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Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 26

Arrived home in the afternoon - very tired and very grateful to Elaine who picked us up and brought us some home made soup! Lovely!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 25

On our final day we went for a walk around one of the gardens in the St Kilda area. It was lovely to see where Thomas and Kath will be living.
We then went into the city centre to have a look around the local markets that were selling crafts and jewellery.
We then went on a boat trip around the docklands area. This barge took us towards the river mouth and below some very low bridges so we had to make sure we were sitting down while we were going beneath the bridges. Melbourne is a beautiful city with some beautiful and contemporary architecture so it was great to get a good view of it all from the river.

Thomas and Kath then took us to the Airport where we had dinner with them and we were sent on our way home - via Hong Kong.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 24

Thomas and Kath wanted to show us around their new neighbourhood since they had just bought a new house. They were going to be moving to St Kilda, a cosmopolitan area of the city. We had breakfast and a wonder around the area. We decided to go to Luna Park, a fun park that has a very distinctive entrance! Once inside we went onto a wooden roller coaster – which was controlled by a man standing in the middle with a hand brake! It was all a bit scary and rickety for me!

That evening we went to an Aussie Rules football match between The Blues (Carlton) and The Bombers (Essenden). It was great fun! We had pies and chips and beer to keep us going. It was a really good humoured and mixed crowd – there was no team separation. There were some great fans shouting the whole way through which kept us amused.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 23

That day Kath decided to have a rest in the morning while Thomas, James and I walked to the local beach (at the end of the road) and then along the beach into the city centre. We stopped for breakfast at a little cafe on the end of a pier when Kath came to join us in the car. We ate breakfast with the most beautiful view over the cityscape in the background. After breakfast Kath went back for some more rest and Thomas was going to take us a tour of some breweries and show us the city centre.

Our first stop was Melbourne's tallest building the Eureka tower which had a 360° observation floor. Jutting out of this floor was a glass block that you accessed by going into a dark room and stepping into a glass room. The glass was obscured and after a few moments and some loud sound effects the obscuration disappears and you realise you are in a glass block hanging off the top of a building!

After that experience we walked down to the riverside for a couple of beers. The international comedy festival was on in Melbourne so there was a lot of street comedy around.

When we finished our beers at the bar by the river we went to another bar which had the famous painting the Chloe in an upstairs room. The Young and Jackson bar has been displaying the huge painting for a hundred years.

Thomas then took us on a tour of the lanes and alleys that host some of the most spectacular graffiti. The graffiti is permitted and is definitely a tourist attraction and more like art work than anti social behaviour.

We then went to a roof top bar that was quite high up and had an astro turf type roof. While here Thomas and James decided that they weren’t cool enough to be in the bar so James tried to increase his street cred by putting his cap on backwards – not sure it worked!

After a beer here we went to a lower floor in the building to try some thai food. I think the thing that attracted Thomas and James to the restaurant was the fact that the beer menu listed hundreds of beers! We each choose a beer and a Thai dish to keep us going until dinner time when we would meet up with Kath. Our food was absolutely delicious but about two mouthfuls into the food we discovered that Thomas and James had ordered probably two of the hottest dishes on the menu as their faces turned bright red and they struggled to eat or drink their beer!

We moved on to another bar to in search of something to soothe the chilli! In the middle of the alleys we found a bar that was outside in what looked like an old waste ground. The seats were old crates and the walls were metal gates. There were trees growing around us and they were lit up with lanterns.

We left there to meet up with Kath and went on to see a comedy show – which was excellent. We then went to a Greek restaurant for a lovely dinner.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Day 22

After leaving Philip Island we started to go back towards Melbourne in the direction of the Dandenongs! We stopped off at a town called Belgrave where James noticed there was a steam train called "puffing billy" that he was desperate to see! When we got there we discovered we could get a train ride from Belgrave to a park about an hour away. Puffing Billy had open sides so we could sit and get a great view of the Dandenong hills as the train took us towards the park. James was in his element! After we arrived at the park we had lunch and headed back to Belgrave again. We were aiming to get right into the Dandenongs so we could get a Devonshire tea (cream scone & tea). We found a little tea room in the middle of the range with kookaburras and parrots outside the windows.

It was a beautiful drive through the Dandenongs to Elwood in Melbourne where Thomas & Kath live. We went out to their local bar for dinner and live music that night. We had a lovely meal and had a couple of games of pool - which Kath struggling with her belly still managed to beat me!


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Day 21

The next morning we went to a Koala sanctuary where we seen some grey and the larger brown Koalas quite close up. After our tuition on what to look for by our cousins Chris and Heather we were able to spot them quite easily. Some of them were quite close to the purpose built walk ways so it was good to get a close look at them. After that we decide to play a game of crazy golf - which was so funny since there was only 3 of us sticking to the rules (If James isn't good at something there is no chance he is going to pretend he is sticking to the rules!). It was great fun - especially at the holes where we couldn't work out where the start and end was!

Kath and myself had booked a treatment at a spa in town so we left the boys playing crazy golf and went to pamper ourselves. Kath had a pregnancy massage and I had a hot stone massage which was wonderful. We enjoyed our couple of hours of spoiling ourselves before returning to pick up Thomas and James. They had abandoned the crazy golf and went into the brewery next door!

We went back to Cowes to have lunch then wonder around the town. The town was very quiet but we still managed to find some silly souvenirs!

That night we drove to the South of the island to see the fairy penguins - one of the smallest penguins in the world! We had booked special seats that allowed us to have a great view of where the penguins would arrive on the beach. Every evening at around 6.30pm the little penguins would return to the beach after fishing for up to a few weeks. They would gather into little groups in the sea and they would come ashore together. There was a guide there that told us all about them, and how they survived in their habitats. She also told us that we would hear them before seeing them. By 6.30pm it was quite dark so there was some low level lights on the deck that we were sitting on so we could see some of the penguins! We sat patiently with our popcorn and hot chocolate and at 6.30 we started to hear a squawking noise from the edge of the sea. Then we could see some little penguins gathering and starting to waddle towards their burrows which were situated below our deck and in the hillside beside us. They moved in groups as it was safer for them to prevent attacks by predators. They were lovely little things and they were quite noisy once they started trying to find their nests! By 7pm there was hundreds of tiny penguins rushing out of the sea and across the beach. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos so that was a shame as they were so close I could have picked one up if I was allowed!!

We then went back to the brewery that James and Thomas found earlier in the day to have dinner in the evening. It was lovely but there was too much food!!


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Day 20

That morning we drove the short distance to a place where we had our helicopter rides. We got into the helicopters in two's and had a great tour over the twelve apostles, and the other rock formations along the coast. It was beautiful - and great to capture such fantastic views. It was the first time I have ever been in a helicopter so I was convinced this is the best and most convenient mode of transport after that ride!

After our ride we drove along the great ocean road through some little towns were we would stop for a walk on the beach and a look around then carry on. Each town had its own spectacular piece of coast and it was beautiful. Slowly we made our way towards the ferry that would take us towards Philip Island. When we were on the ferry we seen some spinner dolphins jumping along side the ferry.

When we finally reached Philip Island we drove to our accommodation - another chalet. This one was in a busier area and it looked like there was some permanent residents in the area.

That evening we went out for dinner in a restaurant just down the road. Philip Island is quite a small island so the main town of Cowes was quite quiet.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Day 19 - Melbourne

Chris and Tania picked us up early in the morning and dropped us off at a train station as they were going to work and uni. When we got our train to the airport the train in front of us derailed so we got stuck on the train for an hour. This meant that we would miss our flight to Melbourne. Luckily the flights were every hour so we were able to transfer to the next flight. When we arrived in Melbourne we were met by Thomas and a four months pregnant Kath! Kath then drove us all the way from Melbourne to Flew to Melbourne & drove to far end of Great Ocean Road where we stopped to enjoy some of the crazy rock formations, including the grotto, London bridge and many others. After seeing these we went to our accommodation for the night which was in a chalet near the 12 apostles. We checked into our chalet and found we had two rooms - one with a double bed and the other with single beds so we insisted that Kath and Thomas took the double room. We then walked the 50 yards to the main building where we had dinner that evening. We were welcomed by a very jolly man who I think spent most of the evening drinking - and giving away glasses of port to James and Thomas. The nick-named the man the teary eye man because he had a really runny eye! He did take a liking to Kath and gave her a lovely teary hug at the end of the night! It was so funny because we were the only guests bar an older couple in having dinner and they left shortly after we arrived so I think the man was enjoying some company!


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Day 18

The next morning Pat and Heather took James and I to a local park where we met up with Chris and Tania and went to see Koalas & wallabies. We walked about with Heather and Chris showing their local knowledge telling us about the birds and also what to look out for when looking for Koalas. We seen several Wallabies including one that had a tiny Joey that hopped out its pouch! It was only when we were in the car park about to leave when we finally spotted a Koala high up in a tree.

After that we went to Graham & Pats house for a Sunday roast - cooked on the BBQ! It was delicious and great to have a roast sitting out in the garden!

That night we had to take Harry to the airport as he was going back to work for another 3 months. When we got there we discovered he had missed his flight by 24 hours so after his flight was changed we headed back to get ourselves organised for our departure early the following morning.