Tag Archives: australia

Day 12 – Melbourne

This was the last day of the trip and we spent considerable time to pack the luggage. We had to check out by 11am. Seeing that we had some time, we walked over to South Melbourne Market.

X at the lobby
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It was a lot smaller that Queen Victoria Market.

We saw oysters sold at $12 and onwards per dozen. I would have loved to try but Mr H felt it was too early in the morning to down oysters. We had wanted to try Chez Dre which came highly recommended. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Hence, we stuck to the original plan of seeking out Woolworth and buy the ‘healthy’ snacks for kids. We were impressed by the variety and they tasted really good. It was totally up X’s alley.

After rushing back to pack the new loot into the luggage, we checked out and left the luggage at SSMA office. It was then I learnt that booking cabs in advance did not require any surcharge. Why couldn’t we have this in Singapore?

We cabbed over to Flinders street and had lunch at Il Tempo which had pretty good reviews too. It looked humble, the menu looked simple but the food was superb too. Degraves street was growing on us in places which we did not want.

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Shopping at H&M
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We shopped in the city centre and I continued my quest of seeking out suitable party supplies, so one could only imagine my joy when I came cross black tablecloths. It was pretty tough to flag a cab so we took the city tram back to SSMA.

Instead of a station wagon cab, we ended up with a mini van. That was when we found out that there was no difference in the meter rate of both vehicles. What an interesting concept.

With that, our holiday had come to an end. I had thought the kids would be upset but to my surprise, it had been long enough for them to miss home!
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Day 11 – Melbourne

Z had badgered us to visit the Sea Life Aquarium. We found the admission fees to be rather pricey but after reading the reviews on the awesome penguins’ exhibit, we took the plunge. We purchased the tickets online after the kind lady at SSMA office agreed to help us print out the tickets. There was a clause stating that we must show physical email of the tickets.

It was a short 10min walk to the Aquarium and we reached at the opening hour of 0930h.

The boys were feeling the egg shells of sharks.  IMG_8336.JPG

The exhibits were pretty, but not outstanding, probably because of the number of aquariums we had been to!IMG_8338.JPG

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I was rather impressed with the rainforest section where creepy crawlies and a crocodile were featured. Our favourite was definitely seeing so many big penguins so close to the glass wall.IMG_8342.JPG

By 1130am, we were done and walked over to Flinders street to check out our lunch options. We ended up at the Degraves street and tried ‘The Quarter on Degraves” upon seeing the crowd as well as some awards at the door. It was a great choice.

One of the best risottos I ever had, so much so that I was inspired to learn how to make risottosIMG_8351.JPG

Seafood linguine – just as fab!IMG_8350.JPG

Tucking inIMG_8349.JPG

 

After a very satisfying lunch, we took the city tram to the Melbourne Museum. The admission fees were a lot cheaper at $12 per adult and free entry for children below 16.

At the tram stop – it was scorching hot!IMG_8353.JPG

Seemed like marketing for Melbourne CupIMG_8356.JPG

 

At Melbourne MuseumIMG_8360.JPG

So many specimensIMG_8364.JPG

Pretty cool, high tech visual aids at the museumIMG_8363.JPG

Is this how we look for dinosaur bones?IMG_8362.JPG

Big Dipper – from Luna ParkIMG_8365.JPG

The Melbourne Museum was one of the best museums I had ever visited. The exhibits were extensive, the information was well presented and the visual aids were superb. We also learnt a lot of facts which we had not been interested in previously ourselves too. Z had a field day and learnt about evolution. It intrigued him that a fish could grow legs to suit the environment.

We left the museum at 430pm and took the city tram to DFO for more shopping. We managed to pick up soccer boots for Z at $30 from Adidas as well as Jeremy Scott Adidas shoes at a steal!IMG_8380.JPG

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We shopped for so long at DFO that the kids had a dinner of chicken katsu don at the food court. It was surprisingly good.

We were dead beat by the time we were done with shopping and walked back to the apartment.

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.

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.

On route to St HelensIMG_8177.JPG

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.

SteakIMG_8214.JPG

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.

Refreshing ice creamIMG_8216.JPG

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.

The Richmond BridgeIMG_8102.JPG

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.

At the strawberry lanesIMG_8118.JPG

 

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

The quaint fruit farmIMG_8127.JPG

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.

From the boardwalk at Cape TourvilleIMG_8142.JPG

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.

 

 

Day 6 – Port Arthur

We woke up to a cozy scene on the rainy morning. Unfortunately, we had a long agenda ahead and had to drag the boys out of bed.
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It was this day that we realized Tasmania had several peninsulas. The good thing about staying at Seven miles beach was that we saved 30min driving to Port Arthur as opposed to staying in Hobart city.

It was an hour’s drive to Port Arthur. It certainly felt longer than that after we passed Sorell. The landscape became rather forestry and there were many bends, more so than along Great Ocean Road.

There was a drizzle which made the journey all the more dreary. It was still drizzling when we reached Port Arthur, further lending a somber mood to this historic site. We were recommended to take up the basic package which did not include visiting the smaller islands from Port Arthur. However, the basic ticket included a ferry tour around the island. The ticket to Port Arthur allowed 2 days of entry.

We spent some time looking at the exhibits which profiled the sort of people who became convicts in Britain and were sent off to Australia, then Port Arthur. Most convicts were sent to jail for petty crimes and if they chose to not comply with the slavery system by misbehaving or committing more crimes, they would be sent to Port Arthur.

The British government had wanted to encourage its citizens to seek new opportunities in new land. Hence, they had to provide a pool of labour (via convicts) to the land owners as part of the lure. Some people actually wanted to be convicted and be sent to Australia in search of better lives because of poverty and overcrowding in Britain at that time.

There was a vision of reforming convicts at Port Arthur and to even develop it as a flour mill which would be sufficient for Port Arthur to support itself. However, the flour mill did not take off and the building was converted to a penitentiary.

Subsequently, the British decided to remove the purpose of jailing convicts from the site, Port Arthur became a popular tourist attraction. We had a 30 minute walking tour, took a cruise and checked out the site by ourselves. We visited the old asylum which was really creepy in my opinion. It was little wonder that Port Arthur conducted Ghost tours too.

Snacking on the ferryIMG_8051.JPG

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Beautiful ruins of Port ArthurIMG_8055.JPG

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We completed visiting of the entire main site by 230pm and had a casual lunch at the bistro. We were done by 330pm and drove towards Hobart. Around 15min north of Port Arthur was a local Chocolatier called The Federation Chocolate. It offered a short introduction to how they made chocolates. It was touted as Tasmanian homemade chocolates and the Lady Boss herself was making the chocolates as we peered from the main hall. The Boss himself was babysitting their darling daughter and he was a very friendly host.

He was also very generous with the tastings and boy, were we impressed by the number of flavours available!IMG_8063.JPG

The Boss was so hospitable that we bought many bars of chocolates! The flavours were delicious too! My favourite was the Strawberry & Orange dark chocolate. Z’s was Apple milk chocolate, X’s was original milk chocolate and Mr H’s was Coffee Almond milk chocolate.

We continued the drive and checked out the Fossil Bay lookout and The Blowhole. The Blowhole was rather interesting and amused both boys to no end when the waves splashed and ‘exploded’ in the hole.

We also visited the Tasman Sea Cliff lookout at Eaglehawk Neck. It was mentioned that many prisoners who tried to escape from Port Arthur would usually be trapped at this area.

At the Dunalley Bay where it was the bridging zone between Tasmanian Devils’ conservation area and the “infected area” (read – rest of Tasmania)IMG_8070.JPG

It was 530pm by the time we were done with the random sightseeing and drove for an hour to Hobart for dinner at the much acclaimed Me Wah Restaurant.

The prices were steeper than Oriental Paradise by about 30-40%, an indication that it was an expensive Chinese restaurant. However, serving size was huge in Australia. Hence, it meant that for our little family of 4, 2 dishes and a fried rice was even too much for us to finish. We ordered the fried rice at $18 because it made more economical sense to do so than to have ordered 1 bowl of white rice at $4.

This was X, up to his usual tantrumsIMG_8091.JPG

He threw a bowl at the acrylic lazy susan. It did not break, thank goodness! He had already broken a bowl at Macka’s Farm and a mug at Healesville Sanctuary prior to this.

Beef steak & BroccoliIMG_8089.JPG

Tasmanian scallops with bamboo shootsIMG_8088.JPG

We were done with dinner in less than an hour and headed back to Wyndham hurriedly, no thanks to the terrible toddler in tow.