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.