Monday, September 10, 2012

The Mornington Peninsula

The day we left Wilson's Promontory, the air felt like ice. The winds howled and the rain poured. It was what we always thought Victorian weather was going to be like but until now we had had nothing but sunshine. Our first stop was the Visitor's Centre where we were given loads of information and left with a wad of pamphlets to peruse and plan the next five days. It was so cold that we decided to jump in the car and drive. And drive we did. All the way to the end of the Mornington Peninsula.

Sorrento was beautiful. From the multimillion dollar mansions on the cliffs to the best kids playground I have ever seen. An enormous wooden castle with hidey holes and secret passageways only big enough for little bodies. It looked out over the turquoise blue of Sorrento's water and was enticing not only to the kids but the adults too (who were a bit disappointed they didnt fit through the secret tunnels). We decided to eat lunch at Sorrento and wandered into a little Italian restaurant where we were the only customers. The girls were treated to crayons and paper with their lunch and even their choice of TV channel. They were delighted.

We had decided to split the next four days in half. Two days were to be spent in Melbourne City and the other two exploring the coast of the Mornington.
Melbourne City is a happening place. And extremely busy. It was during this time that I was struck by the similarities between Inda and I. Being a grown up and all, I can cope with my claustraphobic emotions that are brought on by crowds and the general hustle and bustle of city life. But it wasnt until Inda had been uncooperative the entire day that I sat her down and asked her what was going on? And in the words of an amazingly verbal four year old she replied, "It's too busy and there are too many people and I dont know them and I dont want them to look at me!" I couldnt have said it better myself.
The problem is, when you strip back the chaos, Melbourne is great. Great shops, great food, great sights to see and so we did our best to explore the city with two little ones in tow. We stopped to get our family picture taken  in the old black and white photo booths outside Flinders St. Station, ate sushi, browsed a few shops and headed home on the train.
Our second day in Melbourne was Father's Day. We had decided to check out a church, recommended to us by a friend, which was situated in the middle of Melbourne City, held in Hoyts Cinemas! City on a Hill was fantastic and very exciting to see church happening right in the centre of the city. We were very comfortable in our cinema leather seating and were grateful for the time out to be recharged and encouraged by God's Word. Post church, we headed for Lygon Street to meet up with school friends Alissha and Reej for lunch. I was put to shame as Lish presented Chris with his only Father's Day present, some AFL and Melbourne merchandise, but thrilled that he actually received a present as I was fairly slack with preparations....
Chris was absolutely exhausted when we arrived home, after navigating a new city by car and still talks about the crazy Victorian road rules.

Exploring the Mornington saw us wander through some great markets, visit the brightly coloured beach boxes from Dromana to Mount Martha and go to the Enchanted Maze and Garden at Arthur's Seat. We spent the whole day in this maze wonderland. There was plenty to do and the girls, particularly Inda, loved it. The highlight for Indie were the tube slides. She had six turns between Chris and I. Red faced and panting she asked for one more after every ride. Chris took Noa for a turn but she screamed the whole way down. Before we left, I took her up for one more turn, trying to conquer the fear. Chris and Inda went on the slide parallel to ours and so about half way down, she realised Inda was next to her and started to enjoy it. But when I asked her if she wanted another turn she replied 'moooo' (no) and shook her hand at me. Ok kiddo, fair enough. Chris loved the mathematical side to the mazes, using his 'left hand' theory through every maze.

The coastal side of the Peninsula, reminded me a bit of home; the busier coastal feel and an hour out of the city, but with a more artistic flair. Next stop... The Great Ocean Road

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Prom Country

The landscape has changed as we have moved further down the coast. From Gerringong with its rolling, intensely green hills, to the rugged Australian bush of Mallacoota with its greys and browns. As we approached Wilson’s Promontory, the landscape had changed again, back into that lush green grass covering the rolling hills as far as the eye could see. Cows were back to the norm and once again the intensity of colour captivated my eyes attention. I couldn’t look away.

The drive from Mallacoota to Wilson’s Promontory was our longest yet. Six hours with a stop at Lakes Entrance for some lunch and a play in the park to stretch our legs, meant that by the time we arrived at Wilson’s we were beat and ready for bed. So, we were thrilled to find that our accommodation for our three night stay was absolutely stunning. It was a little cottage set on an 11 acre farm with sheep, cows and chickens aplenty. We had a wood fire, which Chris was chuffed to have started each night, and enough space for us all to breathe. It was just delightful. One of the highlights was watching as the herd of cattle across the road escaped, bolting down the road, only to be herded back by a flustered farmer who told us he, ‘thought it would be harder than that,’ as they all ran back through the fence. Farming life definately has its charm.

We had two days to explore this phenomenal part of the world. So our first day was spent exploring the famous Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Wow. What a spectacular creation. The views are breathtaking with large mountains towering above, covered in trees and big orange coloured boulders. Chris made a comment as we drove in, that it resembled parts of Africa. On our drive through the park and down to Tidal River, we were stopped by an emu crossing the road and two kangaroos lazily sunning themselves. I think we were more excited than the girls and to prove it Chris jumped out of the car at a clearing where there were six emus grazing and tried to get as close as he could. Imitating one of them, he walked closer but they were on to him and quickly darted away.

We stopped at Tidal River to check it out and the visitor’s centre, for some hot tips/spots to explore. We have become a big fan of Visitor’s centres on this trip and they have proved to be very helpful along the way. After Tidal River, we stopped at Norman’s Beach, Squeaky Beach and Picnic Bay. Squeaky Beach was where we spent the most time getting lost amongst the giant boulders at one end. Tight tunnels and daring rock climbs made for a fun day. However, if this blog is going to post reality then one must include Noa’s performance for the entire day to give an honest and not so completely tranquil feel to the day. Noa persisted in tantruming for almost the entire day on and off, causing us at one point to leave her in the sand so we could explore, only to return to find her just as we had left her. Poor kid. She sure has one incredible stubborn streak hidden under all those smiles.

Squeaky Beach is so named because the quartz sand is supposed to squeak under your feet as you walk along. My brother had told me that it was working when they were there but not for us. Our highlight of Squeaky was definitely the boulders.

The next day saw us venture out into the icy wind and rain to find Cape Liptrap Lighthouse and Agnes Falls. The view from the Lighthouse was dwarfing. The ocean spanned all around as far as the horizon with the sheer cliff faces, plunging deep into the depths below. Due to the rain, the colours in the sky were amazing and the clouds spectacular. Noa also had a little mishap on this excursion as she tripped and fell face first into a muddy puddle. The result was one muddy and sad little girl in need of a big cuddle.

The drive to Agnes Falls saw our dead wombat tally reach 18 and we are still yet to see one alive. We checked out Agnes Falls but in comparison to Fitzroy Falls which we had visited back in Gerringong, we were not overly impressed and all of our driving had worn down our enthusiasm. We called it a day and made the trek back home where we spent the afternoon on the farm. It was enjoyable to spend it together without an agenda and with time on our side. We played basketball, went on the swings, and watched the cows across the road escape (as mentioned before). I was given a rude shock when I attempted to swing upside down on the monkey bars and struggled with great difficulty. My memories of monkey bars were hanging upside down so free and easy without any trouble at all. I am in denial about this whole age thing for sure.

We move on again tomorrow from the remote countryside to the bustling and vibrant coast of the Mornington Peninsula. I am going to miss this spot. I feel like I can breathe easy in these big wide open spaces.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Catching up with friends and family has been a great part of this holiday. And another catch up with a dear old school friend, Bec, took us on a detour to Tura Beach before we continued on to Mallacoota. It was great to catch up with Bec and to see her beautiful house and property. Talking about old times and updating each other on time lost, we were fed a great lunch, sent with leftovers and given some of that great ol’ country hospitality which I was challenged to take back home with me to the Coast. Inda and Noa loved Bec’s property and displayed their personalities very clearly. Inda spent the entire time following Bec around asking her question upon question... upon question. Questions about her horses, her dogs, her house, her property, the food and her family. You name it, she asked it. Noa on the other hand, squealed with excitement the entire time, chasing the dogs, pointing at the horses and running everywhere in the big open space. Noa had to be restrained after while because the dogs had had enough.

It was late afternoon when we eventually crossed the border into Victoria and arrived at our small town of Mallacoota. A decent drive off the beaten track, we eventually ambled our way into our accommodation, where we were met by more than a dozen kangaroos quietly grazing on the grass next to our cabin. The caravan park was owned and run by a family with an eight year old daughter with whom Inda paired up with and who introduced us to the park’s ‘pet’ kookaburra who was happy to have a pat. The family also owned a beautiful dog named Rex, who reminded us alot of our Cooper . He sat outside our door all day and was more than happy for a cuddle from Noa.

Mallacoota is one of our shortest stays of the trip and so we only had one day to enjoy this isolated beauty. We were able to drive around the entire town in an hour and then decided on a beach called Bastion Point to unload our stuff and settle in for the day. Thankfully we were already at the beach, because it was here that our car decided to die. Chris was understandably stressed because there were no other cars around and his wife was being quite the negative nag. So, we were thankful when a lovely older lady, who was on her morning walk, stopped to ask us what was wrong. She then walked back to her son’s house,with whom she was staying, and sent him back to help. God does indeed provide and I was once again attracted to the friendly small town vibe.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the beach, collecting, building and relaxing. I attempted a surf at Bastion but was quickly frozen and lasted only a few minutes. Something I have also learnt about myself on this trip is that as much as I would like to say I enjoy my own company, I don’t. And I don’t like isolation, this includes surfing in isolation.

It has been cold today and the change in temperature between states is noticeable. Tomorrow we move again.

Friday, August 31, 2012

From Gerringong to Narooma

Our last week in Gerringong saw our friends from home come and stay for the weekend. Inda and Noa were particularly thrilled to spend three days with their little friend Zeek and Chris and I were grateful for some familiar faces. The weekend with the Lawlers saw us venture out in strong winds to the monthly Gerringong markets, wander through Berry and take a daytrip out to Fitzroy Falls and the town of Robertson; which turns out to be the home of the ‘Big Potato.’ We parted with the Lawlers after Salt Church on the Sunday and spent the last two days of our time in Gerringong visiting our favourite spots and buying our favourite treats, trying to sketch every detail into our memory so that we wouldn’t forget.

Our last destination before hitting the road, was a daytrip out to the whitest sand in the world, namely, Hyams Beach. Once again, we were mesmerised by the beaches around here. And the sand was indeed white and soft. So soft that I had no problem lying down in it to have a moment of serenity before a lively 4 year old broke into the silence by launching onto my back. We followed our visit to Hyams with lunch in nearby Huskisson where I hit up the local op shop and the girls played in the park whilst watching the tourists loading into the Whale watching boats.

The next day we arrived at Mogo Zoo with two very excited girls in the backseat. We had talked up the White Lion experience for Indie. And Noa... well, Noa and animals need no encouraging. The excitement simply explodes out of that enormous smile all on its own. We were very impressed with this little zoo and were grateful to have been wandering through when it was feeding time for many of the animals. We saw tigers and lions roar (frightening) and cheetahs trying to take down Chalkie, the South African zookeeper, to get to their food. I am always amazed at brave people like Chalkie. After watching him with the white lions, hearing him talk about hand raising them and entering into their ‘pride’ and seeing him calmly knock back a couple of ferocious cheetahs trying to get to their food, I came away in awe and secretly desiring that kind of confidence and courage.

Inda’s favourite were the giraffes and interestingly enough, the reptile house. Noa squealed over every animal but was most stoked when the dingo keepers walked them through the zoo allowing her to have a pat of the ‘woof woof’.

After wandering through the souvenir shop and resisting the urge to buy the girls a white lion stuffed toy, we instead opted for the Mogo icecreamery before heading on to Narooma.

As we drove over the hill and down into Narooma, our eyes were given a feast of different coloured blues. Narooma is Aboriginal for, ‘clear blue waters,’ and that is a perfect description of the place. Once again, a small friendly town where the local pharmacist knows everyone by name and is thrown off when a Sarah Harris rocks up from Springfield?

Our accommodation was affectionately named the ‘tissue box.’ It was a tiny little space in a beautiful location looking out over Surf Beach. The small space caused a few heated moments between parents and two highly excitable little girls but was also priceless memory making, with all four of us ending up in the same bed. It was really very special. We spent the days exploring the beaches and the local scenery, taking photo opportunities at Australia Rock. We also visited the nearby historic towns of Central Tilba and Bodalla. Central Tilba held their weekly market whilst we were there and Chris noted that it was the most authentic and organic markets we had been to so far on this trip. Small, intimate and held in the town hall, we purchased some fruit, hand knitted gloves and some gifts to take home.

My time at Narooma was hindered a bit by an incredibly painful wisdom tooth which had been getting worse for the past week. In desperation I had decided to visit a dentist and was helpfully informed by a lady at the Visitor’s centre, of a small clinic with a dentist that I was assured was ‘lovely’ (my only prerequisite for a dentist). After a diagnosis of infection, I was doped up with antibiotics and orders for regular salt baths. Gratefully, I saw the pain ease and the ability to lift my mood that much easier.

Tomorrow we move on to our next stop and our first stop in Victoria... Mallacoota.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A local... well almost

It has been a different kind of holiday for us. Staying put in the one place for a few weeks and really exploring all the area has to offer, has been quite lovely. It means that you can get in the car and duck down to the local shops, do a daily surf check, drive to playgroup and church and settle into some semblance of a routine. I have liked it and yet other days I have yearned for the familiar feel of home.
It is also different to do holidays when everyone else is not. It means you get the local school kids rocking up on your doorstep with an old doorbell asking if you are interested in purchasing some of their goods? It means less crowds, more space and only the locals around giving you a nod and a wave as you pass by. It is a different kind of holiday and I like it.

Our days have been spent exploring, mixed with some normal routine. As I mentioned before, I have been joining in with my friend Ren's playgroup at Keiraville, having dinners with friends and attending church in Wollongong each week.
Our exploring has immersed us in the amazing natural beauty the South Coast has to offer. I am never bored of looking out my window, inhaling the fresh country air and seeing cows (and MORE cows), with the occasional horse and sheep thrown in. There is open space everywhere, with old stone walls lining the road and spectacular views aplenty.

Our favourite of the local towns is Berry. A quaint picturesque town with exquisite bakeries, set amongst the hills of the Kangaroo Valley. It is here you will find the famous Donut Van, Sourdough Bakery and Berry Bakery. Every time we drive home I think, "I could live here."

One of the highlights this week has been our adventure to Jervis Bay, namely Green Patch, set inside the Booderee National Park. Whilst walking down the path to a picnic table to eat our lunch, we were greeted with two very friendly kangaroos. Inda and I were both unsure and hesitated, turning quickly back to Noa and Chris who were a way behind us. Inda, probably taking her 'brave' mother's lead declared she "hated this day and wanted to go home" and was quite frightened of the Australian icon. However, after we sat down (the girls atop the table), the younger kangaroo came creeping forward and stretched it's long neck up to our table to see what goodies we might be willing to donate. Meanwhile, the mother kangaroo kept her distance and a watchful eye on her young one. We had become friends and so, keeping in line with the rules written on our table, the kangaroos went away empty handed.

We were already so impressed with our lunch expereience; kangaroos, magpies and king parrots, that it became an unbelievable day when we walked down to the beach. Greeted by the the pure white sand and clear blue sea, we were sure we had arrived in a different land. Our own deserted island to explore... fabulous. The girls frolicked in the water, running back and forth, chasing and laughing whilst Chris and I just sat. What a great day.

The last two days have been spent taking in the scenery via the Kiama Coast Walk and the Minnamurra Rainforest. Both spectacular and both very different views. Inda has been a fabulous walker and a real trooper. Noa, having been unwell for the past few days has been a bit less tolerant of our adventures but a trooper nontheless.

We have a week left in Gerringong before embarking further south and plan to enjoy and take in this beautiful part of our country and indeed, the world.