

AMEX Airbnb Black Friday Promotion

We had a trip to Bali scheduled in Feb 2015. We had started looking around for accommodation and was about to book the villa when this timely promotion appeared this morning.

From the eDM this morning:

What could be better than relaxing in Bali or Sydney this holiday season? How about knowing that your Airbnb accommodation costs 20% less than usual when you book with your American Express® Card?

Can’t get a vacation until next year? Not to worry, this offer is valid for stays until 31 May 2015.

Simply make your booking between 28 November and 2 December using the promotion codeAMEXxxxxxxSYD or AMEXxxxxxxBALI, where ‘x’ are the first 6 digits of your Card.

In fact, last night, I was still messaging the host if she could extend a discount and I was waiting out for her reply when Mr H received the email from Amex. Imagine our delight!

Day 8 – St Helens

We woke up to continental breakfast provided by the resort. This was undoubtedly the most beautiful driving day of the trip. It was also the day where we were greeted with the most gorgeous beach too. It was an hour’s drive from Bicheno to St Helens. The Bay of Fire started from Binalong Bay.

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At Binalong Bay – the wind was so strong that it was sweeping sand like a sandstormIMG_8183.JPG

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We spent an hour exploring 4-5 lookout points at Binalong Bay before driving back to St Helens for lunch. En route back to St Helens, we passed by No. 2 shed Binalong Bay where Lease 65 oyster farm was. There was no cafe, sitting area or tour. However, we still stopped by to buy the oysters which were going at $14 per dozen. We had to add $1 for lemon slices.

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We ate the oysters at the back of the car.IMG_8209.JPG

It was so good that Mr H returned for a second dozen.

We still headed over to St Helens’ Blue Shed for lunch.

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Salmon in strawberry sauceIMG_8213.JPG

We also shared a trio gelato dessert before the kids headed to the sea-viewing playground.IMG_8215.JPG

 

We returned to cover the full stretch of Bay of Fire via Garden Road. It was too cold, windy and sandy to play with the sand. We headed back towards the resort. We visited the Eureka Farm for its award winning Apricot ice cream during the return journey.

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We returned to the resort at 5pm. The boys played and Z even dropped his toy car into a dead section of the playground. He spent a pretty long while wailing before he sobered up and we could visit the beach right outside the resort.

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We had dinner at Sea Life centre again.

This was Z feeding X some Hokey Pokey ice creamIMG_8240.JPG

Sea view seatsIMG_8237.JPG

Post dinner, we staked out for another penguin watch. We saw many penguins (13 of them) heading back together at the same time. IMG_8249.JPG

It was our last night on Tasmania and we had to finish up the fruits, which included this oddly shaped strawberry from Sorell Fruit Farm.IMG_8250.JPG

The breakfast hamper pack which the owners prepared for us as we would be checking out at 7am.IMG_8217.JPG

Day 7 – Richmond/Sorell/Freycinet/Bicheno

We set off for Richmond at 830am. It was 30min away. Upon reaching Richmond, it was such a little pretty & historic town that it reminded me of Stratford Upon Avon in UK.

The older buildings were in yellow sandstone. We checked out the Richmond Goal and famous Richmond Bridge. Z asked how it was possible that the prisoners could build such a beautiful bridge so long ago.

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The oldest operating Chapel in AustraliaIMG_8113.JPG

After Richmond, we drove over to Sorell fruit farm. It cost $8 for an adult and $3.50 for a child to pick strawberries. Late Oct was the season for strawberries. Had we come later, it would be the season for cherries.

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Mr H & X sat out on this because we had a recent strawberry picking experience in Korea and mainly because, X was sleeping

The weather was erratic and rained suddenly. We were done with our picking and returned to the farm. We ordered the waffles with ice cream.IMG_8122.JPG

It was so good that X kept asking for more helpingsIMG_8124.JPG

Merchandise at Sorell Fruit FarmIMG_8119.JPG

Interesting sauce… (it cost $14 at Sorell and $8 at Eureka farm!)IMG_8115.JPG

Interesting jams such as TayberryIMG_8121.JPG

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We continued the drive to Freycinet Marine Farm. It was a long drive away. The road was winding, long and the lack of coastal scenery made the 2 hours’ drive feel longer than it was. It was pretty winding, so much so that X kept crying. After 15 minutes, I suspected that he was car sick and prepped a plastic bag. I was right. After 10 minutes, he vomited a little and was calmer after that.

We had a late lunch at Freycinet Marine Farm. It was more like a shack but we were happy with the selection.

Fresh oysters ($15), Calamari ($15), Oysters baked in kilpatrick style ($20), Scallops with bread roll ($15)IMG_8133.JPG

 

We ended up buying some fresh scallops with the intention of cooking scallops porridge for the boys’ dinner.

Many, many fresh scallops at $11
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From lunch, we drove to Freycinet National Park. We decided to skip the 1.5hours return walk to the Wineglass Bay lookout. The weather was erratic and we did not want to be caught in the rain, on steep slopes with 2 kids. The nice folks at the Marine Farm had suggested that we visit Cape Tourville instead.

We checked out Sleepy Bay on the drive up to Cape Tourville.

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It was an easy 15min boardwalk which we took an hour to finish because we were taking photos, admiring the view and going round in circles after X. It was so windy that I thought I would be blown off the boardwalk. I had to keep my hat on so that my hair would not fly in all directions.

It was 530pm when we were done with and drove over to Bicheno’s Diamond Island Resort.

The room was nice and the owners were very hospital
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The little owners, Ella & Mia, were very friendly and came by to play with Z too. I liked how open (yet enclosed) the field was and how there was a trampoline with the playground too.

We headed out to Sea Life Centre (5 minutes’ drive) for dinner.IMG_8164.JPG

Seafood platter for 1 at $30IMG_8165.JPG

Pasta, $20IMG_8166.JPGWe managed to return in time by 8pm to wait out for the penguins to return to their rookery. We saw 11 penguins before calling it a night. It was simply too freezing to stay outdoors.