We arrived in Melbourne on November 30 and headed to Port Sea to join up with Jacq’s family. Portsea is about 2 hours away from the city of Melbourne and is located on the Mornington Peninsula. This area is well known for its wineries, surf and is basically “cottage country” for those living in the Melbourne area.
Mornington Penisula at night
Not going to lie, the first couple of days we mostly just hung out. We swam in the pool, unpacked our clothes, did laundry, etc. Boy was it nice to have our own room and not have to wear sandals in the shower!
Then we started to check out the surrounding area – wineries, restaurants and beaches! One meal in particular was delicious! It was at Monalto, a winery in Red Hill. We started off with cold pea soup. Peas are alright and cold soup is a bit odd, but this soup was amazing!
Cold pea soup
Jesse had lamb and Jacq shared some Salmon sashimi and steak with her mom. The best part was dessert – we’ll let you drool over this picture!
Dessert at Monalto Winery
One day we even went cherry picking. The Aussie that owned the farm was impressed with us, he thought us Canadians would come back with only half a kilo, and there we were with 8! I think we may have found us some part time jobs, cherry picking!
8 kilos of cherries!
We are also a 2 km walk from a good surfing beach! We couldn’t find a place to rent surf boards so we decided to buy some boogie boards instead. BEST DECISON EVER! A few days we’ve spent our time down at the beach, riding waves, and swallowing salt water. The ocean is actually the Indian Ocean and boy is it cold (17 degrees Celsius). While almost everyone else on the beach was wearing wetsuits, we decide to go in with just out bathing suits, that we can handle it because we are Canadian eh!
Jesse rocking the Aussie suntan look
Jen riding the waves
While in the Portsea area, we’ve also taken some road trips and in some case plane trips to check out other areas of Australia!
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Anyone who’s been to Australia and those that live there will tell you that travelling the Great Ocean road is a must. Picture a red convertible, top down, sun shining driving on a winding road along the coast. OK, so that’s probably the brochure. Scrap that – picture a huge 12 passenger van, the Toyota Commuter, driving along the windy road, its overcast and every time Jacq’s Dad takes a corner too fast, her mom, ‘Boo Lou’ is holding on for dear life and asking him to “please slow down!”
Our trip down the Ocean Road first started bright and early at 7 am, where we caught the car and passenger Ferry from Sorrento over to Queenscliff. The Great Ocean road starts in Torquay (the surf capital of Australia), and extends along a stretch of road that takes nearly 4 hours to drive.
Ocean view on the Great Ocean Road
This does not include the time it takes to stop and admire many of the amazing sights including one of our first stops, Bells Beach - ranked one of the top surfing beaches in the world, we even spotted some seals swimming in waves!
Some of the other stops along our drive, included the views at the lighthouse, Apollo Bay, the Otway national park where we saw plenty of wild koalas.
Ocean view on the great ocean road
Koalas in the tree!
On the way we also stopped in Lorne to take some pictures of the signs there as Jacq’s uncle’s name is Lorne! He’s lucky we decided to take a picture in front of this sign and not “Lorne’s Diva shop”!
We made it to Lorne!
Our last stop was the famous 12 apostles, a beautiful rock formation formed along the cliffs of the southern coast of Australia.
View of the 12 apostles
Jesse at the 12 apostles
Jacq on the beach at 12 apostles
With all the driving and stopping we soon learned that our plans for a one day excursion were a little ambitious and that we would be late catching the last ferry back to get back home that evening – so we found a quaint little town to spend the night
The next morning we continued our way back and stopped at Geelong, a city just southwest of Melbourne which was situated on a bay. They had some interesting statues there made out of wood, like this one. At first Jesse went to pose at the back of the line, but quickly moved to the begging of the line when he realized to stand there he’d have to follow the pattern....
Good thing Jesse is at the front!
It was a great road trip – one which lasted 2 days instead of 1! But it was a must see for us, so we were glad we were able to do it!
We decided to stay in Melbourne for a few days in order to check out the city. We also have friends there, so it was great to be able to see them and have them show us around!
We arrived on a rainy Wednesday where we tried to meet up with Taryn, a friend of Jesse’s from Calgary, who has been living in Melbourne and supply teaching. We were supposed to meet up with her at 6:30 pm at the night market – but in a series of events which makes Jesse’s blood boil just thinking of them (picture two lost, soaking wet tourists trying to hail a cab when a car splashes dirty street water on us..... yeah...) so finally we arrived at the market at 8:30, yes 2 hours later than we should have been! But soon enough we were sampling delicious food and sangria!
Sampling at the night market
Finally about half an hour after that, we were able to meet up with Taryn and her friends. After the market, we went for some drinks and learned about the real Melbourne and got lots of suggestions of where to go out and what to check out while we were there.
The next morning, Jen, Andy, Jesse and Jacq headed out to check out the city.
Jesse viewing the Melbourne skyline
Our first stop was Federation Square (where Oprah was scheduled to make an appearance the next day).
Jesse at Federation Square
Then we hopped on a free (yes FREE) city centre tram that took us around different parts of the city including the Queen Victoria markets and the Docklands shopping district for some outlet mall shopping. After a full day of exploring and shopping we returned to our hostel to drop off our goods and grab dinner at a delicious burger place up the street, as we had a 2 for 1 coupon from our hostel!
That evening we decided to explore the Melbourne nightlife. We first stumbled upon a patio bar/Chinese restaurant called Red Silk, which conveniently sheltered us from the rain as we split a couple bottles of wine and Jesse decided to have a second dinner. Our next stop was a bar called, Section 8. The night before we had learned Melbourne is famous for its hole in the wall bars – our instructions were to find the dodgiest ally possible, walk down it and you would likely a find the newest hot spot. Section 8, fit this description quite well – once a former parking lot, the bar included wooden skids laid down on the ground, and a bar out of what used to be some type of mobile home. There we decided to share a jug of “Grandma’s punch” – which came complete with a set of candy false teeth.
Grandma's punch! Fake candy dentures included!
Next we headed to “Cookies” where we tried some interesting beers and Jen had some sparkling wine!
Checking out the nightlife in Melbourne
The next morning, we met up with our friend Tyler, who has been living and working in the Melbourne area for about 10 months. He took us to one of his favourite cafes, where we had breakfast and coffees. Then Tyler had to get back to work and we had to head to the airport!
We met up with Jacq’s Dad at the airport, where we were going to fly Tiger Airways, basically the cheapest flights you can buy... ever. We heard some horror stories about delayed flights and cancellations, but had a very smooth and comfortable trip as we boarded the brand new plane and we all got the first row, which meant plenty of leg room!
We arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, which is on a harbour on the southern part of Tasmania.
Pants are must here! During the evening, there is an Antarctic wind which chills you to the bone! We walked around the harbour, took a walk to the Salamanca markets and then settled on going to the Drunken Admiral for dinner.
Chilling in Hobart
The Drunken Admiral restaurant
It was delicious! The best seafood we’ve had in Australia, including oysters with champagne sauce and caviar!
The next day, after eating breakfast at a nearby cafe, we headed to the famous Salamanca Markets. There were hundreds of vendors, selling amazing things, from vegetables and fruit, to baked goods, to souveniers, pieces of artwork, clothing.... the list goes on!
Fresh veggies at the Salamanca market
Fresh Bread at the Salamanca Market
It was definitely the best market we’ve been to in Australia!
After the market, we grabbed some lunch at “Fish Frenzy” voted the best fish and chips in Hobart. Then we headed off on our day tour of Port Arthur, the prison and settlement of where convicts were sent from England.
We first stopped in a town called Richmond, which was built by convicts and many of the building remain the same. We did a tour of an old house, which had some interesting rooms, including this one, which was furnished with a bed.
Take a sleep, my sweet
We hit up the old candy shop before walking over to the oldest bridge in Australia and seeing the ducks in the area.
Richmond Bridge - Australia's oldest bridge
On the way to Port Arthur, we stopped at some viewing points, including Pirate Bay, the Tasman Arch, and the Devil’s Kitchen.
We also stopped at the Dog’s line, which is where solidiers and dogs lined up to catch any prisoners from escaping.
Jacq at the Dog Line
We arrived at Port Arthur in the early evening and took a walk around the area in the daylight. Hundreds of convicts built the settlement and many were confined to the Prison, including the Seperate prison, where you weren’t allowed to look or anyone.
View of the Port Arthur settlement
The seperate prison
Jesse decided it would be funny to hide into a cell and jump out once we were close, but another person on our tour walked into the room first and Jesse almost gave him a heart attack!
Jesse needs to be locked up!
We went for dinner at “Felon’s Bistro” and later that evening, we took a Ghost Tour. With a guide and four torch barriers, we headed out into the night and listened to the stories that took place there a few hundred years ago.
The Ghost Tour begins!
The Church at Port Arthur
There was one building in particular that freaked Jen out, it was the reverend’s house and we heard many stories about people who saw the ghost of the angry reverend or the lady in blue, a ghost who was supposedly searching for her baby who was buried behind the house.
Listening to ghost stories in the Reverand's house
Jesse gave the tour “PG” status, but it was a good amount of scary for Jacq. We didn’t see any ghosts, except maybe the Wallabee ghost, as Jacq’s dad had Wallabee for dinner earlier that night!
The next morning we headed to the airport to head back to Melbourne and Port Sea. The rumors of Tiger Airways soon made reality as we found out that our flight was cancelled! The rest of their flights out to Melbourne were fully booked, so our options were to take another carrier or take tomorrow’s flight and stay the night instead. Given tickets were $300+ each, we decided to stay the night and fly out the next day. We ended up staying at an amazing timeshare villa on seven mile beach, giving it was on Tiger Airways tab and not our own! It even came equipped with heated blankets!
Biggest bed we've had yet!
We spent the day swimming in the pools and spas, playing table tennis and Cluedo (the Australian version of Clue!) We also borrowed bicycles and took a bike ride down to Seven Mile Beach, which had amazing views, but the sandy was more like mud!
Jesse riding his bicycle
View of seven mile beach
The next day we arrived to the airport and thankfully our flight was not cancelled, so we finally made it back to Melbourne!
Phillip Island is about 2 hours away from Portsea and is the home of the world famous little penguin parade. We headed out in the morning and stopped by a few places on the way, including a animal park and mini golf place, as Chris (Jacq’s brother-in-law) had just arrived and had yet to see Australia’s wildlife of Kangeroos, Wallabees, Koala’s and wombats, among others. We decided to head into the park only to see Chris and Addison hold a baby wombat, but the timing worked out that we feed Kangeroos instead (we’d have to wait for the Wombat encounter). These kangeroos must have been starving, as when they would eat from your hand, they would nip your hand! One even put her claws up on Jacq (she was not impressed) and tried to tell this huge animal to relax!
While we were waiting for the Manser clan to finish in the animal park, Jacq and Jesse played a round of mini golf. The course was called Pirate Pete’s and had a sign which said “best mini golf in Australia.” We figured it had to be good – but soon we realized this was the most ghetto course ever!
Our next stop was at a Chocolate Factory on Phillip Island, in which we took a tour inside! It included a mosaic made of chocolates, a chocolate waterfall and a machine where you could make your own chocolate design. It was delicious!
Next we headed to “Amazing things” which had mini golf, mazes, a playground and other games for kids. Addison was in heaven!
We then headed towards the Penguin Parade, and stopped at a beach, where the wind was blowing so hard sand was going everywhere. It was in our hair and would whip against your skin, but we managed to get a few pictures of the beach.
We then headed to the Nobbies, which are rock formations and a place where you can view the Seal Rocks, where 2,600 seals live. It was amazing to see them, but was quite cold and windy!
We grabbed a bite to eat before making our way to the Penguin Parade. The penguin parade occurs every night, as little penguins, which grow to 22 cm tall and only weigh 1 kg or 2.2 lbs, swim up to the shore and walk along the beach to their homes in the burrows of the hills. There are hundreds of them! The night before 1300 swam up and climbed up on the beach. You can also follow them along the boardwalk and watch as they come home to their baby chicks with full bellies in order to feed their young. It was an amazing experience and definitely one of our highlights!
Little penguin burrow
Sign in the parking lot at the penguin parade
In our last few days, we’ll be checking our Point Nepean as well as a few wineries and then getting ready to pack up!
We’ve been in Australia for just over a month and half and felt like we got to see a good portion of the country! It has been amazing but we’re looking forward to the next part of our trip, two weeks in Fiji for Christmas and New Years. We aren’t sure what internet will be like there or how much it will cost so it may mean that you’ll read our next blog in 2011! In which case, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!